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Get up, My little lamb!

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

“Meet me at the Talita Kumi!” my longtime friend always used to say. The Jerusalem landmark has a wonderful story behind it... It has something to do with the Hand of God.

“Can you help me to get off the bus?” an elderly lady asked me in Hebrew as I was trying to board. I took both of her wrinkly hands in mine, and made sure she was safely on the pavement. I felt so happy to have helped her. It got me thinking about how God speaks a lot in the Bible about holding our hand. I love the Isaiah promise, first to Israel, and also to those who fear Him:

“For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the Lord, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’” (Isaiah 41:13-14)

It is such a simple gesture to hold someone’s hand, be it a child, an older person, a beloved spouse. It’s always so sweet to see an elderly couple still holding hands after many years together. Israel’s faithful God reminds His People that though they may feel like a little worm, His big, capable hand is outstretched for their sake.

And it is not a question of how worthy or strong they are. By calling them ‘Jacob’ here, God is alluding to their weakness. As one spiritual leader here in Jerusalem always reminds Gentile Believers (alluding to Romans 11:21):

“Without a certainty about God’s mercy upon Israel, there is no certainty of His mercy towards the Church.”

I started wondering about where we see Yeshua taking someone’s hand. I’m sure He did many times when He healed someone, when He called the children to Himself, when He lifted up the lady who was cowering on the ground for fear of being stoned.

(Painting by Victoria Karlsson)

I went to the familiar story of the little girl of twelve, (how special - today's Bat Mitzvah age - when girls get to be a princess for a day!) who had already died before the popular Travelling Healer reached her. “Yes, it says He took her hand,” I thought happily to myself.

“Putting them all outside, He took her by the hand, and called her…”

The online Hebrew Bible translation of the Gospels renders the verse, "!קומי,ילדתי" - “Get up, My child!” (Luke 8:54). Often we hear that ‘Talita Kumi’ is an Aramaic translation. Actually, ‘kumi’ is both a modern and an ancient Hebrew instruction found also in Isaiah, (60:1), also to Israel:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come” (‘Kumi! Ori!’ in Hebrew).

In the book, ‘Jesus Spoke Hebrew – Busting the ‘Aramaic’ Myth’, by Brent Minge, we find that ‘talita’ is also rooted in the Hebrew language. It is a word used by other Jewish teachers of the period, including the spoken translation (Targum) of Genesis 34:3 for ‘young woman’. The word comes from the Hebrew ‘talah’, meaning ‘lamb’; and as Minge says, it is “a term hardly out of place on the lips of the Good Shepherd”. Based on these uses of the word, it is probable that Yeshua addressed her as His “little lamb”. Isn’t that beautiful? Isaiah perhaps caught a glimpse of the hands of the Shepherd, centuries earlier, when he wrote:

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs (Hebew Bible plural of ‘talah’ - ‘tla-im’) in his arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” (Isaiah 40:11)

So, back to the landmark... Right in the centre of Jerusalem stands a constant reminder of this miracle of a little girl raised to life. The ‘Talita Kumi’ girls’ orphanage and school was rebuilt by master architect Conrad Schick, in 1868. Schick is famous for his buildings around Jerusalem, but also for his models, such as that of the Temple Mount, now housed at the Heritage Centre at Christ Church. (Photo: Friends of Conrad Schick on

All that remains of the beautiful school building now is a façade which was preserved at the original site, where Ben Yehuda Street meets King George Street. Because you can’t miss it, it’s a great place to meet a friend! What a privilege to follow the Shepherd and encourage the downhearted by holding out helping hands, as if to say, “Rise up, little lambs; arise and shine! For the Glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”

"Hold hands with the Lord Each day of your life Each day of your life, He’ll show you the way. Hold hands with the Man Who bled just for you Who hung on that cross just for you.

For His love is so deep, so wide and so sure Praise His name, lift it high, from mountain to shore; For no trouble, no hardship, no hunger, no trials Can ever His hold on us break."

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