Red Cord, Blue Threads – 2

Red Blood, Blue Blood

Behold, when we come to the land, you shall bind this line of scarlet thread in the window from which you let us down… Joshua 2:18

Each Israelite was to wear blue tassels on the four corners of his robe. The tassel was a blue cord that unraveled into threads, a “one” that became many. Using the “systematic typology” of the Bible Matrix, we can see that these four blue tassels correspond to the four rivers the flowed down from the spring under the Garden of Eden. [1]

So, what’s the deal with the “red cord” that Rahab was commanded to display in her window in Jericho? Firstly, the Hebrew word isn’t the same word as the “cord” in Numbers 15.

The Hebrew word tiqvah literally means “hope.” Skip Moen writes:

Line – Usually translated “cord” in this verse, the Hebrew word tiqvah has a different meaning in every one of its additional thirty-one occurrences.  The fact that it isn’t translated in the normal way in this verse isn’t an accident. It’s an intentional word-play; another example of the elaborate interconnections found in the Hebrew Scripture that are invisible to us in English. By now you must realize that the story of the Scripture just wasn’t written to you.  It was written to Hebrew readers because only Hebrew readers can read between the lines.

Tiqvah is usually translated “hope.”  Put this background into the story of Rahab and you will come away with a much deeper understanding of this event. The spies whom Rahab saves tell her to put a scarlet “cord” in her window. What does that cord mean? It means hope, the very same word.

Naomi uses it in Ruth 1:12. Moen again:

When Naomi uses this word, she doesn’t have the projection of future desires in mind.  She is thinking about the color scarlet.  What does scarlet have to do with hope? Frymer-Kensky points out that tiqvah is the Hebrew word meaning “thread” in the story of Rahab.  “The imagery in this idiom suggests that our life is spun out like a cord, and hope arises from the strength of that cord, representing the prospect of a viable future.” [2]  She goes on to show that hope in Hebrew thought is intimately connected with life here and now.  To have a future is to not be cut off. To have a future is to see the continuation of your name in the lives of your offspring.  Tiqvah hope has nothing to do with getting to heaven. It is all about having a legacy on earth. It’s about a scarlet cord that can’t be cut.

Firstly, we must deal with two kinds of cleansing, the “red” and the “blue.” Blood and water both cleansed from sin, but their roles correspond to the “forming and filling” process in Genesis 1. (Even within the “blood” division, there is both red and blue blood, a chiastic structure within the body.) Blood is a witness to the de-forming of the old order. Like circumcision, it cuts off the past. We can think of this as Jesus paying off our incalculable debt to God. “It is finished.” This is mercy. Water is a witness to the investiture of a new order, the “filling up” of the new order. Unlike the “red ink” of correction, water writes a check for us in “blue ink.” It begins a new era. This is grace.

Water and blood are both liquids required for life. One comes out of the body and one goes into the body. The Jews were the blood, the circumcision, the genealogy of Christ, the Land rising out of the water. The Gentiles were the water, the baptism, the office of Christ, brought into the household of faith in the first century to bring new life to the Old Covenant body. The body of Christ is one new man, made up of Jew and Gentile, blood and water. [3]

Red and blue also have to do with heads and bodies. Circumcision is red and baptism is blue. In the Bible Matrix, the crossing of the Red Sea corresponds to Passover (the killing of the firstborn “heads”), while the crossing of the Jordan River is baptism, and associated with the Day of Atonement. [4] Now, there is red and blue in both these events, but when viewed as a whole, the first cleansing is about the end of the old history (the old leaven) and the second is about a new history, a heavenly land. Thus, red has to do with “generations,” the setting apart of a genealogical line. It is about the flesh. This is the blood of the sacrificial system. And blue has to do with “regenerations,” the commission of members of that genealogical line. It is about the Spirit.

Now we can see the correspondence between the four heavenly blue wings on an Israelite’s robe, and the four earthly red horns on the Tabernacle Altars. The blood is male (generation – Head), but the Israelite robe was worn by males and females (regeneration – Body).

Interestingly, in the account of the woman with the “issue of blood,” it is Jesus who is “blue” and the woman “red.” This is the interface between the cleanliness of a regenerate, commissioned (baptized) Adam and a helpless “generate” (menstrual) Eve.

RED -  Circumcision and circumcised heart
BLUE – Baptism and Spirit-filling


(Daughter) Israel
RED – Issue of blood
BLUE – Forgiveness and cleansing,
the resultant healing from His “wings.” [5]

If Adam was faithful in the Garden, his offspring would have been rivers of living water. The singular red thread of Adamic obedience results in a corporate holiness, a blue cord that multiplies into a tassel. Peter Leithart writes:

In his lecture at the Biblical Horizons Summer conference this morning, Jim Jordan pointed out that the rivers that flow out of Eden are connected with commerce and economy.  The rivers flow from the garden, where there are good things to eat, to the outer lands where there are minerals and gems.

This can serve as a further gloss on my discussion of Psalm 24 earlier today: Rivers are the “foundations” of the humanly organized world, and more particularly rivers are the cords that bind land to land with trade and commerce.  Rivers are not only the foundation of a single land or culture, but of a network of cultures. [6]

The “binding” of the red differs from the “binding” of the blue. It is more a process of “binding and loosing.” Adam, or Isaac, is bound with a red cord in hope. It is a sacrificial death on the altar. It is flesh. The blue tassels are the “loosing,” the freedom of unity of Spirit. [7] It is perhaps more fitting to say that people are bound by blood but united by water. The first is objective, the last is subjective. The first is legal. The last is love. Circumcision was one nation, a bloodied, closed, earthly door (on the ground). Baptism is all nations. It is the Messianic “cord of hope” within a four-cornered open (blue) window in the wall of a city. [8] Rahab became intertwined with the Messianic cord (Matthew 1) that would eventually lead to rivers of living water, tassels of Spirit flowing from the four horns of Israel to the four “wings” of the world.

All Israel was a “bridal” nation. The males were circumcised, but since the other commands concerning clothing cover all Israelites, we can assume both males and females wore the bridal robe, just as both males and females could take the Nazirite vow. This brings us to part 3, which concerns Israel’s Covenantal vow. This is where the sorry arguments for paedobaptism unravel.

There’s an interesting use of red and blue in this music video. Every time I watch it I see something new.

[1] See Healing in His … Tassels? You will also find some interesting facts here.
[2] Tamara Eskenazi and Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Ruth: The JPS Bible Commentary, p. 15.
[3] See The Water and the Blood.
[4] Steven Opp has some interesting thoughts on red and blue in his paper “Heads or Tails: A Colorful Commentary.”
[5] See Border Patrol.
[6] Peter Leithart, More On Rivers. Perhaps Dr. Leithart’s mention of water binding rather than uniting reflects his ideas on “objective” baptism. Genealogy is not a choice. But commerce is a choice. One is not bound by rivers but loosed.
[7] See Binding and Loosing.
[8] See Known in the Gates.

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