🔼The name Talitha: Summary
- Little Girl
- From the verb טלל (talal), to be small.
🔼The name Talitha in the Bible
Talitha is not really a name but an appellative. When Jesus finds the unnamed daughter of Jairus deceased, he takes her by the hand and says, "Talitha kum" (Mark 5:41). Mark immediately explains that this means "Little girl, I say to you, arise". In Acts 9:36, the apostle Peter raises Dorcas, from the dead by saying, "Tabitha arise," and Tabitha is the Aramaic version of the Greek name Dorcas.
🔼Etymology of the word Talitha
There's quite a bit to this word talitha. Marcus Jastrow's Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature reports that the Aramaic word טליתא (talitha), meaning young girl, comes from the word טליא (talya), meaning young in general, which in turn comes from טלי (talay), meaning (1) tender, young, young man, or (2) lamb. A related word is טליותא (talyuta), meaning childhood or youth. In Hebrew exists the word טלה (taleh), which means lamb:
The root טלל (talal) has to do with being small, thin or widely dispersed or spread. Noun טל (tal), means dew. Verb טלל (talal) means to overcast (with a roof or with mist or dew). Derived verb טול (tul), means to extend or disperse widely, and its noun טלטלה (taltela) denotes a spreading out. Noun טלה (taleh) describes the young of sheep, goats or deer: lambs and fawns, and the verb טלא (tala') describes the patterns of spots spread out on a fawn. The plural noun טלאים (tal'im) collectively describes young ones or spotted ones.
But there is a secondary strand of words that bear a striking resemblance to the prior: טלאי (talya), denoting a piece of cloth used as a blanket; טלי (talay I), meaning to hang on or over; טלי (talay II), meaning to lift up; טלי (talay III), meaning hanging or covering; The word טלית (tallith) means cover, sheet or cloak, and became the name of the Tallith, the cloak of honor, the scholar's or officer's distinction.
The word talitha means Little Girl, but when this word is spoken by Jesus Christ as he raises someone from the dead, it may mean a lot more than that.
Jairus is an official from the synagogue and Mark's ostentatious Aramaic quote seems to echo Jesus' observation that religious scholarship in those days was as good as dead, only to be resurrected by the Lord himself, and only at the strenuous request of the officials.
Note that Mark interrupts the story of Jairus' daughter with the story of the hemorrhaging woman. This woman had slowly bled to near death exactly as long as the girl had lived (12 years; Mark 5:25, 5:42). She is healed by touching Jesus' cloak. That's no coincidence.