Why Does Jesus Say 'Talitha Koum' in the Bible?

When Jesus said the Aramaic phrase "talitha koum," he was performing one of his most astonishing miracles, one that still has important lessons and repercussions for us today.

Contributing Writer
Updated May 12, 2022
Why Does Jesus Say 'Talitha Koum' in the Bible?

Talitha Koum is an Aramaic phrase that Jesus used when He resurrected a young girl in Capernaum. It would be impossible to list all the miracles Jesus performed during his earthly ministry because, as the Apostle John says, “If every one of them was written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) But of the dozens of miracles recorded in the New Testament, perhaps none are more profound than those where Jesus calls the dead back to life.

How Many People Did Jesus Raise From the Dead?

The New Testament mentions three separate resurrection events involving three people in differing stages of death. Luke (a medical doctor) records Jesus raising a widow’s only son, whose body is being transported to the grave in an open coffin (Luke 7:11-17). John gives us a play-by-play of Lazarus’s resurrection four days after death (John 11:1-44). And when Mark describes Christ raising the young girl to life, she is still on her deathbed. These examples of Jesus’s limitless life-giving power foreshadow His own resurrection—which rendered death powerless forevermore. 

Where Does Jesus Say 'Talitha Koum' in the Bible?

In Mark 5, Jesus takes a young girl by the hand and says to her lifeless body, “Talitha Koum!” Immediately, the girl is resurrected, to everyone’s amazement and joy. (Mark 5:41) This event occurs not as a single miracle but as part of a group of miracles that work together to display Jesus’s compassion, mercy, and power. 

Jesus had just finished casting out a “legion” of unclean spirits from a demon-possessed man in the region of Gerasenes. By boat, He crossed over to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee and, as He disembarked in Capernaum, a large crowd of followers engulfed Him. As He made His way through the crowd of people, a prominent synagogue leader named Jairus fell at Jesus’s feet and pleaded with Him to come to his house and heal his dying 12-year-old daughter. 

Having compassion for the man’s obvious distress, Jesus pushed through the growing crowd toward Jairus’s house. Amid the mob was a woman who had suffered for twelve long years with a bleeding disorder. She had spent all her life savings trying to cure. 

The woman had heard that Jesus would be making an appearance and fully believed that if she could just brush her hand against the edge of His cloak, she would be healed. After she fought her way through the cluster of people surrounding Jesus, she reached out and grabbed hold of His garment. Instantly, the woman’s bleeding ceased, and her agony was gone. 

Sensing the healing virtue flow from His body, Jesus stopped and asked who had touched Him. The disciples were baffled at Jesus’s inquiry. The horde continued to press in around them from all sides, making it impossible to discern a single “touch” from all the rest. The woman, realizing Jesus’s concern, fearfully fell at her Savior’s feet and confessed the truth. Jesus answered her confession by saying, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.’”

Before Jesus finished reassuring the healed woman, Jairus received word that his daughter had died. Overhearing the devastating report, Jesus told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Only Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus to the synagogue leader’s home. When they arrived, they were greeted with the loud wails of mourners. When Jesus tried to assure them that their grief was unwarranted, they laughed at Him. Nevertheless, Jesus put the naysayers out of the house and with only the child’s father, mother, and his three disciples, He went in to see the child, took her limp hand into His, and spoke the Aramaic phrase “Talitha Koum,” which means “little girl, arise!” When the child obeyed Jesus’s command, everyone was astonished and overjoyed. But Jesus gave them strict orders to keep the miracle a secret from the public and told them to feed the child. 

Through the healing of the demoniac at the beginning of this excerpt, Jesus demonstrated his power over uncleanliness and every spiritual force of evil. When Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood, He proved He had authority over every illness that plagued humanity. And when He raised the little girl to life, with just a simple term of endearment, Jesus showed His dominance over death itself. 

What Language Does 'Talitha Koum' Come From?

Talitha Koum is a transcription of a common Aramaic phrase used in Biblical times. Other translations render the Aramaic talitha koum, talita kumi, and talitha cum. The account of the little girl’s healing is also found in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, but only Mark records the Aramaic phrase Jesus used for her healing. 

Aramaic was the everyday language in Jesus’s time, especially in the villages He frequented, like Capernaum and Nazareth. So, He likely spoke in Aramaic regularly while ministering there. Mark interprets the phrase in scripture as meaning, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”

Why Did Jesus Stop on the Way to Heal the Little Girl?

According to all the Gospel accounts, Jesus’s journey to Jairus’s house was an urgent one. Jairus’s desperate gesture of falling at Jesus’s feet would have been considered unusual and even shocking behavior for a well-known religious ruler like himself. But time was of the essence. His beloved daughter—his only daughter—was dying, and Jairus believed that only Jesus could heal her. 

The number of people who had come to see Jesus was so numerous that “the crowds almost crushed him” (Luke 8:42). As they arduously pressed through the hordes, Jairus was undoubtedly frustrated with their progress. But Jesus’s timing, as in the case of Lazarus’s resurrection, was perfect. 

Demonstrating unyielding compassion, Jesus halts amidst the crowd to look for the needy woman who had by faith already been healed. This divine delay was orchestrated by God so that He could demonstrate His complete authority over death and the grave. Had the crowd not slowed down their progress, and had Jesus not stopped to address the woman, He may not have had the opportunity to raise Jairus’s daughter from the dead. 

It’s interesting to note that the hemorrhaging woman suffered from bleeding for the same number of years that the Jairus’s daughter had been alive—12 years (Mark 5:25, 42). Also, when Jesus calls the woman “Daughter,” this is the only place in scripture where He uses that term. The fact that the passage involves two very different daughters being healed affirms Jesus’s great love for women and His loving care for people in all walks of life. 

Why Did Jesus Tell the Little Girl’s Parents to Keep the Miracle Secret?

Jesus frequently instructed those he healed to keep the miracle a secret. He knew that if the word about His power spread to the public, it would attract masses of people who were not receptive to the Truth and full of impure motives. This would make ministering in certain areas more difficult (Mark 1:45). He never wanted the miracles He performed to overshadow or take the place of the Gospel. 

“Jesus did not come to earth to heal physical sickness or restore peace; he came to teach, he came to die, and he came to defeat death so that men and women could be restored to their Father in Heaven. The people wanted miracles and blessings, but when those dried up, followers faded away.” Candice Lucey

Although Jesus desired to conceal His identity from those who were only seeking His miracles, He openly revealed Himself to those earnestly seeking salvation. The only reason Jesus performed miracles was to identify Himself as the Messiah to those searching for God’s Deliverer. When He raised the little girl to life, the event was miraculous but only temporary. Jesus’s ultimate purpose in coming to earth was to provide eternal life to all who believe. 

Like many other instances in scripture, Jesus’s instructions to keep Jairus’s daughter’s resurrection a secret fell on deaf ears. Matthew’s account of the story tells us that, “News of this spread through all that region.” (Matthew 9:26)

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Motortion

Annette GriffinAnnette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.

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