But I am a worm [Tola’ath] and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
Psalms 22:6 (brackets mine)
Sometimes God uses creation to show us a message, but we would have to take the time, stop, look, and observe his handy creative work. The word worm used in Psalms 22:6 is no ordinary worm, and the use of the feminine form of the word tells us to look at the mother. This verse shows an interesting symbolism.
As I did my study on Psalms 22 during the Lent season, I had translated this word as crimson, depicting Christ on the cross, and his body being crimson stained. I had ignored looking at the habitat and function of this peculiar worm, for after all, it’s just a worm right? Well, I blush “crimson” for I missed something amazing.
The Tola’ath worm, scientifically called the coccus ilicis, is a worm found in the Middle East and was used in ancient times to make a crimson or scarlet die. The word for this worm is translated as scarlet during the construction of the tabernacle.
This week I was reviewing Psalms 22 again, and in the nature of research, I read a little further about this worm. I found an amazing article, where the function of the female Tola’ath, is a symbol for Christ on the cross. Here is a link.
And an excerpt:
“…She then attaches her body to that wood and makes a hard crimson shell… The Crimson worm then lays her eggs under her body and the protective shell. When the baby worms (or larvae) hatch, they stay under the shell. Not only does the mother’s body give protection for her babies, but it also provides them with food – the babies feed on the LIVING body of the mother!”
When the mother dies, there is a crimson stain left on the wood.
Continuing with an in depth research, there is more to this Hebrew word by using Gemantra. A system of assigning numbers to the letters of the word to obtain a numerical value, then searching the Bible for words having the same numerical value. Here is the breakdown of Tola’ath.
תֹ ו עַ לַ ת
400 6 70 30 400
Adding the numbers, Tola’ath has a sum of 906. Other words having the same numerical value, Hope (Tiqvah) and Side (katheph) and three different conjugations of the verb Die (muwth)
If one reads Psalms 22 as Christ on the Cross, imagine the metaphor of calling himself a worm. He is attached by nails to a wooden cross, his blood stains the cross. He Dies on the cross, and the confirmation of his death, his Side is pierced, spewing forth blood and water. Because of his death and resurrection, we have the Hope of eternal life.