About our Order's name...
"Tower of the Flock"
Copyright 2005, +M. E. Bessette. (use by permission only)
Most people have probably never heard the term “Magdal-eder” [Mag'-dhl-ay'-der] since it does not appear in the majority of the English translations of the Bible. The New American Bible seems to be the only version that retains the Hebrew phrase within the text and indicates its meaning in the footnotes: tower of the flock. In fact, if one were working with a Strong’s Concordance the term would not be easily discovered since the original Hebrew words were not retained in the King James Version upon which the Strong’s is based, although a search by a word-by-word method would show it if one knew where to look. The Aramaic equivalent of Magdal-eder, Migdal-eder, might possibly be discovered if one is led to dig beyond the easily accessible material, or if one were a Hebrew and Aramaic scholar. In any case, the Strong’s Concordance leads us to the reference Edar, a variation of Eder, which alludes to mean tower rather than flock without ever giving the contextual meaning. (At the time this material is being compiled Nelson’s Complete Concordance of the New American Bible has been out of print for over twenty years. The last edition was published in 1977.)
The NAB reference to the term Magdal-eder is found in Micah 4:8:
And you, O Magdal-eder*,
hillock of daughter Zion!
Unto you shall it come;
the former dominion shall be restored,
the kingdom of daughter Jerusalem.
But, this by itself means little unless we can come to terms with a linking tradition within the Hebrew culture to grasp the imagery a first century Jew might recognize in it. To discover the link we must go all the way back to the Book of Genesis. Rachel, the Hebrew queen who came at the greatest price to the Hebrew people through having been the reason for Jacob to have labored fourteen years before being allowed to marry her, is dying as she gives birth to her second son, Benjamin. Genesis 35:19-21:
Thus Rachel died; and she was buried on the road to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Jacob set up a memorial stone on her grave, and the same monument marks Rachel's grave to this day. Israel moved on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal-eder.
And so, in the case of the term Magdal-eder we have an association to: a watchtower for the flock, high ground /hillock, the feminine reference daughter Zion (which is foundational to the notion that the faithful are God’s bride/His Beloved), the restoration of dominion prophecied, and a kingdom belonging to daughter Jerusalem. These harken back to the reference from Genesis and Rachel as the great queen, upon whose death Jacob (Israel) sets up a standing stone marking her grave at a place called Ephrath, later known as Bethlehem.
The Song of Solomon/Song of Songs also contains allusions to some of the above references as the erotic love poem speaks of another royal bride of a Jewish king:
Isaiah and Jeremiah appear to have been favorite prophets among Jesus’ followers as we find so many references to their prophecies fulfilled in the Gospels. These prophets used the imagery of the bride when speaking of the tribulations as well as the liberation and restoration of the kingdom of Israel:
We also note that John the Baptist makes reference to the bride in John 3:29:
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete.
Likewise, the Book of Revelation also uses the Hebrew metaphor of the bride:
Mary Magdalene’s name means the tower derived from the Hebrew root word Magdal. In some translations we find her also called “Mary of Magdala”, but this does not appear to be a correct designation. The Jewish scholar Hayyim ben Yehoshua informs us that the town called Magdala was known as Taricheae until second century Christians renamed it, believing that the town may have been the Magdalene’s home, since in ancient times the town of Taricheae had been known as “Migdal Nunayya” - Tower of the Fishermen, so named because it was a place where fish was salted for trade.
The name Magdalene contains the Greek ending ‘n’ which does not render into ‘of Magdala’. Magdalene then, appears to be a discipleship appellation given by Jesus in the same manner as other known titles Jesus assigned, such as Peter designating Simon bar Jonah as a stone. The designation of this Mary as the tower implies that she was being honored with the title of “Mary the Great.” Iconographers have demonstrated this obliquely by portraying Mary Magdalene as taller than the apostles, which is indeed fitting for the one who was chosen to be witness to the resurrected Christ and the first sent apostle to deliver the Good News to the world.
"I have seen the Lord!"
Order of Magdal-Eder, Tacoma, WA Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org