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The Aaronic blessing

The Aaronic Blessing is well known in many Christian circles and is often stated at the closure of a service. It is also known as the Priestly Blessing.

It is found in Numbers 6:22-27 as follows in two translations, starting with the King James version. A Hebrew version follows.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.|Adonai said to Moshe, “Speak to Aharon and his sons, and tell them that this is how you are to bless the people of Isra’el: you are to say to them,

‘Y’varekh’kha Adonai v’yishmerekha.
Ya’er Adonai panav eleikha vichunekka.
Yissa Adonai panav eleikha v’yasem l’kha shalom.

“In this way they are to put my name on the people of Isra’el, so that I will bless them.”

Before we continue, please consider that this was a command issued by God. He instructed Moses to tell Aaron and his sons who were the lineage of priests to bless the people. This is not a religious ceremony or something that sounds nice, but a command to impart something upon Gods people.

They had been captives for 400 years and were now free people, experiencing a completely new way of life for the first time.

If we liken our own lives to this, scriptures tell us that we were once held captive by the devil by sin until the Lord released us from its bondage. We relate this to the salvation experience and as it was with the Israelites, they were taken out of one kingdom (Egypt) and translated ito a new Kingdom when we accept Jesus both as our Lord and as our saviour. I recommend that you read the first two chapters of Ephesians and meditate on that. Paul spoke here and elsewhere that we must experience a life-changing transformation, being taken out of one kingdom rule and being placed into the Kingdom of God’ own dear Son.

Perhaps I can explain it further by saying if I moved from my own country of Australia to live in another country such as Japan or Saudi Arabia, my entire lifestyle must change. I will need to learn a new language, new manners and customs, adapt to different food, or learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road. They have different laws to ours, so I cannot keep behaving as I do now. When we become born again, we leave one kingdom to live in a different one in such a manner and must learn how to adapt.

God knew that and instructed Moses to teach Aaron and the priesthood such things and part of those “Laws” included the Aaronic blessing. It is a command to bless. God wants to bless us.

As we learn abut this new life, we should see that there are certain steps as we follow the learning process. As a newborn baby in the natural, we need mother for sustenance and are then weaned. We start to crawl, then sit up, then learn to walk.

Our growth is progressive and this is how is should be in the Christian experience.

Initially, only God could bless, then the patriarchs and once the priesthood was established, the priests were qualified and permitted to impart such blessings, but now in Christ Jesus, we are all deemed to be priests. The “priesthood” as such has been fulfilled in and by Jesus, so in a manner of speaking, has been abolished. In the Old Testament however, this was not possible, so Aaron and his sons gave the blessing—but it was always associated with sacrifice and it was always progressive.

Leviticus chapter nine is a prime example of this.

On the eighth day, Moshe called Aharon, his sons and the leaders of Isra’el, and said to Aharon, “Take a male calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without defect, and offer them before Adonai.
Then tell the people of Isra’el, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering and a calf and a lamb, both a year old and without defect, for a burnt offering, and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before Adonai; also a grain offering mixed with olive oil—because today Adonai is going to appear to you.’ ” They brought what Moshe had ordered before the tent of meeting, and the whole community approached and stood before Adonai.
Moshe said, “This is what Adonai has ordered you to do, so that the glory of Adonai will appear to you.” Leviticus 9:1-6

They had to deal with the sin issue first. There was a precise series of steps to take before they could appear before God and once that happened the glory of God could appear. I keep saying that God never changes and that His word never changes, so the principles remain the same. How it is accomplished now differs because of Jesus. See also Deuteronomy 10:8 and 21:5.

In a synagogue, when the congregants are blessed, the one performing the blessing raises his hands as Aaron did. This practice has been called “the raising of the hands.” He also extends his prayer shawl or tallit over his head and his hands as he recites the blessing to indicate reverence and to obey the biblical command to have fringes or tzitzit on the corners of one’s clothing.

Some hold their hands in the shape of a shin (ש), the Hebrew letter at the beginning of the word Shaddai, which is a name for God. The blessing is most commonly recited in Hebrew, but other languages are used depending on the audience.       

On the evening of the Sabbath, Friday evening, this blessing is often said over the children of the house by many Jews and some Christians. It’s also accompanied by requests for God to make them like Ephraim and Manasseh (boys) or Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah (girls). Whether in English or Hebrew, the one blessing usually puts their hands on or above the one(s) being blessed and then says the blessing.

Some Christians do not “accept” such things, forgetting that we are grafted-in and so we can take part in the promises extended to Israel. When we accepted Jesus as our savior, under the New Covenant, where God’s Word has been written on our hearts through the Holy Spirit as believers in Jesus, we entered the priesthood ourselves. Revelation 1:5-6 says that Jesus’ blood made us priests to God! We can bless God’s people in His name.

This is a good time to look at the blessing again with Hebrew/English equivalents.

The LORD bless you and keep you. Yverkah’kha Adonai v’yeeshm’rekha.

Adonai is written and said instead of YHVH, because Jews do not wish to profane God’s name.

The word bless means to affirm or revere and the word keep means to protect or watch.

The LORD make His face to shine upon you. Ya’ayr Adonai panav ‘aylekha.

The word face can literally mean a face or it can mean front.

And be gracious unto you. Veekhoonekha. 

This means to show pity or favour.

The LORD lift up His countenance upon you. Yeesa’ Adonai panav ‘aylekha.

This is a saying that means He looks at you with peace and blessing.

And give you peace. V’yasaym l’kha shalom. 

The word shalom has more than one meaning and can be associated with other words to convey unique blessing speaking, it means wholeness and completeness.

I shall close now by pronouncing the blessing on you.

May Adonai bless you and keep you.

May Adonai make his face shine on you and show you his favor.

May Adonai lift up his face toward you and give you peace.

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