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The Priestly Blessing

October 23, 2014

Numbers 6:24-26 – “Yahweh blesses you and keeps you. Yahweh makes his face shine upon you and is gracious to you. Yahweh lifts his countenance upon you and makes you whole.” (PJT)

A Little Iffy
Traditional English translations often infuse a sense of if  Yahweh or Adonai is willing, that the blessing might have already happened, or maybe might happen in the future.  For instance:
NLT: “May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.”
NCV: “May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD show you his kindness and have mercy on you.  May the LORD watch over you and give you peace.”
HCSB: “May Yahweh bless you and keep you. May Yahweh make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.  May Yahweh Yahweh look with favor on you and give you peace.”
CEV: “I pray that the Lord will bless and protect you, and that he will show you mercy and kindness. May the Lord be good to you and give you peace.”

In other words, if Yahweh is willing then he might or might not take action, but no guarantees either way.

A Little Less Iffy
Others are more direct in their translations. For instance:
KJV, NKJV, NSRV, RSV, NASB, ESV, WEB, HNV:  “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
NIV:  “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
ASV, YLT, DBY:  “Jehovah bless you and keep you; Jehovah make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; Jehovah lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

Better, but still a sense of it might happen immediately, or it might happen in the future, or it might not happen at all, or it might just be a blessing only for those in attendance at that moment. And it almost sounds as if the person giving the blessing is making demands.  None of the above translations convey the direct Hebrew declaration that Yahweh is the cause of the fulfillment of what is declared.

The Hebrew Words
Y’varekhe’kha Yahweh v’yishmerekha. Ya’er Yahweh panav eleikha vichunekka. Yisa Yahweh panav eleikha v’yasem l’kha shalom.” (יִשָּׂ֨א יְהוָ֤ה פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֹֽום׃ ס  יָאֵ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃ ס יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃ ס).

Definitions:

  • Yahweh [יְהוָ֖ה H3068]; Yahweh – the proper name of the one true God.
  • Y’varekhe’kha [יְבָרֶכְךָ֥] taken from the root word, barak [בָּרַךְ H1288]; meaning: to bless, to be blessed.
  • V’yishmerekha [וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃ ס] taken from the root word, shamar [שָׁמַר H8104]; meaning: to keep, guard, keep, watch and ward, protect.
  • Ya’er [יָאֵ֨ר] and Yisa [יִשָּׂ֨א]; taken from the root word, owr [אוֹר H215]; meaning: to shine, to light up.
  • Panav [פָּנָ֛יו] taken from the root words, paniym [פָּנִים H6440]; meaning: face, and panah [פָּנָה H6437]; meaning: to turn toward, or to lift up toward.
  • Eleikha, L’kha [אֵלֶ֖יךָ, לְךָ֖]; meaning: to you.
  • Vichunekka [וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃ ס] taken from the root word, chanan [חָנַן H2603]; meaning: to be gracious, to show favour, to pity.
  • V’yasem [וְיָשֵׂ֥ם] taken from the root word, suwm [שׂוּם H7760]; meaning: to ordain, appoint, or determine.
  • Shalom [שָׁלוֹם H7965]; meaning: completeness and soundness of health, welfare, peacefulness, relationships.

Definition Of The Name Yahweh:
Exodus 3:15 –  “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, Yahweh [יהוה YHVH [H3068], the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this is my memorial-name to all generations.” (PJT)
Exodus 9:16 –“For this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show my power in you, and that my name may be declared in all the earth.” (PJT)
Numbers 6:27 – “Put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” (PJT)
Ezekiel 39:7 –  “My holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations will know that I am Yahweh (יהוה), the Holy One in Israel.” (PJT)

In Exodus, when Yahweh met Moses at the burning bush, he commanded Moses to make known His name to the people in Egypt and to all peoples of the earth. In Numbers, he commands Moses to pronounce his name upon the Israelites. In Ezekiel, he further clarified that His name, Yahweh (יהוה), is to be made known to all nations.

God’s name, commonly called the Tetragrammaton, is composed of four Hebrew letters: יהוה YHVH [H3068]. It is translated in various ways, most commonly as Yehovah / Jehovah, or Yahveh / Yahweh).  The letters in the Tetragrammaton, יהוה, the four letter representation of God’s name, can be rearranged to spell the words:
היה               He Was        hayâh      H1961
הוה               He Is           howêh      H1934
יהיה              He Will Be   w’yihiyê  From H3068

Malachi 3:6 – “I Am Yahweh (יהוה), I do not change . . .
Hebrews 13:8 – “Yeshua (יְהוֹשׁוּעַ Jesus [H3091]) Ha’Mashiach (מָשִׁיחַ the Messiah [H4899]) is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

God’s name, יַהְוֶה, Yahweh, firmly establishes His eternal nature and that He is the same yesterday, today, and for all eternity.  He is loving, merciful, gracious, and desires that not one will perish.  Place your faith in Him and His promises and receive eternal life.

The Professor Jeff Translation (PJT)
Numbers 6:24-26 – “Yahweh blesses you and keeps you. Yahweh makes his face shine upon you and is gracious to you. Yahweh lifts his countenance upon you and makes you whole.”

The translation above firmly declares that it is Yahweh who is the direct cause of the blessings declared by the prayer. Each verb (blesses, keeps, lifts, makes, is) has a timelessness property and leaves no impression that it may or may not happen depending upon the mood of Yahweh; that it may or may not happen depending upon the hour, day, or time; or that it may or may not happen depending upon earthly or heavenly circumstances.  This translation indicates that the blessings of Yahweh are already in effect, are immediately experienced at this moment, and will be experienced continually for all eternity.

My prayer is that when you hear or pray the Priestly Blessing that you will remember that the blessings of Yahweh declared in this blessing are past, present, future, immediate, and continual, that the blessings reflect his eternal nature just as fully as does his name.

Final Thought
Today we are one day closer to the return of Yeshua than we were yesterday and tomorrow we will be even one day closer.  For almost two thousand years the Jews would proclaim “Next year in Jerusalem!”  I now proclaim “Next Yom Teruah in the clouds!”  Prophecy continues to unfold as foretold by the Hebrew prophets.  Yeshua Ha’Mashiach is coming soon – get busy reaching the lost.

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One Comment
  1. Dave Aldrich permalink

    You had searching me the web for this PJT translation, then as I read to the bottom of your article found that is was you! A good study, Jeff. Thanks for the clarity on that blessing.

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