Hebrew Origins of the Aaronic Blessing
Most are familiar with the Aaronic blessing (also known as the Aaron Benediction):
May YHVH bless you and keep you.
May YHVH make his face shine on you and show you his favor.
May YHVH lift up his face toward you and give you peace.(Numbers 6:24).
We often read or say these words without really knowing what they mean. As is often the case with the whole Bible, unfortunately. Investing one-on-one time with our Creator’s Word is the only way to break from being spoon-fed when we come out of a system of religion. Recognizing the Greek mindset is vastly different from a Hebrew mind set; where concepts are less abstract and more literal and picturesque.
We encourage you to do more in-depth studies of topics that you are invested in – looking at words and their meanings; including their root words and cross-references, and the pictures they illustrate from a Hebrew-centered point of view.
When we look at the words “bless” and “keep” from a western-gentile mindset, we see that they are abstract words which we are familiar with in English. But, the ancient Hebrews were concrete thinkers who related all things to concrete ideas. For example, the word “anger” in Hebrew is אַף ‘aph (H639) – which literally means: nostril, nose, face. When one becomes angry, don’t we notice that their nostrils flare? See how a Hebrew mind-set changes the word and illustrates a more concrete picture?
The Hebrew word for “bless” is בָּרַךְ barak (H1288) which literally means “to kneel”. A berakah (בְּרָכָה – H1293) is a “blessing”; but more literally, the bringing of a gift to another on a bended “knee”. When we bless God or others, we are in essence, bringing a gift on bended “knee”. A true king is one who serves his people, one who will humble himself and come to his people on a bended knee.
To “keep”, in Hebrew, is “shamar” (שָׁמַר – H8104) which literally means “to guard”. A related word is “shamiyr” which means “a point” or “a thorn” (H8069). When the shepherds were out in the wilderness with their flock, they would construct a corral of thorn bushes, or a hedge of thorns, to protect the sheep from predators. A guarding over of the sheep.
Now, with this more Hebraic concept of the Hebrew words used in the Aaronic blessing, we can read the beginning of the Aaronic blessing as, “YHVH will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection”.
The remaining portions of the Aaronic blessing can also be examined for its original Hebraic meaning revealing the following:
YHVH will kneel before you presenting gifts and will guard you with a hedge of protection, YHVH will illuminate the wholeness of his being toward you bringing order and he will beautify you, YHVH will lift up his wholeness of being and look upon you and he will set in place all you need to be whole and complete.
‘Y’varekh’kha YHVH v’yishmerekha.
Ya’er YHVH panav eleikha vichunekka.
Yissa YHVH panav eleikha v’yasem l’kha shalom.
יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ.
יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ.
יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם.