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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary


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Consistently the Bible refers to the gifts that God gives, whether material or spiritual, as blessings (Genesis 9:1; Leviticus 25:21; Numbers 6:22-26; Psalms 115:12-15; Proverbs 10:22; Ephesians 1:3; Hebrews 6:7). Often it contrasts God’s blessings with his cursings or punishments (Deuteronomy 11:26-28; Deuteronomy 27:12-13; Deuteronomy 30:19).

Even in ordinary human relationships, to desire blessing or cursing for another person meant to desire benefits or calamities for that person (Genesis 27:12; Numbers 22:6; Romans 12:14; James 3:10-11). A blessing in this sense was not a mere expression of good wishes, but an announcement that people believed carried with it the power to make the wishes come true (Genesis 27:27-29; Genesis 27:33; Genesis 49:1; Genesis 49:28; Numbers 24:10; 2 Samuel 7:29). (For a similar idea, but with opposite results, see CURSE.)

People gave blessings on important occasions, most notably at births, marriages and farewells (Genesis 14:18-19; Genesis 24:60; Ruth 4:14-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 2:33-35; Luke 24:50). Usually the person of higher status blessed the one of lower status (Hebrews 7:7; cf. Genesis 14:18-20).

The blessing that people in Israelite families wanted most was the prophetic announcement by which the head of the family passed on favours to his children (Genesis 27:36-41; Genesis 48:8-22; Genesis 49:1-28; Deuteronomy 33; Hebrews 11:20-21; Hebrews 12:17). Probably the most striking example of a blessing carrying with it the power of certain fulfilment was God’s blessing to Abraham that promised him a people and a land (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 26:24).

Since a blessing expressed the desire for a person’s well-being, it was also used as a formal greeting, even from an inferior to a superior (Genesis 47:7-10). A blessing could therefore become an expression of praise, and in this sense grateful people can bless God (Psalms 28:6; Psalms 31:21; Psalms 41:13; Daniel 2:19-20; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 1:68; Romans 1:25; Ephesians 1:3). A thanksgiving to God such as before eating a meal is sometimes called a blessing (Mark 6:41; Mark 8:7; Mark 14:22; 1 Corinthians 10:16).

There is another word sometimes translated ‘blessed’ that refers to the happiness or well-being of a person. It is usually used to denote the contented state of the person who lives uprightly according to God’s principles and who, as a result, enjoys God’s favour (Psalms 1:1; Psalms 32:1; Psalms 41:1; Proverbs 3:13; Matthew 11:6; Matthew 16:17; Luke 1:45; Luke 12:37; Romans 4:6-9; James 1:12; Revelation 16:15). When people enter God’s kingdom and live under the kingly rule of Christ, they experience the sort of deep seated joy that Christ himself experienced. Such joy is a foretaste of the greater blessedness that will be theirs when they are with Christ in the day of his kingdom’s final glory (Matthew 5:2-11; Matthew 25:34; John 15:11; see JOY).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Blessing'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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