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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Bless

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(בָּרִךְ, barak'; εὐλογέω ). There are three or four points of view in which acts of blessing may be considered.

1. When God is said to bless his people. Without doubt the inferior is blessed by the superior. When} God blesses, he bestows that virtue, that efficacy, which' renders his blessing effectual, and which his blessing expresses. His blessings are either temporal or spiritual, bodily or mental; but in every thing they are productive of that which they import. God's blessings extend into the future life, as his people are made partakers of that blessedness which, in infinite fulness, dwells in himself (Genesis 1:22; Genesis 24:35; Job 42:12; Psalms 45:2; Psalms 104:24; Psalms 104:28; Luke 11:9-13; James 1:17).

2. When men are said to bless God, as in Psalms 103:1-2; Psalms 145:1-3. We are not, then, to suppose the divine Being, who is over all, and in himself blessed forevermore, is capable of receiving any augmentation of his happiness from any of the creatures which he has made: such a supposition, as it would imply something of imperfection in the divine nature, must ever be rejected with abhorrence; and therefore, when creatures bless the adorable Creator, they only ascribe to him that praise and dominion, and honor, and glory, and blessing which it is equally the duty and joy of his creatures to render. So that blessing on the part of man is an act of thanksgiving to God for his mercies, or rather for that special mercy which, at the time, occasions the act of blessing; as for food, for which thanks are rendered to God, or for any other good.

3. Men are said to bless their fellow-creatures when, as in ancient times, in the spirit of prophecy they predicted blessings to come upon them. From the time that God entered into covenant with Abraham, and promised extraordinary blessings to his posterity, it appears to have been customary for the father of each family, in the direct line, or line of promise, immediately previous to his death, to call his children around him, and to inform them, according to the knowledge which it had pleased God to give him, how and in what manner the Divine blessing conferred upon Abraham was to descend among them. Upon these occasions the patriarchs enjoyed a Divine illumination, and under its influence their benediction was deemed a prophetic oracle, foretelling events with the utmost certainty, and extending to the remotest period of time (see Bush, Notes on Genesis in loc.). Thus Jacob blessed his sons (Genesis 49:1-28; Hebrews 11:21), and Moses the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 23:1-25). The blessings of men were also good wishes, personal or official, and, as it were, a peculiar kind of prayer to the Author of all good for the welfare of the subject of them; thus Melchisedek blessed Abraham (Genesis 14:19; Hebrews 7:1; Hebrews 7:6-7). The form of blessing prescribed in the Hebrew ritual (Numbers 6:23-27) which Jehovah commanded Moses to instruct Aaron and his descendants to bless the congregation, is admirably simple and sublime: "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace" (Haner, De benedictione sacerd. Jen. 1712). It was pronounced standing, with a loud voice, and with the hands raised toward heaven (Luke 24:50). National blessings and cursings were some-. times pronounced (Deuteronomy 27:12-26; Deuteronomy 28:1; Deuteronomy 28:68).

4. David says, " I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord" (Psalms 116:13). The phrase appears to be taken from the custom of the Jews in their thank-offerings, in which a feast was made of the remainder of their sacrifices, when, among other rites, the master of the feast took a cup of wine in his hand, and solemnly blessed God for it, and for the mercies which were then acknowledged, and gave it to all the guests, every one of whom drank in his turn. (See CUP). To this custom it is supposed our Lord alludes in the institution of the cup, which is also called "the cup of blessing" (1 Corinthians 10:16). (See PASSOVER). At the family feasts also, and especially that of the Passover, both wine and bread were in this solemn and religious manner distributed, and God was blessed, and his mercies acknowledged. They blessed God for their present refreshment, for their deliverance out of Egypt, for the covenant of circumcision, and for the law given by Moses; they prayed that God would,be merciful to his people Israel, that he would send the prophet Elijah, and that he would render them -worthy of the kingdom of the Messiah. In the Mosaic law, the manner of blessing was appointed by the lifting up of hands, and we see that our Lord lifted up his hands and blessed his disciples. (See BENEDICTION).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bless'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/b/bless.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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