The Priestly Blessing

The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.

Large crowds gather at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during Passover, 2017, to receive the priestly blessing. (Image: Screenshot, YouTube, Watch)


Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Nasso (נשא | Take up)
  • Torah: Numbers 4:21-7:89
  • Haftarah: Judges 13:2-5
  • Gospel: Luke 1:11-20

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Numbers 4:21 | The Gershonites and Merarites
    • Numbers 4:34 | Census of the Levites
    • Numbers 5:1 | Unclean Persons
    • Numbers 5:5 | Confession and Restitution
    • Numbers 5:11 | Concerning an Unfaithful Wife
    • Numbers 6:1 | The Nazirites
    • Numbers 6:22 | The Priestly Benediction
    • Numbers 7:1 | Offerings of the Leaders
  • Prophets
    • Jdg 13:1 | The Birth of Samson

Portion Summary

The second reading from the book of Numbers and the thirty-fifth reading from the Torah is called Nasso (נשא), a word that literally means "lift up." It comes from the first word of the second verse in Hebrew, which could literally be translated to say, "Lift up the heads of the sons of Gershon," an idiomatic way of saying, "Make an accounting of the sons of Gershon." This Torah portion finishes up the census of the Levites that was under way at the end of the last Torah portion, before going on to discuss the purification of the camp, the ritual for a woman suspected of adultery, the laws of the Nazirite vow, the priestly benediction and the gifts the heads of the twelve tribes brought for the dedication of the altar.

Numbers 6 closes with the immortal words of the priestly blessing, a commandment for the sons of Aaron to bless Israel. To this day, the sons of Aaron lift their hands over the worshipers in the synagogue service while they utter the words, “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

The three lines of the priestly benediction each invoke a different aspect of God’s blessing. The first requests God to bless and keep us. Messiah “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Messiah” (Ephesians 1:3). Through Messiah, the blessing of Abraham has come upon the Gentiles, and we all experience “the fullness of the blessing of Messiah” (Romans 15:29). Through Yeshua, God is “able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory” (Jude 24-25).

The second verse of the blessing says, “The LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you” (Numbers 6:25). The shining of the LORD’s face represents His attention and pleasure. His graciousness is the expression of His grace. Messiah is the fulfillment of this request as well. The gift of God’s grace comes through “the redemption which is in Messiah Yeshua” (Romans 3:24). “We believe that we are saved through the grace of the Master Yeshua” (Acts 15:11), which God “freely bestowed on us in the Beloved…according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us” (Ephesians 1:6-8).

The third verse of the blessing says, “The LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:26). The lifting up of the LORD’S countenance upon a person implies the smile of God. Messiah fulfills the request for peace: “We have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (Romans 5:1).

He told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). “Let the peace of the Messiah rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15), and “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in the Messiah Yeshua” (Philippians 4:7). This peace will cover the whole earth in the Messianic Era: “There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore” (Isaiah 9:7).

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Shadows of the Messiah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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