In Genesis 47 (KJV) we read

7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

And a while after

10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.

Some days ago I have come across the question regarding Isaac blessing his son Jacob twice. (Isaac blessing Jacob twice)

I wonder what is really a blessing?

Are there types of blessings?

Is Isaac's blessing different than the ones Jacob gave to Pharaoh?

1 Answer 1


The Hebrew word translated "bless" is simply בָרַךְ (barak) and in almost all cases is just a series of well-wishes for a person. Indeed, the LXX translates this word as εὐλογέω (eulogeo) which is literally, "good words", or, "good thoughts".

The word occurs frequently in the OT, eg, Gen 1:22, 28, 2:3, 5:2, 9:1, 26, 12:2, 14:19, 17:16, etc.

There are some important exception to this - when the blessing was pronounced by either a prophet under inspiration or by God Himself, then the bless often (but not always) contained a prediction about future prosperity or otherwise. This occurred when Isaac blessed Jacob (Gen 27, 28) and when God bless Adam and Eve (Gen 1:28), etc.

However, in the case of Jacob blessing Pharaoh (Gen 47:7, 10), the content of what was said is not recorded. Therefore, all that can be assumed is that Jacob essentially wished Pharaoh well and general good prosperity, etc.

The interesting thing here is the comment in Heb 7:7 about the "greater blessing the lesser". It is obvious that Jacob, because he realized that he served a sovereign of the universe who was infinitely great that the monarch of Egypt, was consciously superior and so was able to bless Pharaoh.

The pulpit commentary says this -

And Jacob - in reply probably to a request from Pharaoh (Tayler Lewis), but more likely sua sponte - blessed Pharaoh. Not simply extended to him the customary salutation accorded to kings (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Alford, and others), like the "May the king live for ever!" of later times (2 Samuel 16:16; 1 Kings 1:25; Daniel 2:4; Daniel 3:9, &c.), but, conscious of his dignity as a prophet of Jehovah, pronounced on him a heavenly benediction (Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary,' and others) - hoe verbo non vulgaris et profana salutatio notatur, sed pia sanctaque servi Dei precatio (Calvin). Genesis 47:7

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.