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But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord. (Psalm 115:18 KJV)

But we, the living, will bless the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. (PS 115:18 LXX - Brenton)

To me a blessing is to bestow a favor, welfare or protection from God to mankind, but can man give blessings to God!

A:) Can man bless God?
B:) What's a proper definition of to bless?
C:) If A, How would a blessing be preformed?

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  • There is a question on this site which may answer your question. It is "What does 'Blessed' mean in 1 Peter 1:3?
    – C. Stroud
    May 15, 2022 at 11:25
  • @C.Stroud I wrote an answer. I don't think man can bless God but The son and angels alone. May 15, 2022 at 13:10
  • 1
    Bless/praise are virtually synonymous translations of this word. Usually when directed at God, "praise" is used in the translation.
    – Dan
    Mar 12, 2023 at 2:16
  • @Dan The write could have used Hal'lu הללו instead of Ba'rak ברה. Ba'rak ברה has only been used once in the bible but related to Be'rakah ברכה Blessing, Blessings, Gift or Present. Mar 12, 2023 at 6:34
  • 1
    Context and grammar matter. I strongly recommend reading my meta post entitled, "Strong's is a concordance, not a lexicon"
    – Dan
    Mar 13, 2023 at 18:25

4 Answers 4

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Note the relationship between

בָּרַךְ vb. kneel, bless ... -- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). In Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (p. 138). Clarendon Press.

בֶּ֫רֶךְ n.f. knee -- Ibid., p. 139.

Thus, the real question may be how did ברך translated bless become something that God does, such as Num. 6:24. I don't think it means that God kneels.

See [What does "bless" [ברך] mean in Isa 45:23?]

וַאֲנַ֤חְנוּ‬׀ נְבָ֘רֵ֤ךְ יָ֗הּ מֵֽעַתָּ֥ה וְעַד־עֹולָ֗ם ‬הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ׃ (Psalm 115:18, BHS)

נְבָ֘רֵ֤ךְ (will bless) is piel imperfect 1st person plural

הַֽלְלוּ (praise) is piel imperative, 2nd person masculine plural

Often ברך is translated bless when the subject is God and praise when God is the object.

Figure 1. Senses of ברך in the Hebrew Old Testament (generated with Logos Bible Software) enter image description here Note: to bless is piel, cause to be bless is hiphil,, to be blessed is niphal.

However, this causes some difficulty with Psalm 115:18. As Hebrew poetry it is a synonymous parallel with ברך and הלל being synonyms.

Figure 2. Senses of הלל in the Hebrew Old Testament enter image description here Note: to praise is piel, to boast is hiphil, and to be praised is niphal.

The common Hebrew word for praise is הלל. So, if you translate הלל as praise, how do you translate ברך and indicate it is a different word. As a result ברך is usually translated bless meaning to bow with bended knees in this case.

  1. bless God, adore with bended knees: acc. ברך י׳ Gn 24:48 (J) Dt 8:10; Ju 5:2, 9; 1 Ch 29:10, 20; 2 Ch 20:26; 31:8; Ne 9:5; ψ 16:7; 26:12; 34:2; 63:5; 103:20, 21, 22; 115:18; 134:1, 2; 135:19, 20; 145:2, 10 -- Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (1977). In Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (pp. 138–139). Clarendon Press.
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  • 2
    Your diagrams give no regard to Hebrew grammar.
    – Cynthia
    Mar 12, 2023 at 6:26
  • @Cynthia -- True to bless is piel, cause to be bless is hiphil,, to be blessed is niphal.
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 12, 2023 at 11:49
  • Then you should have separate diagrams for ברכו/ברכי , ברוך and מבורך and מברך. Because they don't mean the same. You do not even show the verses and Mishnah how they are used. Mishnah is the reference point how Hebrew was used 2000 years ago.
    – Cynthia
    Mar 12, 2023 at 15:13
  • @Cynthia - I will need to see if the software is capable of this. I would love for the software to be capable of including the Mishnah. We welcome any input referencing the Mishnah. I am familiar with sefaria.org
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 12, 2023 at 21:51
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The adjective eulogetos from eulogeo εὐλογέω (εὖ, λόγος good word) means to praise commend, speak in favour of. God praises man, man praises God. Derived word is eulogy in English.

Danker:

εὐλογέω [εὖ, λόγος] —1. ‘invoke (divine) favor’ on or for someth. bless, of things Mk 8:7 (prob. Mt 14:19; 26:26; Mk 6:41; 14:22 are to be understood in this sense); Lk 24:30; 1 Cor 10:16; of pers. Lk 2:34; 6:28; Ro 12:14; Hb 11:20f; 1 Pt 3:9.

—2. ‘express high praise’, w. connotation of appreciation for beneficence bless, praise in ref. to God or Jesus Christ Mt 14:19; Lk 1:64; 24:53; 1 Cor 14:16; Js 3:9; in acclamation Mt 21:9 and par.

—3. ‘bestow favor’, bless Eph 1:3; Hb 6:14; pass. Mt 25:34; Lk 1:42; Gal 3:9.

ESV Romans 1:25: “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed εύλογητός forever! Amen.”

LXX Psalms 115:18 – Ψαλμοί 113:26: “ἀλλ᾽ ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες εὐλογήσομεν τὸν κύριον ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν καὶ ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος.”

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  • From whence we get our English word "eulogize" / "eulogy"
    – Dan
    Mar 12, 2023 at 2:14
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According to "The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Old Testament" by W Baker and E Carpenter, בָרַךְ means this:

A verb meaning to bless, kneel, salute, or greet. The verb derives from the noun knee and perhaps suggests the bending of the knee in blessing. Its derived meaning is to bless someone or something.

The verb is regularly used when blessing God, for example:

  • Gen 9:26 - He also declared: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the servant of Shem.
  • Gen 24:27 - saying, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His kindness and faithfulness from my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
  • Ex 18:10 - Jethro declared, “Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who has delivered the people from the hand of the Egyptians.
  • 2 Chron 20:26 - On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they blessed the LORD. Therefore that place is called the Valley of Beracah to this day.
  • 2 Chron 31:8 - When Hezekiah and his officials came and viewed the heaps, they blessed the LORD and His people Israel.
  • Neh 8:6 - Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and with their hands uplifted, all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
  • Ps 16:7 - I will bless the LORD who counsels me; even at night my conscience instructs me.
  • Ps 26:12 - My feet stand on level ground; in the congregations I will bless the LORD.
  • Ps 34:1 - I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
  • Ps 104:1 - Bless the LORD, O my soul!
  • Ps 104:35 - May sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Hallelujah!
  • Ps 115:18 - But it is we who will bless the LORD, both now and forevermore.
  • Ps 145:1, 2 - I will exalt You, my God and King; I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.
  • Ps 145:10 - All You have made will give You thanks, O LORD, and Your saints will bless You.
  • Ps 145:21 - My mouth will declare the praise of the LORD; let every creature bless His holy name forever and ever.

Thus, we find many examples of people blessing God; this is done as a means of praising the great name of God.

APPENDIX - Heb 7:7

In Heb 7:7 we read:

And indisputably, the lesser is blessed by the greater.

This verse alludes to gen 14:19 which reads:

and he blessed Abram and said: “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth,

The verb used twice here is the same verb as discussed above, בָרַךְ.

Now, how this verse squares with the above material is another matter that will not be discussed here and might be the subject of a separate question.

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This posted question give us the opportunity to speak about the real meaning of brk (ברך) in the Hebrew Bible.

By the vast majority of Bible translations this term is translated 'to bless' (or its derived terms), taking for granted we (readers) all really know what to bless means.

Now, in English language, 'to bless' derives from the following diachronic sequence: proto-Germanic *blodison ‘hallow with blood, mark with blood’, from *blotham, ‘blood’ (see blood [n.]). “Originally a blood sprinkling on pagan altars, then, Northumbrian bloedsian, ‘to consecrate by a religious rite, make holy, give thanks, then, Old English bletsian, bledsian, and, finally, Middle English blessen.” (https://www.-etymonline.com/).

The same reference source states: “This word was chosen in Old English Bibles to translate Latin ‘benedicere’ and Greek ‘eulogein’, both of which have a ground sense of ‘to speak well of, to praise’, but were used in Scripture to translate Hebrew brk ‘to bend (the knee), worship, praise, invoke blessings.’ L. R. Palmer (‘The Latin Language’) writes, ‘There is nothing surprising in the semantic development of a word denoting originally a special ritual act into the more generalized meanings to sacrifice, worship, bless […]. The meaning shifted in late Old English toward ‘pronounce or make happy, prosperous, or fortunate’ by resemblance to unrelated bliss.”

Clearly, to translate the Hebrew brk (ברך) with the English 'to bless' (along with its related terms) – as well as, the Greek ευλογεω, or the Latin benedico - is only a very pale approximation of the original meaning of the Hebrew term, which has no connection at all with concepts as ‘consecration, blood, happiness, bliss’, and so on.

So, when we read ‘to bless’ (espec. in the Bible) we immediately think about an unfailing positive concept, often related to the bestowal of some kinds of gifts, especially if the ‘blessing’ comes from God. This idea (brk = to bless = to give/receive gifts [of various kinds] from someone) is so deep-rooted in us that we give it for granted anytime. In this manner - regrettably - we create the presupposition of the discrepance the question refers to.

But, what Bible itself says about brk (ברך)? The action of brk (ברך) can be accomplished:

  1. from man to other human beings
  2. from God to human beings
  3. from human beings to God
  4. from heavenly beings (angels) to God.

Its meaning? From the anthitetical parallelism included in Psa 62:4, regarding the two terms ברך and קלל (the latter term has the meaning of ‘to be light [not heavy] > to be agile’), we may safely conclude that a basic concept hidden in ברך is – obviously - the opposite of קלל, then, ‘to be heavy’. Interestingly, קלל has also the derived meaning of ‘to curse’.


Summing up… ברך, ‘to be heavy, loaded’ > ‘to bless’ (usual translation) קלל, ‘to be light, agile, nimble’ > ‘to curse’.

You’ve to memorize these biblical antonymous links: ‘to be heavy, loaded’ vs ‘to be light, agile, nimble’, and, ‘to bless’ (usual translation) vs ‘to curse’.

Someone could say 'That’s may be interesting, but, what is the conceptual connection between the meanings ‘to be heavy, loaded’ and ‘to bless’ (usual translation), as well as ‘to be light, agile, nimble’ and ‘to curse’?'

Well, the very same we use in our respective languages (English and Italian).

Indeed, both in English and Italian we assign the concept of ‘to give importance to someone/something’ also using the expression ‘to give [or, ‘lend’] weight to (someone/something)’ [‘dare peso a qualcuno/qualcosa’, in Italian]. In the same way, it must be correct also the opposite, namely, the antonymous concept of ‘to give little importance…’ (in English) is expressed also with the expression ‘not to carry much weight’ [‘non avere molto peso’, in Italian].

But, just a moment! How all these data have to do with the concept of ‘to bend the knees’ (as quoted by Perry Webb)? Please, do feel the natural flow of the following concepts: ‘to be heavy/to be loaded’ > ‘to bend the knees’ (whether in a physical sense or in a figurative way)!


Focusing the matter… So, what is the real meaning of brk (ברך)?

Please, open your Bible in Gen 49 (where we find the Blessings of Jacob to his Sons, as many Bible maintain it as an added subheading to this chapter).

Well, here we will use the very ancient tecnique called reductio ad absurdum (if you do not know what it is, the more important thing is you ‘feel the flow…’).

We, now start from the presupposition that brk (ברך) has always a positive acceptation (as the vast majority of Bible translator back). Are you ready?

Open with me in Gen 49:28 (bold is mine): “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed (uibrk) them, blessing (brktu) each with the blessing (brk) suitable to him” (ESV).

Note that the brk (ברך) Jacob give to his sons was a personalized one. In fact, “[Jacob] blessing each [of his sons] with the blessing suitable to him [a given, individual son of him].”

So far so good…


Please, go back now through that same chapter, to the verses 5-7, where we find the Jacob’s ‘suitable’ ‘blessing’ to his sons Simeon and Levi, and ask yourselves…

What a scrap of positive acception have you find in this ‘blessing’ to them? The verbs ‘to curse’, ‘to divide (them), ‘to scatter them’ (from ESV translation), applied to Simeon and Levi (by their inspired father) give us light to understand that brk (ברך) has not always a positive acceptation.

Have you get the point now?

Ergo, the real meaning of brk (ברך) is ‘to give weight to something/someone’ > ‘to give importance to something/someone’, with words, and/or with actions (in other words, no to be indifferent to something/someone).

Expecially regarding God’s brk towards someone, this given importance can lead to a positive ending, or a negative one (as in the Jacob’s case).

Akin to the opposite idea of brk (ברך) – namely, קלל, ‘to be light, agile, nimble’ - is the famous aforism by Elie Wiesel, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

To act as your neighbour is non-existant is worse than harboring hatred against him, this because hating someone is also an implied acknowledgment of his existence (that ‘carry much weight’ according us), whereas indifference (for all practical purposes) really ignores his very existence.

So, brk (ברך) includes also the sense of ‘to take someone/something into consideration’, ‘to consider something’, and so on. This is confirmed also by the linguistic comparation with the Akkadian language. Indeed, the old Akkadian term BARU means ‘to consider’ (Chicago Assyrian Dictionary [CAD] II:117).


Finally…

If you have correctly linked all the data presented above you have reach yet the conclusion that the original question of Daniel Dahlberg is not a discrepance, at all. In fact, just as God may give weight/importance to a man (and that may lead to some positive actions by God – or some negative ones), in the same manner a man may give weight/importance to God (and that this may lead to some positive actions by this man – or negative ones).

I hope these notes will be useful for your research.

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