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When we read this (from Sefer Torah Genesis 24:48)

And I kneeled and prostrated myself to the Lord, and I blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, Who led me on the true path, to take the daughter of my master's brother for his son.

and also in Hebrew:

וָֽאֶקֹּ֥ד וָֽאֶשְׁתַּֽחֲוֶ֖ה לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה וָֽאֲבָרֵ֗ךְ אֶת־יְהֹוָה֙ אֱלֹהֵי֙ אֲדֹנִ֣י אַבְרָהָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֤ר הִנְחַ֨נִי֙ בְּדֶ֣רֶךְ אֱמֶ֔ת לָקַ֛חַת אֶת־בַּת־אֲחִ֥י אֲדֹנִ֖י לִבְנֽוֹ:

we perceive the paradox of the same time the servant of Abraham kneeling before the Lord, this is G'd, but at the same time, the same servant blessing the Lord. How can we explain this apparent paradox?

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2 Answers 2

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The idea of humans "blessing" YHWH (= LORD Jehovah) is extremely common in the OT - see appendix below.

Indeed, even in Gen 24 (the focus of this question) the operative verb בָּרַך (barak) occurs in the sense of blessing the LORD in V27, 48.

It is significant that the first few times this verb is used in Genesis, its meaning illustrates its use elsewhere:

  • Gen 1:22 - God blesses Adam and Eve
  • Gen 1:28 - God blesses Adam and Eve
  • Gen 2:3 - God blesses the Sabbath
  • Gen 5:2 - God blesses Adam and Eve
  • Gen 9:1 - God blesses Noah and his sons
  • Gen 12:2, 3 - God promises to bless Abraham
  • Gen 14:19 - Melchizedek blesses Abraham
  • Gen 14:20 - Melchizedek blesses God most High

Sometimes the same verb is used to "bless the Name of the LORD" (eg, Job 1:21, Ps 113:2, Dan 2:20) with exactly the same meaning.

Thus, the verb can mean any of the following (see BDB):

  • to kneel before, or, praise in worship/thanksgiving, when addressed to God (see appendix below)
  • to wish prosperity for, when addressed to humans by humans, eg, Gen 24:60, 47:10, etc
  • to set-apart as sacred (eg, the Sabbath, Gen 2:3, Ex 20:11)
  • to promise prosperity when God blesses humans, eg, Num 23:20, Ps 109:28, etc.

Thus, the Hebrew verb בָּרַך (barak) has a nuanced meaning depending on who is blessing who or what.

APPENDIX - Humans Blessing YHWH God

  • 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.
  • Deut 8:10 - When you eat and are satisfied, you are to bless the LORD your God for the good land that He has given you.
  • 1 Kings 1:48 - saying, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel! Today He has provided one to sit on my throne, and my eyes have seen it.’ ”
  • 1 Kings 5:7 - When Hiram received Solomon’s message, he rejoiced greatly and said, “Blessed be the LORD this day! He has given David a wise son over this great people!”
  • 1 Kings 8:15 - and said: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His own hand what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying,
  • 1 Chron 29:10 - Then David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly and said: “May You be blessed, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
  • 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.
  • Ezra 7:27 - Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who has put into the heart of the king to so honor the house of the LORD in Jerusalem,
  • Ezra 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.
  • 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 - I will bless the LORD who counsels me; even at night my conscience instructs me.
  • Ps 28:6 - Blessed be the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy.
  • Ps 34:1 - I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.
  • Ps 41:13 - Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen.
  • Ps 104:35 - May sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Hallelujah!
  • Ps 134:1 - Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who serve by night in the house of the LORD!

There are many, many more.

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To bless can mean to consecrate or to confer prosperity. And humans cannot bless God in that sense. But another definition of bless is "to praise or glorify." That is the meaning here.

In another sense, blessings travel both ways. God blesses us, and we bless/praise Him as well. Not only servants but patriarchs, prophets, kings and even pagans blessed the Lord (Exodus 18:10). We do it today every time we recite Psalm 103 in the KJV or say "praise the Lord" to a friend in church. Here are some other biblical examples:

  • But when you have eaten and are satisfied, you must bless the Lord, your God, for the good land he has given you. ((Deuteronomy 8:10)

  • My heart [Deborah's] is with the leaders of Israel, with the dedicated ones of the people—bless the Lord. (Judges 5:9)

  • Then David told the whole assembly, “Now bless the Lord your God!” And the whole assembly blessed the Lord... (1 Chronicles 29:20)

  • The Levites... said, “Arise, bless the Lord, your God, from eternity to eternity!” (Nehemiah 9:5)

The meaning of "bless" in this passage is "praise" or "glorify." Once that is understood, it is only natural that someone responds to God guidance and grace by blessing Him.

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  • There is just a problem, in none of the sentences you mentioned, the direction of the blessing. Sep 8, 2023 at 13:01
  • Where is this written "But when you have eaten and are satisfied, you must bless the Lord, your God, for the good land he has given you."? Sep 8, 2023 at 20:52
  • Sorry... I misplaced the reference. It's Deuteronomy 8:10... and the next one is Judges 5:9. I think the direction is clear in these verses, but see @Dottard's answer for examples where it is unmistakable - 'I will bless the Lord.' Sep 8, 2023 at 22:52

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