Parashat Nasso (Lift up)

Bamidbar (Numbers) 4:21–7:89
In our weekly reading we get to one of the most well known blessings, which is know as the Priestly blessing:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them: 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.’ So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them LORD.”
Numbers 6:22–26

יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃ ס ‎יָאֵ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה ׀ פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃ ס‏ יִשָּׂ֨א יְהוָ֤ה ׀ פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם׃

It is reasonable to assume that we are all familiar with this beautiful benediction! But I'd like to dig deeper into the richness of these words in the original Hebrew, especially because I feel the English translation has lost some of the essence of meaning.  We will also see how this blessing was prophetic in nature; it connects to the amazing work of our Messiah! Let's see how...

The Lord bless you” — The ultimate blessing from the Lordis a direct fulfillment of the blessing promised to our father Abraham, which was the promise of a seed through whom all the people of the earth would be blessed. That "seed of blessing" is Yeshua the Messiah.

And keep you” — this word “keep” can also be translated as watch, guard and maintain, all of which connect to our Messiah who is watching over us, guarding us, and maintaining us with all that we need.

The Lord make His face shine upon you” — These words remind me of the words of the prophet Isaiah, “...the people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them” (Isaiah 9:2). The Lord’s face will shine upon those who are walking in darkness, which can also be understood as those who are slaves to sin. Yeshua is the revelation of God to humankind — He is the light of the world! What I personally love about this is the fact that Yeshua’s face shines upon us every step of the way.

…and be gracious to you” — While the Hebrew word here, “וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּֽ” “VeYchunéka”, is translated in most English Bibles as “and be gracious to you, in my opinion, this misses an essential part of its meaning, which is more accurately “to educate” or “to disciple.” We are Yeshua’s disciples here on earth; He has commanded us to also make disciples (Matthew 28:19–20), which means that we cannot fulfill this command without first being discipled by Him.

the Lord lift up His countenance on you” — This is something that reveals a deeply personal connection between the Creator and us as individuals. When it says that “the Lord will lift up His countenance”, it means that He will be there for us, to guide us, and to protect us.

…and give you peace” — The peace that only Messiah gives us is unlike anything else we can find! Rav Sha'ul (the Apostle Paul) knew this and instructed us about resting in Yeshua’s peace:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Yeshua.
Philippians 4:6–7

That peace is not a temporary peace, but rather an everlasting peace that each of us can have through the redeeming power of Yeshua our Messiah. Yeshua gives us peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27). Each person who puts his trust in Yeshua will enjoy the fulfillment of this prophetic blessing!

Shabbat Shalom,

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