Parashat Nasso (Lift Up)
Bamidbar (Numbers) 4:21–7:89
In our reading this week, we find a very special prayer and blessing which is possibly one of the most well-known blessings, known as the Priestly blessing, or the Aaronic Blessing. I have written about the richness of the words in Hebrew, which at times may lose some of the meaning when translated to other languages; however, in this post, I would like to share some other thoughts about the meaning of this blessing.
יְבָרֶכְךָ֥ יְהוָ֖ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶֽךָ׃ ס יָאֵ֨ר יְהוָ֧ה ׀ פָּנָ֛יו אֵלֶ֖יךָ וִֽיחֻנֶּֽךָּ׃ ס יִשָּׂ֨א יְהוָ֤ה ׀ פָּנָיו֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְיָשֵׂ֥ם לְךָ֖ שָׁלֽוֹם׃
I will provide my own translation in English, which include some of my own emphasis:
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, guard or watch over you; The LORD Shine His face on you, and educate (disciple) you; The LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.’ So, they shall put My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.”
Here are some key points, phrase by phrase:
“The LORD bless you”
Similar to other blessings found in the Word of God, this blessing carries a prophetic element. These first few words are a direct fulfillment of the blessing that God 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 guard or watch over you”
The LORD alone is the One who will watch, guard and maintain us as we walk with Him.
“The LORD shine His face on you”
I personally believe that these words have more to do with the Lord bringing light into a place of darkness. This reminds 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 educate (disciple) you”
Here, the word in Hebrew, “וִיחֻנֶּךָּֽ” “ViYchuneka”, is often translated to English as “and be gracious to you, but, in my opinion, this misses an essential part of its meaning, which is more accurately “to educate” or “to disciple.” He has given us, followers of Messiah, His Holy Spirit to guide and teach us to walk in His ways. Not only that, but He also commanded us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19–20), which is something that we cannot do 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 individuals. It suggests an intimate relationship between Creator and creation, which reminds me of the Creation account in Genesis when God breathed life into Adam.
“…and give you peace.”
The LORD desires to give us peace; He wants us to rest in Him without worry or anxiety. What a timely reminder for us all! However, that peace can only be found in Him—it is not a temporary feeling of calm that other things may give us. It is a deep, unrelenting state of being in His presence, where we embrace His promises to us, and trust Him for everything.
This is peace that only the Messiah can give us. It 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.
I want to raise one last important point here. The traditional recitation of this blessing usually skips the last part, which says:
So they shall put My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them.
This is such an important part of God’s purpose for us! While this blessing is intended for us to receive something from the Lord, we often forget the responsibility that comes with it. We are called to be His ambassadors on this earth, to shine His light in what we say and do, and to remember that we carry His Name wherever we go! Yes, we will enjoy the benefits of His blessing, but let’s not forget that they are ultimately for us to bring glory to His name.
It is an honor and a privilege to carry His name on us.
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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