The Aaronic or Priestly Blessing

The Aaronic or Priestly Blessing is used by Christians and is derived from the Jewish blessing given to Aaron to use over the people of Israel.

The blessing is found in Numbers 6:24-26.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace.”

Other versions read:

“May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”

Sources say that this is one of the most ancient pieces of liturgy still in use.  This blessing was given every day in the Temple.  Today this ritual is performed every morning in certain synagogues.  Others use it only on the Sabbath.

A hand gesture is used in Jewish tradition when giving this blessings where the hands are held in front of them palms down.  The hands are put together and the fingers are held to form 5 spaces.  There is a space between the thumbs, one between the thumb and first finger of each hand, and a one between the second and third finger of each hand.

This may come from the Bible verse in Song of Songs 2:8-9 where it says, “Look, there he stand behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.”  Rabbis use this to show that God sees, looks after and protects the people even when they cannot see Him present.  The people are not supposed to look at the person blessing them so the person giving the blessing will not be distracted.