Online Bible Commentary
The Priestly Blessing
Numbers 6:22 The LORD said to Moses, 23 "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24”‘“The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." ‘27 "So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them." (NIV)
God made Aaron the first High Priest. He was a Levite, a descendant of Levi. Levi was the third son of Jacob, later named Israel. The tribe of Levi was one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Promised Land was divided among ten of the eleven sons and the one daughter of Israel. The tribe of Levi was set apart by God to be dedicated to His work. The Levites were the priests and those who attended to the temple. As such, they were the only tribe not to have their own nation. Instead the Levites ultimately were given 48 cities throughout the land (1 Chronicles 6:54ff) in order to minister to all.
God assigned duties to the Israelites, including the Levites, according to their age. At age twenty they would enter the military. At age thirty they would enter their life service, which was ministry for the Levites. And at age fifty the Israelites would be free from all duties except to supervise. So, Levites could not enter the Priesthood until they were thirty. Jesus began His ministry at age thirty.
So, God told Moses on Mount Sinai that Aaron would be the High Priest and gave the blessing in this passage to Aaron and his priestly descendants to give to God’s people, the Israelites then and Christians now (vv.22-23).
The word translated “keep” (v.24) is the Hebrew word “samar” which also means “to guard.” The blessing calls for the Lord to bless and guard His children. The word translated “face” (v.25) is the Hebrew word “paneh” which also means “in the presence of”. In the same verse the word translated “gracious” is the Hebrew word “hanan” which also means “to have mercy” or “to have compassion”. The word translated “peace” (v.26) is the Hebrew word “salom” which also means “safety”, “prosperity”, or “wholeness”. The complete blessing takes in all of these words, a picture of God’s love for us all. We are always in His presence and we are always blessed with all of the different manifestations of His great love. He guards us. He covers us with his grace, mercy, and compassion. He establishes upon us His peace, safety, prosperity, and wholeness.
In verse twenty-seven the Lord says “they will put my name on the Israelites.” We belong to the Lord. He has us in His hands and will not lose one of us. He has known us from the womb and knows the number of hairs on our heads. His name is all over us. We are in His loving care and nothing will happen to us outside of His perfect will for our lives. He guides our steps and measures our walk. He puts us in places where he can best use us. He works all things together for our good. He gives us hope, and a future.
He is many names to us. He is our Creator, our Friend, our Healer, our Lord, our King, and our Priest. He is the Supreme Being, the only God, our God. He is “God with us”, our Emmanuel. His given name is Jesus Christ. The name Jesus signifies “Savior” and the name Christ signifies “anointed.” He is Jesus, our Savior and He is the Christ, the anointed One. He is the Messiah.
His name is so sacred that the Jews feared calling Him by His real name. They instead used only the vowels, coming up with a word pronounced “Elohim”, which exhibits God displayed in His power as the creator and governor of the physical universe. His real name is Jehovah, meaning the great “I Am; the eternal living One.” This is the name that has been so lovingly put upon you and me. The awe of it all!