The Unabridged Bible:  exploring the complete set of ancient holy writings

Words of Blessing from 1Q28b
The Dead Sea Scrolls from the end of the first millennium BCE contain some of the first blessings to God ever composed. Here's one of them, from column 3 of 1Q28b, also called the "Rule of Benedictions."

The text begins with a fairly standard introduction, followed by poetic language that contrasts the apparent prosperity of nobles with the true good fortune of those who follow God.

The Text Speaks
"May God bequeath you the first of all delights."

Words of Blessing1
For the Instructor.2
To bless the sons of Zadok, the priests whom God has chosen to strengthen his covenant, forever to study his laws among his people and to teach them as he commanded.
They have established his covenant in truth, and in justice followed all his laws, and walked according to what he chose.
May the Lord bless you from his holy residence.
May he set you as a glorious ornament among those who are holy.
May he renew the covenant of eternal priesthood for you.

Detail from 1Q28b, "Rule of Benedictions."

May he grant you your place in the holy residence.
By your works may he judge all nobles, and from the good fortune of your lips the princes of all nations.
May he bequeath3 you the first of all delights,4 and
By your hand may he cause the counsel of all flesh to be blessed.5

1. Words of Blessing: So begins the text in the scroll, on line 22 of column III. The English here is one possible way of punctuating the Hebrew. Other reasonable possibilities combine the first few phrases along the lines of "words of blessing for the instruction to bless....

2. Instructor: Hebrew, maskil, a privileged role of leadership in the Dead Sea Scroll community.

3. Bequeath: Or, "cause you to inherit."

4. Delights: Hebrew, ma'adanim, a poetic word for yummy things. We we also find in a blessing over food in the Jerusalem Talmud.

5. To be blessed: Literally, "May he bless..." We prefer "to be blessed" because the original Hebrew ends with the verb "bless," and we want to do the same in our English translation.

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