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“The Blessing”
A 3,000 year-old song and oldest surviving Biblical inscription

by Joel Woodruff, Ed.D.
President, C.S. Lewis Institute

Throughout the world, Christians are gathering virtually to sing a song of blessing over their country, state or region.  If you haven’t heard this beautiful song titled, “The Blessing,” written by Elevation Worship, you can find versions of it recorded in Hawaii, South Africa, the UK and other countries on YouTube.
The universal appeal of the powerful lyrics is not due to happenstance as they come from a 3,000 year old blessing called, “The Aaronic Blessing,” found in Numbers 6: 22-26:

Aaron's Blessing

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people 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 turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.
This ancient priestly blessing is given to Moses by God to speak over his brother, Aaron, the high priest, Aaron’s sons and the people of Israel around 1,400 – 1,200 B.C. They were in the midst of a challenging time of wilderness wanderings in preparation for their entrance into the Promised Land.

This beautiful blessing has been sung and passed on from generation to generation in Jewish homes and synagogues for over 3,000 years. Christians have also spoken this blessing from the early days of the church to the present day for 2,000 years.

This blessing is also the oldest surviving biblical inscription in existence today! In 1979, Dr. Gabriel Barkay and his archaeological team discovered what is now known as the Ketef Hinnom Silver Scrolls just outside the old city of Jerusalem.  These two tiny silver scrolls about the size of a cigarette found in a collapsed tomb were carefully unrolled and analyzed.  Written in paleo-Hebrew were the words of the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-26, something scholars have declared to be one of the most significant biblical archaeological finds in history!  These scrolls which also had verses from Deuteronomy written on them date to the 7th century B.C. of the 1st Temple Period.

The Aaronic blessing of Numbers and the words of Deuteronomy found on the Ketef Hinnom silver scrolls have rocked the academic world, discrediting the idea of the German liberal scholar Wellhausen taught in seminaries throughout the world that the Torah wasn’t written down until the 2nd century B.C. and that it was written by 4 different authors.  Instead, this archaeological discovery points to a much earlier date for the writing of the Torah and helps affirm Jesus’ statements of the Mosaic authorship of the Law as found in the New Testament.

The next time you hear, sing, speak or read the blessing of Aaron, may you know that this blessing comes from God and is just as real and powerful for you as it was for the children of Israel 3,000 years ago.

The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26)

Joel Woodruff

Joel Woodruff, President, C.S. Lewis Institute, has worked in higher education, “tent-making,” nonprofit administration, and pastoral ministries in Alaska, Israel, Hungary, France, and Northern Virginia. He served as Dean of Students, Chaplain, and Professor of Bible & Theology at European Bible Institute, where he helped train Europeans both for professional ministry and to be Christian leaders in the marketplace. Prior to joining the Institute, he was on the leadership team of Oakwood Services International, a nonprofit educational and humanitarian organization. He is a graduate of Wheaton College, earned his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and has a doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. As a Parish-Pulpit Fellow, he studied Biblical Backgrounds & Archaeology in Israel for a year.


COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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