Engr. J. B. Fagoyinbo
Blessing is the act of sanctification. It is a process in which God is called upon to bestow favors upon a given individual, nation, community, family, enterprise, etc. The first blessing recorded in the scriptures is by God Himself. “And God blessed them… Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth…” (Gen 1:28-30). This blessing was expanded for Noah to include “And the fear… and the dread of you shall be upon every beast …and upon all the fishes of the sea;” (Gen 9:2). Man, by virtue of his being in God’s image, has followed suit.
The first recorded blessing by man resulted from Noah’s perception of the shameful behavior of his younger son, Ham, to his (Noah’s) drunken state (Gen 9:24-29). Though Noah’s pronouncements were harsh and arbitrary yet because the Patriarch essentially “…was a just man…” (Gen. 6:9), he knew what ought to be the life goals of his children
Abraham severally received blessings from God (Gen 12:1-3; 17:15-19; 18:18, 19; 22:17, 18) and from Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-20). Isaac also received God’s blessings (Gen 25:11; 26:4-5, 12, 29-30). Jacob cleverly secured the blessing of the first son, aided by Rebekah (Gen 28:12-15; 32:24-29; 35:9-12) and also from God Gen 32:26-29 .
Our human blessings and curses are only prayerful requests but have potency when uttered by righteous lips (Gen 2:19). Ultimately, they depend on the agency of God (see Ps. 68:27-30). Joshua cursed anyone who tried to rebuild Jericho (Jos. 6:26,). Since he was a Prophet of God, his curse, in fact, befell Hiel of Bethel (1 Kings 16:34). There is an infinite difference between blessings and curses that come from God’s mouth and those that are spoken by men: what God declares, happens (Isa 55:11)”.
Bestowing a blessing upon a child is one of the most sacred and intimate parental acts. Among the Hebrew the traditional blessing over daughters asks that they grow up to be like the four matriarchs, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, who were known for their wisdom, compassion, and building the Jewish people. Sons are blessed to grow up to be like Ephraim and Manasseh, two sons of Joseph, who lived in harmony and were the first pair of brothers who did not indulge in sibling rivalry and competition.
3.0 PARENTAL BLESSINGS
The reality of powerful spiritual bonds between parents and children should not be denied. This is exemplified in Noah’s prayer: he blessed God as he prayed for Shem and Japheth Unquestionably, blessings flow from God “through” the prayers and examples of parents
There is no record of Abraham blessing his sons (Gen 17:18, Gen 17:16; 22:17-18). Abraham was very cautious about intercepting God’s plan by making no pronouncements concerning the sons of his concubines (Gen 25:5-8). Isaac was not as careful as his father (Gen 27:1-4). Knowing the opposition of Rebekah to the blessing he decided to perform the ceremony in secret; however, God, respecting man’s pronouncements, used his weakened eyes and his wife Rebekah to bring about His purpose.
The significance of parental blessing is expressed by Laban when Jacob stole away from him “…Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly…And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? …” (Gen 31:26-28)
Parental blessing is not confined to parents only. It can be pronounced by siblings, particularly when such elder siblings have carried out the responsibilities of parents on the junior ones. This is exemplified by Rebekah’s brothers (Gen 24:60)
3.1 Potency of Parental Blessings
Noah demonstrated the right path which his sons should follow by the grace of God. The events recorded in Gen 9:20-27 revealed to Noah that the desire to walk rightly was lacking in him and Ham and that their souls, drawn to the passions, stubbornly repulsed both parental wisdom and the call of God upon them. The event implicates both Noah and his younger son, Ham, as parents. Noah’s drunkenness and Ham’s immodesty were sins which were passed on to the Canaanites (Gen. 15:16-21). Therefore, parents need to pursue godly purity and pray for the righteousness of their children (Job 1:5). Noah’s blessings and curses were prophetic declarations of fact: in later years. God declared unto Abraham. “And I will give unto thee…the land of Canaan…” (Gen 17:8): Abraham is of the generation of Shem (Gen 11:10-26).
JACOB BLESSES HIS SONS
4.1 The Significance of Birthright
The position of the firstborn offers a lot of advantages; honour bestowed on Christ (Ps 89:27; Rom 8:29; Col 1:15; Heb 1:6; 12:23; Rev 1:5), authority over younger members of the household (Gen 4:7); succession to the throne (2 Chr 21:3), restoration of the House of Ephraim to pre-eminence (Jer 31:9); the allocation of a double portion of estate (Deut 21:15-17); and preference in the bestowal of blessing (Gen 48:17-18).
A birthright may be lost if the person concerned sells off the birthright as in the case of Esau (Gen 25:31-34); smears the family image, as in the case of Simeon and Levi (Gen 34:1-31); sins against the father or mother, like Reuben (Gen 35:21-22; 49:3-4); or Holy Spirit-divined as in the case of Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen 48:17-18).
Jacob Blesses His Sons
Jacob demonstrated his love for his sons (Gen 49:1). Jacob was able to cherish his final years surrounded by his family. His last years brought an evening of tranquillity and repose after a troubled and weary day “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Ps 37:37). Clouds had gathered death above his path, yet his sun set clear and the radiance of heaven illumined his parting hour “…but…at evening time it shall be light” (Zech 14:7),
4.2.1 The blessing
The first stage of the blessing was the adoption of Joseph’s sons (Gen 48:16). Having mourned for Joseph (Gen 37:33-35) Jacob’s reaction was to adopt the children he had prior to their reunion. This adoption granted Joseph the right of the first son (Deut 21:15-17). The second stage involved gathering all the children together; unlike his father who did his own in secrecy. The prophet had his mind filled with the objects and events of the present and the past, and from these, he drew his images for the future: and expressed them in the language of his day.
4.3 Recommended Practice
Parental blessing needs to commence from the womb; either or both parents placing their hands about the navel of the mother and pronouncing positively to the unborn baby. Young families should revive the beautiful tradition of the parental blessing: it will elevate the parents’ position in the children’s minds, and, if done frequently, the children’s desire for their parents’ blessings will become deeply rooted within them. The inspiring practice should also be continued as they grow up under their care, as they leave the home and as they retire in the evenings on a daily basis.
A well-known example from history, showing the observance of this practice, is that of Sir Thomas More. The custom had been observed in the home of his childhood. He continued it as an adult. Even when he held the position of Lord Chancellor of England, the second highest post in the kingdom, he still continued the practice of kneeling for his father’s blessing each day before going to take up the duties of his high office. It suggests, among other things, how such a practice, simple as it may seem in itself, lends dignity to parenthood and makes for mutual respect on the part of parents and children.
Couples also should pronounce blessings on their partners as each proceeds on daily basis to his/her place of work
Life is so fragile, so fleeting. We cannot afford not to bestow blessings on our children and our parents. We must take every advantage to talk to our children, talk to our parents, and let them know that we care about them, love them, and that moments spent together are precious and finite. Despite the troubles and travails of Jacob and his family throughout his long and storied life, we see an old man, content, able to die at peace. Let us consider the lessons of reconciliation and repentance, of communication, love and devotion that Jacob and his sons have taught us in the scriptures. And may we be resolved to draw closer to our children and our parents, and share our blessings with one another, Amen.
Roper, W. (Undated). The Life of Sir Thomas More. The Harvard Classics, Vol. 36, Part 2. 1909–14 (Written by More’s son-in-law, this biography is the primary source for all subsequent biographies of Sir Thomas.)