I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you Genesis 12:3

Blessing or Curse ?

Bouganvillia in Jerusalemplants in the Aravah wilderness.

There are circumstances where we have a choice; to be blessed or cursed by God.

It is not always clearly understood what is meant by the word “bless” so we will look first at the derivations of the words bless and curse before examining the options of blessing or cursing in relation to Israel.


There is some confusion, apparently, about the meaning of blessing.

Can the same word mean what God does to us out of his grace and kindness, and what we do to God when we praise him?

Also, do we bless food to make it somehow holy and fit to eat?

Could there be a translation problem, caused by having only one word to translate all these things? The answer is obviously to go back to the Hebrew and the Greek.

The following were found using the excellent E-Sword software. If you are not familiar with this system, the Bible text is given interspersed with the numerical references to Strong’s Bible dictionary. This can be looked up (clicked on in E-Sword)

The Genesis 12 v2 section below shows roughly how the verse and definitions are displayed in E-Sword. The verses used after that have all the numbers stripped out except the definition under consideration. The verses used here are from the KJV, which is free to download, along with the Hebrew Old Testament (and probably the Greek) Many other translations may be purchased as downloads, including the Complete Jewish Bible.

God blessing man


Gen 12:2 And I will make 6213 of thee a great 1419 nation, 1471 and I will bless 1288 thee, and make thy name great; 1431, 8034 and thou shalt be 1961 a blessing: 1293

H1288 - barak - A primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit)

H1293 - b ’rakâh - From H1288; benediction; by implication prosperity: - blessing, liberal, pool, present.

Barakh and Barakhah are forms of the same word and there is no other Hebrew word for bless or blessing. All forms of blessing appears to derive from the relationship between man and God and the concept of kneeling before God for ……

Man blessing God

Here are two verses from Psalms in which man is blessing God. Notice it is the same word again.

Psa 16:7 I will bless 1288 the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Psa 115:18 But we will bless 1288 the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the LORD.

In this context, man blessing God is praising him in the sense of adoration and gratitude but the essence is still the relationship at the root of the word; bowing the knee before God.

Man blessing man

The same word is used of Isaac blessing his firstborn son (supposedly). Isaac will effectively, call down the blessing of God upon his son.

Gen 27:19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou biddest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless 1288 me.

The same is true of the blessing Aaron is instructed to pronounce in order to bless the people.

Num 6:23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless 1288 (853) the children of Israel, saying unto them,

The LORD bless 1288 thee, and keep thee:

The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

What Aaron, and the priests who follow him, were to do in blessing the people was to call the presence, goodness and peace of The LORD / ADONAI / upon them.

Greek for Bless / Blessing

In the Greek of the New Testament, the same is true as in the Hebrew; there is only one root word whether God is blessing man or man is blessing God or other men.

Heb 6:7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing 2129 from God:

Luk 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing 2127 God. Amen.

Luk 6:28 Bless 2127 them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

G2129 - eulogia - From the same as G2127; finespeaking, that is, elegance of language; commendation (“eulogy”), that is, (reverentially) adoration; religiously, benediction; by implication consecration; by extension benefit or largess: - blessing (a matter of) bounty (X -tifully), fair speech.

G2127 - eulogeō - From a compound of G2095 and G3056; to speak well of, that is, (religiously) to bless (thank or invoke a benediction upon, prosper): - bless, praise.

Blessing Food and drink?

The last question – blessing for food or drink. Do we bless our food when we pray before meals?

What does this verse mean by the cup we bless?

1Co 10:16 The cup of blessing 2129 which we bless, 2127 is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?

Paul/Shaul is here considering the remembrance of the Last Supper It is helpful to refer back to the Last Supper / Passover Seder and the words and actions of Jesus/Yeshua.

Mat 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed 2127 it , and broke it , and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

This translation suggests that Jesus blessed “it” (the bread). But we need to understand Jesus/Yeshua’s words in their original, Hebrew, context.

Matt 26 v26 CJB While they were eating, Yeshua took a piece of matzah, made the b’rakhah, broke it, gave it to the talmidim and said, “Take! Eat! This is my body!”

Barukh is the root of the Jewish practice. The Hebrew noun for a blessing is Brakhah (plural – Brakhot) and a brakah was / is made as follows before eating bread,

Barukh ata ADONAI Eloheinu melekh ha olam harmotzi lekhem min ha eretz – Blessed are you LORD our God, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Or, for wine

Barukh ata ADONAI Eloheinu melekh ha olam boreh pr hagafen

Blessed are you LORD our God, who created the fruit of the vine.

We are not to bless the bread – we are to praise God, who provided the bread.


As with blessings, both God and man can curse.

God curses Man

What does it mean when God curses? Look again at the curse from Deuteronomy 28

Deu 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses 7045 shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

The verses that follow are prophetic words describing what will happen as a result of not listening.

Man curses man

When a man curses someone what is happening, such as this pronouncement by Nehemiah?

Neh 5:13 Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen

This is a prophetic action/pronouncement of an outcome from God for unrighteousness.

The Choice between blessing and cursing

Genesis 12 v1-3 "Now had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, from your family and your father's house, to a land which I will show you, and I will make you a great nation;  I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed' "        This promise was passed on to Yaakov (Israel).

"I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you".    Do you want to be blessed or cursed? The choice appears fairly obvious since nobody wants to be cursed, but there is more. The above is only the English translation of the promise from God.   In the Hebrew original, the words for bless and curse are significant.

Gen 12:2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless 1288 thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 1293

Gen 12:3 And I will bless 1288 them that bless 1288 thee, and curse 779 him that curseth 7043 thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 1288

H1288 -  Barakh - the same root word is used both times.   As much as you bless Israel God will bless you.

H779 - 'arar - A primitive root; to execrate: - X bitterly curse.

H7043 - qalal - A primitive root; to be (causatively make) light, literally (swift, small, sharp, etc.) or figuratively (easy, trifling, vile, etc.): - abate, make bright, bring into contempt, (ac-) curse, despise, (be) ease (-y, -ier), (be a, make, make somewhat, move, seem a, set) light (-en, -er, ly, -ly afflict, -ly esteem, thing), X slight [-ly], be swift (-er), (be, be more, make, re-) vile, whet.

Curse (first time – what God will do)   -  Arar  -   meaning to execrate, to bring great harm or trouble upon someone.

Curse (second time what Man does, prompting a response from God)  -  Kallal -  meaning variously to despise, revile, humiliate, ridicule or treat with contempt.

God will bring great harm or trouble on those who treat Israel / the Jews with contempt!

Is it any wonder that there is so much trouble about when so many people despise and revile Israel?   (the nation and the people)  This also applies to nations and leaders.   Many are walking a dangerous road in their foreign policy.

See Disasters and And Britain? See also Balaam's Error, concerning those who are cursing Israel!


The choice between Blessing and Curse was also presented by Moses to the children of Israel at the end of his leadership.

Deu 28:12 The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless 1288 all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.

Deu 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses 7045 shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:

Important !

This web site is not saying that Blessing or Judgement is entirely dependant on our attitude and actions towards Israel and its covenant land.   The truth remains, as ever, that it is righteousness that counts.   It should not be necessary for this web site to expound that again.   In Jesus/Yeshua we have His righteousness counted to our credit to free us from our past sin, but we can not then continue in sin and rebellion  and expect to be blessed by God.

It's all about righteousness!

Just one final thought, Where did Jesus used "bless" and "curse" in the same sentence?

Luke 6 v28

Updated 19/01/19

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