(4.) One blesses another when he expresses good wishes or offers prayer to God for his welfare (Ge 24:60; 31:55; 1Sa 2:20). Sometimes blessings were uttered under divine inspiration, as in the case of Noah, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses (Ge 9:26-27; 27:28-29,40; 48:15-20; 49:1-28; De 33). The priests were divinely authorized to bless the people (De 10:8; Nu 6:22-27). We have many examples of apostolic benediction (2Co 13:14; Eph 6:23-24; 2Th 3:16,18; Heb 13:20-21; 1Pe 5:10-11).
(5.) Among the Jews in their thank-offerings the master of the feast took a cup of wine in his hand, and after having blessed God for it and for other mercies then enjoyed, handed it to his guests, who all partook of it. Ps 116:13 refers to this custom. It is also alluded to in 1Co 10:16, where the apostle speaks of the "cup of blessing."
BLESS, BLESSING. There are three points of view in which the acts of blessing may be considered. The first is, when men are said to bless God, as in Ps 103:1-2. We are then not to suppose that the divine Being, who is over all, and, in himself, blessed for evermore, is capable of receiving any augmentation of his happiness, from all the creatures which he has made: such a supposition, as it would imply something of imperfection in the divine nature, must ever be rejected with abhorrence; and, therefore, when the creatures bless the adorable Creator, they only ascribe to him that praise, and dominion, and honour, and glory, and blessing, which it is equally the duty and joy of his creatures to reader. But when God is said to bless his people, Ge 1:22; Eph 1:3;
the meaning is, that he confers benefits upon them, either temporal or spiritual, and so communicates to them some portion of that blessedness which, in infinite fulness, dwells in himself, Jas 1:17; Ps 104:24,28; Lu 11:9-13. In the third place men are said to bless their fellow creatures. From the time that God entered into covenant with Abraham, and promised extraordinary blessings to his posterity, it appears to have been customary for the father of each family, in the direct line, or line of promise, previous to his death, to call his children around him, and to inform them, according to the knowledge which it pleased God then to give him, how, and in what manner, the divine blessing conferred upon Abraham was to descend among them. Upon these occasions, the patriarchs enjoyed a divine illumination; and under its influence, their benediction was deemed a prophetic oracle, foretelling events with the utmost certainty, and extending to the remotest period of time. Thus Jacob blessed his sons, Genesis xlix; and Moses, the children of Israel, Deuteronomy 33. When Melchizedeck blessed Abraham, the act of benediction included in it not merely the pronouncing solemn good wishes, but also a petitionary address to God that he would be pleased to ratify the benediction by his concurrence with what was prayed for. Thus Moses instructed Aaron, and his descendants, to bless the congregation, "In this wise shall ye bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make his face to shine upon thee; the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace," Nu 4:23. David says, "I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord," Ps 116:13. This phrase appears to be taken from the practice of the Jews in their thank-offerings, in which a feast was made of the remainder of their sacrifices, and the offerers, together with the priests, did eat and drink before the Lord; when, among other rites, the master of the feast took a cup of wine in his hand and solemnly blessed God for it, and for the mercies which were then acknowledged, and gave it to all the guests, every one of whom drank in his turn. To this custom it is supposed our blessed Lord alludes in the institution of the cup, which also is called, 1Co 10:16, "the cup of blessing." At the family feasts also, and especially that of the passover, both wine and bread were in this solemn and religious manner distributed, and God was blessed, and his mercies acknowledged. They blessed God for their present refreshment, for their deliverance out of Egypt, for the covenant of circumcision, and for the law given by Moses; and prayed that God would be merciful to his people Israel, that he would send the Prophet Elijah, and that he would render them worthy of the kingdom of the Messiah. See also 1Ch 16:2-3. In the Mosaic law, the manner of blessing is appointed by the lifting up of hands. Our Lord lifted up his hands, and blessed his disciples. It is probable that this action was constantly used on such occasions. The palm of the hand held up was precatory; and the palm turned outward or downward was benedictory. See BENEDICTION and See LORD'S SUPPER.