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  • Jonathan Huddleston

The Lord Bless You and Keep You

The Bible was written on parchment, papyrus, and other materials that tend to fall apart after a while. So the Bibles we read, the ones we keep on our desk or shelf or maybe read off of our phone or tablet, is a translation of a copy of a copy of a copy. . . and so on.

The words are ancient, powerful, truthful. They have stood the test of time.

Sometimes I like to think of the tangible material that the words come on. The brittle papyrus where scribes labored to faithfully represent what was passed down to them.. Even older, the crumbling animal-hide scrolls, preserved in the dry air of the Dead Sea area, found in clay jars in a cave.

Oldest of all is a necklace or medallion, meant to be worn around the neck. In place of a jewel, this medallion has a small piece of metal, scratched with Hebrew words. Older than any other copy of any part of the Bible that anyone has ever found, this medallion's letters spell out just a few verses of Scripture, verses found in Numbers 6:24-26:

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.

The oldest surviving tangible piece of Scripture is a blessing.

The oldest surviving tangible piece of Scripture is a blessing.

I like to think of the generations that people spent wearing this blessing around their neck, handing it on to others. I like to think of the thousands of years that people proclaimed this blessing over each other, priests over their congregation, parents over their children. I like to think of the weight of years that we are part of when we speak God's blessing on each other.

May God's blessing be upon us, as it was upon our parents and our grandparents and great-grandparents. May God's blessing be upon our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. May the LORD 's face shine on us and give us peace.



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