Numbers 6:24 is the beginning of one of the most beautiful benedictions in the Bible. Ministers often recite these verses as a blessing upon their congregations. The words have been set to music and I love to hear them sung.
But I don’t know what one of the most important words in this benediction means. It is the word “keep”. I know what “keep” means ordinarily, but not how it is used in Numbers 6:24, with minor variations worded as:
The Lord bless you and keep you (KJV, ASV, D-R, Lexham, NASB, NIV, NKJV, ESV, NCV, TM, CEB)
I do understand the following translations of Number 6:24:
May the Lord bless you and take care of you (GNT)
I pray that the Lord will bless and protect you (CEV)
May the Lord bless you and take good care of you. (NIRV)
May the LORD bless you and guard you (REB)
The Lord will bless you and watch over you. (GW)
The LORD bless you and protect you (NET)
May the Lord bless you and protect you. (NLT)
May Yahweh bless you and protect you (HCSB)
May the LORD bless you and guard you. (ISV)
Now, because I have heard the traditional words of Numbers 6:24 all my life, I have assumed that I understood them. But when I have stopped to think about the words, I realize that “keep” doesn’t sound right to me as it is used in this verse. How about you?