The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
This beautiful blessing is the oldest contained in the Bible. Not only that, it’s the oldest known biblical text found by archaeologists. An amulet bearing this blessing was found dating all the way back to before 586 B.C. when the first temple was destroyed.
It’s been used as a blessing in Jewish services for centuries. It’s often recited in Christian services as well. It’s even permeated pop culture. It’s the first line in the Bob Dylan song Forever Young. In the move Deep Impact, Morgan Freeman — playing the President — quotes it just as a comet is about to smash into earth. It’s also the inspiration behind Star Trek’s “live long and prosper” greeting and the “Vulcan Hand Salute” made famous by Leonard Nimoy as Dr. Spock. Nimoy grew up in a Jewish home and based the salute on a similar “V” gesture priests traditionally make while giving the blessing.
Here’s a translation from the Ancient Hebrew Research Center that illuminates a few more details:
Yahweh (he who exists) will kneel before you presenting gifts
and will guard you with a hedge of protection,
Yahweh (he who exists) will illuminate
the wholeness of his being toward you bringing order
and he will provide you with love, sustenance and friendship,
Yahweh (he who exists) will lift up his wholeness of being
and look upon you and he will set in place
all you need to be whole and complete.