In this passage, God makes three kinds of claims regarding how Avram will be blessed:
I will bless you
You shall be a blessing
All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you
What is a blessing? What does it mean ‘ to be blessed’? What might it mean to regard yourself blessed by the presence of someone else?
We might make a distinction here between ‘being blessed’ as an activity and ‘being blessed’ as a state of being.
How is giving or receiving a blessing different from being a blessing? Whereas the activity of ‘being blessed’ suggests a kind of transaction – with something being passed on from one person to another, the state of ‘being a blessing’ suggests that ‘being blessed’ is some inner quality of a person. We can all think of people who we feel are blessed with certain qualities or character traits. We might also think of ways that we are blessed because of the presence of other people in our lives. How might these experiences shed light on the text?
In addition to blessing Avram, God says he will bless all who bless Avram and curse all those who curse him. This not only suggests that people (as well as God) are capable of blessing and cursing – but opens up further questions to think about: What are the moral implications of God acting according to how others treat Avram? What are we doing when we bless and curse people? Is it just another way of wishing them something (for instance, good or bad luck?). Can the idea of giving or receiving a blessing or a curse have significance even if you don’t believe in ‘ a God who blesses’?
The animal kingdom – the first blessing is to flourish and ‘become many’
Human Beings – the second blessing is to flourish, become many, to subdue/tame the rest of creation and have dominance / predominance in relation to it.
Shabbat – the third blessing is to be made holy / sanctified.
What is it to bless something / someone? Is a blessing something conferred by one being onto another? (without their participation) or is it relational? What is the difference between blessing animals, persons, and a day, and the difference in the content of these three blessings?