Every Friday night at the beginning of the Sabbath it is very common for Jewish parents to bless their children. For the boys the statement is “may God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.” This actually comes from Scripture – Gen 48. Jacob is pronouncing a blessing over Ephraim and Manasseh and part of the blessing is that one day that specific statement will be a blessing in Israel. The ideas as to why this is a blessing are numerous. I like the thought that Jacob was passing on to Ephraim and Manasseh the Covenantal blessing that all the Patriarchs had, even though they were not directly his sons.
For the girls the statement is “may God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.” The thought being that each of the matriarchs had qualities you would want your daughter to have. Both blessings are then finished with the Priestly blessing from Num 6.
The idea of blessing children is not new to the Jewish people. You see it in Genesis and even in the NT parents brought their children to Jesus to be blessed. Why? BC your words have power. Prov 18:21 states that “the tongue has the power of life and death…” The Jewish people take this to heart so it is thought that a parent can give his child nothing greater than a blessing. What is money? What is land? What is the ability to make wise decisions and be responsible? Those things are all nothing when compared to the amazing gift of blessing your children with your mouth.
What did Jesus say in His blessing over children? We don’t honestly know. He may have pronounced this same blessing that is said today. Whatever He said, I have no doubt it was straight from Scripture.