What are blessings and curses?


A student of mine asked this question and I'm not sure how to answer. I appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks. I want to know what are curses and what brings curses upon a person? And what is a blessing? How can a person be blessed?


"But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so" (James 3:8-10).

A blessing is something that brings happiness to a person.

In the Old Testament "blessing" translates the Hebrew word barak, which means to kneel. It used to be the custom that when some came or went, that you kneeled. It can be seen in "Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him" (I Samuel 13:10). What is translated as "greet" is actually the word barak. The concept is carried into today in many cultures with people greeting each other by bowing. It isn't limited to just the act of kneeling or greeting. It referred to things that made you happy or when you wished happiness on another person.

In Greek, the word "blessing" translates markarios, which means having good fortune or being well off. Another word is eulogeo, which means to praise or speak well of another person.

So someone is blessed when they have things which bring them happiness or makes them better off. A person gives blessings when they make another person happy by what they do or the praises they give that person. That is why Jesus' beatitudes were so startling. He mentioned things that most people would consider hardships and said they were really blessings: poor in spirit, mourning, and being persecuted (Matthew 5:3-11).

A curse then is the opposite. It is something that brings unhappiness to a person.

In the Old Testament 'arar is often translated as "cursed" and carried the idea of condemnation and banning of the person from something that could have brought happiness. So when Adam and Eve sinned, they were condemned to a life of hardship and banned from the Garden of Eden. Interestingly, barak, which is normally translated as a blessing, can be translated as a curse in the sense of someone being sent away or rejected. Another word is qalal literally means something small or light. As a curse, it refers to something that you despise or don't think is important.

In the New Testament, "curse" is from the Greek word katara, which means to condemn or bring doom.

So a curse is when things happen to make you unhappy or when you express that another will receive unhappiness. A curse is when you are kept from what brings happiness or you reject what brings happiness.

"The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just" (Proverbs 3:33).

The Lord blesses us or curses us in response to how we behave.

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