12:3bless those . . . him . . . I will curse. The extent of God’s merciful and gracious intention is indicated in the Hebrew by a switch from the plural object of blessing to the singular object of cursing. Many are to receive God’s blessing through the Seed of Abraham (18:18; Gal. 3:8; Rev. 7:9, 10).
those who bless. Those who acknowledge Abraham and his offspring as God’s agent of blessing.
him who dishonors you I will curse. The Hebrew words here translated “dishonors” and “curse” differ: the second means “to disdain”; the first often has the sense of “to weaken” (3:14). God will be an effective adversary of those who curse Abraham and his seed.
shall be blessed. Some have argued that the Hebrew verb should be translated reflexively: “shall bless themselves” (i.e., will desire the blessing of Abraham). While grammatically possible, this proposed reading hardly does justice to the context of this divine promise, and the passive translation here (“be blessed”) presents no real linguistic difficulties. In addition, the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) rendered it as passive. We are fully justified in viewing this promise as a reference to God’s plan for the salvation of the world.
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