Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jewish Prayer's Eighteen Benedictions & The Our Father

Until three years ago I had never heard of the Eighteen Benedictions.  They are the eighteen blessings and petitions prayed by faithful Jews three times daily, since before the birth of Christ. In Judaism they are known as Tephilla, simply “the prayer.”

For Christians the Our Father is of course the perfect prayer.  (Coming from the lips of Christ, how could it be anything but?) The Didache, the earliest Christian document outside of the New Testament (c.70 - 120 A.D.), and the Church’s first manual of discipline, directed Christians to pray the Our Father three times a day.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church comes right out and says that it was prayed “in place of the ‘Eighteen Benedictions’ customary in Jewish piety” (CCC 2767). 

Does the Our Father, the perfect prayer, in fact encompass the Eighteen Benedictions?  I assert that it does.  This is how I align them:

The Our Father
The Eighteen Benedictions

"Blessed be the Lord ..."

Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name
1) ... the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our shield through the ages.

 3) ... the only God.
15) ... who hears our prayers.
17) ... whom it is right to thank.  Thank you for the mercy, kindness, and goodness you have shown to us, and our fathers and mothers before us.

Thy kingdom come
 2) ... who raises the dead.

12) ...who humbles the arrogant, the heretics.  Remove them from among your people.

14)...who rebuilt Jerusalem.  Restore the kingdom of David, your anointed one.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
11) ... who loves justice.  Give us wise judges and leaders, as we had in times past.

18) ... who creates peace.  Give your peace to your people Israel.

Give us this day our daily bread
 4) ... who gives knowledge.  Give us understanding of your Law.

 8) ... who heals the sick.  Heal the pain in our hearts.

 9) ... who blesses the yearly harvest.  Send our lands all they need to be fruitful.

13) ... who shelters the righteous.  Shower goodness upon converts and reward all who do your will.

16) ... who allows us to worship in his sanctuary.  May he always dwell in Jerusalem.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those we trespass against us
 6) ... who forgives.  Forgive us our sins against you.

Lead us not into temptation
5) ... who loves repentance.  Make us turn back to you.

10) ... who gathers the exiles of Israel.  Bring them back.

But deliver us from evil.  
7) ... who has redeemed Israel.  Save us from our enemies.

What do you think?


  1. I like it. I'm studying Jewish faith thru Chabad and tying it to my Christian faith. Until I started with Chabad I did not understand Jesus's teaching in terms of his culture. What an eye opener, it makes so much more sense now. Funny how we are brought up as Christians but are not really taught the relevance of Judaism.

    1. Thank you so much! Hope that you and your family are having a joyous Christmas