A: Great question! In the Bible, the traditional way of passing on a blessing from father to son was through the laying on of hands. The father would place his hand on the son that he was blessing and then would speak a blessing over them. There was even a priority given to the blessing of the right hand over the left hand (Genesis 48:14). The laying on of hands idea also seems to have been adapted to large group settings where the hands would simply be raised towards the one being blessed. Here are a few examples from the Bible:
- When Aaron the High Priest of Israel blessed the people he did it by lifting up his hands towards them and speaking the blessing (Lev. 9:22).
- In Nehemiah 8:6, when Ezra read the law and blessed the LORD (Yahweh) before the people they answered, “’Amen, amen’, lifting up their hands.”
- When parents brought their children to Jesus seeking a blessing, He took them in his arms and blessed them laying his hands on them (Matthew 19:15; Mark 10:16).
- Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, He lifted up his hands and blessed his followers (Luke 24:50).
- The custom of laying hands on those to be blessed or commissioned was continued in the early church in when seven men, full of the Holy Spirit were chosen then commissioned as “deacons” (Acts 6:6) to care for the needs of the church.
- The people of Samaria received the Holy Spirit after hands were laid on them (Acts 8:17).
- Paul and Barnabas were commissioned and sent out by the elders at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3).
- Paul laid hands on some disciples at Ephesus and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6)
- Timothy received a gift prophetically when the elders had laid their hands on him in prayer (1 Timothy 4:14).