The Four Surrounding Shema Blessings from Ezra the Scribe and the Great Assembly
(our same Bible Authors HAGGAI, ZACHARIAH, MALACHI, MORDECHAI, NEHEMIAH, EZRA) and as recorded in the Mishnah ie Ber. 1, 2, 3. The Blessings themselves are also Scriptural quotes. These each used the tetragramaton (YAHWEH) found in Masoretic and pre-masoretic 2nd Century BC texts, where the Shema itself was preserved with the tetragramaton, ie in the Nash Papyrus.
Our Communion (OCC) utilizes at least the Shema itself in the daily prayers. The surrounding benedictions (or equivalent prayers) should also be considered. The equivalents of these are used in the Book of Common prayer and other Christian liturgies, with emphasis on Christ the King of Israel. These originals are included for your edification to seek to follow some liturgy, as they did in the First Century use liturgical prayers and blessings.
It is a good practice to say the Shema Israel after general confession and the Lord’s Prayer as a high point of starting and ending our days. It is also integrated in our flow of the Divine services and in the same prayers for home devotions.
Our English Orthodox Liturgy, “THE SHAMA” A Prayer of Christendom and of the Culdees, as has been upheld by the Israelites from 450BC till this present day. This liturgy “Hear O Israel” was highlighted by Christ Himself as being the “greatest commandment”.
The “benedictions” before the “Shema Israel“, in their original form. (Short version is in bold):
- Blessing 1 “Blessed art Thou, O YAHWEH, King of the universe, Who formest the light and createst the darkness, Who makest peace and createst everything; Who, in mercy, givest light to the earth and to those who dwell upon it, and in Thy goodness day by day and every day renewest the works of creation. Blessed be YAHWEH our Elohim for the glory of His handiwork and for the light-giving lights which He has made for His praise. Selah! Blessed be YAHWEH our Elohim, Who hath formed the lights.“
for the sake of our fathers who trusted in You and You taught them the laws of life; so [too] grace us and teach us.
- Blessing 2 “With great love hast Thou loved us, O YAHWEH our Elohim, and with much overflowing pity hast Thou pitied us, our Father and our King. For the sake of our fathers who trusted in Thee, and Thou taughtest them the statutes of life, so [too] have mercy upon us and teach us. Enlighten our eyes in Thy law; cause our hearts to cleave to Thy commandments; unite our hearts to love and fear Thy name, and we shall not be put to shame, world without end. For Thou art a God Who preparest salvation, and us hast Thou chosen from among all nations and tongues, and hast in truth brought us near to Thy great Name-Selah-that we may lovingly praise Thee and Thy Oneness. Blessed be YAHWEH Who in love chose His people Israel.”
Sh’ma Yisra’el, YHWH ‘eloheinu, YHWH ‘ecḥad: (Baruch shem kevod malchuto le’olam va’ed)
Said in English: “Hear O Israel, YAHWEH thine Elohim, YAHWEH is one: Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever (Deu. 49 silent Kingdom Blessings of Jacob for the Joseph Israel Mountain.)
And thou shalt love YAHWEH thy Elohim with all thine
heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall
be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently
unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou
sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the
way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house,
and on thy gates.” (Deu. 6:4)
The benedictions after the “Shema Israel” was, and is in our church, as follows:
- Blessing 3 “True it is, that Thou art YAHWEH our Elohim and the Elohim of our fathers, our King and the King of our fathers, our Saviour and the Saviour of our fathers, our Creator, the Rock of our salvation, our Help and our Deliverer. Thy Name is from everlasting, and there is no Elohim beside Thee. A new song did they that were delivered sing to Thy Name by the seashore; together did all praise and own Thee as King, and say, YAHWEH shall reign world without end! Blessed be YAHWEH Who saveth Israel!” (Ex. 15:1)
For the evening prayers (any time after dinner, wherever you are), 4th prayer surrounding the Shema:
- Blessing 4 “O YAHWEH our Elohim! cause us to lie down in peace, and raise us up again to life, O our King! Spread over us the tabernacle of Thy peace; strengthen us before Thee in Thy good counsel, and deliver us for Thy Name’s sake. Be Thou for protection round about us; keep far from us the enemy, the pestilence, the sword, famine, and affliction. Keep Satan from before and from behind us, and hide us in the shadow of Thy wings, for Thou art an Elohim Who helpest and deliverest us; and Thou, O Elohim, art a gracious and merciful King. Keep Thou our going out and our coming in, for life and for peace, from henceforth and for ever!” (To this prayer a further addition was made at a later period.)