Skip to main content



BARUKH (Heb. בָּרוּךְ), initial word of the *berakhah pattern of prayer. Barukh is conventionally translated "blessed," but the etymology is disputed. The root (ברך) seems to have meant originally "bend (or fall) upon the knees (berekh = knee)" in prayerful obeisance (Ps. 95:6; Isa. 45:23). Cassuto maintains, however, that it meant originally "bestow a gift" (Gen. 24:1, 35; 33:11, et al.). Barukh is a homonym expressing a reciprocal relationship: man can address God as barukh by expressing feelings of thanksgiving, reverence, love, and praise, while he is barukh by God who bestows His material and spiritual gifts. The person upon whom the divine blessing rests is called berukh Adonai, "blessed of the Lord" (Gen. 24:31, 26:29). Barukh Adonai, in the sense of man blessing God, occurs 24 times in the Bible.

The pattern barukh Attah Adonai ("blessed art Thou, Lord") occurs only twice in biblical literature (Ps. 119:12; i Chron. 29:10). This second person form attained currency no earlier than about the fourth century b.c.e. There is, however, no substantive difference between the second and third person forms. As applied to God "blessed" is identical with "praised" and the formula of blessing viz. benediction is, in fact, one of praise.

The prototype of the classical berakhah is to be found in the biblical formula, barukh Adonai… asher… (e.g., Gen. 24:27; Ex. 18:10), in which he who has experienced the marvelous or miraculous expresses adoration and awe. This pattern persisted for centuries and was eventually adapted for liturgical use as the Jew's response to "the miracles of every day." But the insertion of the pronoun Attah ("Thou") was slow in gaining exclusive acceptance. Some of the variant forms of the berakhah persisted until the third century c.e. when the standard pattern was fully established (Ber. 40b). In third-century Babylonia, Rav and Samuel were still debating whether Attah was required in the formula (tj, Ber. 9:1, 12d). Rav's pattern, barukh Attah Adonai, became the standard opening phrase; but the old biblical formula in which barukh (Attah) Adonai was followed by the characteristic phrase, asher ("who," i.e., "performed some beneficent act") remained in use. This juxtaposition of direct address to God and a sequel in the third person created a syntactical paradox which has exercised commentators and theologians down to the present. Many commentators explain the juxtaposition of second and third person homiletically as indicating both God's nearness and transcendence. The second person address is referred to in traditional sources as nigleh ("revealed") and the third person as nistar ("hidden").


Blank, in: huca, 32 (1961), 87–90; Bamberger, in: Judaism, 5 (1956), 167–8; M. Kadushin, The Rabbinic Mind (19652), 266–70 (theological aspect); J. Heinemann, Ha-Tefillah bi-Tekufat ha-Tanna'im re-ha-Amora'im (19662), 29–77 (textual criticism).

[Herman Kieval]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Barukh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 26 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Barukh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (March 26, 2019).

"Barukh." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved March 26, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.