THE PRAYER OF JABEZ
The book entitled The Prayer Of Jabez is based on the New King James Version Bible translation of 1 Chronicles 4:10:
And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.
This is a bad translation. Others are given for comparison.
And Jabez called to the God of Israel, saying, Oh that indeed You would bless me and make my border larger, and Your hand would be with me, and You would keep from evil,* that it may not grieve me! And God gave what he asked.
(from the Hebrew text, Jay Green translator)
And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldst keep (me) from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
(King James Version)
Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that thou wouldst bless me and enlarge my border, and that they hand might be with me, and that thou wouldst keep me from harm so that it might not hurt me! And God granted what he asked. (Revised Standard Version)
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. (New International Version)
There is nothing very noteworthy about this prayer. It is simply a typical Jewish petition to God for wealth, health, and happiness. It concerns material rather than spiritual things, without any concern for others. It resembles the blessing given to Rebekah: “(May you) be the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and may your descendants conquer the city of those who hate them!” (Gen. 24:60b) It is also like the prayer of Moses: “Arise, O Yahweh, and let thy enemies be scattered, and let them that hate thee flee before thee!” (Num. 10:35b)
Richard L. Atkins
*Note: The word “evil” (Heb. ir- : ra’a) in this passage has several possible meanings: adversity, affliction, calamity, displeasure, distress, harm, hurt, mischief, sorrow, trouble, wretchedness, wrong. The phrase is better translated “...and keep me from affliction and cause me no harm...” (Michael Riley translation)