Look inside the stocking! Now!
Looks like it’s related to fehlen as in to miss but nooooo. It’s not. Befehlen, which is based on a verb that has since completely disappeared, is an offspring of the same root pelt. Yes, pelt as in fur. A core idea of that family is “cover, protection”.
At first, befehlen was used in sense of „I’ll put that in your hands, you protect that now. Your responsibility.” But soon it was also used for tasks and changed to a more general sense of “You do it”. And from there it’s but a small step to the meaning it has today: to give an order, to command.
der Befehl – the command, order (not for ordering pizza)
- Ich befehle dir, dein Zimmer aufzuräumen.
- I command you to clean your room.
- Hier, wie befohlen, eure Pizza, euer Gnaden.
- Here, as commanded, your pizza your grace.
If you want you can try out some more examples in the comments. Viel Spaß beim Weihnachtsshopping.