Jan 31 2013

Disciple Dojo - JMSmith.org: Thayer Thursdays – the meaning of ‘Hallelujah’

Original post at http://jmsmith.org/blog/hallelujah/

Read Psalm 147.

Some words from the original Biblical languages have made it into common church vernacular.

One such word is “hallelujah.”

Hallelujah is a transliteration of the Hebrew word

 הַלְלוּ עָה

As you can see, Hebrew (the language in which the Old Testament was primarily written) looks nothing like English.

Unlike Greek (the language of the New  Testament) which has some letters that bear a resemblance to our Roman alphabet, Hebrew looks completely foreign.

Not only that, but rather than reading it left to right as we do English, Hebrew is read from right to left. However, if you’ve ever said “hallelujah,” you can speak Hebrew (at least a little bit)!

What does this have to do with Psalm 147? As we’ll soon see, quite a lot!

Hallelujah is what’s referred to as the “imperative summons to praise.” An imperative is a command. So the first part of the word, “hallelu,” is a command, saying “[You] Praise!”

The second part of the word, “jah” is a shortened form of God’s revealed name in scripture, Yahweh. It is the object of the command.

[JM's note: If you want to know where the name "Yahweh" comes from and why it, rather than "Jehovah" is actually God's proper name, see my article "What's God's Name and Why Does it Matter??"]

When we put it together, the word “Hallelujah” means “You Praise Yahweh!” or “Praise the LORD!”

Psalm 147 starts with the word “Hallelujah” in Hebrew, so many of our translations read: “Praise the LORD”!

Why does the writer of this Psalm command the people to praise the Lord?

When we continue to read the Psalm, we see in verse two that it’s because God is gathering the exiles of Israel. As we saw last week, for God to redeem Israel from the exile was no small feat. Israel had been ransacked by Assyria and Babylon and scattered throughout the lands.

When God began to gather His people back from the exile, the only fitting response was “Hallelujah!” The only fitting response was for the community of people to shout to each other and for each other: “Praise Yahweh!”

This week, we have the opportunity to partner with God’s release of captives. This week we have the opportunity to be agents of God’s healing and restoration of underage girls who have been ransacked and scattered into a life of prostitution. The only fitting response to such an amazing act of God through a community of people devoted to Him and His causes is Hallelujah! Praise God!


Chris Thayer

Accompanying sermon:

“No Place Like Home” http://www.gsumc.org/Media_Resources.ihtml?id=686621

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Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2013/01/thayer-thursdays-the-meaning-of-hallelujah/

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