May 30 – What exactly does Hallelujah mean anyway?

May 30, 2019 Randy Bushey

~ by Randy Bushey

Hallelujah! Give praise, servants of the LORD; praise the name of the LORD.

Let the name of the LORD be praised both now and forever.

From the rising of the sun to its setting, let the name of the LORD be praised (Psalm 113:1-3).

Sometimes we use words from the Bible without really knowing what they mean.

Hallelujah may be one such word.

The term occurs 24 times in the Old Testament; all of them are from the Psalms. Its only appearance in the New Testament is in the Revelation – 4 times.

Many translations render it with a simple Praise the Lord, but that’s a little weak in that it fails to capture the emotional punch of the term. Probably no English synonym ever could.

Hallelujah is actually a compound term constructed of 2 separate words in the original language:

hallel in Hebrew is a call to praise

Yah is an expression for God, really a short-form of His majestic Name Yahweh. Both terms – Yahweh and the shorter Yah – are transliterated in our English Bibles as LORD.

But the first term hallel is worth our focus.

For Jews, the hallel is the consecutive quoting of Psalms 113 to 118, expressed as a jubilant prayer to God. It is often undertaken during Jewish holy days, most commonly before Passover.

It is a term of joyous celebration of the Lord, and with a component of boasting of His unparalleled greatness.

And here’s another piece of the definition that’s awkward for many us more conservative types: the term hallel suggests a hint of abandonment – even wild and unrestrained expression of love and devotion to Yahweh! Think: David dancing before the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6:14).

Takeaway: And so Psalm 113 reminds us of our privilege – and responsibility – to express our worship to the Lord as life’s priority; to be prisms through which the glory of God is refracted to all of life.

Therefore, the ancient poem begins and ends the same way: Hallelujah!