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HALLELUJAH “praise Jah” or “praise Yah”, as the word hallel in Hebrew means a joyous praise in song,

November 8, 2015

The word Hallelujah consists of two elements. It ends with יה(Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton; the name of the Lord: YHWH, and it starts with an imperative form (that means it’s a command) of the root הלל (halal):

Hallelujah

The familiar word Hallelujah looks exactly like a Biblical name (verb + name of God), and it’s a bit of a miracle that it was never applied as one (as far as we know). And even though in our modern languages, it exists as a verbal orphan, like a little linguistic island in a familiar textual ocean, in Hebrew it’s part of a vast cluster of frequently occurring names, words and phrases. Where in our experience, Hallelujah means something like YOO-HOO!!, in Hebrew the word Hallelujah was recognized as proper language, and perfectly understood.

Etymology of the word Hallelujah

The word Hallelujah consists of two elements. It ends with יה(Yah) = יהו (Yahu) = יו (Yu), which in turn are abbreviated forms of the Tetragrammaton; the name of the Lord: YHWH, and it starts with an imperative form (that means it’s a command) of the root הלל (halal):

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

הלל

The root הלל (halal) covers quite an array of meanings. The renowned Scripture theorist and father of modern Hebrew philology Wilhelm Gesenius squeezed all various meanings and nuances of halalinto the central charge of splenduit. But almost a hundred years later, the authoritative dictionary of Brown, Driver and Briggs, listed two separate rootshalal, each with their own group of meanings. Three quarters of a century later, Harris, Archer and Waltke published their lexicon, and split the second root of Brown, Driver and Briggs in two, forming three distinct roots halal. This is of course wonderfully clever, but as mere readers of the Scriptures, we should never forget that to the Hebrews these three roots were indistinguishable:


הלל I

The verb הלל (halal I) denotes what lamps and celestial bodies do: shine, emit light (Job 31:26, Isaiah 13:10). This verb occurs a mere five or six times in the Bible, but it exists in cognate languages with similar meanings. In Job 41:10 this verb is employed to state how the sneezes of Leviathan “flash forth light.” Equally enigmatic is a statement made by the prophetIsaiah, “How you have fallen from the heavens, O shining one, son of dawn” (14:12). The noun translated with “shining one” is הילל (helel) and was derived from our root halal. BDB lists this word as an appellation, an epithet, but HAW interprets it as the proper name Helel.

הלל II

The identical verb הלל (halal II) means to be boastful or to praise (also see the other important praise-verbידה, yada). Our verb הלל (halal) shows up all over the Bible, from praising God in a liturgical setting to letting it rip in an informal bout of worship. It’s even used to convey praise for commendable people (Proverbs 31:30). This verb yields three derivations:

  • The masculine noun הליל (hillul), meaning praise or a rejoicing. It occurs only in plural: הלולים(hillulim), literally meaning congratulations or rejoicings (Judges 9:27, Leviticus 19:24).
  • The masculine noun מהלל (mahalel), again meaning praise but literally a “container” for praise. It occurs only in Proverbs 27:21 where silver and gold are tested in a crucible and a furnace, and a man in his “container for” praise.
  • The feminine noun תהלה (tehilla), meaning praise, song of praise or thanksgiving or adoration, or it denotes praiseworthy deeds. This noun occurs all over the Bible. HAW condenses the meaning of this beautiful noun as, “the results of halal as well as the divine acts which merit that activity.”
הלל III

The troublesome verb הלל (halal III) means to be insane, or rather irrational. It yields two derivatives:

  • The feminine noun הוללה (holela), meaning madness (Ecclesiastes 1:17).
  • The feminine noun הוללות (holelut), meaning madness as well (Ecclesiastes 10:13).

Without designating a separate root, BDB carefully acknowledges a mere few occasions in which derivations of the halal stem may denote a kind of madness: Ecclesiastes 1:17 (cf. 2:12, 7:25), where the feminine noun הוללה (holela) seems grouped together with folly, and both contrast wisdom (see the “name”Hochma).

The other instance of halal-madness that BDB is willing to concede occurs in the same book: Ecclesiastes 10:13 (cf. 9:3), where the feminine nounהוללות (holelut) is modified by the word רעה (ra’a), the common Hebrew word for evil, and both reflect the result of a process that starts with speaking nonsense.

The younger lexicon of HAW, however, counts sixteen instances of this meaning of madness; enough to recognize a whole separate root (1 Samuel 21:13, Psalm 102:9, Jeremiah 25:16).


Note

Here at Abarim Publications we are not at all convinced that these three seemingly different groups of meanings are so dissimilar that the existence of three separate verbs is the only logical conclusion. Even after a century of quantum mechanics, many people still have the tendency to lean towards determinism; the erroneous idea that one thing invariably leads to another and every situational mode can be classified in its rigorous category. But black-and-white thinking is old, and in the Biblical arena it never even existed. Sure, good opposes evil but not the way that wisdom opposes folly. And halal can not be radically nested under the wings of either wisdom or folly, but is rather a third modus. In Ecclesiastes 2:12, Solomon resolves to look at (1) wisdom, (2) holela, and (3) folly, and not (a) wisdom and (b) holela-and-folly.

Halal denotes an exuberance, for whatever reason. It takes no great poetic leap to see symmetry between the shining of a star and the praising of a worshiper, certainly also because in the Bible true believers are compared to stars (Daniel 12:3). Halal denotes a letting go of restraints and inhibitions, and, entirely depending on the heart behind it, can result in either a complete surrender to God’s control, or a detrimental flight without anyone at the helm. Halal can turn to either a most holy expression of devotion or else a blasphemous display of derangement.

And whether the act of halal is reckoned positive or negative also depends much on the heart of the spectator. The apostle Paul warns his followers to ease up on a typical halal-expression, namely speaking in tongues, when guests are in the congregation, lest they think the congregants are insane (1 Corinthians 14:23). And when David transports the Ark of the Covenant from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem, he shows such a gladness that he surely acted out the verb halalII. When his wife Michal sees him, she insults him by readily applying verb halal III. David’s response seems somewhat cool, but of Michal it was said that she remained childless until her death. Tradition has her struck with infertility but it may very well be that David stopped seeing her all together (2 Samuel 6:16-23).

A similar confusion occurs when spectators who have never personally experienced spiritual rapture see someone at it. Bernini’s sculpture called the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa marvelously captures this rapture, but critics (and pop writers) recognize sexual euphoria. The usual battles ensued and raged, until a group of scientists took brain scans of people who were having sex and compared them to brain scans of people worshipping. Lo and behold, the exact same brain regions were activated in both groups (Andrew Newberg, John Horgan, also see Miracles: God, science, and Psychology in the Paranormal [2008] and Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion [2006]). The Bible frequently equates the relationship of God with His people to that of a husband with his wife, and now we know that this is more than a metaphor. In fact, it seems reasonable to conclude that a frequent bout of worship is an indispensable element of a healthy sex life.

It seems that we are designed to let go every now and then. When we let go in the presence of God, we’ll be worshipping. When we let go but don’t focus on God, we’ll be doing lots of other things, most of which will cause grave trouble. It’s no coincidence that in our times we see a decrease in divine experience, but an increase in what MTV calls partying. Lacking proper temples, our kids go loose in rave caves and surrender to nothingness. A pressing task of the church today is to reinstate the old halal (i.e. Hallelujah) tradition, the letting go in surrender to God.

Associated Biblical names

Hallelujah in the Bible

Although Hallelujah consists of two distinct verbal entities (a verb and a name), it’s consistently written as one word. In the Old Testament, it occurs only in the Psalms, and often at the beginning.

Hallelujah seems to fulfill the function of a mere liturgical term; a call to praise, like “here we go!” But under scrutiny a second meaning emerges, or perhaps the primary meaning that had slipped under the popular or liturgical one.

It seems that the word Hallelujah tends to show up in the vicinity of contemplations on death, which is after all the final moment of letting go every living creature has to deal with. The Bible sometimes calls death the “way of all the earth” (Joshua 23:14, 1 Kings 2:2) and the Psalmist distinctively admonishes not only his soul to perform Hallelujah (146:1), but also everything that has breath (150:6). It’s a common misconception to believe that only humans have souls. In Genesis 1:20, God creates “swarmers that swarm” and gives them the soul of life. A verse later He creates the creepers and sea beasts, also endowed with the soul of life. In verse 24 He commands, “Let the earth bring forth the soul of life, according to its kind…”

In Romans 8, Paul says it clearly. Not only humans are waiting anxiously for the fulfillment; all of creation has fallen and all of creation longs for the end, the freedom and the glory of the children of God (8:18-22). Or as the Psalmist puts it: “Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Hallelujah!” (104:35) “Blessed be YHWH, the God of Israel, from eternity to eternity. And let all the people say Amen. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 106:48). “We will bless Yah, from this time forth and evermore. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 115:18) “The Truth of YHWH endures forever. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 117:2).

“After these things I heard, as if it were, a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God. Because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.” And a second time they said “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And a voice came from the throne saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.” And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.” ” (Revelation 19:1-6).

Hallelujah is not a mere liturgic command, like a prelude to something exuberant. It is a crucial exercise that teaches us not only how to live but also how to die. Blessed is the one who is able to die in the spirit of Hallelujah, who can render the soul without hesitation or trepidation.

Hallelujah seems a good skill to have when the moment of the final letting go is at hand.

 

הללויה

Hallelujah

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
 
For other uses, see Hallelujah (disambiguation).

Hallelujah (/ˌhælɨˈljə/ hal-ə-loo-yə) is a transliteration of the Hebrew word הַלְּלוּיָהּ (Modern halleluya, Tiberianhalləlûyāh), which is composed of two elements: הַלְּלוּ (second-person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hallal: an exhortation to “praise” addressed to several people[1]) and יָהּ (the names of God Jah or Yah).[2][3][4]

Most well-known English versions of the Hebrew Bible translate the Hebrew “Hallelujah” (as at Psalm 150:1) as two Hebrew words, generally rendered as “Praise (ye)” and “the LORD“, but the second word is given as “Yah” in theLexham English Bible and Young’s Literal Translation, “Jah” in the New World Translation, “Jehovah” in the American Standard Version, and “Hashem” in the Orthodox Jewish Bible. Instead of a translation, the transliteration “Hallelujah” is used by JPS Tanakh, International Standard Version, Darby Translation, God’s Word Translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible, and The Message, with the spelling “Halleluyah” appearing in the Complete Jewish Bible. The Greek-influenced form “Alleluia” appears in Wycliffe’s Bible, the Knox Version and the New Jerusalem Bible.

In the great song of praise to God for his triumph over the Whore of Babylon[5] in chapter 19 of the New TestamentBook of Revelation, the Greek word ἀλληλούϊα (allēluia), a transliteration of the same Hebrew word, appears four times, as an expression of praise rather than an exhortation to praise.[6] In English translations this is mostly rendered as “Hallelujah”,[7] but as “Alleluia” in several translations,[8] while a few have “Praise the Lord”,[9] “Praise God”,[10]“Praise our God”,[11] or “Thanks to our God”.[12]

הַלְּלוּיָהּ is found 24 times in the book of Psalms, and the Greek transliteration ἀλληλούϊα appears in the Septuagintversion of these Psalms, in Tobit 13:17 and 3 Maccabees 7:13 and four times in Revelation 19.[6] The word is used in Judaism as part of the Hallel prayers, and in Christian prayer,[5] where since the earliest times[6] it is used in various ways in liturgies,[13] especially those of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church,[14] both of which use the form “alleluia”.

In the Bible[edit]

The term is used 24 times in the Hebrew Bible (mainly in the book of Psalms, e.g. 111–117, 145–150, where it starts and concludes a number of Psalms) and four times in Greek transliteration in the Christian Book of Revelation.[5]

In the Hebrew Bible hallelujah is actually a two-word phrase, not one word. The first part, hallelu, is the second-person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hallal.[1] However, “hallelujah” means more than simply “praise Jah” or “praise Yah”, as the word hallel in Hebrew means a joyous praise in song, to boast in God. Hallel could also refer to someone who acts madly or foolishly.[15][16]

The second part, Yah, is a shortened form of YHWH, the name for the Creator.[5] The name ceased to be pronounced in Second Temple Judaism, by the 3rd century BC due to religious beliefs.[17] The correct pronunciation is not known, however, it is sometimes rendered by Christians as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah“. The Septuagint translates Yah as Kyrios (the LORD), because of the Jewish custom of replacing the sacred name with “Adonai“, meaning “the Lord”.

In Psalm 150:6 the Hebrew reads kol han’shamah t’hallel yah;[18] It appears in the Hebrew Bible as הללו-יה and הללו יה. In Psalm 148:1 the Hebrew says “הללו יה hallelu yah”. It then says “hallelu eth-YHWH” as if using “yah” and “YHWH” interchangeably. The word “Yah” appears by itself as a divine name in poetry about 49 times in the Hebrew Bible (including hallelu yah), such as in Psalm 68:4–5 “who rides upon the deserts by his name Yah” and Exodus 15:2 “Yah is my strength and song”. It also often appears at the end of Israelite theophoric names such as Isaiah“yeshayah(u), Yahweh is salvation” and Jeremiah “yirmeyah(u), Yahweh is exalted”.[5]

The word hallelujah occurring in the Psalms is therefore a request for a congregation to join in praise toward God. It can be translated as “Praise Yah” or “Praise Jah, you people”,[2][13][19]

The Greek transliteration, ἀλληλούϊα (allēlouia) appears in Revelation 19:1–6, the great song of praise to God for his triumph over the Whore of Babylon.[5]

Usage by Jews[edit]

The word “hallelujah” is sung as part of the Hallel Psalms (interspersed between Psalms 113–150).[20]

Usage by Christians[edit]

For most Christians, “Hallelujah” is considered a joyful word of praise to God, rather than an injunction to praise him. “The Alleluia” refers to a traditional chant, combining the word with verses from the Psalms or other scripture. In theLatin Rite of the Catholic Church, and in many older Protestant denominations, the Alleluia, along with the Gloria in excelsis Deo, is not spoken or sung in liturgy during the season of Lent, instead being replaced by a Lenten acclamation, while in Eastern Churches, Alleluia is chanted throughout Lent at the beginning of the Matins service, replacing the Theos Kyrios, which is considered more joyful. At the Easter service and throughout the Pentecostarion,Christos anesti is used in the place where Hallelujah is chanted in the western rite.

In contemporary worship among many Protestants, expressions of “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord” are acceptable spontaneous expressions of joy, thanksgiving and praise towards God, requiring no specific prompting or call or direction from those leading times of praise and singing.[21]

Usage in informal language[edit]

In modern English, “Hallelujah” is frequently spoken to express happiness that a thing hoped or waited for has happened.[22] An example is its use in the song “Get Happy“.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b Page H. Kelley, Biblical Hebrew, an Introductory Grammar, page 169. Ethics & Public Policy Center, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8028-0598-0.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b Hallelujah, also spelled Alleluia, Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. Jump up^ Brown-Driver-Briggs (Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 238)
  4. Jump up^ page 403, note on line 1 of Psalm 113, Alter, Robert (2007). The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-06226-7.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f Woods, F. H. (1902). “Hallelujah”. In James Hastings. A Dictionary of the Bible. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. p. 287.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c Scott Nash, “Hallelujah” in Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press 1990 ISBN 978-0-86554373-7), p. 355
  7. Jump up^ Variants of “Hallelujah” in this context are “Hallelujah (praise the Lord)” in the Amplified Bible and “Halleluyah” inComplete Jewish Bible
  8. Jump up^ King James Version and its recent revisions, the 21st Century King James Version and the New King James Version, the Douay-Rheims Bible, the Knox Version, the New Jerusalem Bible, the Phillips New Testament, Wycliffe’s Bible, and Young’s Literal Translation.
  9. Jump up^ Contemporary English Version, New Living Translation (LORD)
  10. Jump up^ Good News Translation
  11. Jump up^ Worldwide English (New Testament)
  12. Jump up^ New Life Version
  13. ^ Jump up to:a b Alter, Robert (2007). The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 978-0-393-06226-7.
  14. Jump up^ Andrew McGowan, “Alleluia” in The New Scm Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship (Hymns Ancient & Modern 2002 ISBN 978-0-33402883-3), p. 6
  15. Jump up^ George Fohrer. Hebrew and Aramaic Dictionary of the Old Testament, under הלל. Walter de Gruyter, 1973. ISBN 978-3-11-004572-7.
  16. Jump up^ Joseph Samuel C.F. Frey, A Hebrew, Latin, and English dictionary, 1815, entry for הלל on page 254
  17. Jump up^ Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible: a reader’s introduction, 2nd ed. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. page 21.
  18. Jump up^ All quotes from the Hebrew are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, EDITIO FUNDITUS RENOVATA, cooperantibus H. P. Ruger et J. Ziegler ediderunt K. Elliger et W. Rudolph, Textum Masoreticum curavit H. P. Ruger MASORAM ELABORAVIT G. E. WEIL, Editio quinta emendata opera A. Schenker, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.
  19. Jump up^ “Do You Know God by Name?” watchtower.org. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  20. Jump up^ David E. Garland, Psalms, Volume 5 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, page 62.
  21. Jump up^ At Pipe Organ Pizza, a pipeline for prayers, Milwaukee Journal, July 12, 1981
  22. Jump up^ Hallelujah definition in Macmillan Dictionary

 

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