Hallelujah. This word is used in the scriptures at least twenty-eight times. The Psalmists sang it, and the great multitude gathered around the throne will cry out — Hallelujah (Revelation 19:1-8). We say it, we sing it, and many people use it flippantly, but what does it mean?
Hallelujah is a Combination of Two Hebrew Words
Hallelujah (הַלְלוּיָהּ) is a combination of 2 words.
- 1. Halal (הָלַל) – This root form is translated throughout the Bible as:
- to be clear; to be brilliant; to shine; to flash forth light; to praise, boast, be boastful;
- interestingly, in some forms it denotes the meaning of: to make a fool of; to make into a fool; to act madly; act like a madman (Ecclesiastes 1:17, 2:12, 7:25 10:13).
The word specifically used in Hallelujah is l’hallel (לְהַלֵל), which means to praise or to glorify.
Note for language-lovers: hallelu (הַלְלוּ) is the masculine plural imperative form of the piel verb, so it is the positive command “you [must] praise”. I think a simple example would be the applause cue card at a live show. When the card is raised, people clap. Similarly, when hallelu is said, people praise.
- 2. Yah (יָהּ), the shortened form of Gods name Yahweh (יְהוָֹה).
You Shall Not Take the Name of Yahweh in Vain
In my opening statement, I said that some use this word flippantly. An example of this is the song “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. If you do a little research into his reason for writing this song, you’ll see that he wanted to take the word out of its religious context and make it a word that anyone can use. In my experience as a musician, it is so easy to get caught up in the feelings and emotions of a song without considering what’s actually being said. Words mean things, and if we are to believe that we will be held accountable for what we say, it’s important to be careful and wise with our words. Hallelujah intrinsically has the name of God in it, and the 3rd commandment says:
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
In conclusion, as we ponder the meaning of the word Hallelujah, let’s also consider the following words of Yeshua:
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”
Want to dive deeper into your Hebrew word studies? Join us in some of our additional writings.
Start with our article on 'Why Should I Study Hebrew Words.'
After that feel free to join us as we look into the name of Yeshua and the Hebrew word for hearing - Shama.