There is probably not a single person alive who isn’t familiar with the word “Hallelujah”. We’ve all heard this word repeated time and again in various contexts. Hallelujah is a Hebrew loan word, incorporated into the English language from Hebrew. But what does this word mean in Hebrew?

The word “Hallelujah” (הללויה) is actually a compound word (two individual Hebrew words put together): “Hallelu” (הללו) and “Yah” (יה). “Hallelu” is an exhortation to a group people to praise someone or something. The old English translation of “Praise, ye” is, therefore, a very accurate translation.

“Yah” (יה) is a version of  “YHVH” (יהוה) – an English transliteration of the covenant name of Israel’s God. Jewish belief holds that this name is too holy to be pronounced at all. In fact, no one really knows how to pronounce it correctly. Ancient Hebrew did not use vowels, but only consonants. In translating “YHVH,”, both Jewish and Christian translators substituted the word “Lord” –  a rough translation of another Hebrew name for God (אֲדונָי) – Adonai. To signify that “YHVH” was the original Hebrew word used in the text – it was printed in “all capitals,” (LORD and not simply “Lord”) in English translations.

For many centuries, Jewish people have traditionally referred to this most holy name of God by using the Hebrew word,HaShem” (literally, “The Name”). Occasionally, they would substitute even the longer Hebrew phrases for God’s covenant name, such as “HaKadosh Baruch Chu” (Holy One, Blessed be He).

Today’s modern Christ followers are divided over the appropriateness of the English translation (LORD). Some prefer to pronounce the actual covenant name of God (forbidden to be spoken in Judaism) believing that this makes their faith more authentic and original. Others continue with the more traditional Jewish/Christian ways of expressing their devotion. Join me and discover the practical simplicity of Hebrew Language. Understand how it speaks in through simple imagery, yet says so much.

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276 COMMENTS

  1. "No matter on which side of the debate we find ourselves, we must affirm the necessary authenticity and Israelite character of our modern prayers without losing sight of the graciousness of Israel’s God who is far more concerned about our hearts than about our grammar." This is the most important: God who is far more concerned about our hearts than about our grammar. Thank you!
    • My comment comes late, and out of season, so to speak. Yet, I'll share it all the same. A number of passages in the holy scriptures focus on the holy name in a way that makes "grammar" exceptionally important! Zachariah 14:9 "And YHWH shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one YHWH, and his name one." One name only?! What is that name? For we are in the last days! Is it not the same name Yahweh declared to be his "name forever" in Exodus 3:15?

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    • More on the exceptional importance of "grammar". The messianic Psalm 22:22 prophesies: "I will declare thy name unto my brethren..." Did the Messiah fulfill this prophecy? John 17:25-26 says: "O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them." What name is he talking about? Not the eternal name of Exodus 3:15, the name Yahweh?

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    • I am not a student of the Israel Bible Center, but because I do get emails all the time and read the different comments, I felt lead to make a comment. From what I was taught "Hallelujah" is the highest praise that we can give to the LORD. HE so worthy of all the praise and mere words no matter the origin cannot begin to touch or describe HIM. We must be thankful that he considered any of us, let alone created us. I truly understand King David and appreciate his dedication to Almighty GOD Our Father.
    • Our grammar expresses what is in our hearts. It would not be appropriate to disrespect the LORD and claim that the heart, on the other hand, does respect him. The grammar cannot be separated from what is in the heart. This is why it is important to learn the correct grammar so that we do not err unknowingly.

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    • First. I am a Christian, but I also have immense respect for our older brothers who still are faithful followers of the religion that God gave Moses. I would suggest that you are more than 1/2 correct but that words and their meaning are also important. In the United States of the 21st Century, our names really don't have a meaning; they are mearly sounds to distinguish us from someone else. That is often not the case in other cultures or in the past. The name that God told Moses was His Name has a meaning that is extremely important

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    • Human embellishment is what we add to the original form. Why say what ought not to be said when the people to whom Hashem revealed Himself already discovered how best to talk to Him. If our devotion is based on Scripture, then it is hard to depart from the unembellished form.
    • God is a title, YAHUWAH is a name made known to mankind by our Father in heaven. And the son YAHUSHA HAMASHIAC established the name of his father on this earth and for ever. Thank you.
    • God looks at the heart. Too true! But if we must be good and clear communicators of truth to others, especially younger ones, we must learn how to communicate these profound things clearly and simply. Grammar doesn't matter between us and God. It does matter FOR our neighbours!
  2. I see that the covenant name of God was “too holy to be pronounced at all”. I am wondering if the meaning for some could be deeper than grammar. I see in Rev 2:13 “you hold fast to my name (HaShem?)”. This seems to be linked to the word “hidden manna” (Rev 2:17). Could unpronounceable also mean that God is hidden?
    • I believe our indwelling knows us & all our prayers / being unable, go through Him. Yes, I hold fast to the name “O LORD my God” when much occult attack fiercely & I am alone & no where to hide. The LORD is my Refuge & His very present helps in time of trouble. So be very careful to “Love the LORD your God w all your heart.”
  3. I believe, with much respect without offending the people of Israel, that the Jew does not follow the first commandment: "Love God above all things". They worry a lot if they can pronounce the name of YHWH. How can I say to my Father: Lord instead of Father, or Adonai instead of YAWE, a father is loved, because the one who loves him, keeps the greatest of all respects.

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    • This is an incredibly myopic restatement of Dr. Eli's comment and could be construed to be anti-Semitic. I have known a lot of Jews who are legalistic beyond measure and I have been blessed by friendships with many Jews who love the LORD above all else. We must not make sweeping dogmatic statements about any group. Jews are careful about the LORD's name is that they believe it is sacred and any mispronunciation, defacing, or personal manipulation of it are an affront to God. You aren't God, but would you like me to call you Joooowahn? I'm a former Rabbi.

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    • The Commandment, "Thou shall not take the name of ( Yod He Vav He in Hebrew ) in vain."; cannot be violated if that name is never pronounced. I give my Father, Hashem, the greatest respect when I obey His Commandments. I do the same thing when I obey my Lord and Savior, Yeshua's commandments.
    • The name of the LORD carries deeper meaning than we can ever imagine. To the Jews, who understand the significance of the LORD'S name, it is unimaginable to mispronounce it for any derivation may take away or even mean something completely different. It is for this reason that some derivations of the Name of the LORD should be discouraged. Lest I call on a strange god, may I keep to what is safe and will not take away from my relationship with the LORD.
  4. Well said - though He is 'jealous' for His name! Throughout the OT His goal was that ALL nations would realize that the true God was the one name YHWH. All others were only figments of mens' imaginations.
    • God is a title, YAHUWAH is a name made known to mankind by our Father in heaven. And the son YAHUSHA HAMASHIAC established the name of his father on this earth and for ever. Thank you.
  5. The book of psalms ends in a very interesting way. Psalm 150:6 (AMP). Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord! “Praise the Lord!” (Hallelujah). The word Hallelujah unlike most of the other words in the bible was left in the original Hebrew. Perhaps; just maybe when we give praise this could be considered to sacred to tamper with. The authenticity of praise is set in our hearts. This’s why I believe King David was so great, a man after God’s own heart. Irrespective of his personal flaws. So! “Let us praise the Lord,” Hallelujah!
  6. It would also be interesting to have a commentary on how "Hosanna" came into the English language as a praise word, instead of what I understand to be its original meaning: "Save us."
  7. Our LORD Far more concerned about out hearts than our grammar, Nailed it D.R. Eli ---- Love's stronger than steel - Love's greater even than the Halacha (though the Law is good) YESHUA is greater than all these for me Amen
  8. Josephus tells us that the holy name of G_d is 'all vowels' (Jewish Wars 5.5.7). Although he was writing in Greek rather than Hebrew he was using the LXX where the name of G_d was translated into vowels. Since the Hebrew letters yod, he and vav (waw) are used not only as consonants, but also as vowel indicators (matres lectionis) what better way to hide the true name in a text without vowels than to use a word without its consonants? Without the consonants it is impossible to know the true word and hence to know how to pronounce it.
    • No one to be blamed. In the Old Testamental era, the biblical Jews viewed God to be transcendent (i.e. Someone you cannot come near) because of HIS Holiness. Yahweh also gave them command never to call HIS name in vain. So they have to look for other names for God.
  9. I think that beyond wanting to keep the sacredness of the lord 's name , to deface it to the point of not knowing how to pronounce it and knowing the name of your creator is beyond shame and dishonor. This is not what anyone can call "to keep in high regard and respect". How would you feel being call " hey ! You... Yes you! ...what ever your name is" by your children. Would you feel honored ,respected? Remembered? Apreciated? Forgetting the name of their God was one of the greatest disservice rabbies did to israel.
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