The word יְהוּדָה  (pronounced: Yehudah)  is usually translated as “Judah” in English Bibles. This name has a very rich meaning for both Jewish and Christian traditions. For example, in the Hebrew Bible, God called King David, who came from the tribe of Judah, “the man after My own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). In the New Testament, Jesus, a later descendant of David, is referred to as “the Lion from the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).

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The importance of Judah, therefore, is obvious. But what does Judah actually mean in Hebrew? The word Judah comes from the verb לְהודות (pronounced: Lehodot), which simply means “to thank.” In the context of the Hebrew Bible, such thanks are synonymous not just with gratitude, but with praise. In fact, there was a particular sacrifice called “The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving.” In the Temple in Jerusalem, it was called תּודָה “Todah” – the noun for “Thanksgiving.” Today in Modern Hebrew, to simply say “thanks” Israelis use the very same word תּודָה (pronounced: todah) that was used in the Temple to express gratitude to God. 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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70 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for explaining the meaning of the name Jehuda!! It is just beautiful! I loved it!! I studied Hebrew many years ago while planning to visit Israel. I did go to Israel three times because I have Israeli friends. I love Israel, an awesome and beautiful country. Now I am a senior Mexican woman living in Mexico and don’t have a credit card tu buy your Hebrew lessons. Again, Todah, Gracias!! for explaining the meaning of Judah. G-d bless you!!!

  2. Thanks! I associated the name with Praise based on Genesis account of Leah. And it is neat that it is Leah’s child that is the line from the 12!!! I have been studying and see it is Judah (Jacob’s 4th son), first son of Leah in G. 29:35, that is praised . Judah is chosen when 3 older brothers Reuben, Simeon & Levi forfeit their places (Reuben with adultery w/Billah, and Simeon & Levi avenge Dinah’s rape by murdering! Crazy! But Judah himself only turns to praise-worthy after being less righteous than Tamar…the point of his change.

  3. Since as we know Joseph is not JESUS’ biological father, but HE was conceived by the miracle of the HOLY SPIRIT, how then can you now get confused and refer to our CHRIST as decendant of Judah ??????

  4. If Judah means praise and thanks to God and David was a psalmist is there a blessing or indication on Judah to praise God in music?I always assumed it was the Levites who were responsible for this?

  5. For me Yehudah or Judah is a very meaningful name because it was during the time he was born when Leah, his mother, was finally enlightened, accepted our Lord’s love and she was no longer felt unwanted by not being Jacob’s cup of tea. Unlike before when she bore her first 3 sons, they were all centered to her feeling unloved and validation seeking from Jacob. “Once more she conceived and bore a son and she said ‘This time I will give grateful praise to the Lord’; therefore she named him Judah” Gen 29:35. Despite him being the instigator of selling Joseph to slavery, it was also he who was the first brother to repent and showed brotherly love by his willingness to offer himself to take Benjamin’s place not realizing that he was already talking to his brother Joseph. While I feel very much for Joseph but for me that act of Judah selling him was actually G-d’s weird way of using Judah in sending Joseph to a place He intended him to be so that His plan of saving Israel from the upcoming famine will be fulfilled. From that entire last 13 chapters in Genesis, while the vast majority was centered on Joseph but as we can see, Judah played a very significant role in the story as well.

  6. I thank you for all the information. I love and pray for Israel every day, have been there thirteen times. It is an honor and privilege to support Magen David, Bridges For Peace, Vision For Israel, the Halocaust survivors and the IDF.

  7. Dr. Eyzenburg; I have ask many pastors and spiritually qualified people a question and never get an answer. The question is; in the gospel it describes several events that occurred at the crusifixion. One being that the graves opened up and the souls or bodies went in to town and people saw them. But, I see no further discussion of it . I’v always wondered what became of them. Have you any insight about this? Thank you.

    • This really isn’t the right place for this kind of question, Alan, but I’ll quickly address it. Rabbinic Judaism had a tradition (dating before Yeshua) that the coming of the Messiah would bring about the resurrection of the dead. The NT writers obviously agreed (concerning His second coming especially), but the point of this bodily mini-resurrection at the time of Messiah’s resurrection (and not before, per the reading of the Syriac version) was to further evidence Yeshua’s messiahship. Isaiah (26:19) is probably a prophecy about this event. The Bible is silent about these resurrected people besides the two verses that mention them, so the question of who they were and what happened to them later is quite up for speculation. The Septuagint adds to the end of Job, “it is written that he [Job] will rise again with those whom the Lord raises up”, and the Persic version of Matthew has, “and the bodies of many saints who suffered martyrdom, rose out of the graves”. Besides these scant words, its anyone’s guess as to who they were, though it is probable that they were contemporary people that would be recognized. It seems reasonable that they died again naturally to await the general resurrection, but you probably haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer from qualified people because the Bible just doesn’t qualify what happened. Save that question for the age to come! So any questions about the meaning of Judah in Hebrew? 🙂

  8. I just love learning so much through these short blogs! I hope I can keep receiving them to learn more w/o signing up for a Hebrew course. Bless you.

    • It is our pleasure here at Israel Bible Center to offer these insights for free, but keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to really dig in, Linda, then take the next step to invest in yourself and share with others what you will learn!

  9. Thank you for sharing your insight on the meaning of the name Yehuda. Grateful is the best name one can have I think. It is like gratitude is in your DNA.

  10. thank you so much for the opportunity to learn from you. i know this is just the beginning of a journey to a deeper understanding of the words of God in the context of hebrew language.
    God bless and more power…

  11. I am not student in this bible center.
    I am professor worldwide.
    I studied the bible for many years and I know the scriptures in 10 languages,
    I have consecrated this ministry of Dr. Eli Lizorkin- Eyzenberg

  12. Thank you for sharing these informative snippets from the Hebrew language. The Word of God is an amazing, complex, healing, multi-faceted, living and breathing guideline for abundant life!! Depression cannot remain when a person praises God with thankful exuberance! Again, many thanks for sharing.

    • I’m so glad that you enjoy these, Dianne. Why not dive into a Hebrew Language or Jewish Studies course? These snippets are just the surface!

  13. What calendar did they have back then?
    American calendar is wrong!
    Could you give me the truth so the we can go by the real calendar!
    Thank you Mrs.Mary Glaser

  14. Dear Dr. Eli,
    Do you think it is accurate to say that when Paul wrote “Jesus Christ our Lord” that he was expressing in Greek “Yeshua Messiah our Adonai”? In other words when he wrote “kurios” he was thinking “Adonai”?
    Thanks so much!

  15. Do any of the Aramaic texts predate our earliest Greek texts for the same passages? I’ve heard some Aramaic primacy folks say they do, but could never verify it.
    What would be the Hebrew equivalent to Marya and maran?
    Could maran refer to Yeshua’s earthly position as Crown Prince of Israel?

    • If you’re comparing fragments of manuscripts, the Greek is older. If you’re comparing an entire New Testament, then the Peshitta is older.
      The Hebrew for Marya is YHWH, and the Maran is Adon (Master). Adon would be used for anyone who ought to be called Master.

    • Our staff and the vast majority of the professors abroad and guest speakers that speak and teach are believers in the Messiah Yeshua, yes.

  16. Wow. Thank you so much for helping illuminate the Scriptures by giving us Jewish insights. I am a Hebrew student who also teaches beginning Hebrew and I LOVE the language! Knowing what the original word meant to the readers is crucial for my deeper understanding of the Word of God. Hebrew often has no direct way to express the meaning in English, so reading both really makes a difference in understanding. Thank you so very much for your insight! Shalom!

    • Thanks for the encouraging words. About a dictionary, I actually speak Hebrew, so that is how I know what the name means, but if you need a dictionary definition, then see Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary or Brown-Driver-Briggs, or just look at the passage in the Bible that gives the reasoning for his name (Gen 29:35).

  17. I linked up only a few weeks ago and am enjoying this very much. A treasure of information on how much of the Biblical text has changed over the years, and in mostly in good faith!
    Reading the comments it is like removing the layers of varnish, the restoration work using different techniques, the layers of “modern” paints, etc to find the original magnificent beyond imagination.
    This is very much appreciated. Thanks.

  18. The Audacity of Jewish Faith is so incredible. I have to comment. I stopped right there for a break because it was just so rich. The nuggets picked up throughout have to be processed. Moses is not given nearly enough credit in my Christian experience, but then I always suspected that. I want to laugh and cry at the same time. Why? Because of His grace that is not sufficient for us, it is way over the top! And we all need it so, no matter if we are a little stiff-necked or a lot. Love these courses!

  19. Excellent encouragement to learn biblical Hebrew! The concept of praise is vital in the believer’s life. Judah was a leader in his family from protecting Joseph from being murdered to taking responsibility of his younger brother Benjamin to being the spokesman for the brothers as they were brought before Joseph. Praise leads out in the battle: from the battle of Jerico to 2 Chronicles 20:18-22 to Jonah 2:7-10 to Acts 16:22-26. Judah carries with his name a key element of having victory in this life. He lived through many obstacles with praise as a banner. May we do likewise.

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