Everyone Knows Hallelujah, RIght?
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?
What Does the Word Really Mean?
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.