Word of the WeekHallal
Sing praise! Today’s Hebrew word is where we get the English word hallelujah, and it means “praise.”
“Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises (Psalm 47:6).”
We think of the angels singing praises in the night sky when Yeshua was born. Hallal means praise—but it also means light!
הלל is a root word that has several meanings. It expresses what lamps and celestial bodies do: shine, radiate light. Although it is a rarely used verb in the Bible, it denotes intensive action. It’s the word used to define the light that “flashes forth” from the sneezes of Leviathan in Job. Isaiah speaks of the “shining one” as he describes Satan’s fall in Isaiah 14:12. There it is a noun derived from the verb and is pronounced helel.
When the meaning is praise, it has three forms.
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”.
Hallelujah is a combination of two words, hallel meaning praise, and the shortened two-letter version of the name of God. For this reason, some Jews won’t pronounce the word except when reciting a prayer or a biblical verse, but will say hallelukah instead, rather than utter one of God’s names in a profane (common) context.
“This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can… reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.'” — Leonard Cohen
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised (Psalm 113:1-3).”
In 1741, the great musician George Frideric Handel composed the oratorio “Messiah,” that includes the compelling “Hallelujah Chorus.” It remains today one of the most famous religious musical works ever written. The text was written by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and its focus was on the
Messiahship of Yeshua. It is, perhaps, the most moving use of the term hallelujah in modern history.