This year for Thanksgiving it really did not take me long to figure out what to write about. I had recently finished reading the book of Psalms as part of my daily devotions. The last several Psalms are short little praise songs to God. (Psalms, as I have said before, is like the Jewish hymnal. They would not exactly sing them but chant them.) And it reminded me of what Thanksgiving is all about. Thanksgiving is about thanking God and praising God for what he has done for us.
One of my favorite Psalms the 150th, not because it is the last Psalm, but because it praises God using one of my favorite Hebrew words. Halelujah.
1 Praise ye the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary:
praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts:
praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the sound of the trumpet:
praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance:
praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5 Praise him upon the loud cymbals:
praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6 Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.
Praise ye the LORD.
The first line there is actually the Hebrew word Halelujah. Its best translation is Praise Yahweh. Halelu means praise in Hebrew. Jah is short for Yahweh. Yahweh is called the tetragrammaton which is a fancy word I learned in seminary (sorry but I paid a lot of money and spent a lot of time to learn that, I need to use it every once and a while). Simply broken down, tetra means 4, grama means letters, ton means important. In other word 4 important letters and they are, it is the name of God that God gives Himself when Mosses ask Him.
King James Version (KJV)
13 And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
In Hebrew I AM are the letters YHWH. Also, in Hebrew writing there are no vowels. Therefore the 4 important letters are YHWH. It would be pronounced Yahweh. The idea of “I am that I am” is like in the New Testament where Jesus calls Himself the Alpha and the Omega the beginning and the end. In other words, I made everything and will end everything I am all powerful.
The Jewish people will not say this word because they do not want to say it in vain like the third commandment. So when they come to this word in the Bible they will say Adoni which means Lord. So when they translated the Bible, they kept the tradition and say Praise ye the Lord. In fact, throughout the Old Testament, YHWH is translated Lord. In fact, the Jewish people are so fanatical about not say YHWH they kill Jesus for saying it.
King James Version (KJV)
69 Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
70 Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.
71 And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.
Jesus said YHWH, and they used that reason to crucify Him, not their trumped up charges.
Jesus says YHWH one other time, and it shows you the power in His name.
King James Version (KJV)
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
Jesus says YHWH and everybody falls backward just by saying his name.
Some people will say “what about Jehovah”. Jehovah is the letters YHWH with the vowels of Adoni added in Latin. You see, the Catholic Church had the Bible translated into Latin first, it was much later that the Bible was translated to English using the Hebrew and Greek texts, but the word Jehovah was already out there. Also, people ask how we know Yahweh is the right pronunciation of YHWH if there were no vowels and they never said the word. Admittedly, there is some debate, but as I said earlier, they shortened the word to put it in other words, so from these other words like Halelujah or Isaiah is how they came up with the best fit.
I am sorry this is so long of a blog but you can see why Halelujah is one of my favorite Hebrew words, and why it is so important to me at Thanksgiving because it allows me to praise God at this time of year that we are to praise Him.
After reading this to my son he reminded me that Halelujah is the one word that in all languages is the same and he wanted me to add it to my blog.