Hallelujah Defined: Is the word “Hallelujah” Biblical?
Even without knowing the meaning, hallelujah has an effect on us when we speak it. It is in our song lyrics, Bible verses, poems, and maybe even a few Christmas ornaments. The “Defined” series is about shining a light on these types of words that we use every day in Christianity and, although we can associate a feeling with a word, we may not know exactly what it means. Does hallelujah even have a definition or meaning in English? Is the word Hallelujah in the Bible? That is our goal, hallelujah defined.
To no one’s surprise, this word is definitely not English. It is Hebrew, and can be spelled alleluia from its Greek adaptation. Strangely enough it is only found in the book of Psalms and the book of Revelation. A word so frequently used in our lyrics and poetry is only mentioned in the Bible a total of 28 times (24 in Psalms, 4 in Revelation)!
First, although we use this as a word in English, hallelujah is actually a short phrase in Hebrew. “Hallel” in Hebrew is loosely translated as “praise be” or a joyous praise, often in song. “Jah” is the English form of the Hebrew “Yah,” short for the personal name of God by the Israelites, Yahweh. Together, this phrase in English would be “praise God”; but not just any God, “Praise Jah” short for Praise Yahweh (YHWH).”
Hallelujah is universal, nearly the same in every language around the world. It is the exclamation to our God of His glory and grace with an immediate association of happiness, comfort, and joy. In Revelation 19, it is even the phrase sang in Heaven while we are in the presence of our divine Creator!
Meaning to your Praise
Next time you praise and sing hallelujah, know that you are praising the glory of our God using the same name David used in the hallelujah Psalms; a universal language, spoken on earth and in the heavens. Now defined, you can sing and praise with purpose and the clarity that you are speaking more than just a word. You are praising with the phrase of angels.