In celebration of the arrival of advance copies of the book Mother & I wrote, I use here an article written in similar format that didn’t make it into the book.
Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.
Revelation 19:1 (RSV)
Hallelujah is one of those words that cannot be adequately translated into English. Because there is no single English word that means exactly the same thing as hallelujah, some translators have chosen to transliterate it (that is, to write the Hebrew word with English letters). This means that when you say “Hallelujah” you are actually pronouncing the original Hebrew word.
This word is really a sentence which has two parts–the verb and its direct object. The first part, “hallelu,” is a verb in the form of a command or instructions: “Praise!” or “Let us praise!” This word includes not only the idea of praise, but also of adoration, admiration, and rejoicing. The second part, “jah,” is a shortened form of “Yahweh,” one of the names of God. So the literal meaning of hallelujah is “Praise Yahweh!” Since Yahweh is usually translated “Lord,” hallelujah becomes “Praise the Lord!” in most English Bibles. This phrase is found throughout the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms, as a translation of hallelujah.
In the Greek New Testament, the Hebrew word hallelujah appears transliterated into Greek; that is, the Hebrew word is written in Greek letters. There are several Hebrew or Aramaic words which appear transliterated in the Greek New Testament, including “hosanna” (John 12:13); “maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22); and “Abba” (Mark 14:36). Since these words are not translated into Greek, they usually are not translated into other languages either, but rather transliterated. This is why the Hebrew word hallelujah is now known in many languages.
From earliest times hallelujah seems to have been used as a shout of praise, as it is in Revelation 19:1. It is still used this way today.
Scratch the Surface
Use an online concordance to look up “praise the Lord” (exact phrase) in Bible books other than Psalms and then look at the context of a few of the references to see how/why God is praised there.
Read chapters 14 and 15 of Exodus to see what happened when the Israelites first came out of Egypt and how they praised God for what he did.
Look at Psalm 104 and use it to help you pray a prayer of praise to God for the wonders of creation.
“Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 ERV)