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Hallelujah: Bible Word Study

Updated on March 9, 2019
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Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Hallelujah is an English word for the transliteration of the Hebrew word haleluya. The word is an exhortation of praise. Most people consider hallelujah to be the praise itself. They have come to describe hallelujah as the highest praise. However, it is an invitation or a call to praise God.

To utter the word is to request others to praise God for who He is and for what He has done and continues to do. In other words, hallelujah is a command to "Praise ye the Lord" pr "You praise the Lord."

So, when you say "Hallelujah" you are not praising the Lord. You are requesting others to join you in praising the Lord. "Hallelujah" is a command, a request or instruction.

Hallelujah in the Bible

Hallelujah is found 24 times in the Bible. It is seen mostly in the Psalms, twice in Deuteronomy and four times in the Book of Revelation.

Hallelujah is written as one word. Actually, it is a combination of two words. It is not one word as most people think. This is easy to understand when people know that the first part, hallelu, is the verb part of the word that means to praise. The second part Jah is the shortened form of YHWH for Yahweh or Jehovah, the recipient of the praise. Therefore, hallelujah should only be addressed to God, never to people. The Greek form of the word “Alleluia“ means the very same thing.

In English translations "Hallelujah" is used more often, but the Greek word "Alleluia" is used in several other translations. Both words mean any of these expressions:

  • "Praise the Lord"
  • "Praise God"
  • "Praise our God"
  • "Thanks to our God"

The word hallelujah occurs often in the Psalms and can be translated as "Praise Yah" or "Praise Jah, you people." It is a request for a congregation to praise God together.

Hallelujah in the Old Testament

Hallelujah is found 24 times in the Old Testament and only in the book of Psalms. It is recorded in 15 different Psalms from Psalm 104 to Psalm 150. T

The Halleujah or Praise Psalms

Psalms 146-150 are known as the Hallelujah or Praise Psalms. That's because that word is the first line and last line of all of those psalms.

When I teach the Psalms, I choose people to read the first line in each of those psalms. I also choose different people to read the last line in each of those psalms. Then I tell all of them to read the lines assigned to them at the same time. All of the people are reading the very same words. In English, they were saying, "Praise the Lord."

Listen to songwriter Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece "Hallelujah"

Hallelujah Scriptures

Here are a few examples of scriptures that contain the Hebrew term “Hallelujah!”

Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
And let the wicked be no more.
Bless the LORD, O my soul.
Praise the LORD! [Hallelujah!] Psalm 104:35

Praise the LORD! [Hallelujah!]
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Psalm 106:1

Praise the LORD! [Hallelujah!]
How blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who greatly delights in His commandments. Psalm 112:1

All of Psalm 150 is a praise to God and deserves to be called a Hallelujah Psalm. Notice that the psalm begins and ends with the same words.

Praise the LORD! [Hallelujah!]
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD! [Hallelujah!] Psalm 150:1-6

Hallelujah in the New Testament

In the New Testament, Hallelujah appears only in the Book of Revelation. The one passage is in Revelation 19:1-6 where the word is recorded four times.

Hearing "Hallelujah" in Church

It is not unusual to hear the word "Hallelujah" repeated over and over in traditional churches during a worship service.

When the preacher is preaching the sermon, people say the word when something resonates with them. They may use the word when the choir is singing and at other times when they are moved by the Spirit of the Lord.

Have you ever used the word "Hallelujah"?

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