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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Hallelujah

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HALLELUJAH . A Hebrew expression, used liturgically in Hebrew worship as a short doxology, meaning ‘praise ye Jah.’ With one exception ( Psalms 135:3 ) it occurs only at the beginning or the end of psalms, or both: at the beginning only in Psalms 111:1-10; Psalms 112:1-10; at the beginning and end in Psalms 106:1-48; Psalms 113:1-9; Psalms 135:1-21; Psalms 146:1-10; Psalms 147:1-20; Psalms 148:1-14; Psalms 149:1-9; Psalms 150:1-6; at the end only in Psalms 104:1-35; Psalms 105:1-45; Psalms 115:1-18; Psalms 116:1-19; Psalms 117:1-2 .

In the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , however, the Gr. (transliterated) form of the expression occurs only at the beginning of psalms as a heading , and this would seem to be the more natural usage. The double occurrence in the Heb. text may in some cases he explained as due to accidental displacement (the heading of the following psalm being attached to the conclusion of the previous one).

As a liturgical heading the term served to mark off certain well-defined groups of psalms which were probably intended in the first instance for synagogue use, and may once have existed as an independent collection. With the exception of Psalms 135:1-21 , these groups (in the Heb. text) are three in number, viz. 104 106; 111 113, 115 117; and 146 150. But in the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] a larger number of psalms is so distinguished, and the consequent grouping is more coherent, viz. 105 107; 111 119 (135 136); 146 150. In the synagogue liturgy the last-mentioned group (146 150). together with 135 136, has a well-defined place in the daily morning service, forming an integral part of the great ‘Benediction of Song’ (in certain parts of the early Church, also, it was customary to recite the ‘Hallelujah’ psalms daily).

The ‘Hallel’ (Psalms 113:1-9; Psalms 114:1-8; Psalms 115:1-18; Psalms 116:1-19; Psalms 117:1-2; Psalms 118:1-29 ), which forms a liturgical unit in the synagogue liturgy, is the most complete example of ‘Hallelujah’ psalms in collected form. (In the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] , notice all the individual psalms of this group are headed ‘ Alleluia ’).

All the psalms referred to exhibit unmistakable marks of late composition, which would accord with their distinctively synagogal character. Like other Jewish liturgical terms ( e.g. ‘Amen’), ‘Hallelujah’ passed from the OT to the NT (cf. Revelation 19:1-7 ), from the Jewish to the Christian Church (cf. esp. the early liturgies), and so to modern hymnody. Through the Vulgate the form ‘ Alleluia ’ has come into use. The AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and RV [Note: Revised Version.] , however, render ‘Praise ye the Lord.’

G. H. Box.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Hallelujah'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/h/hallelujah.html. 1909.

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