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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Hosanna

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(ὡσαννά , from the Heb. הוֹשַׁיעָהאּנָּא, as in Psalms 118:25; Isaiah 59:1; Isaiah 45:20), a form of acclamatory blessing or wishing well, which signifies Save now! i.e. "succor now! be now propitious!" It occurs in Matthew 21:9 (also Mark 11:9-10; John 12:13), "Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest." This was on the occasion of our Savior's public entry into Jerusalem, and, fairly construed, would mean, "Lord, preserve this Son of David; heap favors and blessings on him!" It is further to be observed that Hosanna was a customary form of acclamation at the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was celebrated in September, just before the commencement of the civil year, on which occasion the people carried in their hands bundles of boughs of palms, myrtles, etc. (Josephus, Ant. 13, 13, 6; 3:10, 4). They then repeated the 25th and 26th verses of Psalms 118, which commence with the word Hosanna; and from this circumstance they gave the boughs and the prayers, and the feast itself the name of Hosanna. They observed the same forms, also, at the Encaenia, or Festival of Dedication (1 Maccabees 10:6-7; 2 Macc. 13:51; Revelation 7:9), and the Passover. Kitto. The psalm from which it was taken, the 118th, was one with which they were familiar, from being accustomed to recite the 25th and 26th verses at the Feast of Tabernacles.

On that occasion the Great Hallel, consisting of Psalms 113-118, was chanted by one of the priests, and at certain intervals the multitudes joined in the responses, waving their branches of willow and palm, and shouting as they waved them Hallelujah, or Hosanna, or "O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity" (Psalms 118:25). This was done at the recitation of the first and last verses of Psalms 118, but, according to the school of Hillel, at the words "Save now, we beseech thee" (Psalms 118:25). The school of Shammai, on the contrary, say it was at the words "Send now prosperity" of the same verse. Rabban Gamaliel and R. Joshua were observed by R. Akiba to wave their branches only at the words "Save now, we beseech thee" (Mishna, Succah, 3, 9). On each of the seven days during which the feast lasted the people thronged in the court of the Temple, and went in procession about the altar, setting their boughs bending towards it, the trumpets sounding as they shouted Hosanna. But on the seventh day they marched seven times round the altar, shouting meanwhile the great Hosanna to the sound of the trumpets of the Levites (Lightfoot, Temple Service, 16, 2). The very children who could wave the palm branches were expected to take part in. the solemnity (Mishna, Succah, 3, 15; Matthew 21:15). From the custom of waving the boughs of myrtle and willow during the service the name Hosanna was ultimately transferred to the boughs themselves so that, according to Elias Levita (Thisbi, s.v.), "the bundles of the willows of the brook which they carry at the Feast of Tabernacles are called Hosannas." The term is frequently applied by Jewish writers to denote the Feast of Tabernacles, the seventh day of the feast being distinguished as the great Hosanna (Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. s.5. ישׁע ). Monographs on this ejaculation have been written in Latin by Bindrim (Ros. 1671), Nothdurfft (Bruisw. 1713), Pfaff (Tü bingen, 1789), Winzer (Lips. 1677-78,1703), Bucher (Zittav. 1728), Wernsdorf (Viteb. 1765), Zopf (Lips. 1703). (See HALLEL).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hosanna'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/h/hosanna.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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