My goal in designing this Hebrew course is to teach Hebrew with words that we already know in English. Hallelujah is such a word. In fact, in Hebrew, it is not a word; it is a sentence. It is a command like Come! Go! Sit! Praise! It means “Praise God.” The Southerners best translate it: “Y’all praise God!” For the command is directed not to one person but to a group, to the people of Israel.
Here’s the grammatical breakdown:-
Hallelu הללו= You (plural) praise (Command form)
Jah יה= short form for the Lord
H-L-L הלל is the root
What I love about this is that this shows you that you knew a whole sentence in Hebrew and didn’t know that you knew. You knew a sentence in Hebrew where the verb was in the plural command or vocative form! So later when you come across other sentences where the Lord is giving commands, you will know to look for the “u” at the end.
In Psalm 113:1, the psalmist commands the servants of the Lord to praise Him. You can see the command form to praise three times in that one verse —
Hallelu avodi Adonai,
Hallelu et shem Adonai
So if you are ever wondering what to do, then just praise the Lord.
Do you know anyone called Obed? Then you know the word for servant. Just remember when a “B” comes in the middle of a word, it is pronounced like a “V.”
Since עבד is a masculine noun, it has a masculine plural ending–im or ים
But there is no ם …. Why? What happened to it?
When we want to say “servants of the Lord” in Hebrew, we don’t have of the
In English, we could also say Lord’s servants. Think of it as being in the possessive form.
Hebrew expresses it like this: servants-Lord (For you grammar geeks, it’s called a construct.)
So you would think that you would have עבדים יהוה
But you don’t. Hebrew squeezes these words together so tightly, that the ם gets squished out. So you are left with עבדי יהוה
So you can shout out “Hallelu avdi Adoni!” You have another sentence to your repertoire.
Now that ET in the next phrase is not about that extra-terrestrial being in Steven Spielberg’s movie. אב has no meaning. It is grammar helper to let you know that a noun is coming. Not just any noun, but the direct object. It is pointing to the noun “name” or shem. שם
So it’s sort of like “Who do we praise?” We praise the name of the Lord. In the Hebrew mentality, it is not just talking about your name but your character. So when we praise the Lord here, we are to consider His character. So that’s pretty easy to remember: Hallelu shem Adonai. Then you know another sentence.
When you learn a sentence, you are learning a full thought. This is the full unit in a language. Many times, we have just learned sounds that have no meaning. Or perhaps we have learned words but don’t know how they fit in a sentence. When you know a sentence, you have the whole package. It stays with you because it is a full thought. It’s real language that you can use and grasp.