Hallelujah is a word that is universal. It is found in every major language throughout the world with few or slight variations, eg. alleluia.
I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you but “Hallelujah” is not a simple word; it is a complete sentence. It is made from three Hebrew words. But before I explain, I want to reiterate the disclaimer I made in an earlier blog post; I am NOT a Hebrew scholar and I don’t have any idea what I am talking about. So if you are more knowledgeable than I am and you disagree, I will be happy to receive your corrections.
Having said that, I will now attempt to translate this sentence for those who are as simple minded and ignorant as I am. By the way, I didn’t do very well in English or Grammar classes either.
The first Hebrew word is a verb, “Hallel,” which means “Praise.” The second is a definite article, “U,” which means “the.” The last word is a direct object. “Jah” represents the word for Jehovah or God. The subject of this sentence is the, not stated but, understood personal pronoun “YOU.”
The sentence is an imperative. That means it is a command. So there you have it. The translation of the sentence is, “You, Praise the Lord” or, if you are a subject of King James, it is Praise ye the Lord.
Hallelujah is not a word to be flippantly or carelessly repeated. By the way (for all of you who habitually repeat the sentence), saying "Praise the Lord," is not tantamount to doing it. It is a command from God that demands our obedience.
When I told my oldest daughter to clean her room, it was not acceptable for her to simply repeat my command to her younger sister. That didn’t get the job done. Her only acceptable response was to obey my directive and "CLEAN HER ROOM!"
One commentator has said, – It is saddening to see how this majestic word has been trailed in the mire of late. Its irreverent use is an aggravated instance of taking the name of Jehovah our God in vain. Let us hope that it has been done in ignorance.
How are we to obey the imperative?
And one of the better ways we can do that is to repeat His own Words back to Him. His Words are exceedingly more excellent than any of us are able to express or compose. I think that is why God gave us the Psalms which were intended to be sung to Him. Whether spoken or sung, the command remains - YOU, PRAISE THE LORD!