Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hosanna in the highest!

From the blog Departing Horeb, a post entitled "Just What Does “Hosanna” Mean Anyway?" This breakdown of the word hosanna is the exact topic of the homily I gave today so this is quite fortuitous.

For all Christians celebrating Pascha on the Julian Calendar, this is, of course, Palm Sunday, a feast of remarkable theological depth beyond the basic biblical narrative.

The entire feast is set, as it were, within Psalm 118 (117 LXX), wherein we find the origins of the exclamation, “Hosanna!” But what exactly does this word mean anyway?

In verse 25 of the Hebrew text of the psalm, we find:

אנא יהוה הושיעה נא ˀānnā YHWH hōšīˁa-nnā
אנא יהוה הצליחה נא ˀānnā YHWH haṣlīḥa-nnā

This poetic couplet is rather difficult to translate due to two Hebrew particles, which have no direct equivalent in English. First, אנא ˀānnā is a word that interjects a great deal of precative emotion, such as “Oh, please!” though the English sense here connotes more politeness than the Hebrew. Second, a shortened form of אנא ˀānnā appears at the end of each line, tacked on to the end of each verb נא -nnā. This is a sort of verbal exclamation mark at the end of the sentence. The word הושיעה hōšīˁa is a causative stem verb from the root meaning “to save” or “rescue,” and it means something like, “cause salvation” or simply “save.” So, we might translate it...

Complete post here.

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