Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Alhamdulillah! - Alleluia! in the Hebrew Bible

Dr. Edward Edinger, M.D. (1922-1998) was well known for his lectures and writing on Jungian psychology, including his psychological commentaries on the Bible. In "The Sacred Psyche - A Psychological Approach to the Psalms," Dr. Edinger comments on a number of Psalms which are rich in psychological content including Psalm 150 which is called "Praise the Lord." Here are some excerpts that Muslims and Islamophiles should find illuminating:

"I feel I know something about the Psalms I've talked about so far, but with Psalm 150 I must confess I do not know what I'm talking about experientially. I could have chosen another Psalm to discuss and left this one out, but I didn't feel that was the right thing to do. I started with Psalm 1 and I want to end with Psalm 150. This final Psalm is one of a series of five that have exactly the same content; the final statement of the Psalms is really one line - "Praise ye the Lord" - underscored five times. In view of that, how could I omit it? So I'll read it and give you some thoughts about it - but my thoughts are not based on the same degree of experience as is everything else I have said. Its a brief Psalm so I'm going to read it in both versions:

1. Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

2. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

3. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

4. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

5. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

6. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

And the Jerusalem Bible translation:


Praise God in his Temple on earth,
praise him in his temple in heaven,
praise him for his mighty achievements,
praise him for his transcendent greatness!
Praise him with blasts of the trumpet,
praise him with lyre and harp,
praise him with drums and dancing,
praise him with strings and reeds,
praise him with clashing cymbals,
praise him with clanging cymbals!
Let everything that breathes praise Yahweh! Alleluia !

Well, I think you'll agree there's just one idea in this Psalm: the praise of God. Now, all we have to do is determine what "Praise the Lord" means psychologically. I'm not sure I know, but I'll do a little work on it. The first thing to consider is the etymology. My approach to a mystery is to start with the word that is used to express it. So I'm going to read you a passage from Nelson's Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament; it's a fine book for needs of this sort. Here is what it says about the Hebrew word "to praise":

halal, "to praise, celebrate, glory, sing (praise), boast." The meaning "to praise" is actually the meaning of the intensive form of the Hebrew verb halal, which in its simple active form means "to boast"....The word is found in Ugaritic in the sense of "shouting" and perhaps "jubilation."
Found more than 160 times in the Old Testament, halal is used for the first time in Gen, 12:15, where it's noted that because of Sarah's great beauty, the princes of Pharaoh "praised" (KJV, "commended') her to Pharaoh.

While halal is often used simply to indicate "praise" of people, including the king (2 Chron 23:12) or the beauty of Absalom (2 Sam, 14:25), the word is usually used in reference to the "praise" of God. Indeed, not only all living things but all created things, including the sun and moon, are called upon "to praise" God (Ps. 148:2-5), 13; 150:1). Typically, such "praise" is called for and expressed in the sanctuary, especially in times of special festivals (Isa. 62:9).

The Hebrew name for the Book of Psalms is simply equivalent for the word "praises" and is a bit more appropriate than "Psalms," which comes from the Greek and has to do with the accompaniment of singing with a stringed instrument of some sort...

The word halal is the source of "Hallelujah," a Hebrew expression of "praise" to God which has been taken over into virtually every language of mankind. The Hebrew "Hallelujah" is generally translated "Praise the Lord!" The Hebrew term is more technically translated "Let us praise Yah," the term "Yah" being a shortened form of "Yahweh."

Well, that's the first leg of our journey in trying to understand the psychological meaning of "Praise the Lord." It gives us a bit of data anyway and enlarges the implications of the term "praise" to include celebrating, glorifying, singing - and boasting!" (2004, pp. 134-136).

~ Excerpted from "The Sacred Psyche - A Psychological Approach to the Psalms" by Edward F. Edinger, M.D.

1 comment:

kenadian said...

The Hebrew term is more technically translated "Let us praise Yah," the term "Yah" being a shortened form of "Yahweh."

please note that YAHH
and Yah Veh are 2 sparate NAMES
of God. here under is your clear scriptural evidence,

[Psalms 146:1 ERRB]
Praise ye the LORD Halalu Yah . [1]
Praise the LORD Halal Yah Veh , [2]

Psa 147:1 Praise ye the LORD Halalu Yah :

[Psalms 148:1 ERRB]
Praise ye the LORD Halalu Yah . [1]
Praise ye the LORD Halal Yah Veh [2]

[Psalms 149:1 ERRB]
Praise ye the LORD Halalu Yah . [1]
Sing unto the LORD Yah Veh [2]

Psa 150:1 Praise ye the LORD Halalu Yah . [1]