Frequently Asked Questions About Christianity, Answered Honestly!
What Does Hosanna Mean?
-by Tony Warren
any people have asked "what does Hosanna mean," and so this is a brief explanation so that conscientious Christians can have some general idea of what the word actually means. In the New Testament the word is [hosanna], which is the Greek spelling of the original Hebrew words [hoshiya na] or [yasha'na]. There is only one place in the Old Testament where this phrase is found, and that is Psalms chapter 118. [yasha'na] is essentially an exhortation for Salvation. The language of Psalms 118 is Messianic, and is referenced in the New Testament when Christ comes into Jerusalem hailed as the Deliverer. We see in Psalms this entreaty for deliverance or salvation, and the immediate answer is of a Saviour.
The Hebrew words that are translated "save now" are [yasha 'na], which we have come to know as Hosan'na. The first Hebrew word [yasha] is a primitive root word literally meaning to free or deliver, and by extension to save. That is also why Jesus is called in the Hebrew language, [yasha], or Saviour. And the second Hebrew word found there in Psalms is [anna] or ['na], a primitive particle meaning to entreat. So Psalms 118:25 is really a beseechment for deliverance, the exhortation or supplication unto salvation. When it says, save now, I beseech thee O LORD, deliver prosperity, it is a petition to be set free that they would undergo a change of position. And Hosanna is used in the New Testament in this same way, as an exhortation of deliverance. When the multitudes spread palm branches and clothing before Christ saying Hosanna, they were in effect recognizing Christ as this prophesied Messiah, the king who had come to set them free from bondage. The only problem was, they were thinking physical bondage, and the Messiah came as the reigning King to set them free from spiritual bondage.
- "Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
- Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD."
This is a very public recognition by the multitudes of the Messiahship of Jesus. They cried, "Hosanna to the Son of David," illustrating that they believed Christ was the Deliverer or Messiah prophesied in the holy scripture to come from the line of king David. To come in the name of the Lord, means to come by the supreme authority of God as Messiah. And the phrase "Hosanna in the highest" is an exhortation to Salvation and glory in the highest possible application. And of course, the congregational leaders, the Priests and scribes all understood this meant they were recognizing Him as the Messiah of prophesy. Having studied the law and the prophets, they were well aware of the implications. Thus they became upset because they didn't believe that this was the prophesied Christ from the seed of David. And they wanted Jesus to put an end to this celebration by denying that He was the blessed of David who came in the name of the Lord. Because the people were so fervently following Him and treating Him as the King.
- "And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way.
- And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest."
Christ came riding on a Colt to fulfill the prophesies of the coming King who would save God's people. Some of the Pharisees who were among this crowd castigated Jesus, asking that He rebuke His disciples for referencing Him as fulfilling scripture saying Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. These proclamations by the people were the equivalent of saying Hosanna in the highest to the Son of David, or the glorious Saviour, prophesied from on high had come. These Pharisees were moved by envy and jealousy, very unhappy that the people were looking upon Jesus as the Messiah.
- "And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
- And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
- And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
- Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
- And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
- And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."
The Chief Priests and Scribes understood that Hosanna to the Son of David was an exhortation to the prophesied Saviour, and they were not happy about it. The children were recognizing and making an entreaty for salvation to Christ, as the prophesied Seed of David by saying, "Hosanna to the Son of David." That meant that the children had to have been told that this Jesus was Christ/Messiah, the Deliverer of Israel. We see from each of the Apostles the diverse record of the cries of the crowd, but they all ultimately reference the fulfillment of the prophesied Messiah as Saviour. Again it is recorded in mark of those who went before Christ, praising Him as King from the line of David.
- "And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
- And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?"
By the people declaring these things, it illustrated they believed that this was the Saviour, for this is almost a direct rendering from Psalms 118, where the original hosanna was spoken.
- "And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:
- Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest."
"Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. -Ps 118:25-26"
When they cried, "Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest," this again is recognition of Jesus as the King promised from the line of David. Clearly they believed that this was the Messiah who had come to deliver them. The same Messiah who was prophesied in the Psalms to bring prosperity, causing them to prosper.
Hosanna, the essential exhortation to Salvation from the King of Israel, who came in the divine authority of the Lord God. This is what the word Hosanna means.
- "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
- Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Today, when we sing Hosanna, we should also sing it as an entreaty unto salvation. There is no greater good of man than to desire for others, that great gift which he has been given of God. So let us give praise, and in gratitude to the Saviour come from on High, echo of the cry of Hosanna, the Deliverer has come. Let us entreat the Saviour in the highest that He might set men free. Hosanna, Glory to God our Saviour, in the highest! Blessed is He that has come in the name of the Lord.
1. [yasha], Saviour, as in 2nd Kings 13:5; Psalms 106:21; Isaiah 19:20; Jeremiah 14:8; etc. [back]
2. e.g. "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. -Luke 2:13-14" The phrase "in the highest" illustrates Glory in the highest possible strains manner. [back]
3. According to the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesy, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. -Zechariah 9:9". Christ declared fulfilled: "All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. -Matthew 21:4-5" [back]
Copyright ©2009 Tony Warren
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