Exploring The True Meaning Of Hosanna In The Bible

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Published by Kenneth Garcia


Co-Founder of Biblekeeper, Author & Theologian

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We often hear the word “hosanna” in many songs used to praise God. “Hosanna” in the Bible originally meant “please save us” or “save now,” which was a plea for salvation, but it has also come to be used as a joyful exclamation of praise to God.

In this article, we explore the deeper meaning behind this word in the Bible, its significance today, and what wonderful things it represents.

Key Takeaways

  • “Hosanna” originates from Hebrew words meaning “save us immediately” and was a cry for help and salvation, particularly significant during Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.
  • The term “Hosanna” has evolved in Christian liturgy to symbolize worship and praise, reminding believers of Jesus’ sacrifice for salvation, and is celebrated during Palm Sunday and the Feast of Tabernacles.
  • Today, “Hosanna” embodies a deep spiritual cry for salvation and gratitude towards God, serving as a powerful expression of faith and worship in times of distress and joy.

What Is The Meaning Of Hosanna In The Bible?

The word itself may sound like a Greek word, but it’s not. It has Hebrew roots that got lost in the English translation because of the use of certain Greek letters. It’s formed when two Hebrew words are put together: yasha and anna.

The Hebrew word hosanna means “save us immediately” or “save us when we pray.” “Save us” is a translation of the Hebrew phrase “howosiah-na.” The audience wildly chanted these Hebrew words when they waved palm fronds at the triumphant entry. This is the moment we commemorate Palm Sunday.

The Jews recognized Jesus as their Messiah when they shouted “Hosanna” and referred to Father David and David’s kingdom when Jesus entered Jerusalem, so he was also referred to as the Son of David. The Jews’ cries of “Hosanna in the highest” signaled their expectation that Jesus the Messiah had arrived to immediately establish God’s kingdom, as promised in the Davidic Covenant.

The crowd’s chant of “highest” was an appeal to God to bless them and the Messiah’s redemption. This practice greatly displeased the chief priests, especially when he was called the Son of David.

This remark is similar to that of the angels. “Glory to God in the highest.” The crowd was chanting, “Save us, our Messiah, who arrives to fulfill God’s destiny! To the one who will one day sit on the throne, invoking heaven’s blessing, we implore you to save us, Son of David,” as the chief priests looked on.

The people in Jerusalem were looking for a political rather than a spiritual savior at that time. They wanted the messianic predictions to be fulfilled temporarily and on a material level.

The Messiah will be a man of sorrows, bearing his people’s sufferings and being crushed for their crimes, but they refused to believe the prophecies that foretold this. Isaiah 53 foretold his oppression and eventual death. Jesus acknowledged their cries of “Hosanna in the highest” because he was the Messiah they had been expecting. Indeed, God was with us in the person of Jesus; he was Immanuel and the Son of David, descended from ancestors from the Old Testament.

However, the second coming is required for the final political victory and fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant[1]. Jesus had to solve the sin problem before addressing his people’s political issues. People were shouting “Hosanna in the highest,” but they had no idea what that meant.

Many Christians assume Hosanna means to praise God and is a Greek word. In reality, it has Hebrew root words, and in the Old Testament, it was used more as a cry for help than in celebration of glory.

According to Luke, Jesus had arrived to save them. However, it was not what they expected. As the saying goes, blood must be shed for forgiveness to be granted.

The cross was God’s response to their screams for help and their insistence that salvation must arrive immediately. With the blood of Jesus, Son of David, God provided spiritual salvation, releasing people from the slavery of sin. However, the eternal advantages of our salvation greatly transcend any short-term gains we make in this life.

person kneeling before jesus and hosanna meaning in bible

Why Is Hosanna Powerful?

The word “Hosanna” is beautiful, and Christians believe it is a powerful expression of worship to God. When we need his assistance or rescue, we can emulate the Jewish people and pray to Hosanna. It is a call to worship God as our deliverer. If we have a problem, worry, or concern, we can take it to God, who will listen. There’s no use in waiting for outside help to save us.

Hosanna reveals that God was working toward a redemptive goal. God is a savior and redeemer who rescues and restores his cherished followers. The bad guys have no chance against him because he is a savior of the highest kind.

In every situation, he is guaranteed to come out on top. God is the only one who can rescue you from your troubles, sorrows, or sins. By trusting in Jesus, we are given the gift of salvation. In acknowledging Jesus and reciting the Hosanna prayer, we receive true and enduring liberty and eternal life, as promised in the New Testament.

Readers of Matthew 21 from the New Testament will undoubtedly be able to imagine what it would have been like to watch Jesus enter Jerusalem on a donkey and hear the masses shout “Hosanna in the highest” because they believed he was their savior. Through this event, a significant Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled, and Jesus boldly asserted his messianic status for our spiritual well-being.

How Is Hosanna Used In Worship?

Christians employ the word “Hosanna” in their liturgy and the lyrics of many Christian church songs they sing. To praise God, you can shout, “Hosanna.”

When you put together the Hebrew words yasha (deliver us) and anna (we beg you), Christ’s disciples are reminded that only he can save them and that they must look to him alone for salvation. It’s possible that sometimes we can be like the old Israelites or young children crying.

Like the ancient Romans who celebrated Jesus’ triumphal entry, we yell “Hosanna!” We hope it will take care of some sort of trouble or hindrance. Worshiping with cries of “Hosanna” reminds us, however, that Christ triumphed over sin itself, the ultimate enemy. They can all wave palm branches and shout “Hosanna in the highest” on Palm Sunday.

Several customs are associated with Palm Sunday, including using palm branches from palm trees for decorations, waving palm branches to children while singing along the aisles, and so on. On Ash Wednesday, certain congregations practice using ashes made from palm branches from previous years to mark the foreheads of their members.

Hosanna is a standard Jewish word used by Jewish people at Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles and recorded in Leviticus 23:33–43. During this Jewish holiday, Jews erect makeshift booths, wave palms, willow trees, leafy trees, and citron branches in celebration.

During the Hoshana prayers, worshippers carry the lulav and etrog as they make a procession around the synagogue’s sanctuary. Hoshanah Rabba, or the “Great Hoshana,” is the name given to the seventh and final day of the festival.

What Does Hosanna Mean To Us Today?

When we recognize Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice and understand what it means for all of us and humanity, we cry out, “Hosanna in the highest.” Even though this isn’t something we verbalize often, we should experience and consider it during worship. Saying these kinds of hosannas aloud in your private place of worship may bring you great comfort, like the revelers from the New Testament.

The important thing to remember is that begging is a type of worship, very much like hymns or offering gratitude, and should be treated as such. With this new perspective, we can regularly get closer to God through prayer and praise. No matter where you land on the political spectrum, prayer and worship are equally accessible to God.

We can cry to God, “Please hear me!” when we feel we’ve reached the end of our rope. “Please engage in conversation with me. Let me see something fresh, please.” The term “Hosanna” was first used in this context. On the contrary, when we are filled to the brim with God’s presence, we want to shout our gratitude: “Thank you, God!”

“That’s incredible; you are that good! We owe you our existence.” It doesn’t take long in this day and age of constant global news coverage to realize the cry of Hosanna! There are people in the world who are currently experiencing poverty, oppression, and despair. They may not use the phrase “hosanna,” but many constantly pray for a sign of salvation.

crowd praising jesus in a city and hosanna meaning in bible

Final Thoughts

To rescue humanity, Jesus came to earth. His humility and complete submission to the Father’s will paved the way for all people to be saved. Freedom is possible because Jesus Christ bore the penalty for our sins and death.

Hosanna to the Son of David! This was how Jerusalem proclaimed Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. Blessed is the one who arrives in the name of God to extend heaven’s salvation. Singing “Hosanna in the highest” is a way to express awe and eagerness. We can now sing with the entire community of believers in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Meaning Of “Hosanna” In The Bible?

The meaning of “Hosanna” in the Bible is derived from Hebrew words that translate to “save us immediately” or “save us when we pray,” signifying a plea for salvation. It was famously chanted during Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, symbolizing the recognition of Jesus as the Messiah.

Why Is “Hosanna” Powerful?

“Hosanna” is powerful because it is a declaration of worship and a cry for help from God. It signifies trust in God as the ultimate deliverer and savior, embodying the believers’ call for salvation and acknowledgment of Jesus’ role as the Messiah.

How Is “Hosanna” Used In Worship?

“Hosanna” is used in worship within Christian liturgy and songs as an expression of praise and plea for salvation. It reminds worshippers of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin and victory over it, encouraging a focus on spiritual salvation and thanksgiving.

What Does “Hosanna” Mean To Us Today?

To us today, “Hosanna” means recognizing Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for humanity and expressing both a plea for help and gratitude towards God. It represents a spiritual cry for salvation, applicable in both personal distress and communal worship, encouraging a closer relationship with God through prayer and praise.

Can “Hosanna” Be Considered A Form Of Prayer?

Yes, “Hosanna” can be considered a form of prayer as it is a plea to God for salvation and help. It is both a cry for divine intervention in times of need and an expression of trust and worship towards God, reflecting a deep spiritual engagement and reliance on divine salvation.

What Is The Significance Of “Hosanna” On Palm Sunday?

The significance of “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday lies in its historical and spiritual context, marking Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem when the crowd chanted “Hosanna” to recognize Him as the promised Messiah. It symbolizes the fulfillment of messianic prophecies and is celebrated as a reminder of Jesus’ path to the cross for humanity’s salvation.

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