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What does the word hosanna mean?

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At Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the people shouted “Hosanna.” Some paraphrase this as “hooray” (see the Contemporary English Version of Matthew 21:9 Matthew 21:9And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
American King James Version×
). But really hosanna is from the Hebrew words “Hoshiah Na! Save now! or, Save, we beseech thee!—redress our grievances, and give us help from oppression!” ( Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible ).

The Hebrew phrase was used by people asking a king to help or save them. For example, “When the woman of Tekoa came to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and paid homage and said, ‘Save me, O king’” (2 Samuel 14:4 2 Samuel 14:4And when the woman of Tekoah spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground, and did obeisance, and said, Help, O king.
American King James Version×
, English Standard Version). This type of request is also found in 2 Kings 6:26 2 Kings 6:26And as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, there cried a woman to him, saying, Help, my lord, O king.
American King James Version×
.

The multitude welcoming Jesus Christ was likely alluding to Psalm 118, a messianic psalm where the Hebrew phrase is translated “Save now” (Psalms 118:25 Psalms 118:25Save now, I beseech you, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech you, send now prosperity.
American King James Version×
).

So, not only was the multitude acknowledging Jesus Christ as King and praising Him, they were asking Him to save and deliver them in Matthew 21:9 Matthew 21:9And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.
American King James Version×
: “Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” Hosanna in the highest!’”

For more information, please read our free booklet Jesus Christ: The Real Story .

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