🔼The word Amen: Summary
- Verily, Truly
- From the verb אמן ('aman), to confirm or support.
🔼The word Amen in the Bible
The familiar word amen, like the word hosanna means something quite specific in present days but started out meaning something completely different. Amen does not mean 'over and out.' instead it reflects the essence of Yahwism (and the name Yahweh may mean He Who Causes That Which Is To Be; see for more details our article on that name).
🔼Etymology of the word Amen
The word amen comes from the verb אמן ('aman), which reflects certainty:
The verb אמן ('aman) means to affirm or support. The familiar adverb אמן ('amen), its lesser known feminine version אמנה ('omna) and the plural variant אמנם ('umnam) mean verily or truly.
Noun אמן ('omen) means faithfulness and noun אמנה ('amana) means faith or support. Noun אמן ('omman) denotes a skilled or "true" worker. Noun אמן ('emun) means trusting or faithfulness. Noun אמונה ('emuna) means firmness, steadfastness or fidelity. And noun אמנה ('omna) means a bringing up or nourishment.
When a pagan prays, he will try to persuade his deity to do something the pagan isn't capable to do by himself. And in that, the pagan will reflect that even though he has no clue what he should do, he does somehow know what his deity should do. And so the pagan uses lots of supplicatory language, praise galore and obviously a completely misplaced and insincere humility. The pagan will try to convince his deity that he is fully aware that he is just a humble and inert pawn in the grand scheme of things, and if the deity could kindly change that grand scheme according to the pagan's design.
The Yahwist on the other hand, sees himself as steward of the Creator's world, in which the Creator intervenes mostly via his agents. The Yahwist prays to the Lord for insight into a situation and for instructions on what he himself should do next. A Yahwist's prayer is one of contemplation and is expected to end in certainty, hence our word amen.
A typical Yahwist prayer occurs in Isaiah 6:5-8, where the prophet Isaiah first expresses his own incompetence, then is cleansed from that incompetence, and then volunteers to receive God's Word and subsequent mission.
The other great Yahwistic prayer of the Bible comes from Jesus: the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). When Jesus prays "Thy will be done," he doesn't mean to reflect an inertness towards God's sole actions, but rather an eagerness to have the will and actions of the one who is praying aligned with God's. God doesn't need our permission, encouragement or even our best wishes to do what he wants to do. He needs us to do what he wants to do. Praying "Thy will be done" is the same as "What do you want me to do?"
The Lord's prayer when prayed by a Yahwist is equivalent to:
- Our Father in heaven
- Show us how we may hallow your Name.
- Show us how we can partake in bringing about your kingdom.
- Show us how we may do your will.
- Teach us not by having us blunder about in trial and error but by staying focused on the sustenance you provide.
- Expect no perfection before our time as we will expect no perfection before your time.
- You bet!