🔼The word Hosanna: Summary
- Save (Us) Please!
- From (1) the verb ישע (yasha'), to save, and (2) נא (na'), please.
🔼The phrase Hosanna
Originally, Hosanna is not, as is commonly believed, an exclamation of exuberance. It doesn't mean YOO-HOO!!
🔼Etymology and meaning of Hosanna
The word Hosanna consists of two elements. The first part of Hosanna comes from the interesting word group that starts with the familiar Hebrew verb ישע (yasha'), meaning to be saved or delivered:
The verb ישע (yasha') means to be unrestricted and thus to be free and thus to be saved (from restriction, from oppression and thus from ultimate demise). A doer of this verb is a savior. Nouns ישועה (yeshua), ישע (yesha') and תשועה (teshua) mean salvation. Adjective שוע (shoa') means (financially) independent, freed in an economic sense.
Verb שוע (shawa') means to cry out (for salvation). Nouns שוע (shua'), שוע (shoa') and שועה (shawa) mean a cry (for salvation).
Hosanna is formed from the imperative (that means it's a command) of the verb ישע, meaning to save. This part of the word Hosanna means Save! or Bring About Salvation!
The final part of the word Hosanna is the Hebrew word נא (na'), the common particle of entreaty: please!
The particle נא (na') is the Bible's common particle of entreaty and means please!. It shows up incorporated in various standard phrases: אמרי־נא (amari-na'), speak please; שא־נא (sa'na'), look out please; השמרי־נא (hashmari-na), watch out please, and of course the familiar הושיעה נא (hoshi'a na), save please.
A similar נה (na) added to a verbal stem results in a feminine plural imperative (and a family or company is feminine).
The phrase הושיעה נא (hoshi'a na) occurs in Psalm 118:25 and actually comes with a kind of double entreaty. Following the verb ישע and the particle נא, comes the rarer and even more reflective of desperation אנא, which is a contraction of אה־נא (ah-na), usually translated with something like "Ah, now! I (we) beseech thee!"
In Christian circles, Psalm 118 quickly became one of the most popular of all. "He has become my salvation" (118:14) almost perfectly contains the name Jesus. The references to God's right hand (118:15-16) return in Matthew 26:64 and Mark 16:19. The stone which the builders rejected (118:22) is applied to Christ by Peter (Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7). "This is the day that the Lord has made" (118:24) became its own evergreen song in our times. And the Hebrew phrase hoshi'a na of 118:25 became the Hosanna with which the people of Jerusalem greeted Christ during his triumphal entry through "the gates of righteousness; the gate of the Lord" (Psalm 118:19-20).
All four gospels cover the triumphant entry but Luke (Luke 19:28-44) never uses the word Hosanna. Why that is we don't know. Matthew uses it in 21:9 and 21:15. Mark uses it in 11:9-10 and John uses it in 12:13. By the time of the triumphant entree, Hosanna had curiously evolved from expression of deep anguish to a kind of cheer. The seventh day of Sukkoth — the Feasts of Booths — was known as Hosanna Rabbah, or Great Hosanna.
By applying the word Hosanna to Jesus Christ, the celebrators of Jerusalem were (a) equating him with the God to whom the Psalmist's original hoshi'a na was directed, and (b) indicating that Jesus personified the completion of the Feast Of Booths (although note that despite the palm branches, the actual Feast Of Booths was celebrated in the autumn, whereas the entry occurred just prior to Passover, in the spring).
The expression Hosanna means Save Us Please! It occurs 6 times in the New Testament; see full New Testament concordance.