Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 14.02.21 SINGING THE HALLEL

14.02.21 Mt. 26:30-32 (See also Mk. 14:26-28; Lk. 22:39) The Upper Room




30 After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

31 Then Jesus said to them, “Tonight all of you will run away because of Me, for it is written:

I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.

32 But after I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”


After singing psalms.” In typical Jewish fashion, the psalms[1] called the Hallel, meaning Praise God, are from the book of Psalm. As the celebration of the Passover came to a close, the disciples stood around the table and sang the second half of the Hallel, also known as the Egyptian Hallel (Psalm 113-118). Psalm 113 is a general praise psalm while chapters 114-118 refer to the actions of Jesus during the Exodus.[2] These verses are not to be confused with Psalm 136, which are often known as the “Great Hallel.”[3]  These psalms were as sacred as a national anthem would be to any patriot. Yet some of these psalms were also prophetic in nature. For example,

17 I will not die, but I will live
and proclaim what the Lord has done.

  Psalm 118:17


After three days Jesus came out of the grave and for the following forty days He explained to His followers what He had done and what they were supposed to do. Most notably the words of Psalm 118:25-26 that they sang were also the psalms the people sang and shouted as Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  The hymn was sung antiphonally: Jesus, as the host of the group, would have sung the lines and the disciples would respond with “hallelujah.”  Little did they realize at this time that these hymns were actually about Him![4]

Later, when the disciples reflected upon the last Passover, they realized the depth of meaning of the psalms and their privileged part in the plan of God.[5]  Other scholars have suggested the hymn to be a song of gratefulness concerning God’s deliverance and provision known as the Dayeinu. The words are as follows:

If he had rescued us from Egypt,

But not punished the Egyptians

It would have been enough (Dayeinu)


If he had punished the Egyptians,

But not defeated their gods,

It would have been enough.


If he had given us the Sabbath

But not led us to Mount Sinai,

It would have been enough.


If he had led us to Mount Sinai,

But not given us the Torah

It would have been enough.


If he had given us the Torah,

But not brought us into the Land of Israel,

It would have been enough.


How much more, then, are we to be grateful to God

For all of these things which he has indeed

Done for all of us!

  Dayeinu Lyrics[6]      


It is unknown with certainty whether this song, or a variation of it, was commonly used in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. What is known is that it appeared in a church sermon in the second century and in Jewish writings in the eleventh century. Since the earliest church services were patterned after the synagogue services, scholars have concluded that the Dayeinu could have been part of the Passover celebration.[7]

[1]. For the purpose of clarification, psalms are individual verses in a book titled Psalm. Reference to an individual psalm is not capitalized, but if a reference is made to the name of the book, it is capitalized.


[2]. For the identifying connections of Jesus with the Great Hallel (Ps. 114-118), see 04.06.01.


[3]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:342.


[4]. Tenney, ed., “Hallel.” 6:792; For the identifying connections of Jesus with of the Hallel, see 04.06.01.


[5]. Farrar, Life of Christ. 387; Taylor, “Hymn.” 2:676; Carson, “Matthew.” 8:539; Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus. 255-62.

[6].  Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. 111-12, 244; Werner, “Two Hymns for Passover and Good Friday.” 127-48.


[7]. Spangler and Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. 111-12, 244; Werner, “Two Hymns for Passover and Good Friday.” 127-48; http://www.bing.com/search?q=dayeinu&q Retrieved October 24, 2014.



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