What does Judah mean in Hebrew?
In the Old Testament Judah is the fourth of the twelve sons of Jacob by Leah, and the ancestor of the tribe of Judah. An explanation for his name is given in Genesis 29:35. His tribe eventually formed the Kingdom of Judah in the south of Israel. King David and Jesus were among the descendants of him and his wife Tamar. This name was also borne by Judah Maccabee, the Jewish priest who revolted against Seleucid rule in the 2nd century BC, as told in the Books of Maccabees.The name appears in the New Testament using the spellings Judas and Jude.
The word יְהוּדָה (pronounced: Yehudah) is usually translated as “Judah” in English Bibles. This name has a very rich meaning for both Jewish and Christian traditions. For example, in the Hebrew Bible, God called King David, who came from the tribe of Judah, “the man after My own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). In the New Testament, Jesus, a later descendant of David, is referred to as “the Lion from the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).
The importance of Judah, therefore, is obvious. But what does Judah actually mean in Hebrew? The word Judah comes from the verb לְהודות (pronounced: Lehodot), which simply means “to thank.” In the context of the Hebrew Bible, such thanks are synonymous not just with gratitude, but with praise. In fact, there was a particular sacrifice called “The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving.” In the Temple in Jerusalem, it was called תּודָה “Todah” – the noun for “Thanksgiving.” Today in Modern Hebrew, to simply say “thanks” Israelis use the very same word תּודָה (pronounced: todah) that was used in the Temple to express gratitude to God.
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