By March 30, 2013 Read More →

The Bible: FAQ

378760_2644060453795_2090934775_n-2Ever wondered what frankincense actually is, or the meaning of Amen?

History Channel’s ‘The Bible’ has sparked deeper faith discussions in millions of homes. As Easter approaches our Faith sections has received many emails about Christianity and the Bible.  We have enjoyed reading each one.  We have chosen a few of your question to answer here.


What is frankincense and myrrh?

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. ~Matthew 2:11 (NIV)


Photo by: Shannon Hooper

Both frankincense and myrrh are derived from tree sap, or gum resin, and were prized for their alluring fragrance as well as their use as medicinal remedies.  They were burned as incense in religious ceremonies throughout the Mideast.  Myrrh appeared more frequently than any other plant substance in the writings of the Greek physician Hippocrates, for whom today’s ‘Hippocratic Oath’ is named.  Roman historian and botanist Pliny the Elder recommended frankincense as an antidote to hemlock poisoning.  He wrote in the First Century A.D. that the pricey sap had made the southern Arabians the richest people on earth.  During the time of Jesus it is believed that both frankincense and myrrh were worth their weight in gold.

 What is the Trinity?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ~ Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

The Holy Trinity refers the three forms in which God has revealed Himself to His children – God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Holy Spirit (also called the Holy Ghost).

What does Amen mean?

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen. ~ Galatians 6:18 (NIV)

Amen is a Hebrew word meaning “so be it.”  The declarative statement dates back to the earliest known Hebrew texts.  The root of Amen is the Hebrew word amán which means “to be faithful, support, or confirm.”  Amen (pronounced ah-MEN) is still used in modern Judaism in many instances including, to confirm a blessing and at the close of a prayer spoken by a Rabbi.

 What does Hallelujah mean?

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God ~ Revelation 19:1 (NIV)

‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Alleluia’  (Modern Hebrew halleluya / Greek alleluia) are transliteration of the a Hebrew word meaning “Praise God.”  The Hebrew word is composed of two elements ‘hallal,‘ a masculine verb meaning to praise, and ‘Yah’ a name for God.  Nearly all English versions of the Bible translate the word as “Praise God” or “Praise the Lord.”  In a few instances, word is transliterated.  The word is used in Judaism as part of the Hallel prayer.   In Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox faiths the Greek and Latin ‘Alleluia’ is used.

What does Hosanna mean? Why were people shouting it when Jesus entered Jerusalem?

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” ~Matthew 21:9 (NIV)


Photo by: Shannon Hooper

The word hosanna (Latin osanna / Greek hosanná) derives from the Hebrew word hôšâ‘-na’ which in turn is short for the Aramaic word hôšî‘â-na’ meaning “save, rescue.”  In the context of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the word is believed to also mean “savior.”

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. ~ Zachariah 9:9 (New American Standard)

In the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), the book of Zachariah speaks of the prophesied king, who will come upon a donkey as an act of humility.  He will bring will him the salvation of his people.  Thus, the people gathered in the city for the Passover were rejoicing at the sight of their promised Savior.

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4 Comments on "The Bible: FAQ"

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  1. Monica says:

    Thanks for posting! Some I knew, but a lot I didn’t.

  2. Connie says:

    I never knew Amen was a Hebrew word! Wow! Thanks!

  3. Bobbie says:

    Some I knew…some I didn’t. Guess I need to spend more time with my bible. Thanks for the artcile!

  4. Iris W. says:

    Great info. Thanks!