3: Biblical verse, Psalm 150, “Hallelujah.”
The word "hallelujah" appears plentifully throughout the Book of Psalms, usually at the beginning or end of an individual psalm. The Book of Psalms, traditionally ascribed to King David, is a Biblical collection of songs dedicated to the Lord and perhaps once used for services by the Levitical choir in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Hebrew name for Psalms, Tehilim, comes from the same root, meaning "praise," as the word "hallelujah." While tehilim are "songs of praise," "hallelujah" is a command to a group of people: "Praise ye God!"
Suggested Activity: Compare and contrast the use of the word “hallelujah” in the psalm and in the song. In the Old Testament version, David is praising the Lord. What is Cohen doing in his version? In what ways might Cohen’s song be considered a prayer?
Source: Berlin, Adele, Marc Zvi Brettler, and Michael A. Fishbane. 2004. The Jewish study Bible: Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.