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Hosanna: Bible Word Study

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Hosanna is a word often expressed in Judaism and Christianity on Palm Sunday. It is always used in its original Hebrew form in Judaism that means "save" as in Psalms 118:25.

In Christianity, it is used in its Greek form to mean "savior, save, and rescue." It is a form of jubilation and a shout of praise in the Gospels to show special honor and respect.

  • "Hosanna to the Son of David" (Matthew 21:9)
  • "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord" (Mark 11.9).
  • "Hosanna in the highest" (Mark 11:10)
  • “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:13)

Palm Sunday is on April 14, 2019, the Sunday before Easter when preachers will preach about the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The day is celebrated in many Christian churches with processions.

Funeral homes supply churches in their communities with palm branches to distribute to those who come to church on Palm Sunday. Therefore, it is not unusual to see people in restaurants and other places that afternoon wearing palm branches in the shape of crosses pinned to their clothes.

"Hosanna in the highest" is in the Bible to show how hundreds of people shouted the phrase during the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

They also called out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9). Matthew's audience was Jewish. So it was not unusual for him to mention Jesus' lineage.

Mark 11:10 records a shorter shout, "Hosanna in the highest." John 12:13 records a longer one, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!”

What all three gospel writers recorded is the shout that was first noted in Psalm 118:26 in the Old Testament, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

According to some versions of the Bible, the crowd shouted “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” The New International Version lists their shout as “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

"Hosanna" is a shout, an exclamation of adoration, praise or joy.

From 'Hosanna' to 'Crucify Him'

Some people have often wondered why the crowds shouted, "Hosanna in the highest" on Palm Sunday and before the week was out, they were shouted, "Crucify Him." There was such a quick change for honoring Jesus to one of wanting Him to be crucified.

Because Hosanna comes from a Hebrew word meaning “save now” or “save us, we pray,” the people believed Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah who had come to save them then and make things secure for them politically. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the Jews acknowledged Jesus was their Messiah as the fulfillment of the prophecies in the Old Testament (Zechariah 9:9). That's why they honored Him by waving palm leaves.

What they thought was only half right. Jesus had come to save them not politically but spiritually. When the people realized that was the case, they advocated for His death.


"Hosanna" Then and Now

When the Palm Sunday crowds shouted "Hosanna!" they were pleading, "Save us! Over the years, people have studied the gospels and know that God does save through Jesus' redemptive work on the cross. Therefore, the word has taken on a slightly different meaning. It has moved from pleading to praise. Because of what we know about God's power of salvation, our cry has become one of confidence.

Another thing to consider is that there were hundreds of people in the Palm Sunday group. We do not have to wait to the Sunday before Easter to shout "Hosanna!" We don't have to wait until we get into a crowd.

We can shout "Hosanna" now even when we are alone. Our "Hosanna" can be our personal praise and our confidence that God does save. God hears our quiet "Hosanna" just as clearly as He heard the shout of the crowds that followed Jesus as He rode on the donkey into Jerusalem.

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