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Friday, June 28, 2013

Where the Word “Amen” Came From

Today I found out where the word “amen” came from.  Specifically, “amen” comes from the Hebrew word… *wait for it*… “āmēn” (אָמֵן).
More interestingly, amen is one of the rare examples where a word has survived thousands of years and been adopted into a few different languages without any real modification to its meaning across time and those languages, dating back pretty much as far as written history, appearing in the earliest Jewish texts.  It was (and is) typically used to mean something to the effect of “so be it | let it be so”, in terms of declaring something to be truthful or to confirm or assert it.  It was also often used as a way to indicate that one strongly agrees with something, which is where expressions like “amen to that” come from.
Bonus Facts:
  • The Hebrew word “amen” originally derives from another Hebrew word of similar meaning:  ʼāmán.  It is sometimes theorized, probably incorrectly, that this Hebrew word has its origins in the Egyptian god Amun, which is also sometimes spelled “Amen”.  However, most scholars think this is a mere coincidence and that there is no real connection between the two.
  • Amen was eventually ported from the Hebrew language to Greek then ultimately to Late Latin by Grecian theologians, who were translating the Bible, and finally to Arabic and English.
  • Amen isn’t just used by Christians and Jews; it is also popularly used by Muslims in pretty much the same way it is used by Jews and Christians.
  • One of the many names attributed to Jesus in the Bible is “The Amen” (faithful and true witness), in Revelation 3:14.
  • The last word of the Old Testament is “curse”, appearing in Malachi: “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
  • The last word in the Bible is “Amen” (at the end of Revelations): “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen”


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