The 7 Hebrew words for Praise

When reading the Psalms, it is important to note that there are several words translated into English as “praise,” or in Farsi as تسبيح يا پرستش يا حمد but the various root words have very different meanings.

Psalm 108:1,3
“O God, my heart is fixed, I will sing and give praise (ZAMAR), even with my glory (honor)…I will praise (YADAH) Thee, O Lord among the people. And I will sing praises (TEHILLAH) unto Thee among the nations.”

Psalm 145
Verse 2: “Every day I will bless Thee, and I will praise (HALAL) Thy name forever and ever.”
Verse 3: “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised (HALAL)”
Verse 4: “One generation shall praise (SHABACH) Thy works to another, and shall declare Thy mighty acts.”
Verse 10: “All Thy works shall praise (YADAH) Thee O Lord, and Thy saints shall bless Thee.”

1. YADAH – يدا

Definition: Yadah is a verb with a root meaning, “the extended hand, to throw out the hand, therefore to worship with extended hand.” According to the Lexicon, the opposite meaning is, “to bemoan, the wringing of hands.”

Example: Psalm 63:4 — “Thus I will bless Thee while I live, I will (YADAH) lift up my hands in Thy name”

Other References: Ps 134:2, Ps 141:2; II Chron 20:19-21

2. TOWDAH – تودا

Definition: Towdah comes from the same principal root word as Yadah but is used more specifically. Towdah literally means, “an extension of the hand in adoration, avowal, or acceptance.” By way of application, it is apparent in the Psalms and elsewhere that it is used for thanking God for “things not yet received” as well as things already at hand.

Example: Psalm 50:14 — “Offer unto God praise (TOWDAH) and pay thy vows unto the Most High”
“What I want from you is your true thanks. I want your promises fulfilled.” [Tay]

Other References: II Chron 29:31; Jer 30:19; Ps 26:7

3. HALAL – حلال

Definition: Halal is a primary Hebrew word for praise. Our word “hallelujah” comes from this base. It means, “to be clear, to shine, to boast, show, to rave, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish.”

Example: Psalm 113:1 — “Praise (HALAL) ye the Lord, Praise (HALAL) O ye servants of the Lord, praise (HALAL) the name of the Lord.”

Other References: Ps 104, 105, 106

4. SHABACH – شباخ

Definition: Shabach means, “to address in a loud tone, to commend, to triumph, to exclaim, glory, shout.”

Example: Psalm 145:4 — “One generation shall praise (SHABACH) thy works to another and declare Thy mighty acts.”

Other References: Ps 63:1,3,4; Ps 117:1; Ps 35:27; Is 12:6; Ps 106:47

5. BARAK – براك

Definition: Barak means, “to kneel down, to bless God as an act of adoration.” When used in the scripture it implies, “expecting to receive a blessing from the Lord.”

Example: Psalm 95:6 — “O come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel (BARAK) before the Lord our maker.”
“Come let us throw ourselves at His feet in homage.” [NEB]
“Let us bend thy knee in the presence of Jehovah our Creator.” [Spurrel]

Other References: I Chron 29:20; Neh 9:5

6. ZAMAR – ذمار

Definition: Zamar means, “to touch the strings” and is used concordantly with instrumental worship. Psalm 150 is a perfect example of this kind of praise. David said, “Awake my glory; awake harp and lyre, I will awaken the dawn!

I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises (ZAMAR) to Thee among the nations.”

Example: Psalm 21:13 —
“Be Thou exalted O Lord, in Thine own strength, so will we sing and praise (ZAMAR) Thy power.”
“We sing and strike the harp to Thy power” [DeWitt]
“With song and with string we will sound forth Thy power” [RHM]

Other References: Ps 66:2,4; Is 12:5

7. TEHILLAH – تحيلا

Definition: Tehillah simply means, “to sing, to laud.” “God is enthroned on the praises (TEHILLAH) of Israel” (Ps 22:3). This is the kind of praise that God dwells in. Any form of singing can be praise, but one of the higher forms was the Dorean mode which was neither western major nor oriental minor. It was sort of chanting whereby the words of HALAL were melodiously chanted. This is the expression of praise the Psalmist said God inhabited.

Psalm 33:1 — “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous; for praise (TEHILLAH) is comely for the upright.”
Psalm 34:1 — “…His praise (TEHILLAH) shall continually be in my mouth.”

Other References: I Chron 16:35; Is 42:10,12; II Chron 20:22




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14 responses to “The 7 Hebrew words for Praise

  1. This article is great.I love it. It has helped me so much to understand what my worship needs to be before God. I hope that i can share this with my brothers and sisters also.Thank you very muchFrancis

  2. Amazing! now I know we must praise The Lord with the best we got!And David knows very well how to praise Him.Amazing, thanks for sharing this.God bless us all,Ted.

  3. J

    This website is a good and blessing website.i like it because it’s expressing the praise and explaining the praises if people dont know them.But always remember to always have a praise down the inside of you and contuine to always bless the lord.God Bless You and always have the lord come first in your life.

  4. I truely praise God for this website. I will be sharing this information with my fellow Praise Team. It is imperative that we understand and live and become true worshippers. It must become a lifestyle so that when we come before the people of God we can just flow into worship and we don’t have to pull to get praise.

  5. Good day! It is very informative and has a very good quality in it.I like it… < HREF="" REL="nofollow"> <>< HREF="" REL="nofollow"> <>< HREF="" REL="nofollow"> <>Thank you very much for your time.

  6. Well actually you are not speaking Hebrew. You have all the wrong meanings for these words, and some of them are not even hebrew words. it is TODAH(tow-dah) Which means Thank You I am a jew. I dont even know where you get the word ‘Shabach’, because that has nothing to do with Hebrew. I can back you up on the word Yadah, that does mean to extend your hand. Now Barak is ‘a military commander who, with Deborah, destroyed the Canaanite army under Sisera. Judges 4’. Now Im sure that you get the point. Before you can use these terms, make sure you do the research and back it up. Because it offends people who actually observe a certain belief and you not being apart of that belief, come and use their stuff and not even use it in the correct manner or context, and tell people that it is right. And please do not get me wrong, I am not saying this with any anger or hatred, but I am saying this to let you know how people actually feel. So please, make sure you check what your saying so you wont be spreading any false info. If you have any questions or concerns or comments my e-mail is

  7. Merlin

    poohbear, I have a jewish friend, and he says that to a certain extent, understanding the hebrew language used in the Old Testament is guesswork, since modern hebrew is not really the same. So why are you so confident in your understanding of Old Testament era hebrew word study? great online greek/hebrew word study, tool, shows 'Shabach' as a hebrew word. If you don't think so, then for the hebrew symbols that blueletterbible transliterates as 'Shabach', what do you think they should be transliterated as? And what evidence do you have that your interpretation is correct? Please site sources. Thanks

  8. Thank you 🙂 Shabach Shalom xoxo Queen Isis a Street Disciple of The Elohim…

  9. We just learned this “Shabach” song at a youth conference that I went to called Love Mercy. It is an awesome way to worship God with hundreds of teenagers who love God and are on fire for Him. It has a catchy beat and motions that go along with it, and with the Aaron Pelsue Band teaching it to us, I don't think anyone will forget it!

  10. Anonymous

    I enjoyed reading the meanings to the various words used for “praise”. I am particularly interested in 'Tehillah' – high form of singing – Dorean mode, and would really like to know what that sounds like.

  11. I wonder what the General Association of Baptists would say to refute these verses.

    Of course, the piety and pride found in the restraint (despite the harm it does to seekers), is a heavy contender, much tio the glee of the enemy.

    In the meantime, there they go singing those horribly incongruent lyruc to music mis – step (eg. Psalms 62 – I do a sit down protest each time our church attempts to make me believe that my driver's licence picture looks “natural”

  12. Poohbear, I have to say that to some extent Merlin is right…ancient Hebrew is similar but still quite different than modern Hebrew. Please talk to your Rabbi…he will show you these words in the Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim, and explain their meaning to you.

    Where Merlin is somewhat wrong is in the statement that understanding ancient Hebrew is in any way guesswork…it is not. It is fully understood by those who have been brought up with it or trained in it. Like all translation, however, there is a level of interpretation involved (applies to any translation from any language, ancient or modern), which may be what he means. This isn't guesswork…it is understanding the spectrum of meaning that all words have and finding the appropriate equivilant in your language.

    To be fair, however, Shabach more rightly means “to soothe” than “to boast.” Most sites do indicate it means to boast, but the root has more to do with calming rough water than anything else, and it is only used in the boasting sense 2 out of 11 times in the OT.

    Thank you for this listing, however. It is helpful and I am always encouraged to see sites devoted to understanding worship better.

  13. Anonymous

    i am so glad i fornd this article, thank you so much is soo very useful!!! thanks!!!!


  14. Excellent post!

    However there is a mix-up concerning the word Zamar. There's already a Hebrew word for “striking the chords”(that is stringed instruments-also seen on some Psalm titles in the noun form Neginith). Which is the verb Nagan(one example being 1 Samuel 16:16 David strumming the harp).

    Zamar on the other hand has a much broader application when addressing praise(one example being Psalms 149:3). The idea came to mean to make music by any means. Weather by a Harp(strings), flute(wind), tambourine(percussion), or even the human voice(singing).

    Hope this helps.:)

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