Judah (hebrew Insight)

Lion of Judah, what does Judah mean in Hebrew

The word יְהוּדָה  Yehudah   is usually translated as “Judah” in English Bibles. This name has such rich meaning for both Jewish and Christian traditions. For example, in the Hebrew Bible, God called King David, who came from the tribe of Judah, “the man after My own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). In the New Testament, Jesus, a later descendant of David, is referred to as “the Lion from the tribe of Judah” (Rev.5:5).

The importance of Judah, therefore, is obvious.

But what does Judah actually mean in Hebrew? The word Judah comes from the verb לְהודות Lehodot, which simply means “to thank.” In the context of the Hebrew Bible, such thanks are synonymous not just with gratitude, but with praise. In fact, there was a particular sacrifice called “The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving.” In the Temple in Jerusalem, it was called תּודָה “Todah” – the noun for “Thanksgiving.”

It is interesting to note that in Modern Hebrew, to simply say “thanks” Israelis use the very same word ( תּודָה todah) that was used in the Temple to express gratitude to God.

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  1. nuala wainwright

    Thank you so much Dr. Eli for your invaluable insights. I am presently studying Biblical Hebrew Grade A with eTeacher group and absolutely love it. Daniela is a wonderful tutor and gives us nothing but great encouragement in our studies, even when I stammer and stutter over some Hebrew words when reading.

    Shalom and Toda Raba


    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Nuala, I am so glad to hear of your wonderful experience with eTeacherBiblical! Enjoy! Dr. Eli

  2. Raphael ben Levi

    In the Book of Genesis, the Patriarch Jacob refers to his son Judah as a ‘Gur Aryeh’ (Hebrew: a ‘young lion’) when blessing him. He continued with a Messianic prophecy that was fulfilled completely and
    perfectly by ‘The Lion of the tribe of Judah’ as Scripture bears witness.
    The most we can ever give unto HIm, as exemplified in the Shema, is the very least we can do and an inestimable privilege!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks for your comment and welcome to our study group. Brachot, Dr. Eli

  3. Rafael

    There are so many things that can be said about Judah. But one of the most provocative for me, which I learned only recently, is that Judah (meaning praise) was always the first tribe to go into battle, which is a pattern for how we must go into battle with the enemy, thanking and praising God, praising Him for the victory, before the battle even starts.

    1. SlavetoRighteousness

      Yes! Thanks You so very true

  4. June Volk

    I was encouraged reading your first communication with Jewish Thoughts.. Thank you for sending your thoughts to me. Toda Raba
    June Volk

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      June, I am glad you liked the Biblical Hebrew Insight about the meaning of Judah. I invite you to explore others in the same series.

  5. Drs. Charles van den Berg

    Dear Eli,

    When a realize the substantive meaning of what it is today, I feel often ashamed to call myself a Christian. In the status of non-Jews, we came to live in the tents of Shem. And what have we done.? We have removed his household goods and replaced it by our own household good. What have we done? We have implemented a stumbling block between the Jews and their Jesus the Messiah by making a caricature of Jesus the Messiah. Thanks Eli for teaching us the Household goods of the tents of Shem.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Charles, we are all community of learners seeking to think God’s thoughts after him.

  6. Lida Hill

    Happy Thanksgivukkah Dr Eli.

    Hodu L’Adonai Ki Tov…Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good. Psalm 136:1

    “Hodu” an imperative form of the verb “L’hodot”

    Todah Rabah for all your work. Blessings.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Yes! Thank you for your encouragement! Dr. Eli

  7. Fr. Placyd Kon

    “In the coming (Messianic) time, all sacrifices will cease except the toda sacrifice. This will never cease in all eternity. All (religious) song will cease too, but the songs of the toda will never cease in all eternity.” ( http://weedon.blogspot.de/2008/04/toda-sacrifice.html )

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      good point.

    2. Michelle Secord

      Do you men’s we won’t sing praise songs like we do now
      As in say contemporary Christian songs? I’ve also wondered, since I’m just starting to learn ( not the language – yet; but what eschatological beliefs do Messianic Jews believe about the Rapture of the church; i.e.”The Bride”of Christ, and thev70th week of Daniel that Christ legitimizes. In Matthew 24? I tried to ask some folks while listening to my first MJAA conference and there was a very ” cold” response from the ladies on the chat, as if you’re not supposed to talk about the subject and i needed to learn to be more “sensitive?” Not sure I understand the reaction. I’ve always been taught, in Christianity, that the 70th week of Daniel, i.e. “The Day of Jacobs Trouble”; i.e., the tribulation( first 31/2 years, followed by the GREAT TRIBULATION that Christ describes in Matt 24, when the Anti-Christ will walk into the Holy of Holies, desecrate the rebuilt temple and declare himself “god” at that point, at which time a great persecution will occur against both Christians( Tribulation saints), and the Jewish people, hence Jesus'( Yeshua’s ) admonition that all in Jerusalem must flee immediately, not even pausing at home for clothing or supplies, and that Father God will nice again provide miraculously for His people, as He did in the Exodus with manna, or whatever God creates. I’ve heard Messianic Jews of course support the very obviously taught “LITERAL” Millennial Reign of Christ, which He will instill upon His physical return to earth at the end of the 70 the week of Daniel( Great Trib, The Day of Jacobs Trouble, The Great and Terrible Day of The Lord), I hope I don’t offend anyone, it, “The Catching Away of The Church/ Rapture/”Rapturis” in the Latin Vulgate. Is it a ” taboo” subject?

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Shalom, Michelle. I certainly do not think it is a taboo subject. It is (I must admit) the subject that holds very little interest for me (personally), but anyone who is interested in the topic I would not discourage to discuss it. Our commitment is not to be dogmatic (one way), but to consider everything thoughtfully and openly.

        For me I think the big idea is that Jesus is coming back to clean up the mess (the rest is commentary). When and how this will happen I don’t know. But I trust that God does. Dr. Eli

    3. Rafael

      What is the scriptural basis for this? The link doesn’t say, and neither did you.

      1. Rafael

        This was directed at Fr. Placyd Kon

  8. David Hereford

    A man after ABBA’s heart would be characterized with a thankful heart.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      yes 🙂

  9. MichaeMazenge

    I have always wondered about the meaning of Judah to me the Tribe of Judah has always been the most prominent in Jewish History but I am not sure about the practice of Judaism verses Christianity What are the Major Differences ?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Hi, Michael. I am not sure what you are asking. Can you please clarify? Dr. Eli

  10. Kimberly Witkowski

    Todah rabbah for the great work!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks, Kimberly! Blessings, Dr. Eli