The Accountability to Say “Amen!”
The exclamation “Amen!” is so often misuse and even abuse by the preachers that it has lost its true meaning and has become a cliché in the churches today.
Pastors, preachers, teachers, and TV evangelists, teach from the pulpit “teachings” foreign and sometimes even contradictory to the Teaching (Torah) of the Creator, and then they call for a repeat-after-me “Amen” and the laymen follow suit: “Amen!”
But what does “Amen” mean mispronounced “eimen” in English? Evidently, this is a Hebrew word and to answer this question, we need to delve into the Hebrew language.
The word “amen” (Hebrew amein) has total of 30 occurrences in the TANAK the Hebrew Scripture, with about half of these occurrences in the Torah: 2 in Num 5:22, wherein the word is used in a double form “Amen, Amen!”, and 12 in Deu 27:15-26. In Hebrew, there are no superlatives, and the double “Amen, Amen!” means only that “Amen” is in an intensive form.
The Hebrew word אָמֵן amein, has the meaning of “sure”, abstractly “faithfulness”, and adverbially: “truly”. Amen is very often understood to mean “So be it!”.
אָמֵן amein, derives from the primitive root אָמַן aman, and properly means to build up or support; to foster as a parent or nurse. But literally aman means to be firm, steadfast, which is the essence of the concept of being faithful.
Notice the identical spelling of both words in Hebrew: אָמֵן amein and אָמַן aman. They differ only in the vowel points, which do not exist in Hebrew and are always assumed. The noun from aman is emunah, commonly translated as “faith”, but “faith” has an abstract concept, which does not correspond to the Hebraic concrete meaning of emunah. Hence, we understand that amein and emunah are very closely related.
As we stated, אָמֵן amein is often understood to mean “so be it” and rightly so. However, in Time of Reckoning Ministry (TORM), we seek the literal meaning of the Hebrew words, their original meanings, and we will do so for Amen, too.
So, what is the literal meaning of amein?
From the immediate context of the texts in most of the occurrences in the Hebrew Scripture, the Hebrew word amein is understood to mean “truly”, “surely”, “faithfully”, or “so be it”. These are all correct renderings, although translations such as JPS and KJV prefer the transliteration rather than the translation of it; and this is also acceptable, if the reader knows the proper meaning of Amen.
However, there are two occurrences of amein, where these renderings, although correct, would not fit very well into the context.
These two occurrences are in Isa 65:16, as we read thus,
so that he who blesses himself in the earth does bless himself in the Elohim of truth. And he who swears in the earth does swear in the Elohim of truth. … (Isa 65:16)
Here, the phrase אמן באלהי b’elohei amein, appears twice, and the most proper rendering should be “in the Elohim of truth”, as the context requires it.
The rendering “in the Elohim of so be it” does not make a lot of sense and “in the Elohim of truly” does not fit well in the Hebrew grammar. What do we mean by that?
In Hebrew, the word “Elohim” (always rendered “God”) is a noun and literally means “Power” or “Powerful One”. The concept behind the Hebrew word “Elohim” is that the Creator is One of absolute power and authority and there is none like Him. If we need to translate “Elohim”, perhaps, the closest translation would be “the Absolute One”, as He is.
The second word in the phrase is amein, and because it appears after “Elohim” it is in a constructive form and is therefore also a noun.
When two nouns appears together, they are in a constructive form and not two separate words. In such a relation, both words need the preposition “of” between them. In constructive form the word “Elohim” loses its final mem and “Elohim” becomes “Elohei” and in English we should add the preposition “of” for a proper rendering. In Hebrew, therefore, we say Elohei amein, “Elohim of truth”, in a similar way we say Elohei avoteinu, “Elohim of our fathers”.
With that being said, it is clear that amein above cannot be translated adverbially, i.e., “truly”, “surely”, or “faithfully”, if we want to keep the grammar rules. The phrase “so be it” is the sense of the word amein, but not a translation. Therefore, the correct translation of b’elohei amein should be “Elohim of truth”.
In Hebrew, there is another word for “truth” and this is the word אֶמֶת emet, contracted from the word which we already know: אָמַן aman. As a contracted form of aman, אֶמֶת emet means “stability”, figuratively “certainty”, “trustworthiness”, but on a more concrete level emet means “right”. And this is the literal meaning of amein, too.
We find the literal meaning of emet in Neh 9:33 wherein emet is juxtapose to “wrong”, as right is the opposite of wrong. Hence, emet literally means “right”, as truth is always right, and the words amein and emet are therefore synonymous.
This rendering of amein follows not only the correct Hebrew grammar and context, but also the idea that “he who swears does swear truly in Elohim” (Isa 65:16). This is the Torah of YHVH Elohim that we must always swear trully in His Name. Read more about this in the article “The Name Yehovah is above all“.
For the same reason YHVH is called Elohei amein “the Elohim of truth”, who keeps His promises (2Co 1:20). This title “the Elohim of truth” is derived from the confirmatory “Amein”, which is thus applied to YHVH, but also to the Messenger of His Face, Yeshua the Anointed One, in Rev 3:14, where He is called “the Amen, the faithful and true witness”.
These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of Elohim. (Rev 3:14)
In conclusion, “Amein” is not a cliché and must be used properly and responsibly. If one says “Amen!”, he or she agrees with the statement made, and in fact declares “I believe” in what has been said. And if the statement is wrong, he or she bears the accountability accordingly.
Amein, truth, and emunah, faith, are very closely related Hebraic words and should be used responsibly.
And since, we already know the true meaning of amein, we can proceed to the article “What is faith in Hebraic mindset?“, in which we will study the true Scriptural meaning of faith.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.