Amen: Declaring Our Faith

Yael Eckstein  |  June 20, 2023

Man raising arms in praise

Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” — Deuteronomy 27:25

In Judaism, faith is more a verb; it is something that we do, rather than something we have. These devotions explore the idea of faith as living out our lives in a way that reflects our belief and trust in God. Enjoy!

One of the most well-known Hebrew words is so common that most people don’t even know it’s Hebrew. The word I’m talking about is “amen.”

Most of the time, people use it as the closing to a prayer or as a declaration of agreement. In fact, according to Webster’s Dictionary, the meaning of amen is “approval” of an assertion.

In Hebrew, amen comes from the same root as Emunah, the Hebrew word for “faith.” The true meaning of amen is much more than simply agreeing with or approving of what was said. The Jewish sages teach us that the deeper meaning of amen is hinted at by the three Hebrew letters that make up the word—Aleph, Mem, Nun.

Aleph is the first letter of “God,” El or Elohim in Hebrew. Mem stands for Melech, meaning “king,” and Nun stands for Neeman, which means “trustworthy” or “faithful.” Put it all together and amen stands for “God is a faithful king.”

Amen: Declaring Our Faith

The most prominent use of amen in the Bible is in the Book of Deuteronomy when Moses told the children of Israel about the punishments that would befall them should they stray from God into sinfulness.

In chapter 27, the Bible presents a list of immoral and unethical sins and declares that God will punish those who do them. For example, we read, “‘Cursed is anyone who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person.’” Then all the people shall say, “‘Amen!’”

As we now see, the children of Israel weren’t simply agreeing with what God said when they said “Amen!” They were expressing their heartfelt belief that God is a faithful king, that He can be relied upon to fulfill what He promises. If God can be relied upon to uphold His warnings should we sin, we can certainly be sure that He will fulfill the blessings that go along with living a life of obedience to His will.

Amen is so much more than simply agreeing. Every time we say amen, we are declaring our faith in God, the faithful King.

In fact, there’s a custom in some Jewish communities to host “amen parties.” The participants gather a variety of foods and bless God over each item with everyone responding with enthusiasm, “Amen!” They then pray for the ill and needy, bestow blessings on each other, and pray for the welfare of Israel and the world.

After every prayer and blessing, all present loudly declare, “Amen!” God is the faithful king!

Your Turn:

Next time you say “amen,” pause and think of the true meaning of the word. Focus on God and declare your faith and trust in Him. Say it loud and clear. “AMEN!”