Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cry of Hosanna

Today we celebrate the festival of the Palm Sunday and the beginning of the Holy Week.
The triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, on a donkey with people carrying palms and shouting 'Hosanna', is something that is deeply etched in our minds. The deeper question that has to be asked is why the word ‘Hosanna’ was used as a salutation. In ancient Hebrew ‘hoshana’ means ‘please save’ or ‘save now’. This can be seen in the Psalms of David.

We beseech Thee, O LORD,
save now! We beseech Thee, O LORD, make us now to prosper!
Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD; we bless you out of the house of the LORD.
Psalm 118: 25-26

A careful reading of Psalm 118 will show that it was by no means the most natural psalm for the multitude to instinctively to quote from, especially as it was not then the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, to which this psalm was appropriated. Nor is it unimportant to remark that the psalmist’s reference in Psalm 118: 25 was not to the Son of David, but to the assembled congregation whose mouthpiece he was.

How is it then an acclamation of redemptive nature appropriate during the Feat of Passover? To understand the significance why the Gospel writers interjected this victorious and yet pleading acclamation, one has to understand the happenings during the Feast of the Tabernacle or
‘Sukkot’ and the ‘Korban Pesach’.

During Sukkot, two important ceremonies took place. The Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright 'candelabrum' along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. Also, the priest would draw water from the pool of 'Siloam' and carry it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. The priest would call upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply. During this ceremony the people looked forward to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Some records reference the day spoken of by the prophet Joel.

In the New Testament, Jesus attended the Feast of Tabernacles and spoke these amazing words on the last and greatest day of the Feast: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”……..
John 7:37-38. The next morning, while the torches were still burning Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”……………John 8:12

When the Temple in Jerusalem was standing, the focus of the Passover festival was the ‘Korban Pesach’ (“Pesach sacrifice” also known as the “Paschal Lamb”), which commemorated the liberation of Israel from Egypt and had a redemptive character to it.

When seen together the two festivals proclaim the Divine wisdom making a manifestation in the messianic Christ (Feast of the Tabernacle) and the impending sacrifice and a permanent release (Feast of the Passover) from death through which humanity is liberated through the Divine wisdom.

Hence the apt salutation, whether it is an appeal for salvation or a shout of Joy for the gift of liberation, is ‘Hosanna’

Love to you all


  1. Today ,when I had been to the church,the priest made a keen observation that we become sentimental as we listen to the scriptures read during the Holy week.He pointed out that most of us are satisfied with this ,not caring for the change in our outlook and attitude.Today's blog rightly elaborates the meaning and spritual significance of this celebration.Only when we identify the true Light among the burning torches and only when we choose the life giving water among the luring thirst- quellers ,we shall begin our journey towards deeper spirituality.

  2. Subathra, thanks for the beautiful thought expressed through your comment.

  3. SS, thank you for your appreciation.