From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

HALLEL ( ‘praise’).—A technical Hebrew liturgical term, applied in Rabbinical literature to certain Psalms and psalm-pieces of praise, which characteristically have as their keynote the expression Hallelujah (‘Praise ye Jah’). It is more particularly applied to one group of Psalms (113–118) regarded as a liturgical unit (so always in the Synagogue-liturgy).

Psalms 113-118 form ‘the Hallel’ κατʼ ἐξοχήν, as distinguished from the ‘Hallel of Egypt’* [Note: הללאהמצדי Ber. 56. See J. Müller, . cit. p. 288. In a (Bab. . 118) Psalms 145-148 are apparently called a ‘Hallel.’] (Psalms 113-114) and the ‘great Hallel’ (הללהנרול) which is usually understood to mean Psalms 136. In the Talmud and Midrash, however, the Psalms included in the ‘great Hallel’ are variously given, viz.: (1) Psalms 136, (2)  Psalms 135:4-21, and (3) Psalms 120-136. The question is discussed in Jerus. [Note: Jerusalem.] Pes . v. 7. See, further, Joel Muller, note to Sopherim xviii. 2 (p. 253). In one passage of the Mishna ( Pes . x. 5) the Hallel (Psalms 113-118) is designated ‘Hallelujah.’ For ‘half-Hallel’ see below.

1 . Origin .—In its present form the Psalm-group (113–118) seems clearly to have been compiled for liturgical purposes at a comparatively late date. The most probable view is that the collection was formed in Maccabaean times for recitation on the Feast of H ănukk â (Dedication), on the eight days of which it is still chanted in the synagogue.

 Psalms 118:24 (‘This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it’) points to some day of public thanksgiving;  Psalms 118:4-24 suggest the Syrian war, and recovery of and entrance into the Temple. At the same time, the collection embodies other elements. Thus  Psalms 118:25-29 seems to be an old song of praise for the Feast of Tabernacles. With this agrees the fact that, according to an old tradition preserved in the Jerusalem Talmud ( Sukka iv. 5),* [Note: also Bab. Arakhin, 12a.] the Hallel was recited on ‘eighteen days and one night of the year—the eight days of Tabernacles; the eight of Hânukkâ  ; Pentecost (one day); and the first day of Passover with its (preceding) night.’ It is noticeable that Tabernacles and Hânukkâ are placed first in this list; and it should he remembered that the fatter feast seems originally to have been regarded as a sort of extension or reduplication of the former (cf.  2 Maccabees 1:9); Cheyne ( O P [Note: P Origin of the Psalter.] p. 33, note n) remarks: ‘that the recitation of the Hallel on these occasions [Dedication and Tabernacles] goes back to Simon can hardly be doubted.’† [Note: Peritz (Encyc. Bibl. s.v. ‘Hallel’) connects the liturgical recitation of the Hallel with the Passover-meal (he denies that it was sung in the Temple-service), and thinks that it attained its present compass only ‘during the first half of the second century.’ But this is to ignore the data given above, which connect it primarily with Tabernacles and Hănukkâ.] A curious indication of its liturgical use may perhaps be seen in the fact that the Midrash on the Psalms counts only five psalms in the Hallel, Psalms 115 not being regarded. The LXX Septuagint and many Hebrew MSS [Note: SS Manuscripts.] treat the latter psalm as part of Psalms 114. The reason assigned in one of the smaller Midrâshim is as follows: ‘The Torâ consists of five-fifths; the Psalter of five-fifths; and the Hallel of five-fifths.’

2 . Jewish liturgical usage .—As already stated, the Hallel, according to tradition, was regularly recited at the Feasts of Tabernacles, Dedication, Pentecost, and Passover (first day and preceding night).‡ [Note: With the doubling of the initial days of Festivals that takes place ‘in exile,’ the 18 days originally comprised in the above now amount to 21, and 1 night to 2.]

On certain other days of the year it became customary to recite the Hallel, viz.: on the last 6 days of Passover, and on new moons other than the new moon of Tishrî (which introduces the solemn penitential period). But this usage was apparently late and unauthorized. This is shown ( a ) by the omission on these days of two sections of the complete Hallel, viz.:  Psalms 115:1-11;  Psalms 116:1-11;§ [Note: Hence the designation ‘half-Hallel’ for this form.] and ( b ) that both Rashi and Maimonides protested against the use of the regular benediction before ‘half Hallel,’ on the ground that its employment on these days was merely a pious custom without authority.

The recitation of the Hallel is preceded and followed by special blessings.|| [Note: | For these cf. Singer’s Heb.-Eng. Prayer-Book, pp. 219, 224.] Certain parts are also recited with a responsive refrain:

( a ) The first four verses of Psalms 118 are said by the Reader, the people responding after each: ‘O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever.’ ( b ) The last nine verses of the same Psalm are also repeated, in part alternately, in part together, by Reader and congregation.

According to the Mishna ( Pes . v. 7), which embodies old and (there is every reason to believe) trustworthy traditions as to the Temple-ritual, the complete Hallel was recited by the Levites during the slaughter of the Paschal lambs in the Temple-courts.¶ [Note: For a graphic description of this see Edersheim, The Temple: its Ministry and Services, p. 191 f.] The use of Hallel in the Paschal meal at home , when the lamb was eaten, must be carefully distinguished from the above. Here the data are somewhat conflicting.

According to the Mishna ( Pes . x. 6 and 7), the Hallel was here recited in two parts, and this is still the custom at the Jewish Paschal meal. The first part (Psalms 113-114) immediately follows the Haggâdâ proper (the narrative of redemption) and precedes the drinking of the second cup of wine. It is appropriately closed by a special benediction for redemption. The second part (Psalms 115-118, followed by 136 and the ‘Blessing of Song’) follows after the mixing of the fourth cup, when the banquet and grace after meat have been completed. And this arrangement is attested in the Mishna ( ib .). The contenta of the first part were, however, a subject in dispute between the schools of Shammai and Hillel, the former concluding it at Psalms 113, the latter at Psalms 114. The wording of the benediction for redemption was also not fully determined ( ib .). It looks as though the recitation of the Hallel in the home-service were a reminiscence of the Temple-ritual, the family meal being partaken of between the two parts as a family sacrifice, just as the Passover lamb was sacrificed in the Temple during the singing of the Hallel. The custom, as the Mishna suggests, may quite well have arisen before the destruction of the Temple.

3 . Usage in the Gospels .—It is usually assumed that the hymn referred to in  Matthew 26:30 |  Mark 14:26 (‘when they had sung a hymn’ [ὑμνήσαντες]) was the second part of the Hallel (Psalms 115-118)* [Note: According to the school of Shammai, Psalms 114-118.] sung at the conclusion of the Paschal supper (see above). This is quite possible, in view of the probability that the custom had been established in connexion with the Paschal meal in the time of Christ.

In Delitzsch’s Heb. NT the expression is well paraphrased: ‘After they had completed the Hallel’ (נמראת־ההלל). But there are some indications that the usage was subject to variation in the earlier period. Thus, according to one authority, for the ‘completion’ of the Hallel at the Paschal meal Psalms 25 might suffice (. 118). The expression ὑμνήσαντες certainly suggests a Paschal meal. It is significant, however, that it is absent from the Lukan account.

Literature.—Besides the works cited in the body of the article, the following are important: art. ‘Hallel’ in the Jewish Encyc ., with the authorities there enumerated; Delitzsch on Psalms 113; Büchler, ZAT W [Note: ATW Zeitschrift für die Alttest. Wissenchaft.] xx. [1900] 114–135; Buxtorf, Rabb. Lex. (ed. Fischer) s.v. הלל; Hamburger, RE ii. 353 ff.

G. H. Box.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

HALLEL . The name given in Rabbinical writings to the   Psalms 113:1-9;   Psalms 114:1-8;   Psalms 115:1-18;   Psalms 116:1-19;   Psalms 117:1-2;   Psalms 118:1-29 called the ‘Egyptian Hallel’ in distinction from the ‘Great Hallel’ (  Psalms 120:1-7;   Psalms 121:1-8;   Psalms 122:1-9;   Psalms 123:1-4;   Psalms 124:1-8;   Psalms 125:1-5;   Psalms 126:1-6;   Psalms 127:1-5;   Psalms 128:1-6;   Psalms 129:1-8;   Psalms 130:1-8;   Psalms 131:1-3;   Psalms 132:1-18;   Psalms 133:1-3;   Psalms 134:1-3;   Psalms 135:1-21;   Psalms 136:1-26 ), and from   Psalms 146:1-10;   Psalms 147:1-20;   Psalms 148:1-14 , which are also psalms of Hallel character. The Hallel proper (  Psalms 113:1-9;   Psalms 114:1-8;   Psalms 115:1-18;   Psalms 116:1-19;   Psalms 117:1-2;   Psalms 118:1-29 ) was always regarded as forming one whole. The word Hallel means ‘Praise,’ and the name was given on account of the oft-recurring word Hallelujah (‘Praise ye the Lord’) in these psalms. The ‘Hallel’ was sung at the great Jewish festivals Passover, Tabernacles, Pentecost, and Chanukkah (‘Dedication’ of the Temple).

W. O. E. Oesterley.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

This term, which signifies 'praise,' is used by the Jews in reference to certain of the Psalms.

1. The Egyptian Hallel embraces  Psalm 113 - 118. It was so called because it was chanted in the temple while the Passover lambs, which were first enjoined in Egypt, were being slain. It was also chanted in private when the Passover was kept; and it is thought that the 'hymn' mentioned in   Matthew 26:30;  Mark 14:26 refers to part of this Hallel.

2. The Great Hallel. This is so called because of including  Psalm 136 , in every verse of which is the response "His mercy endureth for ever." Maimonides says it includes  Psalm 118 - 136. Others say it begins at   Psalm 120 or   Psalm 135:4 . It was recited on the first evening of the Passover, also on any special occasion.

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 2 Chronicles 7:6 Ezra 3:11 Psalm 113-118 Psalm 114:1 Matthew 26:30 Psalm 136:1 Psalm 135:1 Psalm 120-134

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

 Psalm 113118-118 Matthew 26:30 Mark 14:26

There is also another group called "The Great Hallel," comprehending  Psalm 118136-136 , which was recited on the first evening at the Passover supper and on occasions of great joy.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [6]

( הִלֵּל , Gr. Ὕμνος ), the designation of a particular part of the hymnal service, chanted in the Temple and in the family on certain festivals.

1. Origins Of The Name, Contents Of The Service, Etc. The name Hallel', הִלֵּל , which signifies Praise, is Κατ᾿ Ἐξοχόν , given to this distinct portion of the hymnal service because it consists of Psalms 113-118, which are Psalms of praise, and because this group of Psalms begins with Hallelujah, הֲלְלוּיָהּ .. It is also called הִלֵּל הִמַּצְרַי , The Egyptian Hallel, because it was chanted in the Temple with the Passover lambs, which were first enjoined in Egypt, were being slain. There is another Hallel called הִלֵּל הִגָּדוֹלּ , the Great Hallel (so called because of the reiterated response after every verse, "For thy mercy endureth forever," in Psalms 136; which is part of this Hollel), which, according to R. Jehudah (Pesachim, 118) and Maimonides, comprises Psalms 118-136 (Jod Ha-Chezaka, Hilchoth Chanmez. Maza, 8: 10). Others, however, though agreeing that this Hallel ends with Psalms 136, maintain that it begins with Psalms 120 or  Psalms 135:4 (Pesachin, 118).

2. Time And Manner In Which It Was Chanted. This hymnal service, or Egyptian Hallel, was chanted at the sacrifice of the first and second Pesach, after the daily sacrifice on the first day of Passover (Mishna, Pesachim, 5, 7), after the morning sacrifice on the Feast of Pentecost, the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Mishna, Succa, 4, 8), and the eight days of the Feast of Dedication (Mishna; Taanith, 5, 5), making in all twenty days in the year. "On twelve days out of the twenty, viz., at the sacrifice of the first and second Pesach, of the first day of Pesach, of the Feast of Pentecost, and of the eight days of the Feast of Tabernacles, the flute was played before the altar when the Hallel was chanted" (Mishna, Pesachim, 2, 3), whilst after the morning sacrifice during the eight days of the Feast of Dedication the Hallel was chanted without this accompaniment of the flute. The manner in which "these hymns of praise were offered must have been very imposing and impressive. The Levites who could be spared from assisting at the slaying of the sacrifices took their stand before the altar, and chanted the Hallel verse by verse; the people responsively repeated every verse, or burst forth in solemn and intoned Hallelujahs at every pause, whilst the slaves of the priests, the Levites, and the respectable lay people assisted in playing the flute (comp. Pesachim, 64, a; Erachim, 10, a, b; and Tosipha on Cap. 1; Sota, 27, b; Taanith, 28, a, b). No representatives of the people ( אנשׁי מעמד ) were required to-be present at the Temple at the morning sacrifices on the days when the Hallel was chanted (Mishna, Taanith, 4, 4). (See Sacrifice).

The Egyptian Hallel was also chanted in private families at the celebration of the Passover on the first evening of this feast. On this occasion the Hallel was divided into two parts; the part comprising Psalms 113, 114 was chanted during the partaking of the second cup, whilst the second part, comprising Psalms 115, 116, was chanted over the fourth and finishing cup ( רניעי גומר עליו את ההלל , Mishna, Pesachim, 10, 7); and it is generally supposed that the singing of the hymn by our Savior and his disciples at the conclusion of the Passover supper ( Matthew 26:30;  Mark 14:26) refers to the last part of this Hallel. (Dean Alford [Greek Testament, ad loc. ] strangely confounds this Hallei with The Great Hallel.) In Babylon there was an ancient custom, which can be traced as far back as the 2nd century of the Christian sera, to recite this Hallel on every festival of the new moon (Taanith, 28, a), omitting, however,  Psalms 115:1-11;  Psalms 116:1-11.

The great Hallel ( הלל הגדול ) was recited on the first evening at the Passover supper by those who wished to have A Fifth Cup, i.e.one above the enjoined number (Maimonides, Jod Ha-Chezaka, Hilchoth Chawmez T. Maza, 8, 10). It was also recited on occasions of great joy, as an expression of thanksgiving to'God for special mercies (Mishna, Taanith, 3, 9).

3. Present Use Of The Hymnal Service. The Jews to the present day recite the Egyptian Hallel at the morning prayer immediately after The Eighteen Benedictions (שׁמונה עשׁרה ) on all the festivals of the year except New Year and The Day Of Atonement, omitting  Psalms 115:1-11;  Psalms 116:1-11, on the last six days of the Feast of Passover, and on the new moon. Before the Hallel is recited they pronounce the following benediction: "Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the world, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and enjoined upon us to recite the Hallel!" At the Passover supper, on the first two evenings of the festival, both the Egyptian Hallel and the Great Hallel are now recited; the former is still divided in the same manner as it was in the days of our Savior.

4. Institution Of This Hymnal Service. It is now impossible to ascertain precisely when this service was first instituted. Some of the Talmudists affirm that it was instituted by Moses, others say that Joshua introduced it, others derive it from Deborah, David, Hezekiah, or Hanaaiah, Mishael and Azariah (Pesachim, 117, a). From  2 Chronicles 35:15, we see that the practice of the Levites chanting the Hallel while the Paschal lambs were in the act of being slain was already in vogue in the days of Josiah, and it is not at all improbable that it was customary to do so at a much earlier period.

5. Literature. Mamonides, Jod Ha-Chezaka, Hilchoth Chamez U. Mlaza, sections 7 and 8, vol. i, p. 263-265; Buxtorf, Lexicon Chaldaicum Talmudicum Et Rabbinicum, s.v. הלל , col. 613-616; and Bartoloccii, Bibliotheca Moagna Rabbinica, 2, 227-243, have important treatises upon this subject, but their information is most uncritically put together, and no distinction is made between earlier and later practices. A thoroughly masterly and critical investigation is that of Krochmal, More Neboche Ha- Seman (Leopoli, 1851), p. 135 sq.; comp. also Edelmanm's edition of The Siddur with Landshuth's Critical Annotations (K Ö nigsberg, 1845), p. 423 sq.; Herzfeld, Geschichte des Volkes Israel (Nordhausen, 1857), 2, 169 sq.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [7]

ha - lāl ´, hal´el  : In the fifth book of the Psalms (107-50) there are several groups of Hallelujah Psalms: 104 through 106; 111 through 113; 115 through 117; 135; 146 through 150. In the worship of the synagogue   Psalm 135 through 136,146 through 150 were used in the daily morning service.   Psalm 113 through 118 were called the "Egyp Hallel," and were sung at the feasts of the Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles and Dedication. At the Passover,   Psalm 113:1-9 and   Psalm 114:1-8 (according to the school of Shammai only   Psalm 113:1-9 ) were sung before the feast, and Psalms 115 through 118 after drinking the last cup. The song used by our Lord and the disciples on the night of the betrayal ( Matthew 26:30 ), just before the departure for the Mount of Olives, probably included Psalms 115 through 118.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [8]

Name given to Psalms cxiii.-cxviii. chanted by the Jews at their great annual festivals.