In reading an article, I came across something that interested me about using “Amen” at the end of our prayers. I was wondering if Megiddo ever did any research into where this word came from and its root meanings, etc. Are we ending our prayers in the name of a pagan god?
There was an Egyptian city called Ne or No (Residence) or No-Amon (Residence of Amon) as in the Hebrew text of the book of the prophet Nahum 3:8 (“Art thou better than populous (No) or No-Amon”). Amon was an Egyptian pagan god and not a few of the Pharaohs had this in their name.
Amon (Amen) was the chief deity of Egypt. One Pharaoh, for example, had Amenhotep for a name as they thought of themselves as godkings.
Did the children of Israel acquire this word while in Egypt? I know the dictionary gives as one of its meanings: “Let it be finished or so be it.” But it seems peculiar, to say the least, and maybe an attempt has been made to Christianize a pagan word.
We can see no connection at all between the name of the pagan god Amon (sometimes spelled Amen) and the word “Amen” as used in the Bible. The person who wrote the article from which you quote was surely not knowledgeable of the Bible, nor did he have any reverence for its Author. The parallel between the spellings of the two words is surely coincidence.
A reliable dictionary gives the definition for Amon (Egyptian, Amun), meaning “the hidden,” as an Egyptian god whose essential nature “is as unclear as his name indicates. Often associated with the wind, and in certain forms embodying the power of generation, he was prominent as a local god of thieves, whence came the powerful XIIth Dynasty pharaohs (1991-1786 B.C.). Through union with the cosmic and royal sun god Reas Amen-Re, Amen became chief god.”
By contrast, the word “Amen” as used in the Bible is the Hebrew word amen, meaning “surely,” which comes from a root meaning “to be firm, steady, trustworthy.” It is rendered “truth” in Isa. 65:16 and “so be it” in Jer. 11:5. The Greek word is a transliteration of the Hebrew and is often rendered “verily, verily.”
The word has several uses in Scripture. It was used
- as the listener’s response to acknowledge the validity of an oath or curse, declaring himself willing to accept its consequences (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15; Neh. 5:13; Jer. 11:5);
- to welcome an announcement or a prophecy of good (1 Kings 1:36; Jer. 28:6, Rev 1:6, 22:20);
- as an expression of agreement, to underscore one’s full support, often duplicated for emphasis (see 1 Chron. 16:36; Ps. 41:13).
This last use of amen became an accepted part of synagogue worship and passed into the life of the early church (see 1 Cor. 14-16). The use of amen in the New Testament is frequent.
It has been suggested that when Christ used “amen” He was endowing His words with His own Messianic authority, a thing which no scribe or rabbi could do. That is why the promises of God in Him are authoritative and beyond question, why they are “all yes and amen” (2 Cor. 1:20). This is also why He can be called “the Amen” (Rev. 3:14).
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He ended His prayer with “amen.” Should we attempt to do better? The apostle Paul, who said, “Copy me as I copy Christ,” also used the word in the letters he wrote. If they could use the word, we feel confident that we are justified in using it also. More than this, we must use it if we would follow the pattern Christ left us.
Far from being a Christianized pagan word—amen—for us, bears God’s stamp of approval and is our word of consent, approval, and submission to His word, or will. By using amen we express our accord with God, hence the word is most serious and should never be used with any frivolous, secular, or disrespectful association.