It’s that time of year when children, and some adults, put on their costumes and knock on every door that leads to the possibility of getting a handful of treats. This holiday is known as Halloween. In my little corner of the world, Halloween is popular. There are hundreds of kids that walk the alleys searching for treats, and everyone sits on their front porches to hand out candy. It is truly a great time for our community.
But, have you ever wondered where the word Halloween came from and what its original meaning is?
At this point, you may be wondering why I am talking about Halloween and what hallowed has to do with it. Well, let me explain myself.
What Is the Definition of Hallowed?
According to Merriam-Webster, hallowed is defined as holy, sacred, consecrated, or revered.
Hallowed has old English roots. We can trace the word back to the old English word halig which means holy. In the Middle Ages, this word referred to what early Christians called All Hallows’ Day. Today this day is called All Saints’ Day. The day before All Hallows’ Day was called All Hallow Even – or what we call Halloween today.
Our modern vernacular doesn’t include frequent use of hallowed anymore. The word hallowed steadily lost popularity until it has almost disappeared from our vocabulary.
Where Do We See Hallowed Used in the Bible?
Christians have a plethora of choices when deciding on what Bible version they want to use. Over half of all Christians still own or use a King James Version, with the popularity of more modern versions rising.
All translations are not created equal; therefore, you won’t find the word hallowed in all the same verses in each translation. The primary difference is the usage of hallowed in the Old Testament.
Early versions of the Bible all use hallowed to describe a holy or sacred event, place, or person. If you’re reading the 1611 King James Bible, you will encounter this word frequently in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament.
This use of hallowed in also found in the Tyndale Bible and the 1599 Geneva Bible. Readers such as Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell, and John Bunyan would have been familiar with the word hallowed. The pilgrims even brought the Geneva Bible over on the Mayflower.
One will only find hallowed used in the Lords Prayer found in Matthew 6:9. Jesus is speaking of the importance of recognizing the name of God as holy and sacred. This is a form of worship that all our prayers should begin with.
Why Is the Word Hallowed Used Where It Is?
Hallowed is used commonly in the Old Testament. The reason for this is linked to the culture in which the Israelites lived, and the Hebrew language they spoke. The Hebrew words miqdash and qadash both refer to make something, or someone, hallowed. Miqdash means a sanctuary of deity and qadash is used when speaking of becoming clean. Another Hebrew word, quadesh, speaks of a sacred place or thing.
The first few books of the Bible introduce us to a holy God and give instructions to the Israelites on how to build the tabernacle, how to live, and how to sacrifice. So, it makes sense that Hebrew words referring to hallowed were used.
The New Testament was written in Greek and hallowed was only used in the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6:9 says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Here we find Jesus teaching about prayer in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount. I believe He is harkening back to the ten commandments and what God said about himself. God said He was the Lord your God and there were to be no other gods before him. When we pray, we are to give God the reverence and praise He deserves before all other requests.
Photo credit: SWN/Bible Study Tools
What Things Are Hallowed?
We make many objects and people in our lives hallowed. Sometimes we can hallow such things to point of idolatry. In a biblical worldview, there are only two things that are truly hallowed.
The first is hallowed ground. I would say that all ground, or land is hallowed. The land we walk and live on belongs to God. He is the creator and has given us a loan to use His land for His purposes. The Bible is the story of God’s people as they traverse God’s land. In the beginning, God created the land that Adam and Eve would later inhabit.
Another prime example is when God is leading the Israelites through the desert. His purpose was to give the Israelites Canaan, the promised land. The book of Revelation is filled with God’s promise to reveal the tree of life and the river of life. He tells us that all things will be made new and we will dwell in a new Jerusalem. All these promises are linked to God’s ground.
Hallowed ground is also the place where we sow seeds. It is the place where we sow love, mercy, and reconciliation. This sacred ground is what will nourish the seeds and prepare for a harvest of faith and community.
Secondly, God’s name is hallowed. To hallow God’s name is an outward action of reverence. It is active praise. Not using God’s name in vain or defiling His creation is just a small way we can show how sacred and holy God is.
Why Is It Important to Understand the Meaning of Hallowed?
My husband is a word nerd and I find myself asking him what the importance or meaning of certain words are. What I have learned from him is that it is important to know the meaning of words within the context and culture. When we know a word’s meaning, we better understand what the text is saying to us.
In the case of hallowed, it is important to know the meaning so you can know who God is and what He expects of you. God explained to the Patriarchs of Scripture what places, things, and people were to be hallowed. He taught them how to sacrifice and how to set themselves apart by teaching them to make the tabernacle sacred and Sabbath holy.
When we understand that hallowed means holy or sacred, we can understand the necessity of purification and making ourselves ready for worship. The Lord’s prayer reminds us that we are to make the name of God holy. We are to show our praise and adoration to our Lord.
Christians are not making blood sacrifices or building temple courts today. What we are doing is understanding that we must hallow the name of the Lord in remembrance of what He has done for us. It is an outward response that tells the world we are daily working to purify our hearts and minds so we may express to this sinful world the need for a Savior.
Hallowed may not be a popular word today, but it is a necessary action for all Christians. It means to be made holy or sacred. We should actively make our God a sacred part of our lives. We should understand that our God has created a hallowed ground for us to live on. Our time on this hallowed ground should be spent glorifying Him.
Got questions about Halloween? Check out our Christian Parent's Guide to Halloween here.
Photo credit: Unsplash
Ashley Hooker is a freelance writer who spends her time homeschooling her two children, ministering alongside her husband as he pastors a rural church in West Virginia, and writing about her faith. Currently, she is a contributing author for Journey Christian magazine. She has taken part in mission trips with the NC Baptist Men during the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey in Mississippi and Texas. In her local church, she has served on various committees focusing in the area of evangelism along with traveling to West Virginia and Vermont to share the Gospel. Her dream is to spend her time writing and sharing the love of Christ with all she meets.