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Jehovah’s Witnesses


The Watchtower  |  June 2009

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

 Did You Know?

Why do people say “amen” at the end of a prayer?

The word “amen,” in both English and Greek, is a transliteration of the Hebrew ʼa·menʹ. The expression, usually uttered in unison by listeners to a prayer, oath, blessing, or curse, basically means “so be it,” or “surely.” Saying it serves to indicate agreement with the sentiments just expressed. According to one reference work, “the word connotes certainty, truthfulness, faithfulness, and absence of doubt.” In Bible times, the expression also legally obliged its user with regard to an oath or covenant and its consequences.​—Deuteronomy 27:15-26.

In his preaching and teaching, Jesus introduced some of his statements with the word “amen.” By so doing, he underlined the absolute reliability of what he was about to say. In these cases, the Greek word a·menʹ is translated “truly” or “verily.” (Matthew 5:18; 6:2, 5; King James Version) When doubled, as is the case throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus’ expression is translated “most truly.” (John 1:51) Jesus’ use of amen in this way is said to be unique in sacred literature.

In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the title “Amen” is applied to Jesus to indicate that his witness is “faithful and true.”​—Revelation 3:14.

What were the Urim and the Thummim?

It appears that the Urim and the Thummim were used in ancient Israel to discern Jehovah’s will in matters that concerned the nation or its leaders. These objects were entrusted to the high priest and were kept in the pouch of the “breastpiece of judgment.” (Exodus 28:15, 16, 30) Although the Scriptures never describe these objects or their exact method of use, different passages seem to imply that they were employed as lots that would result in either a “yes” answer, a “no” answer, or no answer at all from God.

One example of such use was when David had Abiathar bring to him what was apparently the high priest’s ephod containing the Urim and the Thummim. David addressed two questions to Jehovah: ‘Will Saul chase after me?’ and ‘Will the landowners of Keilah surrender me into his hand?’ To both inquiries the answer was yes, enabling David to make appropriate decisions.​—1 Samuel 23:6-12.

Earlier, King Saul used the Urim and the Thummim to determine first, whether guilt lay with the people or with him and Jonathan and second, whether he or his son was the offender. (1 Samuel 14:40-42) Later when Saul had lost divine favor, God no longer gave him guidance “either by dreams or by the Urim or by the prophets.”​—1 Samuel 28:6.

According to Jewish tradition, use of the Urim and the Thummim ceased when Jehovah’s temple was destroyed in 607 B.C.E.

[Picture on page 27]

“Amen,” Revelation 3:14. The Codex Alexandrinus, 5th century C.E.