Leonard Cohen, as his name suggests, was ethnically Jewish. However, he was not a faithful adherent to the Jewish faith.
Watch the Video Below
A Canadian born and raised singer and songwriter, Cohen moved to the US in 1955. His career flourished in the 1960s, which might also have been the beginning of his time of spiritual wandering. Judaism was part of his family history. His great-grandfather was a rabbinical teacher and his maternal grandfather was a rabbi. However, in adulthood, Cohen moved away from his Judaic roots and pursued other religions. He even practiced Zen Buddhism and was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1996. Yet he also continued to consider himself Jewish, having said, “I’m not looking for a new religion. I’m quite happy with the old one, with Judaism.” His real faith appears to have been obscured by the confusion of many differing beliefs.
Cohen died in 2016, but his music lives on. One of his most popular songs is “Hallelujah” — a song with biblical references. But is Cohen’s “Hallelujah” really biblical?
Is ‘Hallelujah’ a Christian Song?
First, it’s unlikely Cohen would have written anything that would be “Christian.” He apparently had an interest in Jesus, but simply considered him a universal figure, as indicated by his words:
“I’m very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of this earth. Any guy who says ‘Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek’ has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity and insight and madness…A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing would weather that compassion. I’m not trying to alter the Jewish view of Jesus Christ. But to me, in spite of what I know about the history of legal Christianity, the figure of the man has touched me.” (emphasis added)
Unpacking Cohen’s Words
- Many have a “fondness of Jesus,” but only repenting and trusting in Jesus brings salvation and a relationship with Him.
- “Any guy who says ‘Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek’ has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity [true], and insight [true], and madness [false]”. Many have said that Jesus was a liar because He claimed to be God or a lunatic because He thought He was God. However, there is a third consideration–He IS God.
- Cohen said, “His position cannot be comprehended.” That is not a true statement. When one comes to Christ, the Holy Spirit is received and Jesus has promised that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things. His position IS Son of God and His position can be comprehended because God has given us the Holy Scriptures.
- “I’m not trying to alter the Jewish view of Jesus Christ.” The Jewish view of Jesus Christ is that He was simply Jesus a good man and prophet. He was not the Christ, the Messiah.
Now, I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Hallelujah (refrain 4x)
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips, she drew the hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain
I don’t even know the name
But if I did, well really, what’s it to you?
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken hallelujah
Hallelujah (refrain 4x)
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah
The Bible Says…
Taking God’s name (“the name”) in vain is a sin, and it does matter if we know God and whose words we listen to (God or the world).
Exo 20:7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Luke 9:20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
Acts 4:12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Doing one’s best (“I did my best…”) will never be enough and “standing before God the lord of song with nothing… but a hallelujah” will count for nothing.
Rom 14:11 For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”
Cohen’s Hallelujah is Not a God Honoring Song
While the music is hauntingly moving, and the word Hallelujah (which means “praise Yah”/ YHWH) is repeatedly proclaimed in the refrain (29 x), the song’s lyrics do not honor God. But there is a version of this song with lyrics that magnify God and honor His name by proclaiming the work of Jesus in redeeming mankind from sin.
Hallelujah with God-Honoring Words
Video by: Reasons for Hope* Jesus Music by Leonard Cohen; Lyrical Adaptation by Kelley Mooney
About Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Resurrection Life
- You’ll Never Walk Alone (video)
- What is Lent? Should I Give Up Something? (video)
- Lent: 40 Titles for 40 Days (download our “40 Titles” for Lenten devotions)
- This Time Called Lent (video)
- Prepare for Lent (video)
- Christian Internet Forwards? The Rest of “The Birdcage” Story?(video)
- Open Your Eyes to The Full Gospel
- Are you glad to see Jesus?
- Ponder the Prophecies of Jesus’ Mission (video and downloadable file)
- What If We Skipped Easter This Year?
- Walking with Jesus – Tested by the Chief Priests and Elders
- What is Maundy Thursday? The Basin & The Towel
- What’s your Judas experience? The Pain of Betrayal
- What Do We Know about Judas? This Might Surprise You.
- Was Jesus crucified on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?
- Thursday Crucifixion? Do these two reasons “nail” it?
- Why do we call it good [Friday]?
- Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
- How is Jesus Like a Worm? What’s the Crimson Worm? A Remez In Psalm 22?
- Who do you need to reconcile with today?
- Who Killed Jesus?
- Did Pilate Proclaim Jesus to be God?
- Was Jesus Forsaken by His Father?
- What Caused the Centurion to Say: “Surely This Was a Righteous Man” (a song from the foot of the cross)
- Sadness and Despair: The Darkest Days of All Time
- Journey to the Cross: Maundy Thursday and Good Friday
- The Days of Darkness
- He’s back….and it changed everything!
- The Lord is Risen Indeed! Hallelujah!
- Because He Rose: The resurrection changed everything! (video)
- Obituary of Jesus: Body Stolen or Risen? What do you say?
- What’s the Meaning of the Folded Napkin in the tomb?
- Keep Easter Alive in Your Heart: He Came Back (video)
- The Only Soul-Saver, Sin-Forgiver, Chain-Breaker, Pain-Taker, Way-Maker, Hope-Giver: Jesus
- Keep Looking Up
- Praise God, He’s Alive
- Because He Lives, I Can Face Tomorrow (video)
- Is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” a Christian Song? (video: Easter version of Cohen’ “Hallelujah”)
- How Should You Observe Lent? article
- How Should You Observe Lent? video
- Hosanna — Palm Sunday (Jesus Wept) (video)
- Maundy Thursday until Easter Sunday (video)
If you do NOT know Jesus, click here NOW!
Jesus is the Reason this Ministry Exists
Our mission is to glorify God by equipping, encouraging, and empowering
YOU to understand the Bible and grow in faith. If our online resources have blessed you, we hope you will support Reasons for Hope* Jesus. Our ministry outreach has grown significantly and we need your help to continue. Please support Reasons for Hope* Jesus with a donation of $5, $10, $20, or more. A donation of any amount is needed and greatly appreciated.
CLICK TO DONATE
to Reasons for Hope*Jesus(a 501c3 Ministry)
Use a Credit Card or PayPal for safe, secure giving.
***A Hidden Message in Psalm 23?*** Hidden in the six verses of Psalm 23 are 11 names for Jesus. Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send you The Names of God in Psalm 23 PDF that reveals all 11 names and Scripture verses of comfort and hope (link will be sent in your confirmation email). SUBSCRIBE NOW
The Top Ten in 2019
- The Meaning of NUMBERS in the Bible?
- The Meaning of COLORS in the Bible?
- Is my TATTOO a sin?
- What do the 12 stones UNDER the JORDAN River mean? (Joshua 4)
- What Does It Mean to TASTE & SEE That God Is Good? (Psalm 34)
- CHARLIE BROWN Theology
- Did The Wise Men Arrive 12 DAYS AFTER JESUS’ BIRTH? Or Was It Much Later?
- Where did OT Saints go at death? ABRAHAM'S BOSOM? Where was that?
- Is Leonard Cohen’s “HALLELUJAH” a Christian Song?
- Is It a Sin to Drink ALCOHOL?
More Popular Questions & Articles:
If BAPTIZED as an Infant, Do I Need to Be Baptized Again?
How was Jesus Like a Worm? What’s the CRIMSON (OR SCARLET) WORM? Psalm 22
Is Satan’s Real Name LUCIFER? Or Should We Call Him Satan?
What is the Significance of the Wise Men's THREE GIFTS? And were they kings?
Was Jesus CRUCIFIED on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday?
The Names of Jehovah hidden in Psalm 23! This will surprise you!
What Did Jesus Say About HEAVEN (and HELL)?
JESUS WEPT. Why? And…it’s not the shortest verse in the Bible!
Is There a Remez (HIDDEN MESSAGE ) in Revelation 7? Why is Dan Missing?
What Does it Mean to Be A CHILD OF GOD?
Why Is PRAYER Important?
Is SUICIDE an Unforgivable Sin?
Something ALL Christians must know: IVDARR