The word “Yehuda” is usually translated as “Judah” in English Bibles. 

This name has such rich meaning for both Jewish and Christian traditions. For example, in the Hebrew Bible, God called King David, who came from the tribe of Judah, “The man after my own heart”. In the New Testament, Jesus, a later descendant of David, is referred to as “the Lion from the Tribe of Judah”.

But what does Judah actually mean in Hebrew?

The word Judah comes from the verb LeHodot, which simply means “to thank.” In the context of the Hebrew Bible, such thanks are synonymous not just with gratitude, but with praise. In fact, there was a particular sacrifice called “The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving.” In the Temple in Jerusalem, it was called “Todah” – the noun for “Thanksgiving.”

It is interesting to note that in Modern Hebrew, to simply say “thanks”, Israelis use the very same word (todah) that was used in the Temple to express gratitude to God.