This is an ancient Hebrew word that has crossed over into English, but if you ask someone what it means you get many different answers. The true answer lies in the origin of the word and the alphabetic letters used to write the word. There are three pictographic letters that tell the original meaning of the word so that we can know what it means today.
The ancient Hebrew language was first written in what we know today as proto-Canaanite. They used everyday objects around them to explain abstract concepts. This is the case with the word Amen.
The Aleph in Amen stands for Strong
The first letter is an Aleph (AH-lef) It is where we get our letter ‘A’. In our alphabet ‘A’ stands for ‘Apple’ in Hebrew Aleph stands for Aleph because an Aleph is an Ox. It would be like the first letter of our alphabet being called an ‘Apple’. We would say Apple, Ball, Cat and those would be the names of the letters. That is what ancient Hebrew was like. That ‘aleph-bet’ read Ox, Home, Foot, Door (Aleph, Bet, Gimmel, Dalet). This ancient language is the origin of our alphabet today. So back to the first letter of ‘amen’ the Aleph. An Alpeh is an Ox which is a very important animal to have. It was the ancient John Deer tractor. Without an ox it was difficult if not impossible to grow enough food to feed the family. It was also used to haul goods and materials. Being without an Ox was like being without a car today. So since the ox was the most important asset made its way to the front of the alphabet. It stands for strength, might, power, authority, the strong one, or anything that is mighty or strong. The pictograph is an outline of the head of an ox with its horns. If you lay a capital ‘A’ on its side you have a very close resemblance to an Aleph (and that’s not a coincidence).
The Mem stands for Water
The second letter is a Mem. Mem’s pictograph looks like waves and stands for water. The modern Hebrew word for water is Mayim (MY-eem). When an Aleph is paired with a Mem you get an ancient recipe for glue. This may seem strange but it’s true. People would make glue by boiling water and putting animal parts in the water. When the water boiled down with the right animal parts it would become very sticky. This binding agent would be applied where needed and when it dried it would hold the materials together. The Aleph and the Mem combine to mean literally strong water, or glue. As an aside ‘AM’ (Ahm) is the ancient word for mother (the one who binds the home together).
The Nun stands for Continuation
The third and final letter is the Nun (Noon). There are some characters used for vowels in ancient Hebrew. So there are only three letters in the Hebrew word Amen. The Nun’s pictograph shows a seed sprouting. When the seed sprouts it is a continuation of life. So the Nun denotes anything that continues. You may have read in Scripture how sons were the seeds of their fathers. That is because they would continue the family. In fact the word son (Ben) in Hebrew means ‘the house continues’.
Putting it All Together
When you put these three letters together you read literally ‘the strong water continues’ or ‘the glue continues to bind’. So when you say Amen you are saying that the words that were spoken are to be continued. If they are to continue it would mean that they should be true words because no one wants falsehood to continue. No one wants the solemn, holy, or important words that were said to somehow no longer apply. We still have this thought in our language. When someone says their word is their bond, or when we say our words are ‘binding’, it is meant that our words should continue to hold meaning. They should not stop having meaning , become untrue, or no longer apply. Amen is a strong word with deep meaning. Now that you know what it means you can use it appropriately. Amen!