A poetic shortened form of Yehowah, the name of the Most High God. (Ex 15:1, 2) This abbreviated form is represented by the first half of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton יהוה (YHWH), that is, the letters yohdh (י) and heʼ (ה), the tenth and fifth letters of the Hebrew alphabet respectively.
Yah occurs 50 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, 26 times alone, and 24 times in the expression “Halleluyah,” which is, literally, a command to a number of people to “praise Yah.”
In the Christian Greek Scriptures “Yah” appears four times in the expression Halleluyah. (Re 19:1, 3, 4, 6) Most Bibles simply carry this Greek expression over into English untranslated, but G. W. Wade renders it, “Praise ye Yehowah,” and the New World Translation reads, “Praise Yah, you people!”
In point of time “Yah” could not have been a primitive form of the divine name used earlier than the Tetragrammaton itself. The latter full form, Yehowah, occurs 165 times in the Masoretic text in the book of Genesis, but it was not until the account of events after the Exodus from Egypt that the shorter form first appeared.—Ex 15:2.
The single syllable Yah is usually linked with the more moving emotions of praise and song, prayer and entreaty, and is generally found where the subject theme dwells upon a rejoicing over victory and deliverance, or where there is an acknowledgment of God’s mighty hand and power. Examples of this special usage are abundant. The phrase, “Praise Yah, you people!” (Halleluyah) appears as a doxology, that is, an expression of praise to God, in the Psalms, the first being at Psalm 104:35. In other psalms it may be at the beginning only (Ps 111, 112), occasionally within a psalm (135:3), sometimes at the end only (Ps 104, 105, 115-117), but often at both the beginning and the end (Ps 106, 113, 135, 146-150). In the book of Revelation heavenly personages repeatedly punctuate their praise of Yehowah with this expression.—Re 19:1-6.
The remaining instances where “Yah” appears also reflect exaltation in songs and petitions to Yehowah. There is the song of deliverance by Moses. (Ex 15:2) In those recorded by Isaiah a double emphasis is gained by combining both names, “Yah Yehowah.” (Isa 12:2; 26:4) Hezekiah, in his poetic exultation after being miraculously healed when close to death, expressed heightened feelings by repetition of Yah. (Isa 38:9, 11) The contrast is drawn between the dead, who cannot praise Yah, and those determined to live a life of praise to him. (Ps 115:17, 18; 118:17-19) Still other psalms display a prayerful appreciation for deliverance, protection, and correction.—Ps 94:12; 118:5, 14.
Praise Yah everyone!