This American (and Canadian) holiday relates to the word ‘to•da.’ The notion of thankfulness to God for successful harvest that was celebrated first by some colonies and later, in 1863 was declared a national holiday by president Lincoln, is consistent with the biblical thanksgiving that was done either by sacrifice or prayer. Psalm 100 for example is called ‘A Psalm of thanksgiving’. The call for thanksgiving in the Bible is ‘Ho•du,’ ‘give thanks’. (See the strange connection on the bottom of this page!)
The call for thanksgiving appears several times in various books of the Bible with minute variations in each verse. The most frequent call for thanksgiving is worth learning in Hebrew because it is a part of many prayers and because Hebrew is considered the intimate tongue of God it may be a good idea to confess this call for thanksgiving in Hebrew: ‘Ho•dú la•Adonái ki tov ki le•o•lam chas•do’. ‘O give thanks to the Lord; for he is good; for his loving kindness endures forever.’ I Chronicles 16:34 (also in Psalms 106:1, Psalms 118:1 and 29, Psalms 136:1,2,3 and also verse 26 with a glorious poetic variation): ‘O give thanks to the Lord; for he is good; for his loving kindness endures for ever. O give thanks to the God of gods; for his loving kindness endures for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords; for his loving kindness endures for ever.’ All the verses between 3 and 26 are also of thanksgiving but it is implied.
The other pattern of thanksgiving is coupled with the request to call on God by his name. For example: ‘And in that day shall you say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.’ Isaiah 12:4 ‘Ho•dú la•Adonái kir•oo vish•mo ho•dí•oo va•a•mim ali•lo•tav.’ ‘O give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the people.’ Psalms 105:1 If you plan to use it in your own home or congregation you may say just the first 4 words: ‘‘Ho•du la•Adonái kir•oo vish•mo.’ ‘O give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name’. (See also the identical call in I Chronicles 16:8).
Back to the Thanksgiving Holiday, it is interesting to note a strange connection between the nickname ‘Turkey Day’ and the Hebrew official, proper name: ‘ho•da•ya’ whose imperative is Ho•dú. The turkey bird is called in Hebrew Hó•du. This is after the country India. This is what Columbus first thought America to be.
We all know the turkey bird connection to Thanksgiving, but having its name in Hebrew identical to the biblical thanksgiving… quite far fetching from being a mere coincidence…