Earlier in the semester, we talked about the word “Hineni” used by figures in the Hebrew Bible to say “Here I am”. There are two ways to say “I’m here” in Hebrew. The first is “poh”. This would be used as a response to a roll call, or just a general “I’m here at the store.” The second way to say that you here is “Hineni” this word has a more complete, deeper meaning. When you say “Hineni” it means you are completely in a place (or state). http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/317fffjy.asp?page=1
This word is used only 8 times in the Bible. Each of these uses occur at defining moments in the figure’s life, at turning points in their life to answer God. http://www.lindahirschhorn.com/writings/hineni.html
God calls his chosen person by their name, “Abraham” or “Moses” . Abraham hears his name called and answers “hineni”. Then as Abraham is preparing the sacrifice of his only son Isaac, Isaac calls out to Abraham “Father?” and Abraham answers “Hineni”. One last time, as Abraham lifts the knife against his son, God calls out “Abraham, Abraham” and Abraham answers “Hineni” as God shows him the ram to take Isaac’s place.
God also calls “Moses, Moses” to the Israelites leader out of the burning bush. Moses answers to the unseen power, “Hineni”
The word is familiar to contemporary Jews from the Hineni prayer read or sung on Yom Kippur, or “The Day of Atonenment” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur. The prayer was written in the 16th century and has been sung in Synagogues since that time. The language is very powerful, here you can read the prayer’s traditional translation: http://elisson1.blogspot.com/2005/10/hineni.html. And this is a more modern adaptation of the prayer: http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/2008/10/hineni-here-i-stand.html
I found several recording of the prayer being sung, which I think is very powerful,
This first is a performance of the song with an orchestra and small chorus. The second is the reading / chanting of the prayer in a Synagogue.
The text is also used by all modern believers, especially Christians, to talk about the posture that we should have before God. The word and the stories it is in emphasizes the readiness one should have to answer God and do his will. The story of Samuel is another story of the obedience and faith of God’s chosen one, this one is often especially used because Samuel’s initial confusion http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+3&version=NIV is so relatable to followers everywhere. Here you can read about a Korean Christians application of “Hineni” to her spiritual life: http://www.eunhyeandchris.com/eunhye/sermon_text.asp?id=82