(article from “Extraordinary Origins Of Everyday Things” by Charles Panati)
One of the most familiar and frequently used of all religious words, “amen” appears in both early Christian and Moslem writings. The word makes thirteen appearances in the Hebrew Bible; 119 in the New Testament.
To the Hebrews, the word meant “so it is”—expressing assent or agreement, and also signifying truth. Thus, a Hebrew scholar terminating a speech or sermon with “amen” assured his audience that his statements were trustworthy and reliable.
The word originated in Egypt, around 2500 B.C. To the Egyptians, Amun meant “the hidden one” and was the name of their highest deity, at one time worshipped throughout the Middle East. As later cultures invoked the god Jupiter with exclamation “By Jove!” the Egyptians called on their deity: “By Amun!” It was the Hebrews who adopted the word, gave it a new meaning, and passed it on to the Christians.