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Hatikvah (Hebrew: הַתִּקְוָה, lit. The Hope) is the national anthem of Israel. The anthem was written by Naphtali Herz Imber, a secular Galician Jew from Zolochiv (today in Lviv Oblast), who moved to the Land of Israel in the early 1880s.
The anthem's theme revolves around the nearly 2000-year-old hope of the Jewish people to be a free and sovereign people in the Land of Israel, a national dream that would eventually be realized with the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948.
The text of Hatikvah was written by the Galician Jewish poet Naphtali Herz Imber in Zolochiv in 1878 as a nine-stanza poem named Tikvateynu (lit. "Our Hope"). In this poem Imber puts into words his thoughts and feelings in the wake of the establishment of Petah Tikva, one of the first Jewish settlements in Ottoman Palestine. Published in Imber's first book, Barkai (lit. "Morning Star"), the poem was subsequently adopted as the anthem of Hovevei Zion and later of the Zionist Movement at the First Zionist Congress in 1897. The text was later revised by the settlers of Rishon LeZion, subsequently undergoing a number of other changes.
The melody, of folk origin (thought to be "Cucuruz cu frunza-n sus", Maize with standing leaf), was arranged by Samuel Cohen, an immigrant from Moldova.
The British Mandate government briefly banned its public performance in 1919, in response to an increase in Arab anti-Zionist political activity.
Adoption as national anthem
When the State of Israel was established in 1948, Hatikvah was unofficially proclaimed the national anthem. However, it did not officially become the national anthem until November 2004, when it was sanctioned by the Knesset in an amendment to the Flag and Coat-of-Arms Law (now renamed the Flag, Coat-of-Arms, and National Anthem Law).
In its modern rendering, the official text of the anthem incorporates only the first stanza and refrain of the original poem. The predominant theme in the remaining stanzas is the establishment of a sovereign and free nation in the Land of Israel, a hope largely seen as fulfilled with the founding of the State of Israel.
The melody for Hatikvah derives, with modifications, from the melody of the La Mantovana, a 17th-century Italian song, originally written by Giuseppino del Biado ca. 1600 with the text "Fuggi, fuggi, fuggi dal questo cielo". Its earliest known appearance in print was in the del Biado's collection of madrigals. It was later known in early 17th-century Italy as "Ballo di Mantova." This melody gained wide currency in Renaissance Europe, the Polish folk song "Pod Krakowem"; and the Ukrainian "Kateryna Kucheryava." This melody was also famously used by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana in his symphonic poem celebrating Bohemia, “Má vlast,” as “Vltava” (Die Moldau).
The adaptation of the music for Hatikvah is believed to have been composed by Samuel Cohen in 1888. Cohen himself recalled many years later that he had adapted the melody from a Romanian folk song, possibly “Carul cu boi” (“Carriage with Oxen”)(itself deriving from "La Mantovana"), which shares a few structural elements with Hatikvah.
The tune of Hatikvah is modal and mostly follows a minor scale, which is often perceived as mournful in tone and is rarely encountered in national anthems. However, as the title "The Hope" and the words suggest, the import of the song is optimistic and the overall spirit uplifting.
The official text of the national anthem corresponds to the first stanza and amended refrain of the original nine-stanza poem by Naftali Herz Imber. Along with the original Hebrew, the corresponding transliteration and English translation are listed below.
|כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה||Kol ‘od balleivav penimah||As long as in the heart, within,|
|נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,||Nefesh yehudi homiyah,||A Jewish soul still yearns,|
|וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח, קָדִימָה,||Ul(e)fa’atei mizrach kadimah,||And onward, towards the ends of the east,|
|עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה;||‘Ayin letziyon tzofiyah;||An eye still gazes toward Zion;|
|עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,||‘Od lo avdah tikvateinu,||Our hope is not yet lost,|
|הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם,||Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim,||The hope of two thousand years,|
|לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,||Lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzeinu,||To be a free people in our land,|
|אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.||Eretz-tziyon (v)'Y(e)rushalayim.||The land of Zion and Jerusalem.|
Some people compare the first line of the refrain, “Our hope is not yet lost” (“עוד לא אבדה תקוותנו”), to the opening of the Polish national anthem, Poland Is Not Yet Lost (Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła), or to the Ukrainian national anthem, Ukraine Has Not Yet Perished (Ще не вмерла Україна; Šče ne vmerla Ukraïna). This line may also be a Biblical allusion to Ezekiel’s “Vision of the Dried Bones” (Ezekiel 37: “…Behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost”), describing the despair of the Jewish people in exile, and God's promise to redeem them and lead them back to the Land of Israel.
The official text of Hatikvah is relatively short; indeed it is a single complex sentence, consisting of two clauses: the subordinate clause posits the condition (“As long as… A soul still yearns… And… An eye still watches…”), while the independent clause specifies the outcome (“Our hope is not yet lost… To be a free nation in our own land”).
Text of Tikvatenu by Naphtali Herz Imber
Below is the full text of the original nine-stanza poem Tikvatenu by Naftali Herz Imber. The current version of the Israeli national anthem corresponds to the first stanza of this poem and the amended refrain.
|כָּל־עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה||Kol-‘od ballevav penimah||As long as in the heart, within,|
|נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,||Nefesh yehudi homiyah,||A Jewish soul still yearns,|
|וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח קָדִימָה,||Ul(e)fa’atei mizrach kadimah,||And onward, towards the ends of the east,|
|עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה;||‘Ayin letziyon tzofiyah;||An eye still looks toward Zion;|
|עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִקְוָתֵנוּ,||‘Od lo avdah tikvateinu,||Our hope is not yet lost,|
|הַתִּקְוָה הַנּוֹשָׁנָה,||Hatikvah hannoshanah,||The ancient hope,|
|לָשׁוּב לְאֶרֶץ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ,||Lashuv le’eretz avoteinu,||To return to the land of our fathers,|
|לָעִיר בָּהּ דָּוִד חָנָה.||La‘ir bah david k'hanah.||The city where David encamped.|
|כָּל־עוֹד דְּמָעוֹת מֵעֵינֵינוּ||Kol-‘od dema‘ot me‘eineinu||As long as tears from our eyes|
|יִזְּלוּ כְגֶשֶׁם נְדָבוֹת,||Yizzelu kegeshem nedavot,||Flow like benevolent rain,|
|וּרְבָבוֹת מִבְּנֵי עַמֵּנוּ||Urevavot mibbenei ‘ammeinu||And throngs of our countrymen|
|עוֹד הוֹלְכִים עַל קִבְרֵי אָבוֹת;||‘Od hol(e)chim ‘al kivrei avot;||Still pay homage at the graves of (our) fathers;|
|כָּל־עוֹד חוֹמַת מַחֲמַדֵּינוּ||Kol-‘od chomat mach(a)maddeinu||As long as our precious Wall|
|לְעֵינֵינוּ מוֹפַעַת,||Le‘eineinu mofa‘at,||Appears before our eyes,|
|וְעַל חֻרְבַּן מִקְדָּשֵׁנוּ||Ve‘al churban mikdasheinu||And over the destruction of our Temple|
|עַיִן אַחַת עוֹד דוֹמַעַת;||‘Ayin achat ‘od doma‘at;||An eye still wells up with tears;|
|כָּל-עוֹד מֵי הַיַּרְדֵּן בְּגָאוֹן||Kol-‘od mei hayarden bega’on||As long as the waters of the Jordan|
|מְלֹא גְדוֹתָיו יִזֹּלוּ,||Melo’ gedotav yizzolu,||In fullness swell its banks,|
|וּלְיָם כִּנֶּרֶת בְּשָׁאוֹן||Uleyam kinneret besha’on||And (down) to the Sea of Galilee|
|בְּקוֹל הֲמוּלָה יִפֹּלוּ;||Bekol hamulah yippolu;||With tumultuous noise fall;|
|כָּל־עוֹד שָׁם עֲלֵי דְרָכַיִם||Kol-‘od sham ‘alei drachayim||As long as on the barren highways|
|שַעַר יֻכַּת שְׁאִיָּה,||Sha‘ar yukkat she’iyah,||The humbled city gates mark,|
|וּבֵין חָרְבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם||Uvein charvot yerushalayim||And among the ruins of Jerusalem|
|עוֹד בַּת צִיּוֹן בּוֹכִיָּה;||‘Od bat tziyon bochiyah;||A daughter of Zion still cries;|
|כָּל־עוֹד דְּמָעוֹת טְהוֹרוֹת||Kol-‘od dema‘ot tehorot||As long as pure tears|
|מֵעֵין בַּת עַמִּי נוֹזְלוֹת,||Me‘ein bat ‘ammi nozlot,||Flow from the eye of a daughter of my nation,|
|וְלִבְכּוֹת לְצִיּוֹן בְּרֹאשׁ אַשְׁמוֹרוֹת||Velivkot letziyon berosh ’ashmorot||And to mourn for Zion at the watch of night|
|עוֹד תָּקוּם בַּחֲצִי הַלֵּילוֹת;||‘Od takum bachatzi halleilot;||She still rises in the middle of the nights;|
|כָּל־עוֹד נִטְפֵי דָם בְּעוֹרְקֵינוּ||Kol-‘od nitfei dam be‘orkeinu||As long as drops of blood in our veins|
|רָצוֹא וָשׁוֹב יִזֹּלוּ||Ratzo’ vashov yizzolu,||Flow back and forth,|
|וַעֲלֵי קִבְרוֹת אֲבוֹתֵינוּ||Va‘alei kivrot avoteinu||And upon the graves of our fathers|
|עוֹד אֶגְלֵי טַל יִפֹּלוּ;||‘Od eglei tal yippolu;||Dewdrops still fall;|
|כָּל־עוֹד רֶגֶשׁ אַהֲבַת הַלְּאוֹם||Kol-‘od regesh ahavat halle’om||As long as the feeling of love of nation|
|בְּלֵב הַיְּהוּדִי פּוֹעֵם,||Beleiv hayhudi po‘eim,||Throbs in the heart of the Jew,|
|עוֹד נוּכַל קַוּוֹת גַּם הַיּוֹם||‘Od nuchal kavvot gam hayyom||We can still hope even today|
|כִּי עוֹד יְרַחֲמֵנוּ אֵל זוֹעֵם;||Ki ‘od yerachmeinu ’eil zo‘eim;||That a wrathful God may still have mercy on us;|
|שִׁמְעוּ אַחַי בְּאַרְצוֹת נוּדִי||Shim‘u achai be’artzot nudi||Hear, O my brothers in the lands of exile,|
|אֶת קוֹל אַחַד חוֹזֵינוּ,||Et kol achad chozeinu,||The voice of one of our visionaries,|
|כִּי רַק עִם אַחֲרוֹן הַיְּהוּדִי||Ki rak ‘im acharon hayhudi||(Who declares) That only with the very last Jew —|
|גַּם אַחֲרִית תִּקְוָתֵנוּ!||Gam acharit tikvateinu!||Only there is the end of our hope!|
Alternate proposals and objections
Religious objections to Hatikvah
Haredi Jews object to Hatikvah on the grounds that the anthem is too secular and lacks sufficient religious emphasis, and in general opposition to Zionism.
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook objected to the secular thrust of Hatikvah and wrote an alternative anthem titled “HaEmunah” in the hope that it would replace Hatikvah as the Israeli national anthem. Rav Kook did not object to the singing of Hatikvah (and in fact has endorsed it) as he had great respect for secular Jews, indicating that even in their work it was possible to see a level of kedushah (holiness).
Objections by non-Jewish Israelis
Some Arab Israelis object to Hatikvah due to its explicit allusions to Judaism. In particular, the text's reference to the yearnings of “a Jewish soul” is often cited as preventing non-Jews from personally identifying with the anthem. Notably, Ghaleb Majadale, who in January 2007 became the first Arab to be appointed as a minister in the Israeli cabinet, sparked a controversy when he publicly refused to sing the anthem, stating that the song was written for Jews only.
From time to time proposals have been made to change the national anthem or to modify the text in order to make it more acceptable to non-Jewish Israelis; however, no such proposals have succeeded in gaining broad support.
- Jewish-Ukrainian bibliography (English)
- Morris, B (1999) Righteous victims: a history of the Zionist-Arab conflict, 1881-1999 Knopf
- IV. Musical examples: Baroque and classic eras; Torban Tuning and repertoire Torban
- In the transliterations that appear on this page, a right quote (’) is used to represent the Hebrew letter aleph (א) when used as a consonant, while a left quote (‘) is used to represent the Hebrew letter ‘ayin (ע). The letter e in parentheses, (e), indicates a schwa that should theoretically be voiceless, but is usually pronounced as a very short e in modern Israeli Hebrew. In contrast, the letter a in parentheses, (a), indicates a very short a that should theoretically be pronounced, but is usually not voiced in modern Israeli Hebrew.
- Rav Kook’s Response to Hatikvah
- "Majadele refuses to sing national anthem". YNET News. 2007-03-17. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3377681,00.html. Retrieved 2007-05-09. "I fail to understand how an enlightened, sane Jew allows himself to ask a Muslim person with a different language and culture, to sing an anthem that was written for Jews only."