31 December 2009

Rock of Strength Translation Explained מעוז צור

Sung By Sofina, a nice Jewish girl from the great state of Alaska





I've received lots of requests for the translation and explanation of the traditional song sung during Chanuka Candle Lighting "Rock of Strength" מעוז צור .



I've provided the original Hebrew, the singable translation in English and a brief explanation of each of the 6 stanzas.

This translation is taken from an Orthodox Jewish Prayer Book (Siddur).

This is the tune
Listen to a midi or study the original sheet music to play it yourself!



מָעוֹז צוּר יְשׁוּעָתִי לְךָ נָאֶה לְשַׁבֵּחַ.
תִּכּוֹן בֵּית תְּפִלָּתִי וְשָׁם תּוֹדָה נְזַבֵּחַ.
לְעֵת תָּכִין מַטְבֵּחַ מִצָּר הַמְנַבֵּחַ.
אָז אֶגְמוֹר בְּשִׁיר מִזְמוֹר חֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ:


Rock of strength! Great Aid of yore! ‘Tis sweet due praise to sing thee;
Rear our House of Prayer once more! Thank-off’rings there we’ll bring thee;
When dread immolation,Checks the foe’s elation,
I’ll complete with paeans meet, the altar’s consecration.


This stanza pleads for the reestablishment of the Temple Worship. It praises G-d as the "Rock of Strength," Who has always come to our aid. He will take vengeance on His enemies, and restore the Temple as a House of Prayer for all nations.






רָעוֹת שָׂבְעָה נַפְשִׁי בְּיָגוֹן כֹּחִי כָּלָה
חַיַּי מֵרְרוּ בְקֹשִׁי בְּשִׁעְבּוּד מַלְכוּת עֶגְלָה
וּבְיָדוֹ הַגְּדוֹלָה הוֹצִיא אֶת הַסְּגֻלָּה
חֵיל פַּרְעֹה וְכָל זַרְעוֹ יָרְדוּ כְּאֶבֶן בִּמְצוּלָה:
Evils sore my soul oppressed, Grief consumed my vigor;
Bitter bondage life distressed, Thro’ proud Egypt’s rigor;
But, whilst Heaven’s devotion, Led us forth from Goshen,
Pharaoh’s race, Sank apace, Like pebbles in the ocean.



This stanza praises G-d for our liberation from the Egyptian bondage. Maharal explains that Israel's destiny as a nation is not dependent on the general natural, physical, social or economic laws that govern the destinies of the other nations. Israel as a nation is placed directly under G-d's protection. It was this nation that was brought forth from Egypt, in order that they "obey faithfully and keep his covenant."


דְּבִיר קָדְשׁוֹ הֱבִיאַנִי וְגַם שָׁם לֹא שָׁקַטְתִּי
וּבָא נוֹגֵשׂ וְהִגְלַנִי כִּי זָרִים עָבַדְתִּי
וְיֵין רַעַל מָסַכְתִּי כִּמְעַט שֶׁעָבַרְתִּי
קֵץ בָּבֶל זְרֻבָּבֶל לְקֵץ שִׁבְעִים נוֹשַׁעְתִּי:


Scarce led unto Hashem’s holy fane, From duty’s path I swerved there,
By harsh oppressor captive ta’en, Because strange gods I served there.
The madd’ning cup I tasted, Till, seventy sad years wasted
In Babylon spent, Zerubabbel, sent, To my deliv’rance, hasted.


This stanza recalls the period of time when we lived in peace in the Land of Israel, when the First Temple, built by Solomon, was with us. Yet somehow, we fell prey to the blandishments of idol worship, and, for that sin, the Kingdom of Babylon, under the leadership of Nevuchadnezzar, besieJerusalem, and destroyed the Temple. But after a brief (historically speaking) time of seventy years, Babylon fell to the Persians, and under the leadership of Zerubavel (identified with the Prophet Nechemiah) we once again obtained permission to rebuild the Temple.



כְּרוֹת קוֹמַת בְּרוֹשׁ בִּקֵּשׁ אֲגָגִי בֶּן הַמְּדָתָא
וְנִהְיָתָה לוֹ לְפַח וּלְמוֹקֵשׁ וְגַאֲוָתוֹ נִשְׁבָּתָה
רֹאשׁ יְמִינִי נִשֵּׂאתָ וְאוֹיֵב שְׁמוֹ מָחִיתָ
רֹב בָּנָיו וְקִנְיָנָיו עַל הָעֵץ תָּלִיתָ:
To check our growth when Haman sought, Our pine-like stature felling,
In self-laid snare himself was caught, Soon ceased his proud heart’s swelling:
Whilst Israel’s power extended, The foeman’s race was ended,
When kith and kin, Were, for his sin, On gallows-tree suspended,


This stanza recalls the potential disaster, due to our sins, and our miraculous salvation, due to our repentance, from the fiendish plan of Haman, at the time of Purim. Haman wished to destroy Mordechai and, with him, all the Jews, male and female, young and old. But G-d, by a hidden miracle, using apparent coincidence, plus the bravery of Queen Esther, saved the Jews. Haman's plan was overturned, and he, together with his ten sons, were hung on the very same gallows which he'd prepared for Mordechai.

יְוָנִים נִקְבְּצוּ עָלַי אֲזַי בִּימֵי חַשְׁמַנִּים
וּפָרְצוּ חוֹמוֹת מִגְדָּלַי וְטִמְּאוּ כָּל הַשְּׁמָנִים
וּמִנּוֹתַר קַנְקַנִּים נַעֲשָׂה נֵס לַשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים
בְּנֵי בִינָה יְמֵי שְׁמוֹנָה קָבְעוּ שִׁיר וּרְנָנִים:
When Maccabees with Syrian foe,The mastery disputed,
My forts were crushed, my walls laid low,My Temple-oil polluted;
One cruse, to Heaven’s pure nation,Sufficed for dedication;
Whence sages mine Eight days assign, To song and jubilation.

This stanza takes us back to Chanukah and describes the spiritual (not to mention physical) attack of the Greeks, under Antioches IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid monarch of Syria, who was the central foe in the Chanukah story. He advocated an intense campaign of Hellenization; that is, the spreading of Greek culture and ideas and secularization amongst the Jewish People, and the Jews in The Land of Israel who remained loyal to the Torah, became his main targets.

The Greeks breached the walls of the Temple and defiled all the oils prepared for use in the daily lighting of the Menorah in the Temple. But one cruse of oil was found, and the Miracle of Chanukah was performed in behalf of the "roses," a reference to Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs), in which the mutual love between G-d and the Jewish People is the main theme. The Chashmonaim (Maccabis) also achieved a miraculous military victory, with the help of G-d, and they eventually gained independence for Israel.

חֲשׂוֹף זְרוֹעַ קָדְשֶׁךָ וְקָרֵב קֵץ הַיְשׁוּעָה
נְקֹם נִקְמַת עֲבָדֶיךָ מֵאֻמָּה הָרְשָׁעָה
כִּי אָרְכָה הַשָּׁעָה וְאֵין קֵץ לִימֵי הָרָעָה
דְּחֵה אַדְמוֹן בְּצֵל צַלְמוֹן הָקֵם לָנוּ רוֹעִים שִׁבְעָה:

Bare Your holy arm once more, and hasten the End for salvation.
Avenge the vengeance of servants Your, from the wicked nation.
Our salvation’s too long delayed, and there is no end to the evil days
Repel Edom in the shadow deep, and bring seven shepherds without delays.

This stanza asks the G-d to bare His holy arm and end our longest exile, the exile of Edom, the Red One, and usher in the Epoch of the Messiah.  The final phrase, “Raise up seven shepherds”, is a reference to Micah 5:4  which indicates that in messianic times seven shepherds (seven denotes completeness or perfection) will overcome any adversary who attacks the Nation of Israel.

Now you can print this out and sing it for yourself


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3 comments:

Mikey Lee said...

Thank you doubletapper, and thank you Maoz!

DirtCrashr said...

Happy Hannukah to you!!

Anonymous said...

Great blog, regards from South America (GT)

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