mizmoráyya de’ebyonáyya deżidqah
(THE HYMNS OF THE PIOUS POOR)
1. 1Bless YHVH, O my soul, because of all His wonders forever.
Blessed be His Holy Name,
for He saves the souls of the Poor.
2He has not despised the meek,
nor has He forgotten the distress of the downtrodden.
3On the contrary, He opened his eyes to the downtrodden
and, inclining His ear, hearkened to the cry of orphans.
4In his abundant mercy, He comforted the meek,
and opened their eyes to behold His ways,
and their ears to hear His Teaching.
5And he circumcised their hearts, and saved them because of His compassion,
And He directed their feet to the Way.
6He did not abandon them in their great distress,
Nor did He give them in to the hands of violent men,
Nor judge them with the wicked,
Nor destroy them in His anger,
Even though His righteous anger did not diminish at all.
7Yet He did not judge them in fiery zeal,
Rather He judged them in the abundance of His mercy.
The judgments of His mind were to test them.
8In the greatness of His mercy, He brought them from among the nations;
From violent hands He saved them.
9He did not judge them among the multitude of the nations,
Nor scatter them among the people.
Rather He hid them in the shadow of His wings,
10And made the dark places light before them,
And made the crooked paths straight,
11And He revealed to them His abundant peace and truth.
12He made their spirit by measure,
And meted out their words by weight,
causing them to sing like flutes.
13He gave them a heart of rejoicing, and they walked in the Way of His heart.
14But also he led them in the Way of His heart,
Because they humbled their spirit,
And raised up a testimony to Him.
15He commanded a plague to blight their sins,
And He set His angels around the Israelites,
lest they be tempted down the path of wrongdoing.
16He staid his wrath, for He had faith in them.
For He hated evil, and gloried in good alone.
17He is saddened by the evil which people do,
and His heart is mightily distressed.
18So He led them to lift up their works for their sake against human misdeeds,
19And He saved them for Hs own sake, to reveal to them the highest law.
20And they stood in their iniquity, but they atoned for it by repentance and good works.
21And because their minds had been distracted by earthly things,
He directed them to His judgments, and to the Way that He had shown them.
2. 1What are the duties of the one who walks in the Way:
to heighten understanding in order to strengthen the downcast heart,
and so triumph over the spirit in it;
to comfort the downtrodden in the time of their distress;
2And as for the hands of the lowly, to hold them up
So they can make vessels of understanding,
Give knowledge to the wise,
And increase the learning of the righteous,
3That they might comprehend the wonders that You performed in former days, in previous generations,
The eternal insight that You created before creating me.
4And You kept Your Torah before us,
And Your Covenant You confirmed to us,
Strengthening it upon our hearts.
5You gave us to walk in Your ways.
You commanded our hearts,
and instructed our consciences not to forget Your precepts.
6On our souls You have written Your Torah and opened our consciences,
And strengthened us to pursue the Way of Truth.
7You made our mouths like a sharp sword,
And opened our tongues to Your words of holiness.
8You have instructed our thoughts, and shown them the Way.
9Let them not meditate upon the deeds of human beings,
whose lips have been misused by their owners.
10You strengthened our legs with firm resolve,
And by Your hand You strengthened the days of our lives.
11You sent us forth with joy, destroying those hearts of stone.
You removed those cold hearts from us,
and put pure hearts in their place,
removing all thoughts of evil.
These things You have done.
3. 1O YHVH, You have promised that Your children shall be comforted on account of their mourning;
their affliction You will salve.
2Evil You have promised to destroy, to banish hunger and fear,
and that wickedness shall be cast out.
3You fashioned the works of heaven and earth, and they met,
and Your glory filled their whole Universe.
4This wonder You have made as a resting place for all those who mourn and weep.
Goodness will multiply and the goodness of Your Torah will comfort the Poor in Jerusalem’s gates.
5Like a bridegroom over the bride,
over her head He will put a canopy of peace,
and He will lift up His throne forever and ever.
6And His glory shall shine forth, and all the Nations shall know Him,
And there will be a fervent desire for His Torah forever in the radiance of His kingdom.
7I shall bless the Name of YHVH forever,
Blessed be the Name of God Most High, the Lord and Father of all the Nations.
8Lift up Your piety upon us, O YHVH!
For the sake of the Torah, You established peace;
9The Book of Your Teaching, You gave to maintain peace.
10Blessed be YHVH our God forever!
4. 1Let us praise YHVH for the Land and all who dwell upon the Land,
Indeed, all who inhabit the whole Earth,
2all its equipment,
all its subsistence and support,
all its hills, valleys and streams,
and all its lands of beauty and peace.
3Let us praise YHVH for the depths of the forests and the wildernesses of the Earth,
for the deserts and their wilds,
and the foundations of the mountains,
4for the islands and the abundance of their fruits,
for the highland woods and the cedars of Lebanon,
5for the new wine and new oil,
and all the produce of the soil,
6and for all the offerings of the Land in the twelve months of the year.
Amein amein! And again, amein!
7Let us praise YHVH for the fortress of water,
for the deep wells,
and for every stream,
8for the deep rivers of fresh water,
for caverns and for all their secrets yet to be discovered.
9Let us praise YHVH for all the Earth and its great bounty which He so wondrously provided,
That we may tend the gardens and the wildernesses of the Earth always.
5. 1Surely a maggot cannot praise you,
nor a worm recount your mercy.
2But the living can praise you,
all those who stumble can praise you,
3in revealing Your mercy to them,
and by Your righteousness You enlighten them.
4For in Your hand is the soul of every living human being;
the breath of all flesh You have given.
5Deal with us, O YHVH, according to Your goodness,
according to Your great compassion,
and according to Your many righteous acts.
6YHVH has heard the voicve of those who love His Name,
and has not deprived them of His mercy.
7Blessed be YHVH, who performs righteous deeds,
crowning His pious ones with mercy and compassion.
8My soul calls out to praise Your Name,
to give thanks with shouts for Your merciful deeds.
9to proclaim Your faithfulness – of praise of You there is no end!
10I was near death for my failings,
and my rebellious acts had sold me to She’ol;
11but You saved me, O YHVH, according to Your great compassion,
and according to Your many righteous acts.
12Indeed I have loved Your Name,
and in Your shelter I have found refuge.
13When I remember Your power my heart is brave, and I lean upon Your mercies.
14Forgive my failings, O YHVH, and cleanse me of my wrongdoings.
15Bestow on me a spirit of faith and knowledge,
and let me not be dishonoured in ruin.
16Let not evil thoughts rule over me,
nor an unclean heart;
17neither let pain nor the evil inclination take possession of my bones.
18For You, O YHVH, are my praise, and in You I hope all day long.
19Let my brothers and sisters rejoice with me,
and my father’s house, who are astonished by the graciousness of Your acts.
20Eternally I shall praise Your Name,
Forever I shall rejoice in You.
6. 1Great and holy is YHVH,
the holiest holiness from generation to generation.
2Glory precedes Him,
and following Him is the rush of many waters.
3Mercy and truth surround His presence;
truth and justice and righteousness are the foundation of His throne.
4Separating light from deep darkness,
He established the dawn by the knowledge of His heart.
5When all His angles had seen this they sang aloud;
for He showed them what they had not known;
6He crowns the hills with fruit, perfect food for every living being.
7Blessed be He who has made the earth by His power,
who has established the world in His wisdom.
8In His understanding He spread out the heavens, and brought forth the wind from His storehouses.
9He made lightning bolts for the rain, and caused mist to rise from the end of the earth.
7. 1I remember you for blessing, O Zion;
with all my strength I have loved you.
Blessed be your memory forever!
2Great is your hope, O Zion,
that peace and your hoped for salvation will come.
3Generation after generation shall dwell within you,
and generations of the pious will be your splendour.
4Those who long for the day of your salvation
will rejoice in the magnitude of your glory.
5At your glorious abundance they will suckle,
and in your magnificent plazas they will run about.
6You will remember your prophets’ acts of devotion,
and you will glory in the deeds of your pious ones.
7Let violence be purged from your midst;
let falsehood and deceit be cut off from you.
8Your children will rejoice in your midst,
and your precious ones will be united with you.
9How they have hoped for your salvation!
How your perfect ones have mourned for you!
10Your hope does not perish, O Zion,
nor is your longing forgotten.
11Who is the one to have ever perished in righteousness,
or who is the one to have ever survived in his iniquity?
12A person is tested according to his path;
everyone is rewarded according to his deeds.
13All around your enemies are cut off, O Zion,
and all your foes have been scattered.
14Your praise is a pleasant fragrance, O Zion, rising throughout all the land.
15Many times I remember you for blessing;
with all my heart I bless you.
16May you reach everlasting righteousness,
and may you accept the blessings of the glorious ones.
17Accept a vision described for you,
and the dreams of the prophets sought for you.
18Be exalted and spread out, O Zion!
Praise the Most High, your Saviour.
Let my soul rejoice in your glory!
8. 1With a loud voice glorify God;
in the assembly of the many proclaim His glory.
2In the multitude of the righteous, glorify His Name;
and speak of His majesty with the faithful.
3Join your souls to the good and to the perfect,
to glorify the Most High.
4Gather yourselves in community to make known His salvation;
and do not be slow to make known His might
and His Majesty to all the simple.
5So that the glory of YHVH may be known,
Wisdom has been given;
6and it is for recounting His many deeds
she has been made known to humanity –
7to make known to the simple His might,
and to cause those who lack understanding
to comprehend His greatness –
8those who are far from Her gates,
and those who stray from Her portals.
9Because the Most High is the Sovereign of Jacob,
and His glory is upon all His works.
10And the person who glorifies the Most High,
is received as one who brings an offering of fine meal,
and as one who offers rams and calves;
11and as one who heaps up the altar with a multitude of burnt offerings;
it is like the smell of incense from the hands of the just.
12From the gates of the righteous shall Her voice be heard,
and Her song from the assembly of the pious.
13And when they eat until they are satisfied She is mentioned,
and when they drink together in community She is spoken of.
14Their meditation is on the Torah of the Most High,
and their words on making known His might.
15How far from the wicked is Her speech,
and from all the arrogant to know Her!
16Behold, the eye of YHVH takes pity on the good,
17and to those who glorify Him
He will increase His mercy,
and from the time of danger
He will deliver their souls.
18Blessed be YHVH,
who redeems the humble from the hands of the heathen,
and delivers the pure from the hands of the wicked;
19who raises up a horn out of Jacob,
and a judge for the nations out of Israel.
20He will spread out His tent in Zion,
and will dwell forever in Jerusalem.
9. 1O YHVH, I have cried to You; hear my voice.
2I have lifted up the palms of my hands to Your holy dwelling;
3incline Your ear to me, and grant me my request;
4do not withhold my petition from me.
5Build up my soul, and do not cast it down;
6do not abandon it in the presence of the wicked.
7O Judge of Truth be merciful,
and turn away from me the just recompense of my evil.
8O YHVH, judge me not according to my sins,
because no living being is innocent before You.
9Therefore make plain to me, O YHVH, Your teaching,
and teach me Your precepts;
10so that many will hear of Your works,
and the nations shall praise Your glory.
11Remember me and do not forget me;
lead me not into things that will be too hard for me.
12Cast far from me the sins of my youth,
and may my transgressions not be remembered against me.
13Purify me, O YHVH, from the plague of evil,
and let it not turn back towards me again.
14Dry up its roots in me,
and let its leaves not flourish within me.
15How great You are, O YHVH my Saviour;
I am confident my request will be fulfilled in Your presence.
16For to whom else shall I complain,
that he would grant my petition?
And as for mere humans,
what can their power do for me?
17Therefore in You, O YHVH, I place my confidence;
For I cried out, ‘O YHVH!’ and He heard me;
He healed my broken heart.
18I slumbered and slept;
I dreamed and was healed.
19I beheld my sins and their shame;
they sorely pained my heart;
20But then I awoke;
I was refreshed and whole.
21YHVH sustained me,
because I invoked the Name of YHVH, my Deliverer.
22So I will return thanks because YHVH delivered me.
I hoped in Him – for that I will not be ashamed.
23Give glory and praise to God for ever –
yes, for ever and ever!
24Deliver Israel Your chosen one,
and the house of Jacob Your faithful one.
All the above hymns are taken from scrolls in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Because there are many missing words in them. To make them usable within our community, I have had to reconstruct lines to fill in the gaps, in order to create works that have literary completeness.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
1. Scroll 4Q434 fragment 2 - 'Hymns of the Poor'
2. Scroll 4Q434 fragment 1 - 'Hymns of the Poor'
3. Scroll 4Q434 fragment 3 - 'Hymns of the Poor'
4. Scroll 4Q286 manuscript A, fragment 2 - 'Ecology Hymn'
5. Scroll 11QPs-a: 'Apocryphal Psalms' - 'Prayer for Deliverance'
6. Scroll 11QPs-a: 'Apocryphal Psalms' - 'Hymn to the Creator'
7. Scroll 11QPs-a: 'Apocryphal Psalms' - 'Apostrophe to Zion'
8. Scroll 11QPs-a: 'Apocryphal Psalms' - 'Psalm 154'
9. Scroll 11QPs-a: 'Apocryphal Psalms' - 'Psalm 155'
© Shmu’eil ben Naftali
(International Talmidi Version,
First edition published July 1992)