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אֲבוֹתַי כִּי בָטְחוּ | Avotai ki vatkhu (“When our forefathers trusted”), a pizmon for the Fast of Tevet ascribed to Ephraim ben Avraham ben Yitsḥaq of Regensburg (12th c.)

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

אֲבוֹתַי כִּי בָטְחוּ, בְּשֵׁם אֱלֹהֵי צוּרִי.
גָּדְלוּ וְהִצְלִיחוּ, וְגַם עָשׂוּ פֶרִי.
וּמֵעֵת הֻדָּחוּ, וְהָלְכוּ עִמּוֹ קֶרִי.
הָיוּ הָלוֹךְ וְחָסוֹר, עַד הַחֹדֶשׁ הָעֲשִׂירִי׃
When our forefathers trusted in the name of our elo’ah, my Creator,
they rose and prospered, and also saw the fruits of their works;
but since they were seduced from him, and walked contrary unto him,
they have gone on decreasing until the tenth month.

בְּעָשׂוֹר לַחֹדֶשׁ, סָמַךְ מֶלֶךְ בָּבֶל.
וְצָר עַל עִיר הַקֹּדֶשׁ, וְנִקְרַב רַב הַחֹבֵל.
נֻתַּתִּי הָדֵשׁ, וִעֻנֵּיתִי בַכֶּבֶל.
וִהָיָה מִדֵּי חֹדֶשׁ, לְאֵבֶל כִּנּוֹרִי׃
On the tenth of the month the King of Babylon advanced
towards the holy city, and besieged it, and his general,[1]Nebusaradon.
the great destroyer, approached, and I was given up to destruction.
I was afflicted with fetters, and therefore my harp is this month turned into mourning.

רֵאשִׁית בִּכּוּרָה, לְרֵאשִׁית הַחֵרֶם.
שֵׁם אֲחֵרִים הִזְכִּירָה, וְהֶעָוֺן גּוֹרֵם.
פְּנֵי אֵל לֹא הִכִּירָה, וְשֻׁטְּפָה בְּזֶרֶם.
צָרָה כְּמַבְכִּירָה, כָּעֵת בַּמָּרוֹם תַּמְרִיא׃
Once designated as the firstborn, [Yisrael] became the chief of those to be destroyed.
He mentioned the names of other gods, and this sin caused misfortune.
He did not acknowledge El, and for that he was swept away by the storm.
He was seized with travails as a woman who brings forth her first child, what time did you lift up yourself on high.

הָאֱלֹהִים הֵבִיא, יוֹם רָעָה וּמָצוֹר.
צִוָּה צָרַי סְבִיבִי, עוֹלָלַי לִנְצֹר.
יוֹם הֵרַךְ לְבָבִי, וְאֵין כֹּחַ לַעֲצֹר.
וְדִבֶּר אֶל נָבִיא, מְשֹׁל אֶל בֵּית הַמֶּרִי׃
Elohim brought the day of calamity and siege;
he commanded my enemies round about me to destroy my babes.
On that day my heart fainted, and I had no strength left
when he said unto the prophet,[2]Ezek. 24:3. “Utter a parable unto the rebellious house.”

מִיּוֹשְׁבֵי שַׁעַר הֶעֱבִיר אַדֶּרֶת.
חֲמָתוֹ כָּאֵשׁ הִבְעִיר וְהֵרִים עֲטֶרֶת.
וּמִלְּבָנוֹן יַעַר הִשְׁלִיךְ תִּפְאֶרֶת.
וְרוּחַ סוּפָה וָסַעַר תְּסַמֵּר שַׂעֲרַת בְּשָׂרִי׃
He stripped the judges in the gates of their robes;
his wrath burnt like fire, and he deprived us of our crown,
and cast down the beauty of the wood of Lebanon,
and from a windy storm and tempest the hair of my flesh stood up.

יָפְיָפִית נִמְשַׁלְתְּ, וְעַתָּה קְדוֹרַנִּית.
בֶּעָוֺן כִּי כָשַׁלְתְּ, וְלִבֵּךְ אֲחוֹרַנִּית.
זִנְּבוּךְ וְנֶחֱשַׁלְתְּ, רִאשׁוֹנָה וְשֵׁנִית.
וְהָחְתֵּל לֹא חֻתַּלְתְּ, מְעַט צֳרִי׃
Formerly you were likened to the most beautiful, [Yisrael], and now you are mournful,
because of the iniquity by which you have stumbled, and thereby your heart has turned back.
The enemy attacked you in the back, and you were weakened, the first and the second time,
and your wound was not bound up, not the least balm was administered to you.

צַדִּיק הַצּוּר תָּם, נְשׂוֹא עָוֹן נִלְאָה.
מִכְּרוּב לְמִפְתָּן, לְפִנַּת גַג דָּאָה.
מֵעָוֹן הַנִּכְתָּם, וִצַעֲקָתָם בָּאָה.
רַבָּה רָעָתָם, כְּעֵץ עֹשֶׂה פֶּרִי׃
The Righteous, the Rock who is perfect, was weary to bear with our iniquities;
from the kerub on the holy ark he flew first to the threshold of the Temple,
and then to the corner of the roof, because of the sins which stain Israel, whose cry rose to him;
yea, their wickedness increased as a tree that yields fruit.

חִזֵּק כָּל קָמַי תּוֹכֵן הָעֲלִילוֹת.
כִּי מָלְאוּ יָמַי בְּרֹעַ מִפְעָלוֹת.
וּמִבּשֶׁת עֲלוּמַי שָׁכַחְתִּי גְמוּלוֹת.
נוֹתֵן לַחְמִי וּמֵימַי פִּשְׁתִּי וְצַמְרִי׃
He who counts deeds, hardens all my adversaries;
for I spent my days in misdeeds,
and as a disgrace to my youth,
I forgot the benefits of him who fed and clothed me.

קָמַי פִּיהֶם פָּעֲרוּ, וְנַחֲלָתִי בִּלֵּעוּ.
מְאֹד עָלַי גָבָרוּ, וְדָמִי שָׁתוּ וְלָעוּ.
נָכְרִים עָלַי צָרוּ, וְאֶת אַחַי הֵרֵעוּ.
הָאוֹמְרִים עָרוּ עָרוּ, בְּנֵי שֵׂעִיר הַחֹרִי׃
My adversaries opened their mouths and swallowed mine inheritance,
they prevailed against me, and drank and sucked my blood;
heathen besieged me, and ill-treated my brethren.
“Raze it, raze it!” exclaimed the sons of Seir and Ḥori.

אָמְרוּ לְכוּ נְכַלֵּם, וְנַשְׁבִּיתָה זִכְרָם.
אֵל קַנֹּא וְנוֹקֵם, גָּמְלֵם יִשְׂאוּ אֶת שִׁבְרָם.
כְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶם שַׁלֵּם, וְיֵבוֹשׁוּ מִשִּׂבְרָם.
כְּאִישׁ חֲלוֹם חוֹלֵם, שְׁלֹשָה סַלֵּי חֹרִי׃
They said, “Come, and let us consume them, that their memory may cease.”
O jealous and avenging El, reward them, let them expiate their destruction;
reward them according to their deeds, and let them be ashamed of their hope,
even as Pharaoh’s baker, who dreamt of the three white baskets.

פְּצָעַי לֹא רֻכָּכָה, וְחַבּוּרוֹתַי רֶצַח.
וְעֵינַי הֻכְהָה, צוֹפֶה לְדוֹדִי צַח.
הַעוֹד לֹא שָׁכָכָה, חֲמָתוֹ לָנֶצַח.
עַל מֶה עָשָׂה כָּכָה, וּמֶה חֳרִי׃
My wounds and murderous bruises have not been mollified,
and mine eye which looks toward Hashem is darkened.
Is his wrath not yet appeased? Is it to endure for ever?
Why has he done so, and why this anger?

רַחוּם זֶה אֵלִי, אַל לָעַד תִּזְנַח.
אָרְכוּ יְמֵי אֶבְלִי, וְעוֹד לִבִּי נֶאֱנַח.
שׁוּבָה אֵל לְאָהֳלִי, מְקוֹמְךָ אַל תַּנַּח.
שַׁלֵּם יְמֵי אֶבְלִי, כִּי תָבוֹא עַל שְׂכָרִי׃
My merciful El — El do not forsake me for ever;
the days of my mourning have been greatly prolonged, and still my heart is sighing;
return, El, unto my tent, and forsake no more your dwelling;
reward me for the days of my mourning when you come to appoint my wages.

יְיָ מְנָת חֶלְקִי, חוּשָׁה לִּי לְעֶזְרָה.
וּפִתַּחְתָּ שַׂקִּי, שִׂמְחָה לִי לְאַזְרָה,
וְתַגִּיהַּ אֶת חָשְׁכִּי, בְּאוֹרְךָ לְהָאִירָה.
אֶת נֶשֶׁף חִשְׁקִי, כִּי אַתָּה נֵרִי׃
YHVH, my portion! hasten to be my help;
divest me of my sackcloth, and gird me with joy;
enlighten my darkness, and let your light shine upon the night
of my pleasure, for you are my light.

מִיָגוֹן וַאֲנָחָה, פְּדֵה אֵל אֶת נַפְשִׁי.
עֲשֵׂה לְעַמְּךָ הֲנָחָה, מַלְכִּי וּקְדוֹשִׁי.
תַּהֲפךְ לָרְוָחָה, אֶת צוֹם הַחֲמִישִׁי.
לְשָׂשׂוֹן וּלְשִׂמְחָה, צוֹם הָרְבִיעִי וְצוֹם הָעֲשִׂירִי׃
Redeem, Hashem, my soul from sorrow and sighing;
procure relief for your people, my king and holy one.
Turn into release the fast of the fifth month,
and into joy and delight the fast of the fourth and of the tenth month.

“Avotai ki vatkhu” (When our forefathers trusted) is a pizmon for the Fast of Tevet ascribed to Ephraim ben Avraham ben Yitsḥaq of Regensburg (fl. 12th c.). The English translation here was adapted from the translation of David Asher by Aharon Varady. The transcription of the Hebrew deviates slightly from one of two variations made by contributors to Hebrew Wikisource. I think David Asher’s translation could still be improved upon, so please provide any amendation you feel moved to share. –Aharon Varady

Source(s)

Notes[ + ]

1.  Nebusaradon.
2.  Ezek. 24:3.

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