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אֵיךְ תְּנַחֲמוּנִי הֶבֶל | Eikh T’naḥamuni Hevel, a ḳinnah by Elazar ben Killir ca. 7th c. (trans. Jonah Rank)

I authored this translation to accompany the musical setting of Eikh T’naḥamuni Hevel, a ḳinnah by Kalir that I just released at <https://jonahrankliturgy.bandcamp.com/track/eykh-tenachamuni-hevel>.


Source (Hebrew)Translation (English)
אֵיךְ תְּנַחֲמוּנִי הֶבֶל
וְכִנּוֹרִי נֶהְפַּךְ לְאֵבֶל
בְּנַחֲלַת חֶבֶל
כָּבֵד עָלַי עֺל סֶבֶל
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
How can you console me, you breathers,
When my harp has turned to mourning?
Tied together by heritage,
The yoke of tradition weighs torturously heavy on me.
So how can I be comforted?
בָּזֶה יוֹם בְּכָל שָׁנָה
עִדָּן עָלַי שִׁנָּה
וְהִנְנִי עֲגוּמָה וְעֲגוּנָה
יוֹתֵר מֵאֶלֶף שָׁנָה
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
On this day in every year,
This moment overcomes me again.
And here I am, despaired and chained–
For beyond a millennium.
So how can I be comforted?
גָּבַר חָרוֹן
וְנִגְנַז אָרוֹן
בְּמִשְׁנֶה שִׁבָּרוֹן
בִּמְסָרְבֵי מָרוֹן
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
Rage won.
The Ark was stolen,
Doubly deconstructed,
With those from Maron who delivered the house.
So how can I be comforted?
דִּירָתִי חֲרֵבָה
וְעֶדְרִי נִשְׁבָּה
וְרַבַּת אָהֳלִיבָה
בָּדָד יָשְׁבָה
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
My dwelling was destroyed,
And My flock was held captive,
And the greatness of Oholivah, My-Tent-There, Jerusalem,
Sat alone.
So how can I be comforted?
הוֹעַל אַרְיֵה מִסֻּבְּכוֹ
עַל אֲרִיאֵל וְהִסְבִּיכוֹ
וְהֶגְלָה מִסֻּכּוֹ
מִנְחָתוֹ וְנִסְכּוֹ
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
The lion Nevukhadnetzar has been raised from his thicket.
Atop Ari’el, the Lion of God, the Temple, he confounded it
And exiled from its shelter now
Its laid-down offerings and libations.
So how can I be comforted?
וְהָרַג הֲמוֹנִים
מְשׁוּחֵי שְׁמָנִים
בְּאִוּוּי נִמְנִים
פִּרְחֵי כֺּהֲנִים אֲלָפִים שְׁמוֹנִים
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
And he killed throngs,
Priests anointed in oils.
In Ivvuy, Desire, the Temple, the reported deaths:
So how can I be comforted?
זִנְּבָם כְּחִוִּי וְהִדְבִּיא
בַּעֲזָרַת הַמַּלְבִּיא
אַרְיוֹךְ כְּמוֹ לָבִיא
עַל דַּם כֺּהֵן וְנָבִיא
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
He de-tailed them as a snake and poured them out
In the court of the Lionizing God.
Aryokh, chief among the slaughterers to the king of Babylon, like the lion Nevukhadnetzar,
Stood over the blood of the priest and the prophet.
So how can I be comforted?
חָרַשׁ לְמָשּׁוּאוֹת
עִיר מְלֵאָה תְשׁוּאוֹת
וּבָתֵּי סוֹפְרִים וּמִשְׁנָיוֹת
יוֹתֵר מֵאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
He plowed to to demolition
The city full of tumult,
Where once stood edifices for scribes and teachers
Who numbered over 400.
So how can I be comforted?
טָסָה מָדַי
לְאַבֵּד חֲמוּדַי
וּמָשְׁלָה בְּמַחֲמַדַּי
בְּקָרְעִי מַדָּי
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
Madai, with Persia, lunged forth
To exterminate my dear ones
And dominated my beloved
As I tore my garments.
So how can I be comforted?
יָעֲצָה לְחַנֵּק
בְּנֵי גוּר מְזַנֵּק
בְּפֶה אֶחָד לְשַׁנֵּק
זָקֵן וְיָשִׁישׁ עוֹלֵל וְיוֹנֵק
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
That empire advised choking off
The children of the lion, Dan, from behind,
In one mouthful, obstructing
Infants and babes.
So how can I be comforted?
כָּבְדָה שְׁלִישִׁית
עַל קֺדֶשׁ רֵאשִׁית
בְּשֶׁצֶף חֲרִישִׁית
בָּתָה לְהָשִׁית
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
The third conquerors, Greece, weighed heavily
On God’s sanctified firstling, Israel,
With deafening fury,
Rendering it all wasteland.
So how can I be comforted?
לָחֲצָה לְחַלֵּק
בְּנֵי חָלָק וְחוֹלֵק
שֶׁאֵין לָכֶם חֵלֶק
בְּשֵׁם אֵל דּוֹלֵק
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
That empire pressed to divide
The division of smooth-skinned Israel from the Divider of fate, God:
“You have no portion–
In the name of the God who sets ablaze.”
So how can I be comforted?
מָרְדָה אֱדוֹם
עֲדוּשַׁת אָדוֹם
וְאָצָה בְּזָדוֹן
לְאַבֵּד כֵּס וַהֲדוֹם
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
Then came the rebellion of Edom, Red Rome,
Ruddied by Esau’s red lentils,
And charged belligerently,
Eradicating God’s throne and footstool, the Temple.
So how can I be comforted?
נוֹעֲדוּ עִם אַדְמוֹן
מוֹאָב וְעַמּוֹן
לְהַשְׁבִּית אָמוֹן
וּלְהַחֲרִיב אַרְמוֹן
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
In a gathering with redheaded Admon, Rome,
Mo’av and Ammon joined
To cease the nurse, Jewish Scripture,
And to decimate the palace, the Temple.
So how can I be comforted?
סִלָּה כָל אַבִּירַי
וְעֶדְרֵי חֲבֵרַי
וְהֻבְלְגוּ גִּבּוֹרַי
לְעֵין כָּל עוֹבְרַי
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
He tread upon all my warriors, Israel,
And the flocks of my friends,
And my mighty ones, Israel, were plundered,
By all my passersby.
So how can I be comforted?
עָיְפָה נַפְשִׁי לְהֺרְגִים
לְמִסְפַּר הַהֲרוּגִים
כְּאַיָּל עוֹרְגִים
וְעָלֶיךָ נֶהֶרָגִים
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
My soul grew weary of killers,
Of the number of the killed,
Like a deer grunting
As they were being killed.
So how can I be comforted?
פֻּלְּצוּ בְּיוֹם קְרָב
בְּמִזְרָח וּבְמַעֲרָב
דָּמָם מְעֺרָב
קָהָל וְעָם רָב
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
They were horrified on the day the front drew near
Along the east and along the west.
Their blood was mixed together:
The assembly and the massive nation.
So how can I be comforted?
צָרוֹת עַל צָרוֹת
זוּ מִזּוּ מְצֵרוֹת
גְּדוֹלוֹת וּבְצוּרוֹת
אֲרֻכּוֹת וְלֹא קְצָרוֹת
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
Pains upon pains,
Each worse than the other,
Great and powerful,
Long and not short.
So how can I be comforted?
קָשְׁרוּ צִנָּתָם
וְחָגְרוּ חֲנִיתָם
וְאָסְפוּ מַחֲנוֹתָם
וְהֶאֱרִיכוּ לְמַעֲנִיתָם
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
They tied their shield
And belted their spear
And gathered their encampment
And stretched furrows into backsides.
So how can I be comforted?
רַבּוֹת אַנְחוֹתַי
וַעֲצוּמוֹת שִׂיחוֹתַי
רַבּוּ נַהֲמוֹתַי
וְאַתָּה יהוה עַד מָתַי
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
Many are my sighs,
And voluminous my lamentations.
Many were my speeches:
And, You, Adonai, until when!?
So how can I be comforted?
שָׁמַעְתָּ חֶרְפָּתָם
חֵרְפוּנִי בִּשְׂפָתָם
שִׁיבְתָּם וְקִימָתָם
אֲנִי מַנְגִּינָתָם
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
You heard their disgrace.
They disgraced with their lips,
When they lied down in the evenings and when they woke up in the mornings.
I am their melody.
So how can I be comforted?
תִּקְוַתְכֶם אֵפוֹא
מַה לָּכֶם פֺּה
חָרָה אַפּוֹ
וְאֵין עוֹד לִרְפּוֹא
וְאֵיךְ אֶנָּחֵם׃
Where is your hope?
What are you doing here?
Their nose exhaled outrage,
And there was no more healing to do.
So how can I be comforted?
תְּשׁוּבוֹתֵיכֶם נִשְׁאֲרוּ מָעַל
הוֹנוּנִי עוֹבְדֵי הַבָּעַל
עַד יַשְׁקִיף וְיִרֶא מִמָּעַל
מוֹרִיד שְׁאוֹל וַיָּעַל
וְאָז אֶנְּחֵם׃
Your reply remains blasphemy!
Ba’al’s worshippers mocked me
Until the oversight and the watchfulness from God above
Cast down the living to the underworld She’ol and raised up the dead.
And then I can be comforted.

The transcription of the piyyut provided here was sourced from Hebrew Wikisource (via Sefaria).




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