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The Many and the Few | רַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים (Rabim b’Yad M’atim) — a Hebrew adaptation of Woody Guthrie’s Ḥanukkah ballad by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

https://opensiddur.org/?p=53553 The Many and the Few | רַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים (Rabim b'Yad M'atim) — a Hebrew adaptation of Woody Guthrie's Ḥanukkah ballad by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer 2023-12-06 11:55:40 Did you know that the great songwriter and activist Woody Guthrie wrote Ḥanukkah music? It's true. Though Guthrie himself was not Jewish, Marjorie Greenblatt, his second wife and their children were, and he would write Ḥanukkah songs for the kids in his neighborhood in the 1940s. Two of these songs were recorded by Moses Asch, head of Folkways Records, in 1949 — a kid's song called "Hanuka Dance," and a twenty-verse ballad retelling the story of Ḥanukkah called "The Many and the Few." Below is an original Hebrew translation of "The Many and the Few," preserving the meter of the original. With a simple melody and a lot of historical research, it could certainly be sung at a Ḥanukkah event. Text the Open Siddur Project Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) Woody Guthrie https://opensiddur.org/copyright-policy/ Isaac Gantwerk Mayer (translation) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ Ḥanukkah 20th century C.E. זמירות zemirot 57th century A.M. Hebrew translation English vernacular prayer ישראל Yisrael
Did you know that the great songwriter and activist Woody Guthrie wrote Ḥanukkah music? It’s true. Though Guthrie himself was not Jewish, Marjorie Greenblatt, his second wife and their children were, and he would write Ḥanukkah songs for the kids in his neighborhood in the 1940s. Two of these songs were recorded by Moses Asch, head of Folkways Records, in 1949 — a kid’s song called “Hanuka Dance,” and a twenty-verse ballad retelling the story of Ḥanukkah called “The Many and the Few.” Below is an original Hebrew translation of “The Many and the Few,” preserving the meter of the original. With a simple melody and a lot of historical research, it could certainly be sung at a Ḥanukkah event.

A recording of the Hebrew is forthcoming. For further information about the original songs in question and Woody Guthrie’s connection with the Yiddish folk world, check here and here.


TABLE HELP

Translation (Hebrew)Source (English)
שְׁמִי מֶֽלֶךְ כּֽוֹרֶשׁ וַאַֽעֲבֶר קוֹל
תָּשׁוּב יְהוּדָה לְבֵיתָהּ
לִבְנוֹת עוֹד־פַּֽעַם אֶת־בֵּית מִקְדָּשֵׁךְ
בְּתוֹךְ עֲבַר נַהֲרָא׃
My name is King Cyrus, my order I give,
You Jews can go back to your home
To build your holy temple again
In the land of Palestine.
זִמַּֽרְנוּ רָקַֽדְנוּ עַל־דֶּֽרֶךְ מִדְבָּר
בְּשׁוּב לְאַדְמַת יִשְׂרָאֵל
עָבַֽדְנוּ בְּמַעַדְרִים וְאִתִּים
יָדֵֽינוּ כּוֹנְנוּ מַעֲשֶׂה׃
We’ve sung and danced o’er the hot rocky roads
Back to Eretz Yisroel’s land
We worked with plow and rake and hoe
And we blessed the works of our hands
שְׁמִי עֶזְרָא הַכֹּהֵן הַסֹּפֵר
הֵבֵֽאתִי אִתִּי אֶת־סִפְרִי
הֶעֱלֵֽיתִי מֵאֶֽרֶץ בָּבֶל אֶת־צֹאנִי
לְאֶֽרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל׃
My name is Ezra the Teacher man
I brought my scroll book along
I brought my flock to Yisroel
From that land called Babylon
אֶקְרָא לִפְנֵיכֶם אֶת־תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָתִי
תִּשְׁמְעוּ חֲזוֹן הַנְּבִיאִים
וְאַתֶּם תִּפְרוּ וְתִרְבּוּ עַד־מְאֹד
כִּי־תִּשְׁמֹר בַּתּוֹרָה בֶּאֱמֶת׃
I’ll read you my Talmud Torah book
And the prophet’s dreams to you
And you’ll be fertile and multiply
If you keep your Torah true
שְׁמִי אָלֶכְּסַֽנְדֶּר קוֹרְאִים לִי גָּדוֹל
חֲצִי כׇּל־הָאָֽרֶץ תַּחְתַּי
קֽוּמוּ וְעִמְדוּ לְפָנַי עֲבָדַי
כִּי־אֶגְוַע אֵאָסֵף אֶל־עַמִּי׃
My name is Alexander the Great
More than half of this wide world is mine
Come stand around, my servants all
I’m wrapped on my bed here to die
אַתָּה מֶֽלֶךְ סוּרְיָה וּכְנַֽעַן תַּעֲמֹד
אַנְטִיּֽוֹכוּס הָרְבִיעִי
לְהַשְׁמִיד בַּיְּהוּדִים הַמְּמָאֲנִים
לַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדַת אֱלִּילִים׃
As the King of Syria and Palestine
Antiochus the Fourth, you’ll stand
To kill the Jews if they refuse
To worship our idols and gods
שְׁמִי חַנָּה וּבְנִי בְּכוֹרִי
עוֹמֵד לִפְנֵי הַנָּגִיד
חֶטְאוֹ שֶׁשָּׁמַר אֶת־חֻקּוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת
רָאִֽיתִי בַּהֲרִיגָתוֹ׃
My name is Hannah, my first born son
Now stands before this king
Guilty of keeping the Sabbath laws
By the soldiers I see him slain
אֶחָד וְאֶחָד הִכּוּ אֶת־בָּנַי
שִׁבְעָה נִרְצָחִים לְעֵינַי
כִּי שָׁמְרוּ אֶת־מִצְוֺת הַתּוֹרָה הַקְּדוֹשָׁה
אֲשַׁלֵּם בַּדָּמִי הַשָּׁפוּךְ׃
It’s one by one my seven sons
In front of my eyes cut down
For keeping to the Torah laws
I pay with my warm blood now
שְׁמִי מַתִּתְיָֽהוּ בָּנַי חֲמִשָּׁה
וְדַֽרְנוּ בְּעִיר מוֹדִיעִין
הַמֶּֽלֶךְ חִיְּבֵֽנוּ לַעֲבֹד אֱלִילִים
הָרַֽגְנוּ אֶת־שְׁנֵי נְעָרָיו׃
My name is Mattathias, I’ve got five sons
In Modi’in City we dwell
They tried to make me bow down to their gods
Two of the King’s flunkeys I killed
מֵאָה שֶׁיִּלָּחֲמוּ לִהְיוֹת יְהוּדִים
עָלוּ הַגִּבְעָֽתָה אִתִּי
עַל־עֶֽרֶשׂ דְּוַי אֶקְרָאֶה מַנְהִיגְכֶם
הוּא יְהוּדָה הַמַּכַּבִּי׃
A hundred or more who’ll fight to be Jews
Did come to these hills with me
On my death bed your leader I’ll name
‘Tis Judah, the Maccabee
שְׁמִי יְהוּדָה הַמַּכַּבִּי
עַל־שֵׁם הַמַּקֶּֽבֶת נִקְרָא
לִפְנֵי הַקְּרָב נִתְפַּלֵּל לֵאלֹהִים
עַד כׇּל־אוֹיְבֵֽינוּ יִפְּלוּ׃
My name is Judah, the Maccabee
By the name of the hammer I’m called
We’ll pray to God before every fight
Till all of our enemies fall
הַמּוֹשֵׁל אַפּוֹלֽוֹנְיוֹס הָרַֽגְתִּי הַיּוֹם
נִתַּֽצְנוּ אֶת־כׇּל־צְבָאוֹ
הַמְּעַט חַיָּלָיו בָּרֽוּחַ בָּרְחוּ
הָרֹב פְּגָרִים בֶּעָפָר׃
Appolonius, the Governor, this day I killed
And his army we did bust
Some few of his soldiers run away in the wind
But most we’ve dropped dead in the dust
שְׁמִי סֵירוֹן וּבָאתִי מִסִּרְיוֹן
לְהַשְׁמִיד אֶת־הַהוּא מַכַּבִּי
חֵילִי הוּא גָּדוֹל וְחֵילוֹ הוּא קָטֹן
אַךְ בְּכׇל־זֹאת הוּא נִצַּח אוֹתִי׃
Syron is my name, from Syria came
To destroy that fool Maccabee
My army was great, his army was small
But he somehow did win over me
מְסִירַת הָרַבִּים בְּיַד הַמְּעַטִּים
לָאֵל אֵין בִּכְלָל בְּעָיָה
רַק כַּמָּה שָׁעוֹת וְנִשְׁבָּר צְבָאִי
מִלֵּֽאנוּ אֶת־הָעֵֽמֶק בְּדָם׃
To deliver the many to the hands of his few
For God this is no trick at all
In a few short hours my army did break
And we flooded this valley with blood
לִיסִֽיַאס שְׁמִי וְזֹאת מַחֲשַׁבְתִּי
לִשְׂרֹף בָּם בְּתוֹךְ שֵׁנָתָם
בָּֽאתִי הִנָּם כְּבָר יָצְאוּ גַּם עָבְרוּ
רֵיקָם הָיָה כׇּל־אׇהֳלָם׃
My name is Lysias, I dreamed up a plan
To burn the Jews tents as they slept
When I got there, their tents were all bare
And the Maccabee’s army had left
וְהוּא הִסְתַּעֵר עֲלֵי־מַחֲנָתִי
וְהֵמִית אֶת־אַלְפֵי חַיָּלַי
פִּילַי פָּרָשַׁי וְכׇל־אֶֽלֶף רַגְלִי
נָקַב יְהוּדָה בַּזָּנָב׃
He stormed my own camp as my soldiers did sleep
And he killed several thousand in fear
My elephants, my horsemen, my foot-soldiers, all
Judah hammered them down from the rear
שִׁיר לִירוּשָׁלַֽיִם בְּשׁוּב יְהוּדָה
לִבְנוֹת עוֹד הַפַּֽעַם בֵּיתִי
לַעֲקֹר וּלְהַכְרִית בַּשָּׁמִיר וּבַשַּֽׁיִת
שֶׁנָּבַט סָבִיב עַל־שְׁעָרַי׃
My name is Jerusalem where Judah came back
To build up my Temple once more
To cut down the weeds and thorny brush
That grows ‘round my windows and doors
אֲבָנִים שְׁלֵמוּת נִבְנֶה בִּתְפִלָּה
בִּלְבָבוֹת שְׁלֵמִים כַּיְּהוּדִים
אַהֲבַת עוֹלַם חֶֽסֶד מָסְרוּ הַשּׂוֹנְאִים
בְּיַד אוֹהֲבֵי אֱלֹהִים
Whole stones, whole stones, we’ll build and pray
To God as a wholehearted Jew
God’s love the hateful many did place
In the hands of a God loving few
מָצָֽאנוּ כַּד שֶֽׁמֶן קָטָן בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ
מַסְפִּיק רַק לַלַּֽיְלָה הַהוּא
הַכַּד הַקָּטָן נִשְׂרַף שְׁמוֹנָה יָמִים
לְהָאִיר אֶת־הָאוֹר הֶחָדָשׁ
We found in our temple a little oil jug
Just enough for the lamps for one night
That one little jug burned eight whole days
And it kept our new temple in light
לָכֵן שְׁמוֹנָה נֵרוֹת וְשַׁמָּשׁ נַדְלִיק
כׇּל־חֹֽרֶף שֶׁבָּא וְיוֹצֵא
נַזְכִּֽירָה רַבִּים בְּיַד מְעַטִּים
וְזֶֽרַע יְהוּדָה נְבָרֵךְ
Eight candles we’ll burn and a ninth one too
Every New Year that comes and goes
We’ll think of the many in the hands of the few
And thank God we are seeds of the Jews

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