Prayers for the Morning of Sigd: Wäy’ärgu Debre (And They Climbed the Mount), in Ge’ez with vocalized Hebrew and English translation

Sigd is an Amharic word meaning “prostration” or “worship” and is the commonly used name for a holiday celebrated by the Ethiopian Jewish Beta Israel community on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Marḥheshvan. This date is exactly 50 days after Yom Kippur, usually falling out in late October or November, and according to Ethiopian Jewish tradition is also the date that God first revealed himself to Moses.[1]Jewish Virtual Library, “Ethiopian Jewry: Sigd Holiday

Sigd is a unique holiday. Originally only celebrated by the Ethiopian Jewish Beta Esrael community, it has gotten more traction recently. One could describe the key concept of Sigd as being the acceptance of the Torah — not the giving, but the receiving of it. Sigd is a holiday of the continuation of the covenant. No matter the persecution that the Beta Esrael suffered (and hoo boy, did they suffer), Sigd announced that they would preserve their Judaism through it all.

In the morning of Sigd, the community goes out to a mountain with the sacred Orit (the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth) and recites prayers and readings. The six prayers included here, largely compiled by Shoshana ben-Dor (former director of the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry) and translated into English by Isaac Mayer, are the key pieces of morning liturgy for the holiday of Sigd. These are followed by readings from the Torah and the writings.

Wäy’ärgu Debre (And They Climbed the Mount) is the second prayer in this order of prayers for the morning of Sigd. It is the first prayer said upon arriving on the mountain, based on the ritual described in Neḥemyah 9.

  1. Wäṣoru Tabotomu (They Carried Out Their Ark)
  2. Wäy’ärgu Debre (And They Climbed the Mount)
  3. Yitbärēk Egzi’äbḥer (Blessed be YHVH)
  4. Hälē Hälē yebärkewo (Praise, Praise, Bless the One)
  5. Ne’u Nesēgēdē (Come, Let Us Bow)
  6. Menabērtē Bēytē Dawid (Thrones of David’s House)

This is part one of a series of Sigd readings in English, Hebrew, and Ge’ez transliteration that the editor will be posting here.

Translation (Hebrew) Translation (English) Source (Ge’ez)

וְעָלוּ לְהַר
שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה
And they climbed the mount
Year by year
Wäy’ärgu dēbrē
lēlē ʿämēt ʿämēt

כְּדֵי לִסְגֹּד
לַמֶּלֶךְ יהוה
So as to worship
the King YHVH
Kēmē yesēgēdu
lenēgusē Egzi’äbḥer

וְעָלוּ לְהַר
שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה
And they climbed the mount
Year by year
Wäy’ärgu dēbrē
lēlē ʿämēt ʿämēt

כְּדֵי לִסְגֹּד לַמֶּלֶךְ
יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ
So as to worship the Sovereign
YHVH our God
Kēmē yesēgēdu lenēgusē
Egzi’äbḥer l’ämläkenē

וְקָרְאוּ לִפְנֵי
יהוה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם
And read out before
YHVH their God
Wäṣērḥu häbē
Egzi’äbḥer ämläkomu

וְקָרְאוּ לְוִיִּים‎
בִּמְקוֹמוֹתֵיהֶם
And the Levites read
in their places
Wäṣērḥu lewäwiyän
bebemeqwämomu

לְוִיִּים בְּמִשְׁמְרֹתֵיהֶם
Levites in their roles
Lewäwiyän bebemä’ärgomu

יֵשׁוּעַ קַדְמִיאֵל
חֲשַׁבְנְיָה שֵׁרֵבְיָה
שָׁטְרִיאֵל אַרְהָיָה
Yeshua, Kadmiel,
Hashabniah, Sherebiah,
Shatriel, Arhaya
Yešuäʿ, Qadmi’el,
Ḥašabnaya, Šäräbyah,
Šaṭriël, Arhaya

וְקָרְאוּ לִפְנֵי
יהוה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם
And read out before
YHVH their God
Wäṣērḥu häbē
Egzi’äbḥer ämläkomu

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Jewish Virtual Library, “Ethiopian Jewry: Sigd Holiday

Comments, Corrections, and Queries


בסיעתא דארעא