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כִּי בְּהַרְאָיָה הַשֵּׁנִית | The Second Inaugural Address of President Abraham Lincoln on 4 March 1865

Translation (Hebrew) Source (English)

כִּ֚י בְּהַרְאָיָ֣ה הַשֵּׁנִ֔ית לְהַשְׁבִ֖יעַ שְׁבֻעַ֣ת הַנָּשִׂ֑יא אֵ֥ין עֵת֙ לְהַאֲרִ֣יךְ דְּבָרִ֔ים כַּפַּ֥עַם הָרִאשׁוֹנָ֖ה הָיָֽה׃ וָאֹמַ֣ר בַּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֡יא בְּלִבִּי֩ כִּ֨י לְדַבֵּ֤ר בִּקְצָת־אֹ֙רֶךְ֙ עַל־אוֹד֣וֹת הַדֶּ֔רֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֖ר נֵֽלֵךְ־בּ֑וֹ הִנֵּ֖ה נָכ֥וֹן וָטֽוֹב׃ וְעַתָּה֮ אַחֲרֵ֣י אַרְבַּ֣ע שָׁנִים֒ אֲשֶׁ֗ר דִּבְרֵ֨י הָעֵדָ֜ה נִקְרְאוּ־לָ֣מוֹ ׀ בְּכׇל־עֵ֣ת וּבְכׇל־מָק֗וֹם לָרִ֨יב הַגָּד֤וֹל אֲשֶׁר־נוֹשֵׂא֙ אֶת־כׇּל־עַ֔יִן וְאוֹכֵ֖ל אֶת־כׇּל־לֵ֣ב הָעָ֑ם הִנֵּ֕ה כְּאֵ֥ין חָדָ֖שׁ לְהֵרָאֽוֹת׃ שְׁל֨וֹם הַמִּלְחָמָ֜ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר ׀ עָלָ֣יו הַכֹּ֗ל הִנֵּ֨ה גָּל֧וּי וְיָד֛וּעַ לַעַ֖ם כְּמוֹ־לִ֑י וּבָטַ֣חְתִּי־ב֔וֹ כִּ֛י לְשַׂמֵּ֥חַ וּלְחַזֵּ֖ק לִבּ֥וֹת־הַכֹּֽל׃ וּבְתִקְו֧וֹת גְּבוֹה֛וֹת לְאַחֲרִ֖ית הַיָּמִ֑ים לָ֚מָּה לִ֣י לְהִתְנַבֵּ֔א‎ נְבוּאָ֖ה עַל־אוֹדוֹתָֽיו׃
Fellow-Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

בַּעֵ֤ת הַהִיא֙ בַּזְּמַ֣ן הַזֶּ֔ה לִפְנֵ֖י אַרְבַּ֣ע שָׁנִ֑ים וְכׇל־לְבָב֛וֹת סוֹבְב֥וֹת בַּחֲרָדָ֖ה אֵל־מִלְחֶ֥מֶת אֶזְרָחִֽים׃ הַכֹּ֥ל פָּחֲד֖וּ מִמֶּ֑נּוּ הַכֹּ֥ל בִּקְּשׁ֖וּ לָס֥וּר מִמֶּנּֽוּ׃ וַיְהִ֗י בַּזְּמַ֣ן כִּי־נִשְׁלְחוּ֩ דִּבְרֵ֨י חֲנֻכַּ֤ת הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה֙ מִן־הַמָּק֣וֹם הַזֶּה֔ בְּכׇל־לֵבָ֕ב לְהוֹשִׁ֥יעַ אֶת־הַיִּח֖וּד בְּלֹא־מִלְחָמָ֑ה בְּעֶ֣צֶם ׀ הָעֵ֣ת הַהִ֗יא קָהֲל֤וּ בְּנֵי־מֶרִי֙ בָּעִ֔יר וַיְבַקְשׁ֤וּ לְאַבֵּד֙ אֶת־הַיִּח֣וּד בְּלֹא־מִלְחָמָ֔ה וַיְבַקְשׁ֣וּ אֶת־הַיִּח֔וּד לְהִמּ֧וֹג וּלְפַלֵּ֛ג אֶת־כׇּל־אֲשֶׁר־ל֖וֹ בִּדְבָרִ֥ים רַכִּֽים׃ גַּ֚ם שְׁתֵּ֣י הַקְּהִלּ֔וֹת הָי֥וּ נֶ֖גֶד מִלְחָמָ֑ה אַ֗ךְ הָאֶחָ֨ד יְבַקֵּ֤שׁ לְמִלְחָמָה֙ פֶּן־תְּחִ֣י הָעָ֔ם וְהַשֵּׁנִ֛י יִקְרַ֥ב לְמִלְחָמָ֖ה פֶּן־תָּמֽוּת׃ וַתָּב֖וֹא הַמִּלְחָמָֽה׃
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war–seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

וּשְׁמִינִית֙ מִמִּסְפַּ֣ר הָעָ֔ם הָ֥יוּ עֲבָדִ֖ים צִבְעוֹנִיִּ֑ים וְהֵ֗ם לֹ֤א מְפֻזָּרִים֙ עַל־כׇּל־הַיִּח֔וּד כִּ֥י נֶאֶסְפ֖וּ בְּאֶ֥רֶץ הַתֵּימָֽן׃ וַיִּהְי֖וּ הָעֲבָדִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה לְדָבָ֥ר גְּדוֹל־כֹּ֖חַ וְיָחִ֥יד בְּמִינֽוֹ׃ וַיֵּדְע֣וּ כֹּ֔ל כִּי־הַדָּבָ֧ר הַזֶּ֛ה הָיָ֖ה בְּכַ֣מָּה דָּ֑רֶךְ מְק֖וֹר הַמִּלְחָמָֽה׃ לְחׇזְק֨וֹ וּלְקַיְּמ֤וֹ וּלְגׇדְלוֹ֙ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֔ה עַ֨ל אֵ֚לֶּה הַמַּ֣מְרִ֔ים יוֹאִ֕ילוּ לְפַלֵּ֥ג אֶת־הַיִּח֖וּד אִם־כֵּ֣ן בִּקְרַ֑ב וַתֹּ֣אמֶר הַמֶּמְשָׁלָ֗ה כִּ֨י לֹ֤א תּוּכַל֙ לָקַ֣חַת אַ֔יִן מִ֥לְּהַגְבִּ֛יל אֶת־רַ֥ב גְּבוּל֖וֹ בָּאֲדָמָֽה׃ וְלֹ֤א הִתְנַבְּאוּ֙ אֶחָ֣ד מִשְּׁנֵיהֶ֔ם אֶת־גְּדֻלַּ֥ת הַמִּלְחָמָ֖ה וְאֶת־הַ֣אֲרָכָתָ֑הּ לַאֲשֶׁ֖ר כְּבָ֥ר קָֽמָה׃ וְלֹ֤א הִתְנַבְּאוּ֙ אֶחָ֣ד מִשְּׁנֵיהֶ֔ם כִּ֚י מְק֣וֹר הַמְּרִיבָ֔ה יָס֕וּף בַּעֵ֥ת תָּס֖וּף הַמְּרִיבָ֣ה בְּעַצְמָ֑הּ א֖וֹ לְפָנֶֽיהָ׃ וַיְבַקְשׁוּ֙ גַּ֣ם שְׁנֵיהֶ֔ם לִישׁוּעָ֥ה קַלָּ֖ה יוֹתֵ֑ר וּמִזֹּא֕ת מְעַ֥ט מוֹסָ֖ד וּמְעַ֥ט נִפְלָאֽוֹת׃ וַיִּקְרְא֣וּ ׀ גַּ֣ם שְׁנֵיהֶ֗ם מִן־הַ֤תּוֹרָה֙ הָאַחַ֔ת וַיִּתְפַּלְּלוּ֙ גַּ֣ם שְׁנֵיהֶ֔ם לִפְנֵ֥י הָאֵ֖ל הָאֶחָ֑ד וַיְבַקְשֻׁ֧הוּ שְׁנֵיהֶ֛ם אֵל־עֶזְרָת֖וֹ לִישׁוּעָ֥ה עַל־הָאַחֵֽר׃ אָכֵן֮ לֹ֣א נִ֣רְאֶה־לִי֒ יָשַׁ֗ר כִּי־אֲנָשִׁים֩ לֹא־יְרֵאִ֨ים לְבַקֵּ֤שׁ עֶזְרָה֙ מֵאֱל֣וֹהַּ צַדִּ֔יק לֶאֱכֹ֣ל לַחְמָ֔ם בְּזֵעַ֖ת אַפֵּי־אֲחֵרִ֑ים אַ֕ךְ אַל־נִשְׁפֹּ֖טָה פֶּן־נִשָּׁפֵֽט׃ תְּפִלּ֣וֹת שְׁנֵיהֶ֔ם מִ֥י יוּכַ֖ל לַעֲנ֑וֹת וְלֹ֧א נַעֲנ֛וֹת תְּפִלּ֥וֹת שְׁנֵיהֶ֖ם מְעַנֶּ֥ה שָׁלֵֽם׃ הַלֹּ֕א יֵ֛שׁ לְאֵ֥ל שַׁדַּ֖י מְעָנָֽיו׃ ׆ א֥וֹי לָאָ֖רֶץ עַל־חֲטָאִֽים׃ כִּ֨י בֹ֤א יָבֹ֙אוּ֙ חֲטָאִ֔ים אַ֕ךְ א֧וֹי לָאִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָלָ֖יו יָבֹ֥א הַחֵֽטְא׃ ׆ּ בֹּ֨אוּ וְנֶחֶשְׁבָ֜ה כִּי־אִ֣ם ׀ עַבְד֣וּת עַמֵּרִיקָ֗ה אֶחָ֣ד מִן־הַחֲטָאִים֮ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בֹּ֣א יָבֹא֒ בִּפְקוּדַ֣ת הָּ֠אֵל וְאִם־רְצוֹנ֨וֹ לְהַעֲבִירָ֜הּ כִּי־הוֹסִ֗יפָה עַד־עֵ֣ת מוֹעֲדָהּ֮ וְאַחֲרָיו֒ וְאִם־נָתַ֗ן אֶת־הַמִּלְחָמָ֨ה הַנּוֹרָאָ֤ה הַזֹּאת֙ צָפ֣וֹנָה וְתֵימָ֔נָה כִּ֧י ׀ א֛וֹי לַאֲשֶׁ֥ר עֲלֵיהֶ֖ם יָבֹ֣א הַחֵ֑טְא כִּ֣י ׀ אִם־כֹּה וָכֹ֗ה הֲנִ֨רְאֶה ב֤וֹ עֲבֵרָה֙ מִמִּדּ֣וֹת הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֛ר עָלָ֥יו מַאֲמִינִ֖ים הַמַּאֲמִינִ֥ים בְּאֵל־חַֽי׃ בְּחֵן֙ מְקַוִּ֣ים אֲנַ֔חְנוּ וּבְחִפָּז֖וֹן מִתְפַּלְּלִ֣ים אֲנַ֑חְנוּ כִּ֚י בַּֽעַל־הַמַּשְׁחִ֣ית הַזֶּ֔ה מִלְחָמָ֕ה יַעֲבִ֥יר מִן־הָאָ֖רֶץ בִּמְהֵרָ֥ה בְיָמֵֽינוּ׃ אַךְ֩ אִם־רְצ֨וֹן הָאֱלֹהִ֜ים לְהוֹסִ֣יף יָמֶ֗יהָ עַד֩ יֵאָבְד֨וּ כׇּל־הָאֹצָ֤ר הַנֶּאֱצָר֙ מֵעִצְּב֣וֹן יָד־הָעֶ֔בֶד חֲמִשִּׁ֨ים וּמָאתַ֤יִם שָׁנָה֙ כֻּלּ֣וֹ חִנָּ֔ם וְעַ֣ד תִּגְמֹ֗ל כׇּל־טִ֥פַּת דָּם֙ שְׁפוּכַ֣ת הַשּׁ֔וֹט בְּטִפָּ֖ה שְׁפוּכַ֣ת הֶחָ֑רֶב אִם־כֵּן֙ כָּאָמ֔וּר לִפְנֵ֥י אַרְבַּ֛ע אֲלָפִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה יֵאָ֥מֵר עַֽתָּה׃ ׆ּ מִשְׁפְּטֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה אֱמֶ֑ת צָדְק֖וּ יַחְדָּֽו׃ ׆ּ
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces,[1]cf. Genesis 3:19. but let us judge not, that we be not judged.[2]Matthew 7:1. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.”[3]Matthew 18:7, see also Luke 17:1. If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”[4]Psalms 19:9.

בְּלֹ֣א־זְד֣וֹן נֶגֶד־אַ֮יִן֮ וּבִצְדָקָ֣ה לַכֹּל֒ וּבְיֹ֣שֶׁר בְּצֶ֗דֶק וּבְהַרְאָיָ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־הַצֶּ֔דֶק נִפְעָ֤לָה לְכַלּוֹת֨ אֶת־מַ֣עֲשֵׂ֔ינוּ וְלִקְשֹׁר֙ אֶת־פִּצְעֵ֣י הָעָ֔ם וּלְכַלְכֵּ֛ל לְנוֹשְׂאֵ֥י הַקְּרָ֖ב וּלְאַלְמְנָת֣וֹ וְלִיתוֹמ֑וֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת֙ אֶת־כׇּל־נוּכַ֣ל לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת וּלְחָפֵ֤ץ בְּשָׁלוֹם֙ צֶ֣דֶק וְאָרֹ֔ךְ בֵּינֵ֖ינוּ וּבֵ֥ין כׇּל־הֶעָמִֽים׃
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds,[5]Psalms 147:3. to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan,[6]James 1:27. to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Via the article “Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address (in Wikipedia):

Lincoln’s point seems to be that God’s purposes are not directly knowable to humans, and represents a theme that he had expressed earlier. After Lincoln’s death, his secretaries found among his papers an undated manuscript now generally known as the “Meditations on the Divine Will.” In that manuscript, Lincoln wrote:

The will of God prevails—In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God cannot be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is somewhat different from the purpose of either party—and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect this.[7]As quoted in Joshua Wolf Shenk, Lincoln’s Melancholy, p. 198.

Lincoln’s sense that the divine will was unknowable stood in marked contrast to sentiments popular at the time. In the popular mind, both sides of the Civil War assumed that they could read God’s will and assumed His favor in their opposing causes. Julia Ward Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic” expressed sentiments common among the supporters of the U.S. cause, that the U.S. was waging a righteous war that served God’s purposes. Similarly, the Confederacy chose Deo vindice as its motto, often translated as “God will vindicate us.”[8]Mark Noll, America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (Oxford, 2002). Lincoln, responding to compliments from Thurlow Weed on the speech, said that “… I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them.”[9]Quoted in Shenk, supra.

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Notes   [ + ]

  1. cf. Genesis 3:19.
  2. Matthew 7:1.
  3. Matthew 18:7, see also Luke 17:1.
  4. Psalms 19:9.
  5. Psalms 147:3.
  6. James 1:27
  7. As quoted in Joshua Wolf Shenk, Lincoln’s Melancholy, p. 198.
  8. Mark Noll, America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (Oxford, 2002).
  9. Quoted in Shenk, supra.

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