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מזמור לציון | Apostrophe to Zion, according to the Nusaḥ of the Judean Desert Scrolls

The Apostrophe to Zion is an alphabetical acrostic poem, directed at Zion in the second person. It has been found in multiple locations in Qumran, including the Great Psalms Scroll 11QPsa as well as another fragmentary scroll in 4Q88. It was clearly considered a regular part of their psalmodic canon. The reason for its exclusion from any other Biblical canons (Masoretic and otherwise) is unknown, but certain grammatical forms (for instance the rabbinic usage of כמה in place of מה) suggest a later composition date.

This version of the Apostrophe to Zion has been vocalized and cantillated per the Masoretic EMe”T cantillation system for poetic works. Some notes: In two locations (מודי for מאדי and תובד for תאבד) the Qumran text drops an alef that is required in standard Biblical grammar, and these are marked as a qere/ketiv split. This is a common trend in Qumran scrolls, and is also found in Rabbinic texts — see לומר vs לאמר. The text מעלה לכל תבל is generally translated as “over all the earth,” but could also mean “over all spices.” This was probably intentional wordplay, and some have suggested that the two words tevél and tɛ́vɛl would have sounded the same to Qumranites. The translation of תתבעך in the second-to-last line has been hotly debated for a long time since none of the known meanings of the root really fit. This translation follows the conjecture of Hanan Ariel and Alexey Yuditsky, who postulate a lost original meaning of “follow after.”

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

אֶזְכׇּרֵ֤ךְ לִבְרָכָה֙ ׀ צִיּ֗וֹן
בְּכׇל־מְ֭אֹדִי [מודי] אֲנִ֣י אֲהַבְתִּ֑יךְ
בָּר֣וּךְ לְ֝עוֹלָמִ֗ים זִכְרֵֽךְ׃
I recall you for blessing, Zion; 
with all my might I love you; 
blessed forever Your recollection.

גְּדֻלָּ֣ה תִּקְוָתֵ֣ךְ צִיּ֑וֹן
וְשָׁל֤וֹם וְתוֹחֶ֣לֶת יְ֝שׁוּעָתֵ֗ךְ לָבֽוֹא׃
Greatness is Your hope, Zion; 
peace and the trust in your salvation to come.

דּ֣וֹר וָ֭דוֹר יָדֽוּרוּ־בָ֑ךְ
וְדוֹר֣וֹת חֲ֝סִידִ֗ים תִּפְאַרְתֵּֽךְ׃
Generation upon generation will generate in you; 
and pious generations your splendor.

הַ֭מִּתְאַוִּים לְי֣וֹם יִשְׁעֵ֑ךְ
וְיָשִׂ֖ישׂוּ בְּרֹ֣ב כְּבוֹדֵֽךְ׃
Those who pine for the day of Your saving; 
and rejoice in your great glory. 

זִ֣יז כְּבוֹדֵ֣ךְ יִינָ֑קוּ
וּבִרְחוֹב֣וֹת תִּפְאַרְתֵּ֣ךְ יְעַכֶּֽסוּ׃
Your glorious teat they will suckle; 
and will wander in your splendid streets.

חַסְדֵ֣י נְ֭בִיאַֽיִךְ תִּזְכְּרִ֑י
וּבְמַעֲשֵׂ֥י חֲ֝סִידַ֗יִךְ תִּתְפָּאֲרִֽי׃
Your prophets’ pieties you will recall; 
and be beautified in the deeds of your pious ones.

טֹהַ֣ר חָמַ֣ס מִגַּוֵּ֑ךְ
שֶׁ֣קֶר וְעָ֖וֶל נִכְרְת֣וּ מִמֵּֽךְ׃
Violence is purged from your back; 
lies and sin are cut off from you.

יָגִ֣ילוּ בָּ֭נַיִךְ בְּקִרְבֵּ֑ךְ
וִ֝ידִידַ֗יִךְ עָלַ֥יִךְ נִלְוֽוּ׃
Your children will rejoice within you, 
and your beloved ones will gather upon you.

כַּמָּ֣ה קַ֭וּוּ לִישׁוּעָתֵ֑ךְ
וַיִּתְאַבְּל֣וּ עָלַ֣יִךְ תַּמַּֽיִךְ׃
How they have hoped for Your salvation; 
and your pure ones have mourned over You.

לֹא־תֹּאבַ֣ד [תובד] תִּקְוָתֵ֣ךְ צִיּ֑וֹן
וְלֹא־תִּ֝שְׁכַּ֗ח תּוֹחַלְתֵּֽךְ׃
Your hope, Zion, is not lost; 
nor forgotten is Your trust.

מִ֣י זֶ֭ה אִבֵּ֣ד צֶ֑דֶק
א֗וֹ מִ֝י־זֶ֗ה מָלַ֥ט בְּעוֹלֽוֹ׃
Who has been lost from righteousness; 
or who has escaped their sin?

נִבְחָ֣ן אָדַ֣ם כְּדַרְכּ֑וֹ
אִ֣ישׁ כְּ֝מַעֲשָׂ֗יו יִשְׁתַּלֵּֽם׃
Humanity is tested per its way; 
every person is repaid per their deeds.

סָבִ֓יב ׀ נִ֭כְרְתוּ צָרַ֣יִךְ צִיּ֑וֹן
וְ֝יִתְפַּזְּר֗וּ כׇּל־מְשַׂנְּאַֽיִךְ׃
All around your stressors are cut off, Zion; 
and scattered are your opponents.

עָֽ֭רְבָה בְּאַ֣ף תִּשְׁבַּחְתֵּ֣ךְ צִיּ֑וֹן
מַעֲלֶ֖ה לְכׇל־תֵּבֵֽל׃[1] נ׳׳א לפי מרדכי מישור = מַעֲלֶ֖ה לְכׇל־תָּֽבֶל׃ 
Pleasant to the nose is your praise, Zion; 
over all the earth.[2] Alternatively, per Mordechay Mishor: “over all spices.” It is possible that the two (in Masoretic Hebrew, tevél vs tɛ́vɛl) would have sounded equivalent in Qumran Hebrew. 

פְּעָמִ֣ים רַ֭בּוֹת אֶזְכׇּרֵ֣ךְ לִבְרָכָ֑ה
בְּכׇל־לְ֝בָבִ֗י אֲבָרְכֵֽךְ׃
Many times I recall you for blessing, 
with all my heart I bless you.

צֶ֣דֶק עוֹלָמִ֣ים תַּשִּׂ֑יגִי
וּבִרְכַּ֣ת נִ֝כְבָּדִ֗ים תְּקַבְּלִֽי׃
You shall gain eternal righteousness; 
and receive the honored ones’ blessings.

קְחִ֣י חָ֭זוֹן דּוֹבֵ֣ר עָלַ֑יִךְ
וַחֲלֹמ֥וֹת נְ֝בִיאִ֗ים תִּתְבַּעֵֽךְ׃
Take the vision spoken of You; 
and follow after the dreams of prophets.

רוּמִי֘ וְרַחֲבִ֢י צִ֫יּ֥וֹן
שַׁבְּחִ֣י עֶ֭לְיוֹן פּוֹדֵ֑ךְ
תִּשְׂמַ֣ח נַ֝פְשִׁ֗י בִּכְבוֹדֵֽךְ׃
Exalt and expand, Zion; 
laud the Highest who redeems you; 
may my soul rejoice in your glory. 

 

Notes

1 נ׳׳א לפי מרדכי מישור = מַעֲלֶ֖ה לְכׇל־תָּֽבֶל׃
2 Alternatively, per Mordechay Mishor: “over all spices.” It is possible that the two (in Masoretic Hebrew, tevél vs tɛ́vɛl) would have sounded equivalent in Qumran Hebrew.

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