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POEMS ABOUT JERUSALEM | Jerusalem Songs and Pictures

Updated on April 19, 2015
City of Jerusalem Logo displays the Lion of Judah, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and olive branches.
City of Jerusalem Logo displays the Lion of Judah, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and olive branches.

Jerusalem Poems, Songs and Pictures

Read poems about Jerusalem from ancient to modern, including Jerusalem songs & liturgical poetry in English translation. View Jerusalem photos, videos & art.

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Poems about Jerusalem

Poems about Jerusalem are central to Judaism and its liturgy. Songs were composed from liturgical poetry at least since the days of Jacob, before the Exodus of his descendants from Egypt.

Many of the Psalms written by King David were for the explicit purpose of worshipping the God of Israel.

Celebrating Jerusalem with poems and songs is a national holiday in Israel called Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim). You'll find the favorites in this collection. The holiday begins at sundown on Saturday, May 16, 2015, and concludes at sundown on May 17th.

On Tisha B'Av (the ninth day of the Biblical month of Av), people all over the world participate in a one-day fast commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. This year, Tisha B'Av begins at sundown on Saturday, July 25, 2015, and concludes at sundown on July 26th. Several of the poems included here are always read on this day.

Melchizedek talks to Abraham
Melchizedek talks to Abraham

The Holy City

The first historical mention of Jerusalem as a Holy City comes from the Bible, during the days of Abraham (early second millennium BCE). The city was called Salem, which means peace. The word uses the same root of the Hebrew word for Shalom and for the proper names Solomon and Shulamith.

Melchizedek is cited as the King of Jerusalem and priest of 'the most high God.'

"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

"And he blessed him, and said: 'Blessed be Abram of the most high God, maker of heaven and earth; And blessed be the most high God, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand'.

"And he gave him a tenth of all."

– Bible, Genesis 14:18-20

The word Melchizedek means righteous king.

The city was captured by the second king of the Tribes of Israel, King David, in the year 1000 BCE, and became and has since remained the central city of worship in Judaism. Jewish families have lived in Jerusalem continuously for more than 3,000 years.

Jerusalem, circa 970 BCE

The walled city of Jerusalem in the days of King Solomon, the son of King David.          The Temple complex is in the walled enclosure at the top.
The walled city of Jerusalem in the days of King Solomon, the son of King David. The Temple complex is in the walled enclosure at the top.

"Truly, it is I Who has established My king upon Zion, My holy mountain."

– Bible, Psalm 2:6

Ark of the Covenant Taken to Jerusalem
Ark of the Covenant Taken to Jerusalem

Psalm 122

Before the First Temple was built, King David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem where it was housed on Mt. Moriah in a tent. The site, known today as the Temple Mount, was purchased by King David and the deed is recorded in the Biblical Book of I Chronicles.

When the ancient Ark of the Covenant entered Jerusalem:

"David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before God will all kinds of instruments made of cypress wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals."

– Bible, 2 Samuel 6:5

This Psalm of King David is attributed to the day the Ark was brought up to Jerusalem, and remains as one of the most famous poems about Jerusalem.


Psalm 122

A Song of Ascents; of David

I rejoiced when they said unto me,
'Let us go unto the house of God.'
Our feet are standing within thy gates, O Jerusalem;
Jerusalem, you are built as a city that is compact together;
To which the tribes went up, even the tribes of the LORD,
A testimony unto Israel,
To give thanks unto the Name of God.
For there were set thrones for judgment,
The thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem;
May they prosper who love you
May peace be within your walls,
And prosperity within your palaces.
For the sake of my brothers and my companions,
I will now say: 'Peace be within you.'
For the sake of the house of the One Who is our God
I will seek your good.


More than 70 Psalms are directly attributed to King David and he is the most well-known and the most quoted poet in human history.

The Book of Psalms
The Book of Psalms

The Book of Psalms

Since publication in 2009, and acclaimed as one of Newsweek magazine's 'Best Books of the Year', this translation of the Hebrew Book of Psalms is considered a masterpiece.

The translations and commentary are by Robert Alter, retired Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley.

Not only are the translations true to the original Hebrew and to their historical context, without bias, but the essence of the poetry is captured.

The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary
The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary

Go read 50 stellar reviews of this book and look inside.

 

King David

David and Bathsheba, painting by Jan Massys, 1562, displayed in the Louvre, Paris
David and Bathsheba, painting by Jan Massys, 1562, displayed in the Louvre, Paris

"Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, "Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?" David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her."

– Bible, 2 Samuel 11: 2 - 4

King David in Jerusalem
King David in Jerusalem

David and Bathsheba

Soliloquy of Bathsheba

by Writer Fox

At first it was a private amusing
A harmless mind-walk, sojourn of the soul,
A journey when there was no place to go
Returning to itself when thoughts idled,
Returning to the body where it was
Needed the most.

------------------------ Where it was truly born.

And that he was an easy man to want –
Handsome beyond ten thousand helmeted
Warriors under his earned command of them,
His symmetry of form, decisive with
The strength that marked him hero from his youth,
Now wisdom creeping white at his temples,
Like clouds collecting in the afternoon
Soften the face of an intrepid sky,
So softens him that he would seem a man
To be as resolute in love as war –
Is some excuse.

----------------------- But surely scant excuse

For the permission that I grant myself
To think of him with such compulsion that
I linger long in the imagining,
Until my thighs quiver like ostrich plumes
And turn spring-fed, warm-watered from within
Like En Gedi, and sweet with secret scent
That follows me.

------------------------ What is the point in this

When my full heart drops low like a caged bird,
Bottom-feeding when the cup is empty?
I would that he were but a common man
His only honor in his countenance,
Approachable in every common way
That we might meet, as common people meet;
I would that he were not a champion
Who conquers as the son of Nun and yet
My people need a champion in war,
For who can send the Syrians to flight
And turn, defeated, the sons of Ammon
If not my love?

--------------------- It has secluded him,

Surrounded by a wall of bannered ones,
And I, Bathsheba, daughter of an oath,
So rightly named, I am immured within
An oath to one who takes no thought of it;
And if we met politely at some fete,
What could I say but that I am not free?
This is the torment of my circumstance,
The cause of what I am about to do
On this spring night.

---------------------------- The ardent air becomes

The gloss that it might be some stroke of chance
That brings me to my balcony to bathe
In waters from the spring rainfall at this
Precise moment when all Jerusalem
Is slumbering, but when I know he is
So prone to pace about his roof of late,
The somnolence of a soldier at war,
The vigil of the duty of his rank,
No peer with which to palaver the cruel
Decisions only he can make for us.
It is the time.

------------------ I tremble in the thoughts

Of what I am about to do beneath
The subreption of stars, the paldao
Of precious moon, suborner to the one
I deeply love. But tremble more to think
Of greater risk I take, that he not find
Me pleasing in his sight and so turn from
My form, that thoughts which are my sustenance
Forever turn from me, and yet I can't
Contain them anymore with my heart,
And this must end.

-------------------------- There now he walks beside

The parapet and has caught sight of me.
Chief Officer of my desire, as I
Let loose this garment, let it tumble to
My feet, O taste me with your glance, imbue
Me with your eyes, let this action speak in
The cipher of what must forever be
Unspoken; Commander, my Commander,
If I find favor in your sight, let your
Desire be to command of me what I
Cannot offer.


This poem was originally published in The Harbinger, as a winner in the competition sponsored by the University of South Alabama.

Read the full story of King David and Bathsheba.

Song of Songs Manuscript
Song of Songs Manuscript

Song of Songs

King Solomon's Love Poem

The second son born to King David and Bathsheba was named Solomon and he assumed the throne as anointed heir after the death of David.

True to his Davidic lineage, Solomon was a poet. The most famous love poem in the world, Shir HaShirim, is attributed to King Solomon or to his sponsorship. The literal translation of Shir HaShirim is Song of Songs, but the poem is also known as Canticle of Canticles, Canticles and Song of Solomon.

The poem contains 117 verses in eight chapters, and it is read in its entirety on Friday evenings in Jewish synagogue services and on the Sabbath during the Passover holiday week. The narrative takes place in Jerusalem and its environs and speaks to the 'daughters of Jerusalem' as an audience.

"I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles and by the hinds of the field,
That you awaken not, nor arouse love,
Until it pleases."

– Bible, Song of Songs 2:7

The little city of Jerusalem as it was more than 3,000 years ago is described in a dream:

"By night on my bed I sought him
Whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but I found him not.
I will rise now and go about the city
In the streets and in the squares,
I will seek him whom my soul loves."

– Bible, Song of Songs 3:1,2

One line from the poem is a favorite inscription for jewelry, especially for sweetheart rings and wedding rings:

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."

– Bible, Song of Songs 6:3

Song of Songs
Song of Songs

Song of Solomon

This remarkable English translation of the complete Song of Songs is presented with 65 illuminations by the artist Debra Band. This book is a celebration of the love poem and is a perfect wedding gift or anniversary present.

This book is a collector's item and it includes a verse-by-verse commentary.

I Am My Beloved's and My Beloved is Mine

Rings with the Biblical inscription from the Song of Songs
Rings with the Biblical inscription from the Song of Songs
I Am for My Beloved Promise Ring Women's Men's Holy Land Spiritual Religious Jewelry (10)
I Am for My Beloved Promise Ring Women's Men's Holy Land Spiritual Religious Jewelry (10)

Sterling Silver is an affordable choice for rings for men and women. This featured ring has the Bible verse written in Hebrew letters.

 

One line from The Song of Songs is a favorite inscription for jewelry, especially for sweetheart rings and wedding rings:

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."

– Bible, Song of Songs 6:3

This inscription is used for rings for men and for women.

King Solomon Dedicates the Temple
King Solomon Dedicates the Temple

King Solomon's Temple

King Solomon built the first Temple for the God of Israel, following the plan his father made.

Solomon's Temple stood for 410 years, until it was destroyed in 586 BCE by the Babylonian army of King Nebuchadnezzar II.

The destruction of the Temple is described in the poem Eicha, the Biblical Book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah.

This 154 verse poem is read every year in synagogues and at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Tisha B'Av, the memorial day of the Temple's destruction.

The destruction of the Temple led to a 70-year exile in Babylon.

Destruction of Solomon's Temple

Destruction of Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez, 1867
Destruction of Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez, 1867
Jeremiah
Jeremiah

The Book of Lamentations

from Lamentations

by the Biblical prophet Jeremiah

How the city sits solitary, that was full of people!
She has become as a widow
She that was great among the nations,
And princess among the provinces,
How is she become tributary!

She weeps bitterly in the night
And her tears are on her cheeks;
She has none to comfort her
Among all her lovers.

All her friends have dealt treacherously with her;
They are become her enemies.
Judah is gone into exile because of affliction,
And under harsh servitude;
She dwells among the nations,
She finds no rest;
All her pursuers overtook her within the straits.

The roads of Zion are in mourning
Because no one comes to the appointed feasts.
All her gates are desolate;
Her priests are groaning,
Her young maidens are afflicted,
And she herself is in bitterness.

– Bible, Lamentations 1:1-4


Read entire Lamentations poem.

By the Waters of Babylon

'By the Waters of Babylon' Painting by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 - 1902)
'By the Waters of Babylon' Painting by James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 - 1902)

Psalm 137

Biblical Psalm 137 is one of the most famous in the Hebrew poetry canon. It was written after the exile to Babylon which began in 597 BCE. It is chanted every year on the Jewish religious fast day of Tisha B'Av, which commemorates the date of the destruction of both the First and the Second Temples in Jerusalem.

It is also the poem responsible for the custom of smashing a wine glass at a Jewish wedding. The lines, 'If I do not remember you/ If I do not set Jerusalem/ Above my chief joy' is alluded to on a Jewish wedding day so that even the joy of a wedding cannot be considered a complete joy because of the condition of Jerusalem.

Once a desolation and a deserted city, Jerusalem is invoked with sadness at a Jewish wedding today because there is no house for God to dwell among his people and with His bride, the City of Jerusalem.

Psalm 137

By the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down and wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst of it
We hung up our lyres.
For there our captors asked of us words of song,
And our tormentors asked of us mirth, saying
'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'
How can we sing the Lord's song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
May my right hand forget her skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
If I do not remember you,
If I do not set Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom 1
The day of Jerusalem,
Who said, 'Raze it, raze it
To its very foundation.'
O daughter of Babylon, you are to be destroyed;
Happy will be the one who repays you
As you have served us.
Happy will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
Against the rock.


1 Edom is the Biblical kingdom of the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, known today as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

By the Waters of Babylon from Godspell

Jewish composer and songwriter Stephen Schwartz wrote the music for Psalm 137 in the Broadway musical score for Godspell. Hear the song, On The Willows, from the movie version of the musical.

Jerusalem T-Shirts

Jerusalem T-Shirts
Jerusalem T-Shirts
Jerusalem Peace Dove II T-Shirt (11 Colors Sizes S - XXL) From Jerusalem Israel
Jerusalem Peace Dove II T-Shirt (11 Colors Sizes S - XXL) From Jerusalem Israel

Choose from 11 colors and 5 sizes from Holy Land Boutique

 
The Second Temple
The Second Temple

The Second Temple Destruction

From the expulsion of the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel by the Assyrians in 733 BCE and the deportation of the Tribe of Judah to Babylon, few returned to the land of Israel when permission was granted by the Persian King Cyrus to rebuild the Temple. There were more descendants of Israel living outside the land than within, as it is to this day.

More than 42,360 people made the four-month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, under the direction of Nehemiah, the prophet.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus -  David Roberts, 1850
The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus - David Roberts, 1850
Poet Eve Merriam Quote
Poet Eve Merriam Quote

The Western Wall

The Second Temple was completed in 516 BCE and stood until 70 CE when it was destroyed by the Roman armies under Titus. The treasures of the Temple were taken to Rome and used to fund the Colosseum.

The destruction of the Second Temple is remembered in a poem by Naftali Imber that became the National Anthem of the State of Israel:

"Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope that is two-thousand years old,."

Some of the walls of the Temple compound survived the destruction, the most famous of which is the Western Wall (referred to in past generations as the Wailing Wall because it was the site where pilgrims mourned the Temple's destruction and the loss of Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem.) The Western Wall is called the Kotel in Hebrew.

The Wailing Wall, 1891
The Wailing Wall, 1891

"Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.
Your builders hurry;
Your destroyers and devastators
Will depart from you."

– Bible, Isaiah 49: 16, 17

Quote about the death of HaLevi
Quote about the death of HaLevi

Yehuda Halevi

Since the days of King Solomon, the Tribes of Israel journeyed to what is now present-day Spain and established many colonies there.

After the Roman conquest, many Jews made their way to ancient Spain. In Medieval times, Jews enjoyed a 'Golden Age' in Spain, until their persecution and forced expulsion in 1492 by the Roman Catholics King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

During the Golden Age, Hebrew poetry flourished in Spain. The most well-known Hebrew poet of this time was Yehudah (Judah) HaLevi. Many of his poems survive in the liturgy of the Jewish Prayer Book. His famous line "My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west" has become the byword of the Jewish Diaspora.

HaLevi was born in Toledo, Spain, in 1075. In 1141, he realized his life-long dream of traveling to Jerusalem. Upon entering Jerusalem, he was killed by an Arab.

Yehudah (Judah) HaLevi
Yehudah (Judah) HaLevi

Jerusalem Poem Collections

Poems About Jerusalem by Yehuda Halevi

Longing to Return to the Land of Israel

by Yehudah (Judah) HaLevi

My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west.
How can I find savor in food? How shall it be sweet to me?
How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
A light thing would it seem to me
To leave all the good things of Spain –
Seeing how precious in mine eyes
To behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.


In Remembrance of Jerusalem

by Yehudah (Judah) HaLevi

Beautiful land,
Delight of the world,
City of Kings,
My heart longs for you from the far-off west.
I am very sad when I remember how you were.
Now your glory is gone, your homes destroyed.
If I could fly to you on the wings of eagles,
I would soak your soil with my tears.


Yehuda Halevi (Jewish Encounters Series)
Yehuda Halevi (Jewish Encounters Series)

The poetry of Yehuda Halevi examined by Israeli writer Hillel Halkin.

 

My Soul Longed for the Place of Assembly at the Beginning of my Journey

by Yehudah (Judah) HaLevi

On that day when my soul longed for the place of assembly,
I found nevertheless that a dread of departure seized a hold of me.
He, great in counsel, prepared for me ways for setting forth,
And I found His name in my heart a sustainment.
Therefore I bow down to Him at every stage;
And at every step I thank Him.


Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, painting by Edward Lear, 1859
Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, painting by Edward Lear, 1859
Hayyim Nahman Bialik
Hayyim Nahman Bialik

Early Zionism

Hayyim Nahman Bialik

Hayyim Nahman Bialik was born in 1873 in the Russian Empire. He published his first poem at age 19, which led to a literary career culminating in the award of Israel National Poet. A deeply religious youth, his first poem revealed his longing for Jerusalem.

While still in Russia, we was asked to interview Jewish survivors of the Russian Pogroms in the early 1900s. That experience changed his life and his destiny.

The New York Times published this account of the first Kishinev Pogrom:

"The anti-Jewish riots in Kishinev, Bessarabia, are worse than the censor will permit to publish. There was a well laid-out plan for the general massacre of Jews on the day following the Russian Easter. The mob was led by priests, and the general cry, 'Kill the Jews,' was taken-up all over the city.

"The Jews were taken wholly unaware and were slaughtered like sheep. The dead number 120 and the injured about 500. The scenes of horror attending this massacre are beyond description. Babes were literally torn to pieces by the frenzied and bloodthirsty mob. The local police made no attempt to check the reign of terror. At sunset the streets were piled with corpses and wounded. Those who could make their escape fled in terror, and the city is now practically deserted of Jews."

The New York Times, April 28, 1903, page 6.

The interviews Bialik conducted with the Pogrom survivors led to one of his most famous poems, In the City of Slaughter. That single poem became a battle cry of the Haganah, a pre-statehood defense league in Israel that became the Israel Defense Forces at the 1948 Israel War of Independence.

In 1921, after the Bolshevek Revolution, Bialik was granted permission to leave Russia. He moved to Germany and then immigrated to British Mandate Palestine in 1924.

Bialik wrote in Yiddish and in Hebrew, but his poems have been translated into 30 languages. Following is a translation of Bialik's first published poem, which he wrote prior to his first visit to Israel, El Hatzipor:


Jerusalem Bird Mosaic
Jerusalem Bird Mosaic

To the Bird

by Hayyim Nahman Bialik (1873 – 1934)

Greetings of welcome, lovely bird,
from the warm countries to my window –
my soul yearned for your pleasant voice,
in winter after you left my home.

Sing to me, tell me, dear bird
from the faraway wonderful land,
is there in the land of sun and beauty,
much evil and hardship too?

Have you greetings from my brothers in Zion,
my distant brothers yet near?
Oh Happy ones, have they known,
that I suffer, great pains I suffer?

Do they know how numerous my foes stand
so many, oh countless, who rose against me?
Sing to me, my bird, wonders from the Land,
where spring will endure for eternity.


Armenian Bird Mosaic Floor in Jerusalem
Armenian Bird Mosaic Floor in Jerusalem

This mosaic tile floor was discovered in 1894 in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is an exquisite record of the birds of Jerusalem in the 5th or 6th century. Israel is visited by more than 500 million migrating birds every year.

Visit the Bird Mosaic in Jerusalem

Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem Photo 1918

Camel caravan travelling on the Mt. of Olives in 1918
Camel caravan travelling on the Mt. of Olives in 1918
Mark Twain Jerusalem Quote
Mark Twain Jerusalem Quote

Mark Twain in Jerusalem

When Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) visited Jerusalem in 1869, he wrote of his tourist's journey on horseback from Jerusalem to Jaffa in his book, The Innocents Abroad.

"For about four hours we traveled downhill constantly. We followed a narrow bridle-path which traversed the beds of the mountain gorges, and when we could we got out of the way of the long trains of laden camels and asses, and when we could not we suffered the misery of being mashed up against perpendicular walls of rock and having our legs bruised by the passing freight. Jack was caught two or three times, and Dan and Moult as often.

"One horse had a heavy fall on the slippery rocks, and the others had narrow escapes. However, this was as good a road as we had found in [Ottoman] Palestine, and possibly even the best, and so there was not much grumbling."

The journey required an overnight stay wherever a bed could be found. Most tourists in that day would arrive by ship at the ancient Mediterranean port in Jaffa, believed by some to be the oldest port city in the world. From Jaffa to Jerusalem, unlike Twain's journey in the reverse, is an uphill climb. Only physically fit foreign pilgrims would take the trip to see the most Holy City in the world.

Opened in August, 1892, to carry pilgrims from the ancient port city of Jaffa to the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Jaffa to Jerusalem Railway forever changed tourism to the Holy Land. The convenience of the new railway brought global attention to potential Jerusalem tourists.

Jerusalem Railway Station 1892
Jerusalem Railway Station 1892

Many of the people in this Jerusalem photograph are pilgrims from Russia, and adherents of the Russian Orthodox religion. This was in the days before the Russian Revolution and many Russian people were religious devotees. So many visited Jerusalem, in fact, that the government of Russia established a huge complex and a hospital just outside the Old City walls in Jerusalem to care for the needs of the Russian Pilgrims. Today, the complex is known as The Russian Compound.

The old railway station was closed in the 1990s and re-opened in April, 2013, as a cultural arts center.


The Jaffa and Jerusalem Railway

by Eugene Field (1850 –1895)

A tortuous double iron track; a station here, a station there;
A locomotive, tender, tanks; a coach with stiff reclining chair;
Some postal cars, and baggage, too; a vestibule of patent make;
With buffers, duffers, switches, and the soughing automatic brake –
This is the Orient's novel pride, and Syria's gaudiest modern gem:
The railway scheme that is to ply 'twixt Jaffa and Jerusalem.

Beware, O sacred Mooley cow, the engine when you hear its bell;
Beware, O camel, when resounds the whistle's shrill, unholy swell;
And, native of that guileless land, unused to modern travel's snare,
Beware the fiend that peddles books – the awful peanut-boy beware.
Else, trusting in their specious arts, you may have reason to condemn
The traffic which the knavish ply 'twixt Jaffa and Jerusalem.

And when, ah, when the bonds fall due, how passing wroth will wax the
state
From Nebo's mount to Nazareth will spread the cry "Repudiate"!
From Hebron to Tiberius, from Jordan's banks unto the sea,
Will rise profuse anathemas against "that – monopoly!"
And F.M.B.A. shepherd-folk, with Sockless Jerry leading them,
Will swamp that corporation line 'twixt Jaffa and Jerusalem.


View from the train window approaching Jerusalem
View from the train window approaching Jerusalem

This is the view from a railway window as the Jaffa to Jerusalem line approached the hills of Jerusalem. You will note that this photo is before the reforestation projects were implemented and that the hills of Jerusalem at that time were completely without trees, due to centuries of harvesting for firewood.

The Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, 1890.
The Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, 1890.

Surrender of Jerusalem to the British Photo

Surrender of Jerusalem 1917
Surrender of Jerusalem 1917

Archive photograph of the surrender of Jerusalem to the British, December 9, 1917. The Mayor of Jerusalem holds the white flag, and surrenders to two British sergeants, ending 400 years of Ottoman control of the Holy City.

Naftali Imber
Naftali Imber

Tikvateinu by Naftali Imber

Naftali Imber published his poem Tikvateinu in 1877, while living in what is today called the Ukraine. When he immigrated to Israel, fleeing the Pogroms in Russia, the poem was published in his first volume of poetry in 1882. The first stanza and refrain in this poem became the song of the Zionist movement that was spreading in Central and Eastern Europe, calling for a return of Jews to their ancestral homeland. The song was called HaTikvah (The Hope).

On April 23, 1945, a BBC reporter transmitted a report from the liberated German concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen. An impromptu Sabbath prayer service was held for the survivors, amid rotting corpses and thousands teetering on the verge of death. The survivors, who knew they were being recorded for a BBC broadcast, stopped their prayers and began to sing HaTikvah. Listen to this historic recording.


Our Hope (Tikvateinu)

by Naftali Herz Imber (1856 - 1909)

As long as in the heart, within,
A Jewish soul still yearns,
And onward, towards the ends of the east,
An eye still looks toward Zion;

Refrain:
As long as in the heart, within,
A Jewish soul still yearns,
And onward, towards the ends of the east,
An eye still looks toward Zion;

[Refrain]
Our hope is not yet lost,
The ancient hope,
To return to the land of our fathers,
The city where David encamped.

As long as tears from our eyes
Flow like benevolent rain,
And throngs of our countrymen
Still pay homage at the graves of [our] fathers;

[Refrain]
As long as our precious Wall
Appears before our eyes,
And over the destruction of our Temple
An eye still wells up with tears;

[Refrain]
As long as the waters of the Jordan
In fullness swell its banks,
And to the Sea of Galilee
With tumultuous noise fall;

[Refrain]
As long as on the barren highways
The humbled city gates mark,
And among the ruins of Jerusalem
A daughter of Zion still cries;

[Refrain]
As long as pure tears
Flow from the eye of a daughter of my nation,
And to mourn for Zion at the watch of night
She still rises in the middle of the nights;

[Refrain]
As long as drops of blood in our veins
Flow back and forth,
And upon the graves of our fathers
Dewdrops still fall;

[Refrain]
As long as the feeling of love of nation
Throbs in the heart of the Jew,
We can still hope even today
That a wrathful God may still have mercy on us;

[Refrain]
Hear, O my brothers in the lands of exile,
The voice of one of our visionaries,
(Who declares) That only with the very last Jew –
Only there is the end of our hope!

[Refrain]
Go, my people, return in peace to your land
The balm in Gilead, your healer in Jerusalem,
Your healer is God, the wisdom of His heart,
Go my people in peace, healing is imminent . . .


Israel National Anthem - Barbara Streisand sings HaTikva

HaTikva in Hebrew
HaTikva in Hebrew

HaTikvah Lyrics

Transliteration of HaTikvah

Kol od balevav penimah,
Nefesh yehudi homiyah,
Ulefa-atei mizrach, kadimah,
Ayin letziyon tsofiyah.

Od lo avdah tikvateinu
Hatikva bat shnot alpayim,
Lihyot am chofshi be-artzeinu,
Eretz tzion, v'Yerushalayim.


HaTikva Lyrics in English

As long as in the heart within,
The Jewish soul yearns,
And toward the eastern edges, onward,
An eye gazes toward Zion.

Our hope is not yet lost,
The hope that is two-thousand years old,
To be a free nation in our land,
The Land of Zion, and Jerusalem.

Divided Jerusalem, 1948 – 1967
Divided Jerusalem, 1948 – 1967
Jerusalem of Gold
Jerusalem of Gold
Rabbi Shlomo Goren blowing shofar at the Western Wall in 1967
Rabbi Shlomo Goren blowing shofar at the Western Wall in 1967

Jerusalem of Gold

Jerusalem of Gold was written by Naomi Shemer three weeks before the unification of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, which ended 19 years of illegal occupation of Jerusalem by the Jordanians. The song was performed by Shuli Nathan at the Israel Music Festival on May 15, 1967, which was attended by many Israeli soldiers.

The poem alludes to the Biblical book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah after the destruction of the First Temple:

"How dark the gold has become,
How the pure gold has changed!"

– Bible, Lamentations 4:1

The gold in the Temple of Jerusalem melted when the Temple was destroyed by Babylonian soldiers during the reign (634 - 562 BCE) of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II.

The empty marketplace, the dry cisterns, and the abandoned Temple Mount are all mentioned in the Book of Lamentations. The references from Lamentations used by Shemer in this song are well known in the global Jewish community.

When Israeli paratroopers liberated the Old City and Eastern Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation in 1967, they were heard singing Jerusalem of Gold at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.

Captured in an iconic photograph, the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, Shlomo Goren, blew a ram's horn (shofar) at the Wall. After the war, Shemer added verses to Jerusalem of Gold to reflect the new reality.


The Western Wall June 7, 1967
The Western Wall June 7, 1967

Jerusalem of Gold Lyrics by Naomi Shemer

Jerusalem of Gold

(Yerushalayim Shel Zahav)

by Naomi Shemer (1930 – 2004)

The mountain air is clear as wine
And the scent of pines
Is carried on the breeze of twilight
With the sound of bells.

The trees and stones there softly slumber
Captured in her dream.
The city that sits solitary
And at its heart is a wall.

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold, I am a violin for all your songs.

How the cisterns have dried
The market-place is empty
And no one frequents the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Winds are howling
And no one descends to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho.

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold, I am a violin for all your songs.

We have returned to the cisterns
To the market and the square
A ram's horn [shofar] Calls out on the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Thousand suns shine
We will once again descend to the Dead Sea
By the way of Jericho!

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold, I am a violin for all your songs.

But as I come to sing to you, my city,
And to adorn you with crowns
I am the smallest of the youngest of your children
Of all the poets born.

For your name scorches the lips
Like the kiss of a Seraph,1
If I forget you Jerusalem 2
Which is all gold.

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light
Behold, I am a violin for all your songs.

1 Bible, Isaiah 6: 6,7
2 Bible, Psalm 137:5

Jerusalem of Gold Sung by Shuly Nathan - Panoramic Photos of Jerusalem

Jerusalem Painting by Leonid Afremov
Jerusalem Painting by Leonid Afremov

Jerusalem Painting for Sale

Jerusalem - Pallete Knife Original Recreation Oil Painting On Canavs By Leonid Afremov
Jerusalem - Pallete Knife Original Recreation Oil Painting On Canavs By Leonid Afremov

This painting of Jerusalem's Tower of David in the Old City comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Click below to view enlarged picture.

 
Yehuda Amichai in Jerusalem
Yehuda Amichai in Jerusalem

Yehuda Amichai

Yehuda Amichai (1924 - 2000) was born in Germany and immigrated to Israel with his family when he was 12 years old. Most of his adult life was spent in Jerusalem and the city is often referenced in his poetry.

Amichai is considered the best modern Israeli poet and his work has been translated more than any other Hebrew poet since King David.


excerpt from the poem

Jerusalem, 1967

"A man who comes back to Jerusalem is aware that the places
that used to hurt don't hurt anymore.
But a light warning remains in everything,
like the movement of a light veil: warning."


Yehuda Amichai
Yehuda Amichai

The best of Yehuda Amicahai's poetry in English Translation.

 
Jerusalem Quote by Amichai
Jerusalem Quote by Amichai
The Jewish Quarter in the Old City
The Jewish Quarter in the Old City
Poems of Jerusalem and Love Poems (Sheep Meadow Poetry)
Poems of Jerusalem and Love Poems (Sheep Meadow Poetry)

Poems by Yehuda Amichai in English translation.

 

Poems About Jerusalem by Yehuda Amichai


Sleep in Jerusalem

by Yehuda Amichai

translated by Harold Schimmeli
(excerpt from Poems of Jerusalem and Love)

While a chosen people
becomes a nation like all the nations,
building its houses, paving its highways,
breaking open its earth for pipes and water,
we lie inside, in the low house,
late offspring of this old landscape.
The ceiling is vaulted above us with love
and the breath of our mouth
is as it was given us
and as we shall give it back.

Sleep is where there are stones.
In Jerusalem there is sleep. The radio
brings day tunes from a land
where there is day.
And words that here are bitter,
like last year's almond on a tree,
are sung in a far country, and sweet.

And like a fire
in the hollowed trunk of an olive tree
an eternal heart is burning red
not far from the two sleepers.


This poem is an excerpt from a new collection of Yehuda Amichai's poetry, featured at the right. This is a collection of love poems and poems about the city of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Art
Jerusalem Art

Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

ECOLOGY OF JERUSALEM

by Yehuda Amichai
(excerpt from Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai)

The air over Jerusalem is saturated with prayers and dreams
like the air over industrial cities,
It's hard to breathe.

And from time to time a new shipment of history arrives
and the houses and towers are its packing materials.
Later these are discarded and piled up in dumps.

And sometimes candles arrive instead of people,
and then it's quiet.
And sometimes people come instead of candles,
and then there's noise.

And in enclosed gardens heavy with jasmine
foreign consulates,
like wicked brides that have been rejected,
lie in wait for their moment.


This poem is an excerpt from the book, The Selected Poetry of Yehuca Amichai, featured at the right.

Jerusalem Art

Jerusalem Old City
Jerusalem Old City
Western Wall
Western Wall

Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim)

Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim) is a national holiday in Israel and celebrates the reunification of the city during the June, 1967, Six Day War, on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar.

This year, Jerusalem Day celebrations begin at sundown on on Saturday, May 16, 2015, and will continue until sundown on May 17th.

The poems and songs in this collection are featured on Jerusalem Day in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world.

Jerusalem Day Celebrations at the Western Wall (Kotel)
Jerusalem Day Celebrations at the Western Wall (Kotel)
Jerusalem Day Celebrations 2013
Jerusalem Day Celebrations 2013
Happy Rosh Hashanah 5774!
Happy Rosh Hashanah 5774!

Read about the celebration of the Rosh Hashanah holiday in Israel:

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

____________________________

Bethlehem Israel
Bethlehem Israel

Read about the history of two other famous cities in Israel, Bethlehem of Galilee and Bethlehem of Judah:

Bethlehem Israel

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Read this collection of war poems and poems written by soldiers in combat. Poems are presented from 9 wars and include Vietnam War songs.

War Poems

_____________________________

Poem about Peace
Poem about Peace

Read a narrative poem about achieving peace in Israel, first published in The Journal of New Jersey Poets.

Poem about Peace

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Divorce Poems
Divorce Poems

Read Pulitzer-Prize-winning poems about divorce:

Divorce Poems

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Read more than 60 best spring poems and spring poems for kids in this illustrated, online collection:

Spring Poems and Spring Poems for Kids

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Winter Poems

Find more than 50 poems about the winter season in this poetry collection.

Winter Poems and Winter Poems for Kids

_____________________________

Share - don't copy.

The 'Jewish Quarter in the Old City' photo is courtesy of Uporabnik.

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    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 3 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      Thank you, Bluebird, for adding that quote. After meals it is said:

      "Have mercy, Lord, our God...on Jerusalem, Your city; and on Zion, the resting place of Your glory; upon Your altar, and upon Your Temple. Rebuild Jerusalem, the city of holiness, speedily in our days. Bring us up into it and gladden us in its rebuilding and let us eat from its fruit and be satisfied with its goodness and bless You upon it in holiness and purity.”

    • bluebird profile image

      bluebird 3 years ago

      Indeed, this is quite a hub. Really appreciated all the information and time that went into this.Thank you for all the poems of Jerusalem. There is no place on earth as special - for it is God's city now and in the future it will be awesome and magnificent - the throne of the King!

      My mind is now on this verse - one of my favorites:

      Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence,

      And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. Isaiah 62: 6-7

      God speed that day!

    • shofarcall profile image

      shofarcall 4 years ago

      In Jerusalem and on your hub page.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      to Jerusalem.

    • shofarcall profile image

      shofarcall 4 years ago

      Thank you Writer Fox. I certainly will be back.

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      I'm so pleased that you enjoyed this collection. So many wonderful poems have yet to be translated into English so I could not include them here.

      "If you would inquire, inquire; Come back again.” – Isaiah 21:12

    • shofarcall profile image

      shofarcall 4 years ago

      As you can see, I am trawling your hubs for new and fresh information on that beautiful land!

      This is such a beautiful hub and the yearning and longing for the homeland comes through so clearly in the poetry. Thank you for all the research which you have put into this. And the pictures and songs are magnificent.

      Paul Wilbur does a beautiful rendition on one of his cd's of Psalm 122.

      I have a sense of the longing that the Jewish people must have felt all this time - I have visited Israel only once - am not Jewish, and yet I long to be there again. Sometimes have a quiet weep when I recall the beauty, but also the harshness and the great pride the Jewish people take in all that they do and the colourful ways in which their wares are presented at the markets. I received a packet of cards I had ordered from Israel a week or two ago, and it touched my heart to see the care and the delicacy with which they had been wrapped so that no harm would come to them. Oh Jerusalem, God's City. Let us all pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Voted up, awesome, interesting and shared

    • Writer Fox profile image
      Author

      Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      The Song of Songs is one of the most famous poems ever written. I'm glad you found this collection.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      This calls for more than one visit, and I intend to come again. Went straight to Song of Songs and a few sections after. Thanks for the information. Good presentation!