Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
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Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
 
Israel
By Max Meyerhardt
 
HOW great, O Israel, have thy sufferings been
  Since doomed in every land and clime to roam,
An exile and a wanderer on the earth,
  Without a country and without a home!
 
Throughout the world men scorned the Hebrew’s faith—        5
  That holy creed of origin divine;
They stamped as crime his sacred, pure belief,
  And mocked his worship at Jehovah’s shrine.
 
And Israel, once a nation proud and great,
  From whom sprang sages, kings and prophets grand,        10
Earth’s mightiest race, the chosen of the Lord,
  Was mocked and scorned and jeered in every land!
 
In sunny Spain, the Inquisition dread
  Cast him in dungeons terrible and dire,
And with a thousand tortures racked his form,        15
  Then led him forth unto the death of fire.
 
Where’er the Hebrew roamed, on land or sea,
  Did persecution follow in his path,
And furious mobs deemed it a noble act
  To vent on him their hatred and their wrath.        20
 
Ten thousand martyrs died for Israel’s cause,
  With fortitude sublime, ’mid smoke and flame;
And while their cruel foes stood mocking ’round,
  They called on God and blessed His sacred name!
 
Through all the horrors of that fearful time,        25
  Through gloom and death, the Hebrew saw afar,
With faith’s unfailing and undying eye,
  Beyond the clouds, hope’s bright and glorious star.
 
He knew that God would rise ’gainst Israel’s foes
  As, long ago, upon the Red Sea coast,        30
With miracles He saved His chosen race,
  And in the sea ’whelmed Pharaoh’s mighty host.
 
And gloriously was that bright trust fulfilled,
  For Israel triumphed over every foe,
And marching on with undiminished zeal,        35
  Emerged in triumph from the night of woe.
 
Yes, Judah proudly stands, ’midst all mankind,
  Once more as beautiful, sublime, and grand
As when, in blessèd days of old, she stood
  A mighty nation in the Holy Land.        40
 
Weep not, O Israel, for thy martyred ones,
  For though no monuments rise o’er their tombs,
Yet fame upon the sacred spot shall shed
  Her fairest garlands and her brightest blooms.
 
Their names are grav’n on honor’s deathless page,        45
  And on the scroll of glory written high:
And though earth’s proudest monuments decay,
  Their deeds sublime will never, never die!
 
Mourn not, O Israel, for the glorious past;
  The future holds a destiny more grand;        50
For ’tis thy mission great to teach God’s laws
  To the inhabitants of every land,
 
And cause the nations of the world to know
  That unto Him alone shall prayers ascend,
And that before His great majestic throne        55
  All men in reverent suppliance shall bend.
 
Ah! may the time soon come when o’er the earth
  In thunder tones the glad acclaim will ring,
And nations, taking up the shout, shall cry,
  “The God of Judah is our Lord and King!”        60
 
 
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