A Poem of Eleazar ben Kallir


I translated this poem from the Hebrew with the help of T. Carmi's version. It is by the Jewish devotional poet Eleazar ben Kallir, who lived in the 6th century. I'll let it's merits speak for itself.

 

The King Who Speaks to the Ocean (Melech Ha'omer LaYam)

 

Yours, YHVH, is the dominion and you are above all.

 

A king who says to the oceans: “Up to here only!”

He shall rule as King!

A King of filth, who comes from a putrid drop

and ends at the grave-

why should he rule as King?

 

A King who builds in the heavens his chambers

in the heavens his chariot-throne

He shall rule as King!

A King who returns to the dust

like a candle blown out

why should he rule as King?

 

A King who rescues from all harm

all who trust in Him-

he shall rule as King!

A King who flees like a driven leaf

from the fears of his heart-

why should he rule as King?

 

A King above multitudes of powers

who makes thousands and thousands of angels-

he shall rule as King!

A King who fears and worries

before the judgement of his Master

why should he rule as King?

 

A King who was and will be

in his kindness and his goodness-

he shall rule as King!

 

Author: Matthew Zachary Gindin

Freelance journalist and teacher. I write regularly for the Forward, All That In Interesting, and the Jewish Independent, and have been published in Religion Dispatches, Situate Magazine, Elephant Journal, and elsewhere.

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