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ZIONIDES or SONGS OF ZION (Hebr. Shire Ẓiyyon):

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The songs of Zion, i.e., the lyrical hymns which express the longing of the Jewish nation to see the hill of Zion and the city of Jerusalem shine again in all their former glory, date back to the time immediately after the destruction of Solomon's Temple. Since that period the poets and singers of Israel have devoted their best talent to painting in the most brilliant colors the ancient glories of Zion. By far the greater number of these songs unite in voicing a heartfelt desire to see the nation, the city of Jerusalem, Mount Zion, and the Temple restored to their former splendor. The oldest song of Zion in Jewish literature was written in the fifth century B.C., and is a lamentation that the enemy compels Israel to live on foreign soil; this is the celebrated Ps. cxxxvii. 1-3. A similar Zionide of the same period is Ps. cxxvi.; in it the poet, full of hope, sings of the day when the Captivity shall be over and the joyfully returning exiles shall sing a new song of Zion. The elegy ending with a desire for deliverance, which is found in the fifth chapter of Lamentations, dates probably from the first pre-Christian century.

Ibn Gabirol.

During the Middle Ages, Zionides from the pens of the greatest poets formed the chief comfort and consolation of the people. As early as the time of Ibn Gabirol (11th cent.) songs of Zion were incorporated in the liturgy, partly as lamentations for the Ninth of Ab and partly as tefillot and piyyuṭim. Among the songs of lamentation for Zion which are sung on the Ninth of Ab the following may be specially referred to: a song beginning with the words and giving a vivid description of the destruction of Zion; the well-known song which begins with the words , and in which Samaria and Jerusalem try to excel each other in the description of the misfortune which has fallen upon them; and, above all, the song with the refrain:

("Zion and her cities wail like a woman in childbirth, and like a virgin clothed in sackcloth for the man of her youthful choice"). Of other tefillot and piyyuṭim may be mentioned the song beginning:

and several strophes of the song "Lekah Dodi," composed by Solomon ha-Levi and incorporated in the Sabbath eve service.

The most important of Ibn Gabirol's Zionides are the poem beginning with the words:

("Send a prince to the condemned people which is scattered hither and thither") and that beginning:

("Turn thy face, O God, to the conquered, who is delivered up into the hand of Babel and of Seir").

Judah ha-Levi (1140) was the author of the Zionide beginning:

"Zion, wilt thou not send a greeting to thy captives, Who greet thee as the remnant of thy flocks? From West to East, from North to South, a greeting, From far and near, take thou on all sides. A greeting sends the captive of desire, who sheds his tears Like dew on Hermon; would they might fall on thy hills."

Besides this song, which has been translated into nearly all European languages in prose and in verse, Judah wrote several shorter songs, chief of which are ("My heart is in the East, although I am at the end of the West") and ("Sigh, O Jerusalem, and shed thy tears, O Zion").

Various Authors.

Among other medieval writers of this class may be mentioned Abraham ibn Ezra, who composed the Zionide ("O God, who art enthroned in the East, appease the mourning dove"); Judah al-Ḥarizi (13th cent.), author of the song ("Peace be to the city of Salem [Jerusalem]"); and Israel Najara (16th cent.), who wrote the song ("May the flower of salvation bloom like a palm"). In more modern times Samuel David Luzzatto wrote:

("My heart, my heart is full of pain; see, my grief is an ancient one"); and equally well known is Joseph Almanzi's

("From all corners comes rejoicing on the day of celebration to God, who is good").

The most prominent Hebrew poets have written Zionides, among the number being M. S. Rabener, Micah Levisohn, Judah Loeb Gordon, S. Mandelkern, M. M. Dolitzky, and N. H. Imber. Countless songs have been produced under the influence of Zionism: of these may be mentioned the song adopted by all the Zionists of the world as their national song, and beginning with the words "There, where a slender cedar kisses the clouds"; the song of the academic society Kadimah in Austria, "Knowest thou whence freedom comes?"; the song of the united Zionists, "Sluchajcie bracia gueśni tij"; and "Ha-Tiḳwah" (Hope), composed by N. H. Imber, which has the refrain:

("Our hope has not yet gone, the old hope to return to the land of our fathers, to the city where David lived").

Bibliography:
  • Kinnor Ẓiyyon, Warsaw, 1900 (collection of all the Zionides from the oldest times to the present day [Hebr.]);
  • Yevreiskyie Motivy, Grodno, 1900;
  • Heinrich Loewe, Liederbuch für Jüdische Vereine, Cologne, 1898;
  • Jacobs, Jewish Ideals, p. 131.
J. S. O.
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