Ibn Ezra

Conversing With Prophets (Ibn Ezra)

אִם אוֹיְבַי יֹאמְרוּ רַע לִי / וְאָמַרְתִּי: מָטָה רַגְלִי
אֱלֹהֵי אַבְרָהָם אֵלִי / וּפַחַד יִצְחָק הָיָה לִי

בִּינוֹתִי בְּסִפְרֵי נְבִיאִים, / וְדִבְרֵי יְשַׁעְיָה בְּמִכְתָּבוֹ
הָיוּ לְפָנַי נִקְרָאִים, / כִּי קְרוֹבָה יְשׁוּעָה לָבוֹא
הֵן דּוֹרוֹת עוֹבְרִים וּבָאִים – / וְעַם אֵל עוֹמֵד בְּמַכְאוֹבוֹ
כִּי אֶלֶף שָׁנִים פְּלָאִים / יָרַד, וּבִמְרִירוּת לְבָבוֹ
יֹאמַר: אִם תִּגְאַל – גְּאַל, וְאִם / לֹא תִגְאַל – הַגִּידָה לִי

רָאִיתָ, יְחֶזְקֵאל, מַרְאוֹת / וְעָלַי נָשָׂאתָ מְשָׁלִים
הֲבִקַּשְׁתָּ דְבָרִי לִרְאוֹת / וְשָׁאַלְתָּ לִבְנֵי אֵלִים
עַד מָתַי קֵץ הַפְּלָאוֹת, / כִּי לֹא בָאָה שְׁנַת גְּאוּלִים
הֱשִׁיבַנִי עַל פִּי נְבוּאוֹת / "מַה יֵּשׁ בְּיַד הַמַּשְׂכִּילִים
"לַעֲשׂוֹת? וַאדֹנָי הֶעְלִים / מִמֶּנִּי וְלֹא הִגִּיד לִי

מִי יִתֵּן לִי וְאֶתְחַבַּר / עִם דָּנִיֵּאל אִישׁ חֲמוּדוֹת
אֲשֶׁר יָדַע פֵּשֶׁר דָּבָר / וְהֵבִין בְּכָל מָשָׁל וְחִידוֹת
אֶתְחַנֶּן-לוֹ בְּלֵב נִשְׁבָּר / וְאֶשְׁאָלֶנוּ עַל אוֹדוֹת
הַקֵּץ, לִרְאוֹת אִם עָבַר / וְאִם עוֹד נְבוּאוֹתָיו עֲתִידוֹת
"אַנְשֵׁי לֵבָב יֹאמְרוּ לִי / "מַה זֶּה תִּשְׁאַל? ְוהוּא פֶלִיא

נִבְעֲרוּ חֲכָמַי וּנְבוֹנַי / וְאִישׁ מֵהֶם לֹא יָדַע מָה
וּמֵרֹב בְּכִי חָשְׁכוּ עֵינַי, / כִּי עֵת פְּדוּתִי נֶעְלָמָה
וָאֲחַפֵּשׂ בְּתוֹרַת אֲדֹנָי – / וָאֶמְצָא חֶפְצִי שָׁמָּה
כִּי אֵל יָשִׁיב שְׁבוּת הֲמוֹנַי, / וְלוּ נִדְחוּ בְּקַצְוֵי אֲדָמָה
זֹאת הָיְתָה לִי נֶחָמָה, / עַל-כֵּן אֲדַבְּרָה וְיִרְוַח לִי

When my enemies slander me
And I fear that I may fall,
The God of Abraham gives me strength;
The Fear of Isaac is my help!

I immersed myself in the books of prophets;
The words Isaiah wrote
Were read before me: “Restoration is near at hand!”
Generations come and go,
But the pain of God’s people endures;
For a thousand years their decline was
A source of amazement; in their agony,
They cried, “If You intend to redeem us, do it, and
If You will not, tell us!”

“You, Ezekiel, who have seen the future,
And have spoken in parables about us,
Have you sought to learn my fate?
Have you asked the angels:
How long until the end of these awful things,
For there is no relief in sight?”
He answered me as befits a prophet:
“What can even the wisest of men do?
God has concealed it
From me and I am not informed.”

If only I could meet with
Daniel, the greatly beloved;
He is privy to all secrets
And is at home with allegories and riddles!
In my despair, I would plead with him
Asking that he tell me about
The end time, if it has already come,
Or if his prophecies are for the future.
But men with good sense tell me:
“Why do you ask? It is a mystery.”

Scholars and sages are dumbfounded;
Not one among them knows;
And my eyes grow dim from much weeping,
For the time of my deliverance remains hidden.
When I searched more closely in God’s Torah
I found there what I had sought:
God will restore the captive people,
Even those scattered to the ends of earth!
This gave me comfort.
Of this I must speak and find relief!

Translation Leon J. Weinberger

For more on Abraham ibn Ezra:
1. Read my introduction.
2. Listen to ibn Ezra’s opening prayer poem for his Torah commentary.
3. Explore the five paths, ibn Ezra’s introduction to his Torah commentary.