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.
 
The Maccabees
By Miriam Myers
 
WHEN you tell of Israel’s heroes, those who lived in days of old,
Sing aloud the well-earned praises of the Maccabees so bold;
Men who never shrank from danger, fought right nobly for their God,
Though a handful ’gainst a myriad, though their life-blood stained the sod.
 
Though so great the odds against them, never feared they mortal foe,        5
Fiercely fighting and subduing those who worked their brethren woe;
Inspired with holy zeal were they, nought could quell their spirits brave,
No mercy e’er their foemen knew and no quarter Judas gave.
 
Mayhap their war-cry—“Mi Kamocha Baelim Adonay”—
Excited all to courage great, animated them with joy;        10
“Who is like unto Thee, O Lord,” they sang with reverent love,
With their lips attuned to praises for the God who dwells above.
 
Oh, heart-inspiring shibboleth, that nerved to deeds of glory
The tender youth, maturer men, as well as sages hoary!
No wonder heathen, senseless gods Israel’s worship could not gain,        15
While they sang in joyful harmony that glorious refrain!
 
Not for love of savage-warfare fought brave Judas and his band—
But religion true and holy, those they loved, their homes, their land,
With that liberty of conscience man should ever yield to man—
These the Maccabees desired—these that placed them under ban.        20
 
Surely, hist’ry ne’er recorded, nor has poet ever sung,
More gallant deeds, I trow, than these, that have down the ages rung;
Not for self they fought so bravely, not for pelf or sordid gold,
But for love of God Almighty, was their banner e’er unrolled.
 
Of their battles and their vict’ries, it were bootless to relate—        25
All have heard their wondrous triumphs, of their great and glorious fate;
How they vanquished foes tyrannic, how they won their cause at length,
How they kept their war-cry ever as their watchword and their strength.
 
To that noble band all honor for their gallant acts of yore,
For their high-born, peerless courage, for the woes they bravely bore!        30
When you tell of Israel’s heroes, those who lived in days of old,
Sing aloud the well-earned praises of the Maccabees so bold.
 
 
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