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 Lifting of Mine Hands
By Mordecai ben Shabbethai (Trans. Nina Davis)
 
THE LIFTING of mine hands accept of me
  As though it were pure evening sacrifice,
  And let my prayer be incense of sweet spice
Accounted right and perfect unto Thee.
And when I call Thee, hear; for day once more        5
Sinks to the hour when Israel brought of yore
          The evening sacrifice.
 
My words before Thee shall be savours sweet,
  O everlasting Rock; and all the waste
  Of strength and body spent in this my fast        10
Shall seem to Thee a sacrifice complete.
Take mine heart’s prayer, which, these ten days within,
I have prepared like offerings for sin
          And evening sacrifice.
 
Seek them this day that seek Thee; let them find        15
  Thy mercy, sought from Thee by their lips’ fruit,
  Look at their throng assembled destitute;
Cleanse them like silver seven times refined.
Accept their prayer like one lamb, where there stand
Two hundred sheep from Israel’s pasture-land        20
          For evening sacrifice.
 
Count it a whole burnt offering when I call;
  Prevail with him that is my wrongful foe.
  O make my righteousness like light to glow
Before the sun shall set and evening fall.        25
Each man pours out his heart in this his word,
And brings his gift to offer to the Lord
          An evening sacrifice.
 
Jeshurun, thy people, of Thy mercy sing,
  Holding a goodly doctrine; bend Thine ear,        30
  Open Thine eyes on them, and see, and hear
How good it is to stand thus tarrying
At portals of Thy pity, till Thou lift
Out of the hand of him that brings his gift
          An evening sacrifice.        35
 
In Thy great mercy hear and understand
  My words, my meditation; if I hold
  Grace in Thy sight, O God, Who from of old
Hast been a dwelling-place, then from mine hand
Take Thou the gift I bring Thee, pleading here        40
With supplication when the hour draws near
          For evening sacrifice.
 
God whom we have not found, whose might is whole
  For them, Thou madest Thine in ages gone,
  If man give much or little ’tis all one—        45
When he returns Thou wilt accept his soul—
If but his heart be true when he shall draw
Night with his offering: this is all the law
          Of evening sacrifice.
 
When sanctuary and altar stood of old        50
  Within their border on the ancient spot,
  They made atonement, choosing forth by lot
He-goats for offering; now, if God should hold
That our transgression should our death demand,
He would not take burnt offering from our hand        55
          Nor evening sacrifice.
 
But supplications do Thy people speak,
  Seeking forgiveness with a bitter heart;
  Behold them standing at the siege apart,
Watching, entreating Thee whose face they seek,        60
Hoping Thou wilt give respite for their debt
At even—saying “I shall appease him yet
          With evening sacrifice.”
 
Jerusalem Thy city build again,
  And all her cities strengthen round about,        65
  And her oppressed prisoners bring out
To freedom, loosened from the binding chain,
Sweet be their offering as in days of yore,
And Thou wilt turn, Thou wilt accept once more
          Their evening sacrifice.        70
 
All Israel’s outcasts, Judah’s scattered ones
  Shall yet again be gathered to Thine hand,
  And fed as by a shepherd in good land;
And God shall sit refining Israel’s sons
Like gold until their cleansing shall be wrought        75
And they shall be to Him as though they brought
          An evening sacrifice.
 
 
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