Shemoneh Esreh

Shemoneh Esreh (שמונה עשרה) is a collection of eighteen benedictions, called Tephillah, or prayer κατ ἐξοχήν, which every Israelite is bound to say every day. They constitute a very important part of the Jewish liturgy, and in their present form must have originated about A.D. 100, although many parts belong to the ante-Christian period. In the present form there are nineteen instead of eighteen, one having been added by Samuel the Little (q.v.) against the Sadducees, the so called:, ברכת הצרוקי or ברכת המינר, i.e. the prayer against the Minim, a name applied to Christians. These benedictions are as follows:

1. (ִברו) "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the great God! powerful and tremendous, the most high God! bountifully dispensing benefits, the Creator of all things; who, remembering the piety of the fathers, wilt send a redeemer to their posterity for his name's sake in love. Remember us unto life, O King I thou who delightest in life, and write us in the book of life for thy sake, O God of life. O King, thou art our Supporter Savior, and Protector blessed art thou, O Lord! the shield of Abraham."

2. (אתה גבור)ῥ "Thou, O Lord! art forever powerful; thou restorest life to the dead, and art mighty to save; sustaining thy benevolence the living, and by thine abundant mercies animating the dead; supporting those that fall, healing the sick, setting at liberty those that are in bonds; and performest thy faithful words, unto those that sleep in the dust? Who is like unto thee, O Lord! most mighty? or who may be compared with thee, the King who killeth and again restoreth life, and causeth salvation to flourish? Who is like unto thee, most merciful Father! who rememberest thy creatures to life. Thou art also faithful to revive the dead. Blessed art thou, O Lord; who revivest the dead."

3. (אתה קדושׁ) "Thou art holy, and holy is thy name, and the saints praise thee daily. Selah. Blessed art thou, O Lord, holy God! We will sanctify thy name in the world, as thy sanctifiers in the heavens above; as it is written by the hands of thy prophet. And one called unto another and said, Holy, Holy; Holy, O Lord of Hosts! the whole earth is full of his glory. And against each other with blessings they say, Blessed be the glory of the Lord, from his place." And in thy holy word thou hast written, saying, the Lord shall reign forever, thy God in Zion, from generation to generation. Praise ye the Lord. Unto all generations we will declare thy greatness, and to all eternity we will sanctify thy holiness; and thy praise, O our God! shall not depart from our mouths, for ever and ever: for thou art Almighty, great and holy King blessed art thou, O Lord, the God most holy!"

4. (אתה חונן) "Thou favorest mankind with knowledge and teachest them understanding. Thou hast favored us with the knowledge of the law, and thou hast taught us to perform the statutes of thy will; and thou hast made us a division, O Lord our God! between the holy and the profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, and between the seventh day and the six days of work. O our Father, our King! let us rest in peace on those days which approach towards us, free from all sins, and clean from all iniquities, and make us steadfast in thy fear. And let us be favored with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Blessed art thou, O Lord, the favorer of knowledge."

5. (השבינו) "Return us, O our Father! to the observance of thy law, and draw us near, O our King! to thy service; and, convert us to thee by perfect repentance. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who vouchsafest repentance."

6. (סלת) "Forgive us, we beseech time, O our Father! for we have sinned; pardon us, O our King for we have transgressed; for thou art ready to pardon and to forgive. Blessed, art thou, O Lord who art gracious, and ready to pardon."

7. (ראה) "Oh, look upon our afflictions, we beseech thee, an plead ole ur cause;. and redeem us speedily for the sake of thy name; for thou art a mighty Redeemer. Blessed art thou; O Lord! who redeemest Israel."

8. (רפאנו) "Heal us, O Lord.! and we shall be healed; save us, and we shall be saved; for thou art our praise. Oh, grant us a perfect cure for all our wounds; for thou art an omnipotent King, merciful and faithful physician. Blessed art thou, Lord! who healest the diseases of thy people Israel."

9. (ברעִלהנו) "O Lord our God! bless this year for us, as also every species of its fruits for our benefit; and bestow (in winter say, dew and rain for) a blessing upon the face of the earth. Oh, satisfy us with thy goodness, this year as other good and fruitful years. Blessed art thou, O Lord! who blessest the years.

10. (תקע) "Oh, sound the great cornet, as a signal for our freedom; hoist the banner to collect our captives, so that we may all be gathered together from the four corners of the earth. Blessed art thou, O Lord!" who gatherest together the outcasts of thy people Israel."

11. (השיבה) "Oh, restore our judges, as aforetime, and our counselors as at the beginning; remove from us sorrow and sighing. O Lord! reign thou alone over us in kindness and mercy; and justify us in judgment. Blessed art thou, O Lord! the King who loveth righteousness and justice."

12. (ולמלשיני ם "And let there be no hope for the calumniators, let all heretics (Minin) speedily pass away, and let all thine enemies be cut off. Speedily root up, break down, and tear up the wicked, and lay them low speedily, in our days: blessed be the Lord, who breaketh down the enemies, and layeth low the wicked." (This prayer is altered in most editions of the Jewish Prayer book.)

13. (על הצדוקי ם) "O Lord our God! may thy tender mercy be moved towards the just, the pious, and the elders of thy people, the house of Israel; the remnant of their scribes, the pious proselytes, as also towards us; and bestow a good reward unto all who faithfully put their trust in thy name; and grant that our portion may ever be with them, so that we may not be put to shame; for we trust in thee. Blessed art thou, O Lord! who art the support and confidence of the just"

14. (ילרושלי ם) "Oh, be mercifully pleased to return to Jerusalem, thy city; and dwell therein, as thou hast promised. Oh, rebuild it shortly, even in our days, a structure of ever lasting fame, and speedily establish the throne of David therein. Blessed art thou, O Lord! who rebuildest Jerusalem."

15. (את צמח) "Oh, cause the offspring of thy servant David speedily to flourish, and let his horn be exalted in thy salvation for we daily hope for thy salvation. Blessed art thou, O Lord! who causest the horn of salvation to flourish."

16. (שמע קולנו) "Hear our voice, O Lord our God! Oh, have compassion and mercy upon us, and accept our prayers with mercy and favor; for thou art omnipotent. Thou hearkenest to prayers and supplications, and from thy presence, O our King! dismiss us not empty; for thou hearest the prayers of thy people Israel in mercy. Blessed art thou, O Lord! who hearkenest unto prayers."

17. (רצה) "Graciously accept, O Lord our God! thy people Israel, and have regard unto their prayers. Restore the service to the inner part of thine house; and accept of the burned offerings of Israel, and their prayers with love and favor. And may the service of Israel, thy people, be ever pleasing to thee. Oh that our eyes may behold thy return to Zion with mercy. Blessed art thou, O Lord! who restorest thy divine presence unto Zion.

18. (מודי ם) "We bow down before thee, because thou art Jehovah, our God, and the God of our fathers for ever and ever. The Rock of our lives, the Shield of our salvation art thou, from generation to generation. We will bless thee, and show forth thy praises for these our lives, which are in thy hand, and for our souls, which we commit to thee, and for thy wondrous works, which we witness every day; for thy marvelous doings and thy mercies at all times — evening, morning, and noon. Gracious God! because thy mercies are without bounds; merciful Lord! because thy kindnesses are never done, we trust in thee to all eternity."

19. (שי םשלו ם "Oh, grant peace, happiness, and blessing, grace, favor, and mercy unto us, and all thy people Israel; bless us, even all of us together, O our Father! with the light of thy countenance; for by the light of thy countenance hast thou given us, O Lord our God, the law of life, benevolent love, righteousness, blessing, mercy, life, and peace; and may it please thee to bless thy people Israel at all times with thy peace." In the prayer books of the so called Reformed Jews these benedictions and all such as allude to the bringing back to Jerusalem and to the Messiah have undergone very great changes. The first and last three are considered to be the most ancient. They are undoubtedly of the Sopherite age, and probably belong to the time of Simon the Just. The others belong to five or six epochs extending over a period of three hundred years. The benedictions are mentioned in the Mishna, Rosh hash-Shanah, c. 4; Berachoth, 4, 3, Tosiphta Berachoth, c. 3; Jerusalem Berachoth, c. 2; Megilla, 17 a. See Zunz, Gottesdienstliche Vortrage der Juden, p. 367 sq.; Schurer, Lehrbuch der neutestamentlischen Zeitgeschichte, p 499 sq: (B.P.)

 
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