The last four words of Maoz Tzur end with the words הקם לנו רועים שבעה. This is a clear reference to the verse (Micha 5:4):

וַהֲקֵמֹנוּ עָלָיו שִׁבְעָה רֹעִים וּשְׁמֹנָה נְסִיכֵי אָדָם

But as I was singing it yesterday it occurred to me, why did the composer choose the number seven? Wouldn't it be more appropriate if it said נסיכי שמונה referencing the end of that verse and corresponding to the eight days of Chanuka? You would get the same effect (i.e. the hope for redemption and the Messiah) and poetically and symbolically it would look more pleasing this way. Why did the composer choose the number seven, and what is it supposed to signify?

  • 4
    There's always the boring answer that only 7 fits the rhyme scheme and meter?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 15:43
  • שמונה is very similar to שבעה so really from a rhyme perspective not much would be lost. In any case, since דחה אדמון interrupts the rhyming scheme, the composer would be free to end it any way that fits context best. But I see your point.
    – Bach
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 16:45
  • No, rhyme in classical Hebrew poetry always includes the entire final syllable (consonant vowel [consonant]). You're thinking about English rhymes. Shiva and Shmona don't rhyme in Hebrew. Deche Admon does not interrupt the scheme. It's ABABBBccB. Admon is c.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 16:48
  • 1
    It does not seem improbable that the composer is referencing the seven-branched menorah at the heart of the festival Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 16:57
  • 1
    Succah 52b. מַאן נִינְהוּ ״שִׁבְעָה רוֹעִים״? דָּוִד בָּאֶמְצַע, אָדָם שֵׁת וּמְתוּשֶׁלַח מִימִינוֹ, אַבְרָהָם יַעֲקֹב וּמֹשֶׁה בִּשְׂמֹאלוֹ. Since the challenge of Greece to Judaism was in its universal applicability, it is appropriate to finish off with a reference to the inclusion of אָדָם שֵׁת וּמְתוּשֶׁלַח in the Jewish weltanschauung.
    – pcoz
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 4:47


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .