Naomi Shemer: Yerushalayim Shel Zahav / Jerusalem of Gold

This popular Israeli song written by Naomi Shemer describes the Jewish people’s age-old yearning for and ultimate return to Jerusalem. Released just three weeks before the outbreak of the Six Day War in 1967, when the Old City of Jerusalem was still under Jordanian control, this song became a battle cry for the Israeli troops and public throughout the war. Upon hearing that the paratroopers who liberated the Old City on the third day of the war sang this song at the Western Wall, Shemer added the final verse, transforming the already-beloved hit from a song of yearning to one of triumph. The song became so popular that it was even suggested that it replace “Hatikvah” as the official anthem of the State of Israel in 1968. An English translation of the lyrics can be seen on screen and below. See the Hebrew lyrics of the chorus below and the complete Hebrew lyrics here.

ירושלים של זהב
ושל נחושת ושל אור
הלא לכל שירייך
אני כינור

Jerusalem of Gold

The mountain air is clear as water
The scent of pines around
Is carried on the breeze of twilight,
And tinkling bells resound.

The trees and stones there softly slumber,
A dream enfolds them all.
So solitary lies the city,
And at its heart — a wall.

Oh, Jerusalem of gold, 
and of light and of bronze, 
I am the lute for all your songs.

The wells are filled again with water,
The square with joyous crowd,
On the Temple Mount within the City,
The shofar rings out loud.

Within the caverns in the mountains
A thousand suns will glow,
We’ll take the Dead Sea road together,
That runs through Jericho.

Oh, Jerusalem of gold…

But as I sing to you, my city,
And you with crowns adorn,
I am the least of all your children,
Of all the poets born.

Your name will scorch my lips for ever,
Like a seraph’s kiss, I’m told,
If I forget thee, golden city,
Jerusalem of gold.

Oh, Jerusalem of gold…