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KingNimrod

Sketch depicting King Nimrod.

"Kuando el Rey Nimrod" (also sometimes spelled, "Quando el Rey Nimrod" or, in modern Spanish spelling, "Cuando el Rey Nimrod", literally meaning "When King Nimrod"), also known as "Avraham Avinu" ("Abraham, Our Father") is a Sephardic Jewish folk song in the Ladino language. It was probably composed in medieval Spain. Following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 CE, it was carried to countries around the Mediterranean, it became popular with Sephardic communities in Greece, Turkey and Morocco and, consequently developped in slightly different forms in those countries. It tells a story of the birth of the Biblical figure, Abraham, although the events described in it bear little relation to the events of Abraham's life, as they are related in the Torah.

Lyrics and English translation

"Kuando el Rey Nimrod" recounts that one evening King Nimrod looked up to the sky and saw a star over the area of the town where the Jews lived. He knew that it was a sign that Abraham was going to be born and ordered that all new-born Jewish children be killed. Terach's wife knew that she was pregnant and that her child would be the leader of the Jewish people. She gave birth to him in secret and was then forced to abandon him, however Abraham survived because he was protected by G-d.

The following are the lyrics in the Ladino language of one version of the song and an English translation.

Ladino language lyrics

Kuando el Rey Nimrod al kampo salia
mirava en el syelo i en la estreyeria
vido una luz santa en la Djuderia
Ke avia de naser Avraham Avinu.
Chorus
Avraham Avinu, Padre kerido
Padre bendicho, luz de Yisrael
Avraham Avinu, Padre kerido,
Padre bendicho, luz de Yisrael
Luego a la komadres enkomendava
ke toda mujer ke prenyada kedase
si no pariera al punto, la matasse
ke avia de naser Avraham Avinu.
Chorus
La mujer de Terah kedo prenyada
i de diya el le demandava,
"De ke teneish la kara tan demudada?"
Eya ya sabia el bien ke tenia.
Chorus
En fin de mueve meses parir keria
iva kaminando por kampos i vinyas
a su marido tal ni le dishkuvria,
topo una meara i ayi la parira.
Chorus
En ekeya ora el nasido favlava
"Andavos mi madre, de la meara
yo ya topo kien me alejasse
mandara del syelo ken me akompanyara
porke so kriado de El D-- Baruh."
Chorus
Saludemas agora el kompadre
i tambien el mohel
ke por su Zehut nos venga
el Goel i Rihama a todo Yisrael,
sierto loaremos al Verdadero, al Verdadero de Yisrael.

English translation

When King Nimrod went out into the fields
He looked up to the sky and amongst the stars
He saw a holy light over the Jewish Quarter
He knew that Abraham our father was to be born.
Chorus
Abraham our father, dear father,
Blessed father, light of Israel.
Abraham our father, blessed father,
Light of Israel
Then to the midwives he commanded
That every pregnant woman
Who didn't give birth straight away, should have the child killed
Because Abraham the father was to be born.
Chorus
Terach's wife was pregnant
And every day he asked her,
"Why do you look so sad?"
She already knew what she had to do.
Chorus
After nine months she needed to give birth,
She walked through the fields and vineyards,
Where even her husband wouldn't find her,
She found a manger and there she gave birth.
Chorus
At that moment the newborn spoke,
"Go from the manger, my mother,
I will find someone who will take me away
Heaven will send someone to accompany me
Because I am the servant of the Blessed G-d.
Chorus
Let us salute the friend
And the one who performed circumcission
Through whose worthiness all Israel came to merciful G-d,
We surely praise theTrue One, the True G-d of Israel.
Chorus

Differences from the account in the Tanakh

The account given of Abraham's birth in "Kuando el Rey Nimrod" has little basis in the Tanakh. According to Genesis, Abraham was the first Jew and the ancestor of all who followed. For that reason, he is referred to in the song as padre and the Hebrew derived phrase, Avraham Avinu, both meaning "father". However, the song has Abraham being anachronistically born in la Djuderia, the Jewish Quarter, which would make Abraham's parents and the children who Nimrod condemned to death Jews also.

The story has some similarities to the story of Moses , as related in Exodus, in which the Pharaoh orders the mass murder of Hebrew children, Moses is given birth to in secret, his mother is forced to abandon him but, through G-d's protection, he survives unscathed. Therefore, Nimrod in the song takes on some characteristics of another Biblical king, one of the Pharaohs from Exodus.

"Kuando el Rey Nimrod" is in essence a song about a persecuted Jewish community and their hope for a better future, a theme that would clearly resonate with those who heard it when it was first composed in medieval Spain.

Obvious similarities exist between the narrative in Kuando el Rey Nimrod and the Christian nativity story, in which the villain, King Herod, is informed of a star which signifies the birth of someone who he perceives as a threat and orders a mass infanticide. There may also be a Muslim influence in the song, in that Abraham is referred to as el kompadre or "the friend", a translation of Ibrahim-al-Khalil, the name of Abraham in Arabic.

Versions

The dispersal of Sephardi Jews around Europe and North Africa, and ultimately around the world, following their expulsion from Spain in 1492 CE, lead to the creation of different dialects of the Ladino language. Consequently, Sephardi communities in different countries came to sing "Kuando el Rey Nimrod" with slightly different lyrics. The versions sung in Turkey and Greece today are not identical to those sung in Morocco.

"Kuando el Rey Nimrod" has been performed and recorded by both Sephardi and Ashkenazi musicians as well as by non-Jewish musicians as a piece of world music. The Sephardi Jewish Turkish musical group, Sefarad, recorded a version of "Kuando el Rey Nimrod" called "Bodrum" (the name of a resort town on Turkey's Mediterranean coast) with Turkish language lyrics that are unrelated to those of the original.

See also

External links

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