“Hatikvah – The Hopeful Anthem of Israel – A Historical Journey”


By Cynthia-G-Toups

Hatikvah (Hebrew: הַתִּקְוָה, romanized: haTīqvā, [hatikˈva]; lit. ’The Hope’) is the national anthem of the State of Israel. Part of 19th-century Jewish poetry, the theme of this Romantic composition reflects the 2,000-year-old desire of the Jewish people to return to the Land of Israel in order to reclaim it as a free and sovereign nation-state.

The piece’s lyrics are adapted from a work by Naftali Herz Imber, a Jewish poet from Złoczów, Austrian Galicia. Imber wrote the first version of the poem in 1877, when he was hosted by a Jewish scholar in Iași, Romania.

Modern Hebrew originalTransliteration
כֹּל עוֹד בַּלֵּבָב פְּנִימָה
נֶפֶשׁ יְהוּדִי הוֹמִיָּה,
וּלְפַאֲתֵי מִזְרָח קָדִימָה,
עַיִן לְצִיּוֹן צוֹפִיָּה;

עוֹד לֹא אָבְדָה תִּקְוָתֵנוּ,
הַתִּקְוָה בַּת שְׁנוֹת אַלְפַּיִם,
𝄇 לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי בְּאַרְצֵנוּ,
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.𝄆 ‎
Kol ‘od balevav penimah
Nefesh Yehudi homiyah,
Ulfa’ate mizrach kadimah,
‘Ayin leTziyon tzofiyah;

‘Od lo avdah tikvatenu,
Hatikvah bat shnot ’alpayim,
𝄆 Lihyot ‘am chofshi be’artzenu,
’Eretz-Tziyon virushalayim. 𝄇


The origins of “Hatikvah” can be traced back to the year 1878 when Naftali Herz Imber penned its heartfelt lyrics. Imber, a Jewish poet from Zolochiv, then part of Austrian Poland and now in Ukraine, wrote the words, “Lashuv le’eretz avotenu” (to return to the land of our forefathers), expressing the Jewish people’s deep-seated aspirations.

In 1882, Imber immigrated to Ottoman-ruled Palestine and shared his poem with the pioneers of the early Jewish villages – Rishon LeZion, Rehovot, Gedera, and Yesud Hama’ala. It was in 1887 that Shmuel Cohen, a young resident of Rishon LeZion, breathed life into the poem by setting it to a melody he had encountered in Romania. Witnessing the emotional reactions of Jewish farmers as they heard the poem, Cohen’s musical adaptation ignited its rapid spread throughout the Zionist communities of Palestine.

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Imber’s nine-stanza poem, originally titled “Tikvatenu” (“Our Hope”), articulated his thoughts and feelings after the establishment of Petah Tikva, which translates to “Opening of Hope.” It was published in Imber’s first book, Barkai (The Shining Morning Star), in Jerusalem in 1886. Subsequently, it was adopted as an anthem first by the Hovevei Zion and later by the entire Zionist Movement.

Before the Founding of Israel

Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist Organization conducted two anthem competitions, one in 1898 and the other at the Fourth Zionist Congress in 1900. However, none of the entries met the desired standards. In contrast, Imber’s “Tikvatenu” found immense popularity. At the Fifth Zionist Congress in Basel in 1901, the session concluded with the singing of the poem. During the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basel in 1903, the poem became the anthem of those who opposed the proposal for a Jewish state in Uganda, emphasizing their commitment to the Jewish homeland in Palestine with the line, “An eye still gazes toward Zion.”

However, it wasn’t until the Eighteenth Zionist Congress in Prague in 1933 that a motion formally adopted “Hatikvah” as the anthem of the Zionist movement.

The British Mandate government briefly banned the public performance and broadcast of “Hatikvah” from 1919, responding to increased Arab anti-Zionist political activity.

Adoption as the Israeli National Anthem

When the State of Israel was declared in 1948, “Hatikvah” was unofficially declared the national anthem. However, it only became the official national anthem in November 2004 when an abbreviated and edited version was sanctioned by the Knesset through an amendment to the Flag and Coat-of-Arms Law (now renamed the Flag, Coat-of-Arms, and National Anthem Law).

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In its modern form, the official text of the anthem includes only the first stanza and refrain of the original poem. The remaining stanzas primarily focus on the establishment of a sovereign and free nation in the Land of Israel, a hope that was fulfilled with the founding of the State of Israel.

Musical Composition

The official text of the Israeli national anthem corresponds to the first stanza and the amended refrain of the original nine-stanza poem by Naftali Herz Imber. Along with the original Hebrew, the corresponding transliteration and English translation are as follows:

תִּקְוַתֵּנוּ לִהְיוֹת עַם חָפְשִׁי,
אֶרֶץ צִיּוֹן וִירוּשָׁלַיִם.

Tikvatenu lihiyot am chofshi,
Eretz Tziyon viYerushalayim.

FAQ – People Also Ask for the Answer

Q1: What does “Hatikvah” mean in English?
A1: “Hatikvah” translates to “The Hope” in English, reflecting the anthem’s theme of hope for the Jewish people.

Q2: When was “Hatikvah” officially adopted as Israel’s national anthem?
A2: “Hatikvah” was officially adopted as Israel’s national anthem in November 2004.

Q3: Who wrote the lyrics of Hatikvah?
A3: The lyrics of Hatikvah were written by Naftali Herz Imber, a Jewish poet from Zolochiv.

Q4: What is the significance of “Zion and Jerusalem” in Hatikvah’s lyrics?
A4: “Zion and Jerusalem” symbolize the Jewish people’s historical and spiritual connection to their homeland.

Q5: Why was Hatikvah banned by the British Mandate government?
A5: The British Mandate government briefly banned Hatikvah due to increased Arab anti-Zionist political activity.


In the heart of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, lies the enduring spirit of a people’s hope and determination. Through the words of Naftali Herz Imber and the melody that Shmuel Cohen crafted, the anthem encapsulates the resilience, history, and dreams of the Jewish people.

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From its humble beginnings to its modern rendition, Hatikvah continues to echo in the hearts of millions, reminding us all of the power of hope and the unbreakable bond between a nation and its anthem.

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