There Was A Man in Israel: An Israeli Folk Song About Bar Kochba

Written by Levin Kipnis, a well-known Israeli educator and author of children’s literature, theater, and music, this song describes Simon ben Kosevah, known as Bar Kochba, the Jewish military hero who led the legendary Bar Kochba Revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE and ultimately became the leader of the independence Jewish state for three years. Lag B’Omer is often associated with Bar Kochba because it is said that on this day his army attempted to conquer Jerusalem during the Second Jewish Revolt. The Zionist movement adopted Bar Kochba as a national hero, drawing a parallel between the Bar Kochba revolt and the modern struggle for Jewish independence. This song is often sung on Lag B’Omer, praising Bar Kochba as a bold fighter, and the precursor to modern Zionist pioneers. 

The Was A Man in Israel

A man lived in Israel

Bar Kochba was his name,
A young and tall man
With shining eyes
He was a hero
He called for freedom
Everyone loved him
He was a hero, a hero!

One day something happened
Ah, a sad incident
Bar Kochba was captured
And put into a cage
There was a huge lion there
Inside the cage roaring
Bar Kochba, don’t be afraid
Bar Kochba, Be strong! Be Strong!

And indeed – he was not afraid
No-one was as daring as he!
He quickly jumped on the lion
And as light as an eagle he flew
On the mountain and valley he flew
Holding a flag of freedom in his hand
Everyone applauded him
Bar Kochba, Hurray! Hurray!

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