The song, originally called "Tikvatenu" (Our Hope), later became "Hatikvah," the national anthem of the State of Israel, lifting the spirits of Zionists around the world for over a century.
Naphtali Herz Imber was born in 1856 into a Hasidic family. He received a traditional education, and left home at an early age to wander around the world. He came to Palestine in 1882 and stayed for six years writing essays, poetry and articles for Hebrew periodicals.
Tikvatenu, was first published in 1886, although it had initially been read in public as early as 1882 to a group of farmers in Rishon LeZion who received it enthusiastically.
Among them was Samuel Cohen, who heard the poem and enjoyed it so much that he promptly set it to music.
"Hatikvah" was sung at the conclusion of the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basle in 1903, the last congress presided over by Theodor Herzl, who died tragically the following year. The anthem was sung at all subsequent Zionist Congresses, and at the 18th Congress, held in Prague in 1933, it was officially confirmed as the Zionist anthem.
'Tikvatenu' became the unofficial anthem of Jewish Palestine under the British mandate. At the Declaration of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, "Hatikvah" was sung by the assembly at its opening ceremony.
The original text of haTikva was different from the one we have today. It was five times longer and it included the Jewish aspiration of "coming back to the land of our forefathers, and to the city founded by King David (=Jerusalem)".
This was part of the original text: od lo abda tikvatenu, hatikva hanoshana, lashub leEretz Abotenu, leir bah David chana...
As you can see, the last eight words were changed, once the State of Israel was established and the People of Israel were resettling in the land of our forefathers.
Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024