EḤAD MI YODEA' ("One; who knows?"):
By: Kaufmann Kohler
Initial words of a Hebrew nursery-rime which, with ḥad Gadya, is recited at the close of the Seder on Passover eve. It consists of thirteen numbers, and was probably recited originally as a dialogue, if not in chorus.
- Question: "One—who knows?" Answer: "One—I know: One is our God in heaven and on earth."
- Question: "Two—who knows?" Answer: "Two—I know: the two tables of the Covenant." Chorus: "One is our God in heaven and on earth."
- Question: "Three—who knows?" Answer: "Three—I know: the three patriarchs." Chorus: "Two tables of the Covenant, One is our God in heaven and on earth."
- Question: "Four—who knows?" Answer: "Four—I know: the four mothers in Israel." Chorus: "Three patriarchs, Two tables of the Covenant, One is our God in heaven and on earth."
- Question: "Five—who knows?" Answer: "Five—I know: the five books of Moses." Chorus: "Four mothers in Israel, Three . . . ."
- Question: "Six—who knows?" Answer: "Six—I know: the six books of the Mishnah." Chorus: "Five books of Moses, Four . . . ."
- Question: "Seven—who knows?" Answer: "Seven—I know: the seven days of the week." Chorus: "Six books of the Mishnah, Five . . . ."
- Question: "Eight—who knows?" Answer: "Eight—I know: the eight days of circumcision." Chorus: "Seven days of the week, Six . . . ."
- Question: "Nine—who knows?" Answer: "Nine—I know: the nine months of child-bearing." Chorus: "Eight days of circumcision, Seven. . . ."
- Question: "Ten—who knows?" Answer: "Ten—I know: the Ten Commandments." Chorus: "Nine months of childbearing, Eight. . . ."
- Question: "Eleven—who knows?" Answer: "Eleven—I know: the eleven stars" (in Joseph's dream: Gen. xxxvii. 9). Chorus: "Ten Commandments, Nine. . . ."
- Question: "Twelve—who knows?" Answer: "Twelve—I know: the Twelve Tribes of Israel." Chorus: "Eleven stars, Ten. . . ."
- Question: "Thirteen—who knows?" Answer: "Thirteen—I know; the thirteen attributes of God" (Ex. xxxiv. 6-7). Chorus: "Twelve Tribes of Israel, Eleven. . . ."
This song, stated by Zunz in "G. V." p. 133 to occur only in German Pesaḥ haggadahs since the fifteenth century, was later found by Zunz himself in the Avignon ritual as a festal table-song for holy-days in general ("Allg. Zeitung des Judenthums," iii. 469). The theory, therefore, advanced by Zunz, and worked out in detail by Perles ("Grätz Jubelschrift," 1887, pp. 37 et seq.; Brüll's "Jahrb." iv. 97 et seq.), that it is an adaptation of a German folk-song, must be revised, notwithstanding the striking parallels brought by the former from Simrock's "Die Deutschen Volkslieder" (1851, p. 520), where it is shown that what was originally a peasants' drinking-song was adapted by monks, and the numbers (one to twelve successively) declared to signify: one, the Lord God who lives in heaven and earth; two, the tablets of Moses; three, the Patriarchs; four, the Evangelists; five, the wounds of Jesus; six, the jugs of wine at the wedding of Cana; seven, the sacraments; eight, the beatitudes; nine, the choruses of angels; ten, the Ten Commandments; eleven, the eleven thousand virgins; twelve, the twelve Apostles. Other German parallels are given in L. Geiger's "Zeitschrift für die Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland," iii. 93, 234 (note), 238; while Sander ("Das Volksleben der Neugriechen," 1844, p. 328) has compared an old Greek Church song; Kohler, in Geiger, "Zeitschr." l.c. p. 239, an English Church song; and Green, in "The Revised Hagada," p. 98, London, 1897, a Scotch nursery-rime.
A peculiar feature of Eḥad Mi Yodea' is that it proceeds to the unlucky number thirteen (see "D. M. L. Z." xxix. p. 634, note), and stops there as if to make the Jew feel that with him thirteen(= ) is a holy, and therefore lucky, number. The origin of the numerical folk- or riddle-song has been traced by Kohler (l.c.) to ancient Oriental sources (comp. Cosquin, "Contes de Lorraine," 1876).
- Kohler, Sage und Sang im Spiegel Jüdischen Lebens, in L. Geiger's Zeitschrift für die Gesch. der Juden in Deutschland, 1889, iii. 234-240.