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Lament During the Babylonian Exile

137 By the rivers of Babylon,
there we sat, yes, we wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows[a] in her midst,
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors asked of us
words of a song,
and our tormentors[b] asked of us jubilation,
“Sing for us from a song of Zion.”
How could we sing the song of Yahweh
in a foreign land?[c]
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget.[d]
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if do not I exalt Jerusalem
above my highest joy.
Remember, O Yahweh, against the sons of Edom
the day of Jerusalem,
the ones who said, “Lay it bare! Lay it bare
to its foundation!”
O daughter of Babylon, about to be devastated,
happy shall be he who pays back to you
what you paid out to us.[e]
Happy shall be he who seizes
and smashes your children
against the rock.


  1. Psalm 137:2 Species of tree uncertain
  2. Psalm 137:3 Only occurring once in the MT, this interpretation is uncertain. The LXX’s “carried us captive” is a guess. If related to the Hebrew root yll it might have the idea of “mockers/yammerers”
  3. Psalm 137:4 Literally “a land of a foreigner”
  4. Psalm 137:5 That is, how to play a musical instrument
  5. Psalm 137:8 Literally “with what you treated us”