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Psalm 137[a]

Sorrow and Hope in Exile

I

By the rivers of Babylon
    there we sat weeping
    when we remembered Zion.(A)
On the poplars in its midst
    we hung up our harps.(B)
For there our captors asked us
    for the words of a song;
Our tormentors, for joy:
    “Sing for us a song of Zion!”
But how could we sing a song of the Lord
    in a foreign land?

II

If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget.(C)
May my tongue stick to my palate
    if I do not remember you,
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
    beyond all my delights.

III

Remember, Lord, against Edom
    that day at Jerusalem.
They said: “Level it, level it
    down to its foundations!”(D)
Desolate Daughter Babylon, you shall be destroyed,
    blessed the one who pays you back
    what you have done us!(E)
[b]Blessed the one who seizes your children
    and smashes them against the rock.(F)

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 137 A singer refuses to sing the people’s sacred songs in an alien land despite demands from Babylonian captors (Ps 137:1–4). The singer swears an oath by what is most dear to a musician—hands and tongue—to exalt Jerusalem always (Ps 137:5–6). The Psalm ends with a prayer that the old enemies of Jerusalem, Edom and Babylon, be destroyed (Ps 137:7–9).
  2. 137:9 Blessed the one who seizes your children and smashes them against the rock: the children represent the future generations, and so must be destroyed if the enemy is truly to be eradicated.

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