The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 137


1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat mourning and weeping when we remembered Zion.


2 On the poplars of that land we hung up our harps.


There our captors asked us for the words of a song; Our tormentors, for a joyful song: "Sing for us a song of Zion!"


But how could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land?


If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand wither.


May my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem beyond all my delights.


Remember, LORD, against Edom that day at Jerusalem. They said: "Level it, level it down to its foundations!"


Fair Babylon, you destroyer, happy those who pay you back the evil you have done us!


3 Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock.



1 [Psalm 137] A temple singer refuses to sing the people's sacred songs in an alien land despite demands from Babylonian captors ( Psalm 137:1-4). The singer swears an oath by what is most dear to a musician - hands and tongue - to exalt Jerusalem always ( Psalm 137:5-6). The psalm ends with a prayer that the old enemies of Jerusalem, Edom and Babylon, be destroyed ( Psalm 137:7-9).

2 [2] Poplars: sometimes incorrectly translated "willow." The Euphrates poplar is a high tree common on riverbanks in the Orient.

3 [9] Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock: the infants represent the future generations, and so must be destroyed if the enemy is truly to be eradicated.

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