Posted by: edhensley | July 26, 2009

Happy and Blessed Are Those Who Dash Children Against Rocks


 

Psalm 137 (NIV)

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

 2 There on the poplars
       we hung our harps,

 3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
       our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
       they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

 4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD
       while in a foreign land?

 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
       may my right hand forget its skill .

 6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
       if I do not remember you,
       if I do not consider Jerusalem
       my highest joy.

 7 Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did
       on the day Jerusalem fell.
       “Tear it down,” they cried,
       “tear it down to its foundations!”

 8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
       happy is he who repays you
       for what you have done to us-

 9 he who seizes your infants
       and dashes them against the rocks.

 King James:

8O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

9Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

The Message:

7-9 God, remember those Edomites,
      and remember the ruin of Jerusalem,
   That day they yelled out,
      “Wreck it, smash it to bits!”
   And you, Babylonians—ravagers!
      A reward to whoever gets back at you
      for all you’ve done to us;
   Yes, a reward to the one who grabs your babies
      and smashes their heads on the rocks!

New American Standard Bible

9How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones
         Against the rock.

  

No matter what translation you use, this passage is nothing more than repulsive vengence.  How many Christians out there believe that it would make you happy to kill children (even Babylonian children) by dashing them against rocks? How many Christians believe that god “rewards” or “blesses” those who “grabs your [Babylonian] babies and smashes their heads on the rocks” ?

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Responses

  1. Hate to break it to you, but you took this way out of context. This is in reference to the Babylonians treating the Israelite babies in the above mentioned way. The psalmist is praying to God for revenge, because in the time of the Old Testament, Jewish Law was “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” So it makes sense for him to wish the same treatment onto the enemies. This isn’t God talking, and God doesn’t believe in killing babies.

    • Your comments are total nonsense.

      First of all, I did not take this out of context. I included the entire chapter, as I do in all my posts. I highlight sections in bold, but I include the entire chapter. Yes, sometimes earlier chapters help, but in this case Psalm 136 are not relevant.

      Most of the time apologists claim “out of context” when they do not like the literal meaning of the verses. I believe that is what you are doing here.

      “An eye for an eye” is mentioned in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. You then claim that Babylonians were killing Jewish children by dashing them against stones. While I do not doubt that this could have occurred, you provide no evidence for Babylonians dashing Jewish children against stones. Did the Babylonian children dash the Jewish children against stones? Probably not. You seem to be justifying the murder of innocent children as a form of revenge. Killing innocent children is immoral now, and it was immoral then.

      Your last sentence implies that I said this was God talking. I never said that. However, many Christians claim that the Bible (or the Autographs) is God’s perfect word. Psalm 137 is part of the Bible, so it is part of God’s word whether it is written by God or written to God.

      Last of all, you claim that God does not believe in killing children. God killed children and unborn babies in the great flood (if you believe the bible). God killed all the firstborn of Egypt prior to the Exodus (if you believe the bible). God sent two bears to kill 42 children who called Elisha baldy (if you believe the bible). God orders the Israelites to kill all the Midianite male children, pregnant women, and unborn babies in Numbers 31. Yet, you arrogantly and ignorantly claim that God does not believe in killing babies! I have only just started the list of verses where God does kill babies. Have you read the bible or do you not believe it?

  2. In the verses you’re referring to, the Psalmist David is saying that someone (not the Jewish people) will be glad to dash the children of the Babylonians on the rocks to repay them for what they’d done to the Jews.

    That’s pretty remarkable, because the Babylonians hadn’t done anything to the Jews at this point! David predicts BOTH that the Babylonians would overthrow the Jewish people, AND that someone else will overthrow the Babylonians!

    David reigned from approximately 1010 B.C. to 970 B.C. The Babylonians overthrew the Jewish people and destroyed the Jewish Temple in 582 B.C., roughly 400 years AFTER David’s prediction (fulfilling the first prediction.) The Jewish people were taken into captivity by the Babylonians after this time. The Medeo-Persian Empire (predicted by Ezekiel) came to power and overthrew the Babylonians in about 532 B.C. (fulfilling the second prediction.)

    David was right on both counts.

    He NEVER encourages anyone to dash babies on the rocks. Warfare in those days was quite different than it is today, and it was common practice to do exactly this when a people were overthrown and conquered. What David does is predict — 450 years in the future — that someone will do this to the Israelites’ enemies.

    This isn’t an excuse. It’s historical fact. Look it up.

    —–

    Psalm 137

    1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
    2 There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
    3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

    4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD
    while in a foreign land?
    5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget its skill.
    6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
    if I do not remember you,
    if I do not consider Jerusalem
    my highest joy.

    7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did
    on the day Jerusalem fell.
    “Tear it down,” they cried,
    “tear it down to its foundations!”
    8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
    happy is the one who repays you
    according to what you have done to us.
    9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
    and dashes them against the rocks.

    • There is no evidence that David wrote this Psalm. This Psalm is not attributed to David in the King James, NIV, or any version I looked at.

      7 Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did
      on the day Jerusalem fell

      This is talking about a past tense event. Notice it does not say “Jerusalem will fall.” It says that Jerusalem has fallen. This is not a prophecy, as you falsely claimed, or as your “cut and paste” bible scholarship says.

      No serious Bible scholar believes that all of the Psalms were written by David and Solomon. Most believe the Psalms were written over a 500 year period. The Psalms are also believed to be set to music and are not believed to be prophetical.

      There is evidence that the Psalms in their current form were compiled from a larger list. Most versions of the Septuagint contain Psalm 151. This Psalm was also found in the Dead Sea Scrools in the Psalms Scroll. This scroll presents the current list in a different order and contains many Psalms not found in any list (Catholic, Protestant, Greek, or Hebrew, which you may be surprised to learn all number Psalms differently). The Peshitta, or Syriac Bible, contains Psalms 152-156. Why did I bring up these extra Psalms? I often discuss with others the history of how the Bible was compiled. Most people are shocked to learn of the hundreds of gospels, the other revelations and acts books, why the Catholic and Protestant Bibles are different. This is just another example of how some books were at one time considered equals (Psalm 150 and Psalm 151), but later, due to human selection, one book is considered the word of God (Psalm 150) and the other book is considered merely a text written by men (Psalm 151).

  3. oh, this was something I found on Yahoo answers, so when the writer says that ‘this isn’t an excuse’ he’s answering the previous person’s question, so that has nothing to do with what either of you said,

    I hope this clears things up a bit,

    Matthew

    • Israel never conquered Babylon, but the Medes and Persians did. The Psalmist isn’t condoning this, but warning Babylon of repayment. The stern law of retaliation demanded that Babylon be treated as she had treated Jerusalem.

      • The verses do not mention Medes or Persions, so you are retrofitting events to justify this hate crime. Verses 5,6, and 7 specifically mention Jerusalem. The psalmist is clearly saying that the killing of children is justified revenge for the destruction of Jerusalem. Not only is it justified, but “a reward” will be given to whoever does this baby killing (KJV) or that it will make the baby killers “happy” (NIV) or “blessed” (NASV).

  4. The psalms show us how to pray. When we are angry we are not to explode in anger nor is it healthy to hold it in and stuff it. When we are sad, it is not necessarily appropriate to go around moping and pouring our sadness into every other aspect of our life – and again, it is not healthy to stuff it. We are to pray our emotions. The Psalms demonstrate that every corner of the human heart can be brought to God in prayer, we don’t have to hold anything back with him. We rage at God in anger we can ask God to dash the heads of infants against rocks if that is how we feel at the time. There is nothing we need to hold back from God. The Psalms are not supposed to be morally prescriptive, they are instead, a beautiful picture of God’s desire for us to pour out our hearts to him. Our deepest, darkest anger and frustration can be poured out to him. That is all this Psalm demonstrates. Hope this helps.

  5. Good job exposing this friend.

  6. We know that the Psalm 137:9 reflects the murderous evils of the christian god that as recently as a few weeks ago failed to prevent a Tsunami in Japan and hence thousands of babes and innocent infants along with their parents likewise had their heads and bodies smashed against the rocks as the Tsunami roared in.

    Your god and its methods haven’t changed one iota, it is always consistently murderous and evil even again condoning & permitting the dashing of little children against the rocks as it permitted before and yet again recently in Japan.

    • You sound angry Robert. No one replied to my statement about this Psalm being simply a representation of how raw and real we can be in prayer with God. This is not prescriptive. Psalms are poetry, not moral standards. If you believe God has the power to have stopped what happened in Japan, couldn’t he also have had a reason to allow that your limited finite mind cannot understand?

      • You sound angry Robert. No one replied to my statement about this Psalm being simply a representation of how raw and real we can be in prayer with God. This is not prescriptive. Psalms are poetry, not moral standards. If you believe God has the power to have stopped what happened in Japan, couldn’t he also have had a reason to allow that your limited finite mind cannot understand?

        Conversely you come across as really angry that your claims have been exposed and your failure to legitimately support those claims causes you to make stupid comments like ‘ You are angry ” against those like myself that expose you.

        I can’t possibly be angry against a Story book god for it exists only in the brain-washed minds of those that concocted it and perpetuate that man made nonesense still.

        Far from my being ‘ angry ‘ I am most happy to have the skills to successfully and legitimately refute you Story book believers.

        The fairly early trinitarian forefathers also demonstrated their god’s ‘ love ‘ by torturing, burning and boiling in oil those that wouldn’t freely accept their ‘ god of love ‘, the same ‘ god of love ‘ that loved its Japanese people so much it allowed them to be dashed to pieces on the rocks recently and like the trinitarian swines of old, this god did nothing to prevent their atrocities either as it didn’t prevent its own atrocities such as the recent Tsunami in Japan.

  7. Hey Robert, I didn’t say “you are angry” since I do not know you and have no idea whether you are actually angry or not. The only thing I have to go on is your post, which does sound angry. I reread my post again… I am sorry if I sound hurtful in any way.

    You bring up many points in your response. I don’t, however, see where any of my points have been “exposed.” In fact, my response to you was simply to point out that no one has even attempted to expose my point. Let’s not forget that this thread is about Psalm 137 and not about evil in the world whether it be natural or perpetrated. I will grant that I did begin the subject change by suggesting that if God were powerful enough to stop evil that he might have reasons that we cannot understand to allow it. However, if you look at my initial comment on this post I am only trying to account for why Psalm 137 is in the Bible and how it still fits with the Christian idea of a loving, understanding and merciful God.

    The reason I start there is because the person who posted this thread starts there. He states,”no matter what translation you use, this passage is nothing more than repulsive vengeance. How many Christians out there believe that it would make you happy to kill children (even Babylonian children) by dashing them against rocks? How many Christians believe that god “rewards” or “blesses” those who “grabs your [Babylonian] babies and smashes their heads on the rocks?'” He basically says if God is real, loving and merciful, then there is no way of reconciling that claim with Psalm 137. My post was only to demonstrate that if you take into account the genre of the psalms (i.e. that they are songs sung from the heart, consequently covering the entire scope of human emotion) then there is a way to reconcile a loving God and the plain reading of Psalm 137.

    He assumes that God is loving and merciful – as he knows Christians do – then he asserts that this passage rails against the idea that God is loving and merciful. However, my point was that there is a way to understand this passage (see my initial post) that allows the understanding of God as loving and good to still stand alongside of what is written in Psalm 137. No one, not even you, has responded to my point or tried to show how my interpretation of Psalm 137 is incorrect. To do so, you would need to stand on the initial assumption of this thread (i.e. that God exists and that he is loving and merciful) and then you would need to demonstrate how my interpretation makes a mockery of the text and how really this text is a blatant contradiction to the idea of a loving and merciful God. You can’t expose my point by changing the subject, you have to actually respond to it within the confines of the topic of this thread.

    The other point I made… which did change the subject. Was to simply ask if you believe God has the power to have stopped what happened in Japan, couldn’t he also have had a reason to allow that your limited finite mind cannot understand? You never refuted this point either. You just went on a diatribe about how God exists, then he is evil and wicked for allowing suffering and then you proceeded to accuse me of writing an angry post because my points were refuted… But they were never refuted, so how could I have been angry that they were refuted?

    And I must say Robert… You’re latest response sounds angrier than your first one. If God really is make believe, why get all riled about him like that? You wouldn’t get that angry about Santa Clause or Zeus would you?

    • Your use of ad hominem attacks against Robert (“angry”) only reflects your inability to address the issues.

      I stand by my statement that these verses reflect repulsive vengeance. Here is what you said:

      We rage at God in anger we can ask God to dash the heads of infants against rocks if that is how we feel at the time. There is nothing we need to hold back from God. The Psalms are not supposed to be morally prescriptive, they are instead, a beautiful picture of God’s desire for us to pour out our hearts to him. Our deepest, darkest anger and frustration can be poured out to him.

      Those are your words. We can ask god for vengeance in the form of dashing infants heads against rocks.

      Your statements about Psalms showing we can ask anything of god does not in any way minimize the repulsive vengeance of these verses.

      • I think it does. The “repulsive vengeance” does not originate with God but with humans. God does not condone dashing infants heads against rocks. However, the reality is that we humans (all of us if we’re honest) have murderous desires and impulses. After 9/11 there were many people who felt murderous desires. Just look at how gleefully bin Laden’s death was rejoiced over. God knows what is in our heart. This psalm demonstrates that we can express that to him which is the only place to really express it. The other options, as I stated, are to pour it out onto everyone (not a good choice) or to stuff it (which will turn into depression according to psychodynamic psychology). Or, you could act on it. There is no other way to deal with the anger in our hearts. In this psalm God invites us to express the reality of what is in our hearts to him. Even if you don’t agree and even if my interpretation is not consistent with your presupposition, can’t you at least see that this is a way to understand this verse within a Christian paradigm?

        Also, my comment that Robert sounded angry was merely an observation. I did not use his apparent anger to refute his argument, therefore, it was not a an ad hominem “attack.” Then you say that my supposed ad hominem attack reveals my inability to address the issues. Well, I didn’t have an ad honinem attack as I just pointed out. And the only thing I’ve done on this post has been to address the issues which I have understood to be as follows:

        1) If a Christian God did exist then Psalm 137 demonstrates him to be a capricious, vengeful and evil God.
        2) Christians have no way of dealing with Psalm 137 that can redeem their God from this charge without jettisoning Psalm 137 (the Christian liberal approach) or using some inaccurate piece of historical or theological data to do so(the Christian Conservative approach).
        3) Therefore, the Christian God either does not exist and Psalm 137 further proves that this made up god has an inconsistent character which one would expect from a book made by a conglomeration of men over several centuries. Or, he is, in fact, capricious, vengeful and evil.

        My contention is that my interpretation of this Psalm provides a third alternative which it is not necessary for me to repeat again. Then Robert comes along and does not interact with my argument at all but simply makes a bald assertion that “We know that the Psalm 137:9 reflects the murderous evils of the christian god…” He then attempts to support his stated opinion regarding the character of his version of the “christian god” by stating that the “christian god” failed to save anyone from the most recent tragedy. He is the one who failed to interact with my argument. However, he also assumes the reality of the “christian god” in his post, therefore, I simply pointed out to him that if the Christian God were powerful enough to stop said tragedy, couldn’t he also be all knowing and all powerful enough to have reasons for allowing said tragedy that we are not privy to in our finite state? I am still waiting for a response to this simple question. Robert has not backed up his bald assertion nor answered my simple question.

        Then when you respond to my logic you said. “Those are your words. We can ask God for vengeance in the form of dashing infants heads against rocks. Your statements about Psalms showing we can ask anything of God does not in any way minimize the repulsive vengeance of these verses.” Why not? You don’t tell my why it doesn’t minimize the repulsive vengeance of these verses? It seems to me that since the request originates with sinful man (according to conservative Christian orthodoxy) then the request in no way indicts God. If he were to have said in the next verse, “You oh man have requested a good thing. I will grant your request and bless the man who dashes the Babylonian infants against a rock” then your point would be made. Of course you can take me to other verses in the OT that you believe color God in a way that is consistent with your interpretation of this verse – However, that would be outside the scope of this discussion which is confined to Psalm 137.

        Now, the only way I see that you can refute my way of interpreting this verse is to appeal to your Biblical Interpretation statement where you say, “The Bible does not say ‘this passage is literal, and that passage is metaphor.’ Therefore, I will examine the Bible as if it were all literal.” I assume you would then state that I am finding some metaphorical, obscure or overly nuanced way of getting around the plain reading of this passage. However, do fairy tales have a sentence in them that states this is a fairy tale? Do science fiction novels state they are science fiction? Do poems begin with a line that says “note: this is a poem and not meant to be taken literally?” No, of course not!! Yet, as soon as we start to read a poem or a science fiction novel we immediately recognize them to be the kind of genre that they are and as such, we import certain expectations. The Psalms are clearly emotional and poetic. They are clearly a different kind of genre than the Pentateuch (history) or Paul’s epistles (a written letter). As such, you cannot lay such a blanket statement over all of scripture and then appeal to the fact that scripture does not say it is not literal. I feel especially comfortable saying this about the Psalms which are so obviously emotional poetry.

        Therefore, it seems clear to me that you should be able to say, whether you accept it or not, that you can see how it is conceivable for a Christian to understand this passage as I have laid it out. Thank you.

      • Your last paragraph simply shows that people can interpret any verse in any manner they wish. I do not have time to address every sentence you ended with a question mark, of which there were many. I will only address one:

        However, do fairy tales have a sentence in them that states this is a fairy tale?

        The Bible is an example of one book containing many fairy tales that do not state that they are fairy tales.

    • Hello Patrick,

      I do believe in some form of Intelligent Designer/ID (god for want of a better word) however from my experiences and observances it is Unworthy of my worship and particularly Unworthy is the hypocrytical trinitarian alleged one.

      • Hi Robert,

        So your more deistic. There is an intelligent designer who is clearly unable to intervene lovingly into man’s affairs in order to stop the sin and chaos around us. Got it. I would be interested to know what you think about the question I was asking: if there is a God who is all powerful enough to stop the evil in the world couldn’t he also have good and loving reasons our finite minds can’t comprehend to allow it?

        Ed…

        You have tossed aside my argument again without interacting with it. I did not just make some incoherent assertion about how to interpret this passage. There is a difference between being able to interpret something any way one wishes and having a reasoned, contextual analysis that makes sense of Christian theology and the passage. Your assertion is that this passage is incompatable with the Christian idea of a loving God. I have demonstrated that it is not only compatable, but also addresses the reality of the spectrum of human emotion and how being able to pour one’s true (albeit wicked) heart out to God is a good thing and that God can handle it when no one else can.

        You said that you didn’t have time to address every sentence that I ended with a question mark. However, the one you did address you didn’t address. You just rediculed my perspective without interacting with it, which is a logical fallacy and not an argument. Also, all of the other sentences I ended with a question mark were making the same point as the one you did supposedly comment on.

        As it stands, it seems to me that the purpose of this blog is more to ridicule Christianity and mock the Bible rather than have an honest and robust dialogue regarding the issues at hand. I have read your other posts and there are several examples where you rightly refuse to interact with people who have thrown out a red herring or have gotten of the point of that particular post. I have done nothing but keep the discussion on Psalm 137 and you still have not demonstrated the logical faults of my interpretation.

      • I stand by my statement that these verses reflect repulsive vengeance. Here is what you said:

        We rage at God in anger we can ask God to dash the heads of infants against rocks if that is how we feel at the time. There is nothing we need to hold back from God. The Psalms are not supposed to be morally prescriptive, they are instead, a beautiful picture of God’s desire for us to pour out our hearts to him. Our deepest, darkest anger and frustration can be poured out to him.

        Those are your words. We can ask god for vengeance in the form of dashing infants heads against rocks.

        I already posted the above. I stand by it and see no need to go back and forth with you. Verse 7 starts a prayer to God that contains verse 9, asking for a reward for those who dash the heads of babies against rocks. This is repulsive vengeance.

        Your logic gives Christian Nazis the right to pray for the extermination of Jews. Your logic gives Chrisitan Klan members the right to pray for the murder of Barak Obama. After all, you said we can “ask God to dash the heads of infants against rocks if that is how we feel at the time”. You do not put any limits on prayer, and therefore, any limits on the concept of what God would do (for those who believe in God) when prayed to. Your claim that this wonderfully shows that people can pray for anything (including the killing of Jews, etc) in no way minimizes the repulsive vengeance of these verses. You can try to justify this with convoluted theology, but in doing so you are justifying prayers for genocide and other horrors.

  8. so what Ed?

    Do you have a question or do you just make assertions and then reassert your assertions and then pat yourself on the back?

    If they were no God how would this alleviate your problem with the existence of evil?

    • It is a shame that you are resorting to ad hominem attacks. You did not address the verses presented at all, and your questions are totally irrelevant to this post.;

  9. I find your reply rather amusing.
    Since the majority of your post are attacks on the views of Christians themselves.
    And you associate those views as a blanket condemnation of Christians themselves.
    Now explain to me how one can refute or attack a view without associating that view to the one expressing it?
    How do I appeal to the views of a man without appealing to the man?

    Now I have yet to express my view.
    I asked you a question and you refused to answer it.
    Just because your pastor or you mother failed to teach you what the Bible truly teaches about God, you assume this is inherently attributable to all ministers of the Gospel, this is fallacious.
    If your pastor is a coward or your mother is just to unqualified to present to you the full counsel of God, what has that to do with anything and how does that prove or disprove what the scripture teaches?

    How do you know what is rarely read on Sundays, have you been in all places at all times on Sunday?
    Where do you get your facts?
    So you don’t approve of the God of Judeo Christianity, so what?
    And what have you proven? other than the fact that you don’t approve of it.

    • You have asked 6 questions, none of which relate to these verses. Please address the verses.

  10. This ‘ loving god ‘ recently allowed adults and babes to be again ‘ dashed against the rocks ‘ and slaughtered when it permitted / didn’t prevent that recent Tsunami and flood in Japan. This Story book biblical ‘ loving god ‘ is a misnomer and unworthy of worship.

  11. Ok…here’s my reply to these verses…they are all true.

    Now you respond to my questions.

    • I only discuss verses. I do not have time to answer questions on wide ranging topics.

  12. Hello g gallant,

    You wrote in part: ” Where do you get your facts? ”

    Well the fact are, that any alleged ‘ Holy Book ‘ is in fact purely a man made claim and the facts supporting that it contains the words of a god given to men remains a constant 100% zero!


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