Psalm 137 v 9

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Psalm 137 v 9

Postby Joachim Schlick » Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:16 am

Written in response to criticisms of this verse in another section of this Forum:

Psalm 137 v 9

Psalm 137 could be said to be one of the best-known Psalms in the world, since its first verse formed the opening lines of a 1980s pop song: ‘By the rivers of Babylon; There we sat down; Yea we wept; When we remembered Zion”’.

The context is that this is a poem, or psalm, of lament, written by one of those (we do not know who) exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon in 587 and 586BC, the culmination of Judah’s downfall under Babylonian attack.

It begins by describing the exiled Jews on the banks of the river Euphrates in Babylon, weeping and lamenting for the destruction of their country and their capital city, Jerusalem.

The downfall of Jerusalem was particularly brutal, and involved the killing of old men, women and children.

It is in that context that the writer of Psalm 137 utters the final verse (quoting from the Authorised Version): "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones”. That follows verse 8: “…happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us”. The Jews, like the writer of this psalm, looked for retaliatory justice against the barbarian savagery with which their country had been attacked and ravaged by Babylon. That ‘retaliation’ was in due course administered by the Medes and the Persians.

Note that the words of Psalm 137 vv 8 and 9 are not the words of God but of someone who has suffered God’s punishment, and is in anguish.

Suffered God’s punishment?

Yes, because God had warned the Israeli/Jewish nation time and again, through prophets like Isaiah, Micah and Jeremiah, that the nation would fall unless it turned from its evil ways, which included sexual sins, dishonesty, worship of false gods etc.

But at the same time, God promised to restore the people of Judah to their country after 70 years, a proposition made through the prophet Jeremiah in 606BC. And that promise was fulfilled to the letter when Cyrus, the Emperor of Persia, issued a decree in 536BC authorising the Jews’ return to Jerusalem. Babylon had also fallen in its time and been overrun by the joint armies of the Medes and Persians – again in precise fulfilment of other prophecies. Notably that uttered by the prophet Isaiah: “The burden of Babylon…Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravaged. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; as for gold they shall not delight in it” (Isaiah 13 vv 1 and 16-17).

Actually, the fall of Babylon was a classic example of poetic justice. Babylon fell the very night that Belshazzar and his court were having a right royal orgy in their palace - an act of supreme complacency if ever there was one - having decided, very unwisely, to use the Temple cups stolen from the temple in Jerusalem for drinking all their miscellaneous alcoholic beverages. As the prophet Daniel records simply: “In that night [the night of Belshazzar’s Feast – 538 B.C.] the King of the Chaldeans [i.e. Babylonians] was slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about three score and two years old”.

Belshazzar had, as it were, failed to see ‘the writing on the wall’. As Daniel noted: “Thou, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart…but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven: and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives and thy concubines have drink wine in them…” (Daniel 5 vv 22-23).

The Psalms often express human anguish, distress and frustration, as does the Book of Lamentation, thought also to have been written in the aftermath of the fall of the country. Similarly, we find expressions of frustration and anger with God in other books like the Book of Job.

One Bible commentary sums up the verse as : “A passionate call for redress” and comments: “War was as cruel then as now; women and children were not spared”.

The New Testament is absolutely plain on page after page. The Christian is not to seek revenge, he is to ‘turn the other cheek’, ‘go the extra mile’ and ‘him that taketh away thy cloke, forbid not to take thy coat also' (Luke 6 v 29).

Even in the Old Testament we read the words: 'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord’. The injunction not to retaliate against actual or perceived injustice may be contrasted with the attitude of certain other faiths.

Incidentally, that much-maligned verse: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” was not a mandate for revenge, but written in order to ensure that justice was fair and did not extend to disproportionate revenge. The punishment was to fit the crime.

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Psalm 137 v 9

Postby Jaf » Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:39 am

On Fri, 05 Jan 2007 03:16:46 -0600, you wrote:

Written in response to criticisms of this verse in another section of this Forum:


<<Yawn>>

So, the psalm was written by 'someone'.
Therefore, at least some parts of the bible are not god's word.

Oh dear.
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Postby Mughi » Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:52 am

Sorry, I dont see how this supports a young earth theory?
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JAF: Brings Me Back To That Old Argument ...

Postby Kekerusey » Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:58 am

John Flemming (Jaf) wrote:So, the psalm was written by 'someone'.
Therefore, at least some parts of the bible are not god's word.


... given that there are many different flavours of any religion, that many disagree on the interpretation and "truth" of some bits versus others how does someone determine which parts of his or her scriptures is true and which parts false and what method do they use to figure it? It's quite amazing how many theists will defend the whole of their scriptures because they know (as do I) that admitting one part to be flawed necessarily forces the re-evaluation of the rest (or at least removes any rational argument against doing so).

In some ways that means I have a grudging respect for scriptural literalists inasmuch as that is the only logical way (IMO) to read scripture i.e. that it's either all true or all false (and false includes such views as where someone believes the scripture should not be literal but is true and I can't for the life of me remember the word that describes that) ... except of course that they're all as nutty as fruit bats! Ultimately I believe the only defensible theistic position is believing for purely personal reasons and treating all scripture as equal in their attempts to understand their universe and explain their relationship with their god.

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Re: JAF: Brings Me Back To That Old Argument ...

Postby Paula Thomas » Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:22 pm

Kyuuketsuki wrote:In some ways that means I have a grudging respect for scriptural literalists inasmuch as that is the only logical way (IMO) to read scripture i.e. that it's either all true or all false (and false includes such views as where someone believes the scripture should not be literal but is true and I can't for the life of me remember the word that describes that) ... except of course that they're all as nutty as fruit bats! Ultimately I believe the only defensible theistic position is believing for purely personal reasons and treating all scripture as equal in their attempts to understand their universe and explain their relationship with their god.

Kyu


Part of me agrees with you but...

a) Had it not been for the non-literalists we would still be living in the bronze-age (which is when most of the Bible was actually written).

b) The main struggle now is against those who, although they probably don't even think of it this way, want to return us to bronze-age attitudes to living. It should not be forgotten that the tree in the Adam and Eve story is often referred to as the tree of knowledge.

Neither should it be forgotten that the only difference between Edward 1 and Hitler in their treatment of the Jews is that Hitler had modern technology.

Actually while I was writing the above a question came up in my mind which I'll look at and write about later - but here's the question: Isn't one of the objections to black holes annihilating everything that enters them that the process destroys information and that that is contrary to information theory. And isn't that in a very real sense what the IDers are trying to do? Perhaps the beginnings of a good slogan and poster there...

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Ant-Semitic

Postby Joachim Schlick » Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:13 pm

Paula (wilmot) wrote: "Neither should it be forgotten that the only difference between Edward 1 and Hitler in their treatment of the Jews is that Hitler had modern technology".

REPLY: It was of course Oliver Cromwell who ended the anti-Semitism of the likes of Edward I and put an end to discrimimation against Jews and allowed them back into England. For the most virulent modern version of anti-Semitism, go to the Gaza Strip and see what kind of education infant Paelstinians receive about the Jews

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Postby Chris Sergeant » Fri Jan 05, 2007 1:14 pm

1980s pop song: ‘By the rivers of Babylon; There we sat down; Yea we wept; When we remembered Zion”’.

I prefer the Baron Knights version along the lines of ‘I know a dentist in Birmingham; There I sat down; Yea I wept; When he fills my teeth with iron’.
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Postby psiloiordinary » Fri Jan 05, 2007 5:00 pm

This verse was posted following Gordon Bennett's (sorry couldn't resist it) assertion that the bible is inerrant i.e. 100 right 100% of the time.

Now we get an explanantion about why this verse was written. This explanantion is not from the bible.

I thinking that killing babies is wrong - for retalliation is wronger (if possible).

But hang on it says its good in the bible and you said the bible is 100% right.

So why does you giving an explanantion now make it right/understandable/wrong. Its wrong so the bible says things which are wrong so you're 100% right comment is wrongity wrong wrong wrong.

You are picking and choosing how and what to interpret from the bible when you get a bit of idefensible obscentity like this and yet other things are ABSOLUTLEY RIGHT. The picking and choosing is being done by people so some of its going to be wrong.

You are inconsistent.

You said;

Incidentally, that much-maligned verse: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” was not a mandate for revenge, but written in order to ensure that justice was fair and did not extend to disproportionate revenge.


Very true but - This verse and the other one are only a mandate for revenge because people go round claiming that the bible is 100% true and never wrong and other people believe them. That's why abortion clinics are dangerous places to work in the US.

A historical document written by people with their own biases and emotions is not a mandate for revenge.

When someone is daft enough to state that it is 100% right and never wrong is exactly the kind of thinking which makes it possible for others to use religion as an excuse for death, terror and suffering.

"Were there is doubt, there is freedom" and sanity.
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Re: JAF: Brings Me Back To That Old Argument ...

Postby rudyvonk » Fri Jan 05, 2007 6:49 pm

Paula wrote:Actually while I was writing the above a question came up in my mind which I'll look at and write about later - but here's the question: Isn't one of the objections to black holes annihilating everything that enters them that the process destroys information and that that is contrary to information theory. And isn't that in a very real sense what the IDers are trying to do? Perhaps the beginnings of a good slogan and poster there...

Paula


That must be Dumbsky's private version of information theory. If I burn my diary in a bonfire, or dip my hard drive in sulphuric acid, what part of IT (non-Dumbsky) am I violating? O no, not the second law of thermodynamics, again! :cry:
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Re: JAF: Brings Me Back To That Old Argument ...

Postby Paula Thomas » Fri Jan 05, 2007 7:12 pm

rudyvonk wrote:
That must be Dumbsky's private version of information theory. If I burn my diary in a bonfire, or dip my hard drive in sulphuric acid, what part of IT (non-Dumbsky) am I violating? O no, not the second law of thermodynamics, again! :cry:


I know this is very odd but see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_information_paradox

I has to say that is indeed very counter intuitive but it has little to do with Dembski I'm afraid.

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Psalm 137 v 9

Postby Dave Oldridge » Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:41 am

On 5 Jan 2007 at 7:13, Joachim Schlick wrote:

Paula (wilmot) wrote: "Neither should it be forgotten that the
only difference between Edward 1 and Hitler in their treatment
of the Jews is that Hitler had modern technology".

REPLY: It was of course Oliver Cromwell who ended the
anti-Semitism of the likes of Edward I and put an end to
discrimimation against Jews and allowed them back into England.
For the most virulent modern version of anti-Semitism, go to the
Gaza Strip and see what kind of education infant Paelstinians
receive about the Jews

Sort of like the education infant anti-Catholic bigots receive in
their cults about the RCC.


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Psalm 137 v 9

Postby Dave Oldridge » Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:41 am

On 5 Jan 2007 at 7:13, Joachim Schlick wrote:

Paula (wilmot) wrote: "Neither should it be forgotten that the
only difference between Edward 1 and Hitler in their treatment
of the Jews is that Hitler had modern technology".

REPLY: It was of course Oliver Cromwell who ended the
anti-Semitism of the likes of Edward I and put an end to
discrimimation against Jews and allowed them back into England.
For the most virulent modern version of anti-Semitism, go to the
Gaza Strip and see what kind of education infant Paelstinians
receive about the Jews

Sort of like the education infant anti-Catholic bigots receive in
their cults about the RCC.


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Psalm 137 v 9

Postby Dave Oldridge » Sat Jan 06, 2007 4:41 am

On 5 Jan 2007 at 4:58, Kyuuketsuki wrote:


John Flemming (Jaf) wrote:
So, the psalm was written by 'someone'.
Therefore, at least some parts of the bible are not god's
word.


... given that there are many different flavours of any
religion, that many disagree on the interpretation and "truth"
of some bits versus others how does someone determine which
parts of his or her scriptures is true and which parts false and
what method do they use to figure it? It's quite amazing how
many theists will defend the whole of their scriptures because
they know (as do I) that admitting one part to be flawed
necessarily forces the re-evaluation of the rest (or at least
removes any rational argument against doing so).

In some ways that means I have a grudging respect for scriptural
literalists inasmuch as that is the only logical way (IMO) to
read scripture i.e. that it's either all true or all false (and
false includes such views as where someone believes the
scripture should not be literal but is true and I can't for the
life of me remember the word that describes that) ... except of
course that they're all as nutty as fruit bats! Ultimately I
believe the only defensible theistic position is believing for
purely personal reasons and treating all scripture as equal in
their attempts to understand their universe and explain their
relationship with their god.

You're buying into the same bibliolatrous heresy they are, only
you reject its conclusion (but not its premise).

The Bible is not a single work by a single author. It is a
collection. The Old Testament was written over a period of
roughly a thousand years, though most of what we have comes from
Ezra's 6th Century BCE redactions and from the writings of
prophets around his time and later. There isn't even any
agreement among Christians as to exactly which works are part of
this collection and which are not.

The New Testament writings were written by the apostles or (more
likely) by their immediate followers and disciples, probably
overseen by their apostolic leader. They were collected and
circulated for nearly 300 years before there was really an
OFFICIAL canon.

In short, the Bible is a traditional collection of writings, not
a single work by a single author. It is entirely superstitious
to treat it as the latter. And this superstition was never
really popular until it began to achieve some followers in the
USA in the 19th century, often to the tune of populist politics.

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Postby Peter Henderson » Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:55 pm

I prefer the Baron Knights version along the lines of ‘I know a dentist in Birmingham; There I sat down; Yea I wept; When he fills my teeth with iron’.


So did I Chris. Did Howard Conder play drums on that one or had he left the group at that stage ?
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Re: JAF: Brings Me Back To That Old Argument ...

Postby Derek Potter » Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:07 pm

wilmot wrote:I know this is very odd but see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_hole_information_paradox
I has to say that is indeed very counter intuitive.

Puzzled. *What* is counter-intuitive? Most of us find it all too easy to forget things and have no problem with black holes doing the same thing...
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