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.
Table of Contents Previous Chapter Next Chapter


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.

New American Bible Copyright © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

USCCB Home Page New American Bible Home Page


New American Bible
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3000
December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops