Sunday, June 12, 2016

Psalm 137: We sat beside the streams of Babylon

Gebhard Fugel - By the Waters of Babylon
courtesy Wikipedia
Flying back from San Francisco I completed my (first draft) translation of Psalm 136 and made a first draft of Psalm 137.

This of course is a Psalm of great beauty and poingnancy with the shocking ending of calling on someone to kill small babies.

For a Christian it is a classic instance of how all scripture must be read in the light of Christ. Of course God does not want us to ask for revenge on our enemies let alone on the innocent child descendents. St Benedict has it right when he says this is about the need to lay hold of evil thoughts while they are still young and dash them against Christ

Anyway here is my translation, see what you think:
We sat beside the streams of Babylon
And wept when we remembered you, Zion.
On willows in its midst our harps we hung
For there our captors clamoured that we sung
And those who scorned us and had done us wrongs
Demanded gleefully: sing Zion's songs.
How sing The LORD's song in an alien land?
Forget Jerusalem? Forget my hand!
My tongue stick to my mouth if I forget
Jerusalem, or if I fail to set
Jerusalem above my highest joy.
Remember LORD the Edomites, the day
Jerusalem was battered and they say:
To the foundations down, destroy, destroy!
O Babylon's doomed daughter, blessed be
The one who pays you back, treats you as we
Have been by you. Who grabs your children small
And on a solid rock dashes them all.

The text in blue are words I have had to insert to make the verse work. Everything else is in the Hebrew.

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