Psalm 137 – Summary by Sherry:
1. By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, we also wept when we remembered Zion.
2. On willows in its midst we hung our harps.
3. For there our captors asked us for words of song and our tormentors [asked of us] mirth, “Sing for us of the song of Zion.”
4. “How shall we sing the song of the Lord on foreign soil?”
5. If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget [its skill].
6. May my tongue cling to my palate, if I do not remember you, if I do not bring up Jerusalem at the beginning of my joy.
7. Remember, O Lord, for the sons of Edom, the day of Jerusalem, those who say, “Raze it, raze it, down to its foundation!”
8. O Daughter of Babylon, who is destined to be plundered, praiseworthy is he who repays you your recompense that you have done to us.
9. Praiseworthy is he who will take and dash your infants against the rock.
In addition to teaching a tune to verses 5 and 6, above, Rabbi Maccabi taught the following
· Remembering Zion/Israel is what binds Jews nowadays (more than observing mitzvot or the precepts in the Torah). We still quote part of this psalm at weddings, before breaking the glass.
· It was unimaginable that we would be expelled from Israel, after our wandering in the desert, becoming a distinct nation, building the mishkan and then the Temple just as we were told to do, as G-d wanted us to do. But the 1st expulsion wasn’t the end of us, and we “got” the Babylonian Talmud as a result. After returning to the land, we were able to rebuild the Temple and settle back into Israel, but then were expelled again (by Rome). They say building of the 3rd Temple will usher in the messianic age.
· Why were we sitting by the river in Babylon and crying? Because those who cried on the journey from Israel were killed, so we waited to mourn until it was safe to do so. Same like the Nazis did years after..
· This was written for the 1st expulsion (which only lasted ~70 years), but foreshadows the 2nd one as well (Rome was referred to as Edom).
· The psalmist wrote praise for the destruction of our destroyers, but note that he didn’t write that we would take vengeance ourselves.