[Luke 19:44 NLT] (44) They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not accept your opportunity for salvation."

[Luke 19:44 MGNT] (44) καὶ ἐδαφιοῦσίν σε καὶ τὰ τέκνα σου ἐν σοί καὶ οὐκ ἀφήσουσιν λίθον ἐπὶ λίθον ἐν σοί ἀνθ’ ὧν οὐκ ἔγνως τὸν καιρὸν τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς σου

Psalm 137: 8 Wretched daughter of Babylon! blessed shall he be who shall reward thee as thou hast rewarded us. 9 Blessed shall he be who shall seize and dash thine infants against the rock. Compiled from the Translation by Sir Lancelot C. L. Brenton 1851

[Psa 137:8-9 LXX] (8) θυγάτηρ Βαβυλῶνος ἡ ταλαίπωρος μακάριος ὃς ἀνταποδώσει σοι τὸ ἀνταπόδομά σου ὃ ἀνταπέδωκας ἡμῗν (9) μακάριος ὃς κρατήσει καὶ ἐδαφιεῗ τὰ νήπιά σου πρὸς τὴν πέτραν

  • 1
    There is a difference between an allusion and the use of similar wording. Events may be described with similar words because they are similar events. But an allusion is a deliberate association with a specific situation. I cannot see, here, that there is evidence of allusion, only similar wording in s similar context. What makes you think that it is an allusion ?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 6, 2019 at 12:51
  • The crushed babies. That doesn't seem like too common of an event and the Psalm seems messianic: "He (the messiah) will be blessed for crushing your babies...". Perhaps the idea is that Jesus is going to crush the babies of the new Babylon (apostate Israel)?
    – Ruminator
    Apr 6, 2019 at 12:55
  • 1
    ἐδαφίζω Strong 1474 is to throw to the ground or dash to the ground [Thayer]. I think you might be correct, having considered it. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 6, 2019 at 19:35
  • I word add the the two passage are dissimilar in essential ways and similar in accidental ways. Dec 8, 2022 at 19:51
  • Please consider Gal 4:21-31, and also: [Jer 13:13-14 NASB20] [13] then say to them, 'This is what the LORD says: "Behold, I am going to fill all the inhabitants of this land--the kings who sit for David on his throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem--with drunkenness! [14] "Then I will smash them against each other, both the fathers and the sons together," declares the LORD. "I will not have compassion nor be troubled nor take pity so as to keep from destroying them."'"
    – Ruminator
    Dec 8, 2022 at 20:20

2 Answers 2


There is probably a general allusion here but let us not be too specific. The only words Luke 19:44 and Ps 137:9 have in common are "dashing babies".

However, the same pair of words also appear in 2 Kings 8:12; Isaiah 13:16-18; Hosea 10:14, 13:16, Nah 3:10, etc, and also in the Homer's Iliad, xxii. 63: "My bleeding infants dashed against the floor." (Thanks to Ellicott for this reference.)

This ancient barbarous behaviour was a sad but common practice of ancient warfare that has been replaced with more modern barbarism that is just as hideous.

There is an important difference between Luke 19:44 and Ps 137:9,

  • Luke 19:44 is discussing the Roman army despoiling Jerusalem and its inhabitants
  • Ps 137:9 is discussing and un-named army that would destroy Edom, the "daughter of Babylon" (v7 & 8) and kill its inhabitants.

Thus, dashing infants against the ground or rocks is general figure of speech denoting merciless warfare (Isa 13:18) by the marauding army against its unfortunate victims.

  • Do you read it as a reference to the Messiah ("blessed is he who dashes...") or just any dasher?
    – Ruminator
    Apr 6, 2019 at 22:33
  • I do not see a direct reference to Messiah in Ps 137, only to the general providence of God as the Jews left revenge/repayment (v8) up to divine justice, "happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us. "
    – user25930
    Apr 6, 2019 at 22:36

The idea that Luke 19:44 is an allusion to Psalm 137:9 must be rejected on two grounds. First, Psalm 137's curse is not a prophecy but a poetic expression of extreme bitterness. Second, the prophecy in Luke is uttered in sadness while the imprecation in Psalm 137 is made in a spirit of revenge.

Note the context of Luke, just prior to the verse mentioned in the OP:

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side."

Compare this with the feeling of the psalmist, who opens his song with a bitter lament over Israel's suffering in exile and concludes:

Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us.

Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

Historically, Babylon was not repaid for what it did to Judah. No infants were dashed on its walls in retribution. The Babylon Empire collapsed after the battle of Opsis and Cyrus the Great took Babylon unopposed. As mentioned, the psalmist is not uttering a divinely inspired prophecy here, he is expressing understandable human bitterness at those who had destroyed Jerusalem and forced him and his people into exile.

So no, Luke 22 does not allude to Psalm 137. Jesus loved Jerusalem. He did not curse it or wish its residents ill; nor did he bless those who would later murder Jewish infants. Rather, he wept over Jerusalem's fate because its people did not understand. The psalmist, on the other hand, hated Babylon and rejoiced in the prospect of retribution, which did not in fact come to pass.

  • Hi Dan and thank you for your thoughts. I must disagree with your first point, that the Psalm cannot be both as a having a historical context and a separate prophetic one. I'm of the opinion that the NT authors see everything in the Tanach (and the Greek writings) to be prophetic of the life and times of Jesus. Also, as to ignorance, the only case for that is in a 4th century interpolation: [Luk 23:34 NKJV] Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots. NU-Text brackets the first sentence as a later addition.
    – Ruminator
    Dec 8, 2022 at 20:04
  • [Luk 21:20-22 NKJV] [20] "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. [21] "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. [22] "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
    – Ruminator
    Dec 8, 2022 at 20:05
  • similar in that it is a prediction of destruction based on vengeance, but here this is not Jesus' vengeance, for he wept over Jerusalem, while the psalmist wished Babylon harm and blessed those who committed atrocities. Dec 9, 2022 at 19:31
  • Jesus' "meat" was to do the will of the one who sent him, not to act on his own: [Jhn 4:34 NIV] [34] "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. He was resigned to God's will: [Luk 22:42 NIV] [42] "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
    – Ruminator
    Dec 9, 2022 at 20:11

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