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When reading Psalm 137:9 "Blessed is the one who takes your babies and dashes them against rocks."

Sometimes they’re translated as happy or blessed. So are the enemies happy that they dashed babies or are they blessed?

From what I understand this has fulfillment and is talked about in Isaiah 13.

What is happening here?

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How should psalm 137:9 be interpreted?

Psalm 137:8-9 (ASV)

8 O daughter of Babylon, [a]that art to be destroyed, Happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee As thou hast served us. 9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones Against the rock.

Psalm 137:8-9 (NASB)

8 O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, How blessed will be the one who repays you With the recompense with which you have repaid us. 9 How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock.

Verse 8

"The one who repays you" refers to the Medes and the Persians. that God aroused against Babylon ( Isaiah 21:2-9), God uses the Persian ruler Cyrus to liberate his people and by means of his prophet Isaiah, prophesies how Babylon will be thoroughly destroyed.

Isaiah 47:1 (NASB)

Lament for Babylon

47 “Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; Sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans! For you shall no longer be called tender and delicate.

Isaiah 13:14-16 (NASB)

14 And it will be that like a hunted gazelle Or like sheep with none to gather them, They will each turn to his own people, And each one flee to his own land. 15 Anyone who is found will be thrust through, And anyone who is captured will fall by the sword. 16 Their little ones also will be dashed to pieces Before their eyes; Their houses will be plundered And their wives ravished.

Jeremiah 25:12 (NASB)

Babylon Will Be Judged

12 ‘Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the Lord, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.

Verse 9

ASV 9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones Against the rock.

The Persians showed no pity, they are bent on destroying the fruit of the Babylonian bellies Isaiah 13:17 -18. Their very children will be dashed to pieces before their eyes meaning that the family lineage and family name would be wiped out. Their houses will be pillaged, their wealth would go to the conquerors, and their own wives will be raped by the enemy soldiers, thus their wives would bear children not bearing the family name."

Translations like the YTL and ASV translate "happy" other translations "blessed". In context, I believe the word "happy" is a better translation. History and Isaiah's prophesies tell us, the Persians took great joy in their destruction of Babylon.

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  • +1 for Mede and Persian context. Sep 27 '20 at 4:28
  • What is the difference between Babylon and the "daughter of Babylon"? Sep 29 at 18:57
  • Cory Haffy: Babylon will fall [Isaiah 47:1 NET ] states: “Fall down! Sit in the dirt, O virgin[a] daughter Babylon Sit on the ground, not on a throne, O daughter of the Babylonians! Indeed,[b] you will no longer be called delicate and pampered. " The footnotes NET Bible says: "In the extended metaphor of this chapter, where Babylon is personified as a queen (vv. 5, 7), she is depicted as being both a wife and mother (vv. 8-9). As a virgin daughter, she also sees herself so strong that she will never suffer a defeat. Sep 29 at 20:13
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Ps 137:9 should not be divorced from the previous verse. So let me quote both in context.

This psalm is a lament for the destruction of Jerusalem and has a simple structure:

  • V1-3 laments the taunts of Judah's people at the hands of their captors
  • V4-6 laments the weeping of Judah at the destruction of Jerusalem
  • V7 is a prayer for divine vengeance on Edom for their gloating at Jerusalem's fall
  • V8-9 is a prayer for God's vengeance on Babylon that it would suffer the same fate as Jerusalem - having its babies dashed against the rocks.

Let me quote V8 & 9

8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, blessed is he who repays you as you have done to us. 9 Blessed is he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

The Hebrew word here translated as "blessed" is אֶשֶׁר (esher) meaning "blessed or happy". BDB gives this meaning:

noun [masculine] only Plural construct אַשְׁרֵי happiness, blessedness of 1 Kings 10:8 32t. and with suffix, see below; abstract intensive exclamation O happiness, blessedness of, אַשְׁרֵי אֲנָשֶׁיךָ אַשְׁרֵי עֲבָדֶיךָ אֵלֶּה happy thy men, happy these thy servants; 1 Kings 10:8 (= 2 Chronicles 9:7); אַשְׁרֵי אֱנוֺשׁ יוֺכִיחֶנּוּ אֱלוֺהַּ blessed the man whom Eloah correcteth Job 5:17; אַשְׁרֵי תְמִימֵי דֶרֶךְ blessed the perfect in way Psalm 119:1; אַשְׁרֵי בָנָיו אַחֲרָיו blessed his children after him Proverbs 20:7; elsewhere construct with אָדָם Psalm 32:2; Psalm 84:6; Psalm 84:13; Proverbs 3:13; Proverbs 8:34; Proverbs 28:14; with הַגֶּבֶר Psalm 34:9; Psalm 40:5; Psalm 94:12; Psalm 127:5; (הָ)אִישׁ Psalm 1:1; Psalm 112:1; אֱנוֺשׁ Isaiah 56:2; הַגּוֺי Psalm 33:12; הָעָם Psalm 89:16; Psalm 144:15 (twice in verse); before participle Psalm 2:12; Psalm 32:1; Psalm 41:2; Psalm 84:5; Psalm 106:3; Psalm 119:2; Psalm 128:1; Isaiah 30:18; Daniel 12:12; before verbal clauses without relative Psalm 65:5; Proverbs 8:32; with שֶֿׁ Psalm 137:8; Psalm 137:9; Psalm 146:5;

Thus, Ps 137:9 pronounces a "blessing" on the unnamed power that would be an instrument of divine providence to ultimately conquer Babylon. In so doing and receiving such a blessing, that power would be "happy" or blessed - the word means the same thing in both Hebrew and Greek.

Isa 13 contains a similar prophecy about the final destruction of Babylon. Both Isa 13 and Ps 137 appear to have been written before Babylon was conquered by Medo-Persia and others.

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