Babylon and Edom We Fight Then and Now
The Hamas terrorists invaded Southern Israel on the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah, Shabbat, 7 October 2013. In a surprising attack, the terrorists crossed the security wall and in a brutal ISIS-style manner, they started murdering unarmed civilians in the neighboring to the border communities. As of the time of this writing, the death toll of this act of genocide reached more than 1,400 Israelis mercilessly murdered; hundreds of Israelis were taken hostages in Gaza including babies whose parents were murdered. Women and girls were raped and murdered; babies were beheaded or burned alive. Those who were taken as hostages are now used as a human shield against the IDF ongoing ground invasion in Gaza.
The Hamas terrorists are evil but not foolish. They knew that they would not have any chance of victory against the finest army in the world. Their goal was to inflict as many casualties among the civilians as they could in order to provoke a harsh reaction from Israel. After Israel will do so and start bombing the Hamas military infrastructure and assets, Hamas will use the abducted Israelis (women, children, and elderly) and even their own civilian population as a human shield, as they are doing it right now. The Hamas strategists then would hope that the public opinion led by the leftist in Israel and in the western “democracies” will turn against Israel who will be seen as the aggressor and the “Palestinians” as victims, as always.
And indeed, the world after a week of empathy to Israelis’ sufferings has now turned to denial and even condemnation to the point of the official Russian position: “Israel has no right to defend itself”. And the U.S. position is not surprising at all demanding “humanitarian ceasefire”, which only the delusional people will believe will not be used by Hamas and the other terrorist factions for regrouping, replenishing, and starting the terrorism over again. Nothing new under the sun since 2005, when Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza under the U.S. pressure receiving the illusory “peace”.
But it will be delusional to even think that this barbaric act of Hamas animals was conceived in Gaza or Ramallah, not even in Teheran, but in Moscow and Beijing. Why? In Time of Reckoning Ministry, we have the strong reason to suspect Russian and China in masterminding the conflict in the Middle East; Iran, and Qatar in organizing and funding respectively, and the proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, in the actual execution of the plan.
Why Russian and China? The new global players (see The Beast Wounded to Death But Resurrected and Chapter Writing on the Wall Concerning the New World Order) has no interest in tolerating any longer the unipolar world created by the U.S. and more particularly in the Middle East. The ongoing negotiation between Saudi Arabia and Israel to continue the Abraham Accords was seen by Russian and China as another step of the U.S. to maintain its strategic influence in the region and in the world and as a prevention of the Gulf countries falling under the influence of BRICS. Besides the world attention must be diverted from the Ukraine war that has been prolonged for two years and is going nowhere.
The U.S. military-industrial-congressional complex thus foresaw more weapons sell until Israel becomes completely dependent of its military aid and a victory of the U.S. diplomacy so needed after the Ukraine failure—until Hamas invaded Israel. All these machinations between the Big Four at the cost of human lives in Israel and Gaza, especially children’s. Why and what does this war have to do with the subject of our study?
The brutality of Babylon
The anonymous Psalm 137, the psalm in memory of the Babylonian exile, was written as a response to the horrific pain suffered by the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by the Babylonians. Parents saw their children tortured and killed, wives and daughters raped and murdered, pregnant women ripped open off. Sitting on the banks of the rivers of Babylon, the exile remembered their lives brutalized and Jerusalem vandalized in ways inexpressively horrible and wept singing a song of Tsiyon.
With such atrocious scenes deeply sunk into the national consciousness, who among the exiles would not want to curse those who ravished their wives and children? Who would not want to see such inhuman perpetrators repaid in vengeance? Because there is nothing more natural for the Jews to desire than seeing retribution for the atrocities done to them. In order to truthfully understand the suffering of the Babylonian exile, the psalm must be taken in its proper historical and contemporary contexts.
By the rivers of Babylon, we bitterly wept.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, and we wept as we remembered Tsiyon. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there, our captors asked us for the words of a song, and our plunderers for rejoicing, “Sing to us a song of Tsiyon! How could we sing the song of Yehovah on foreign soil?” (Psa 137:1-4)
“A nation that can mourn for so long the loss of its land and temple will return one day to their land and see it rebuilt.” Napoleon
From the very beginning, Psalm 137 is telling us that this is a psalm belonging to the Jewish exile in Babylon. The rivers of Babylon here are to be understood as those of the entire empire, not merely the Euphrates and the Tigris, or Kevar and Ulai, on whose banks Ezekiel (Eze 1:3) and Daniel (Dan 8:2) saw visions from heaven. Thus, the psalmist tells that all the Jewish exile in the empire wept for the native land from which they were driven with cruelty.
Once taken in exile, now the oppressors asked them to sing a song for him in praise of the land of Babylon as they used to sing songs in praise of Jerusalem, so that their enemies would scorn and mock them, as if saying, “Where is your God to save you?”. But how could they sing the songs of the Lord to a foreign god? Instead, at the bank of the rivers of Babylon, the exiles wept with deep grief as they remembered Zion and the time when there were the Temple and His Presence. For this national tragedy the Jews bitterly wept, for the joy which was lost to them.
We will not forget you, Yerushalayim!
If I forget you, O Yerushalayim, let my right hand forget. Let my tongue cleave to my palate, if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Yerushalayim above my chief joy. (Psa 137:5-6)
The song of Tsiyon continues in a striking contrast between the present and the former times the Jews remembered in order to lead the exile into knowledge of their sins before YHVH and repentance. This part of the song is a curse for those who would forget the city of the Lord in their hearts, for all those in whom the remembrance of Jerusalem was lost. Consequently, as history would prove it right, those who were the object of this curse became assimilated in the foreign culture and lost their redemption at the end of the Babylonian exile.
Then the song sings that if a Jew forgets Jerusalem and the Land and does not keep in his memory the happiest days while he was in the Land but also the day of her destruction, then he will be made as a mute whose tongue is stuck to his palate, so that he will not be able to speak and sing songs of praise to the Lord any longer.
Remember, O Yehovah, against the sons of Edom the day of Yerushalayim, who said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, to its foundation!” O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy is he who repays you your deed, as you treated us! Happy is he who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock. (Psa 137:7-9)
The song concludes begging for vengeance on the Babylonians and their proxies the Edomites who both raped the city without mercy. The exile bitterly remembered how cruel the Edomites, their brothers by descent, were to them, and how they cheered the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and even participated in it as their barbarous helpers.
Then the psalmist on the wind of prophecy turns to speak to Babylon calling her “daughter of Babylon” to say that the oppressor of the Jews will be oppressed too, and the one who will repay her will be blessed. This curse was indeed fulfilled by Darius the Median, the king of Persia, who destroyed Babylon as it had already been written in the Book of Isaiah. As cruel as the Babylonians were to Israel, so were the Medes and Persians cruel to the daughter of Babylon, when in the second year King Cyrus of Persia ascended and completely destroyed and killed many people in the empire.
The controversial blessing
The song ends with a controversial statement that reads: “Happy is who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock”. Here we will try to explain this difficulty in verse 9 of Psalm 137 that carries emotional charge.
The common interpretation of verse 9 and the psalm as a whole is that it was the desire of the exiles in Babylon to avenge what was done to them by the Babylonians and their savage proxies: the Edomites, brethren to the Jews. And indeed, it would have been natural for the Jews to desire to see retribution for the atrocities done to them. And yet, to say “Happy is he who takes and dashes your little ones” seems to be beyond any retribution. Why the children of your enemies? What guilt must their little ones have done to deserve such “happiness” over their dead bodies?
The Biblical commentators have tried to explain the blessing exclaimed in verse 9, namely, that the psalmist has expressed his feelings as a response to the painful tragedy the Jews suffered at the destruction of Jerusalem. Others view the psalm as a poetry and as such it is acceptable to curse upon the enemies but not to act upon it, because the vengeance is of God.
However, in order to explain this controversial choice of words, we should first notice that the psalmist states ambiguously the following: “happy is (subjectless verb) who dashes” without identifying the subject of the sentence. In other words, the psalmist does not say, “happy is the man” thus clearly identifying the subject, but it plainly says, “happy is who”. Although the psalmist indeed expresses his desire for vengeance, the people in exile were not meant as a subject of this sentence. Who was meant?
You showed them no compassion!
In Isa 47:6 we read that which was then desired for Babylon was the retribution of what Babylon had done to Israel without mercy and compassion. We read thus,
I was wroth with My people; I have profaned My inheritance, and I gave them into your hand. You showed them no compassion, you made your yoke very heavy on the elderly. (Isa 47:6)
Although the Lord was angry with His people, and He used Babylon as an instrument in His hand to destroy the Temple and the Land, and to punish His people for the wickedness they had done, Babylon went too far in the punishment and showed no mercy even to the elderly. But in retribution when the end of the exile came, what was done to the children of Israel by the Babylonians was done to the Babylonians in the same reciprocal justice. What was done to the Jewish women, children, and elderly, the same cruelty came upon them, even upon the children of Babylon. What the psalmist here evoked was nothing less than what was prediction to be executed by the Medes and Persians. We read,
And their children are dashed to pieces before their eyes, their houses plundered, and their wives ravished. See, I am stirring up the Medes against them, who do not regard silver, and as for gold, they do not delight in it. And bows dash the young to pieces, and they have no compassion on the fruit of the womb, their eye spares no children. (Isa 13:16-18)
It is zeal for justice that put such harsh words into the writing of the prophet, which we now read with heavy hearts,
Prepare his children for slaughter, because of the crookedness of their fathers, lest they rise up and possess the land, and fill the face of the world with cities. And I shall rise up against them, declares Yehovah of hosts, and shall cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, and offspring and descendant, declares Yehovah. (Isa 14:21-22)
After the destruction of Babylon by King Koresh, the empire the Babylonian king built never arose again. It was completely obliterated by the Persians with cruelty that left Babylon without name and remnant. We see therefore now that the words of the psalmist are not meant to be taken as a desire of the people for revenge, but as prophecy waiting to be fulfilled by other peoples (the Medes and Persians) when the set time indeed came.
The curse of Psalm 137. The lesson.
If I forget you, O Yerushalayim, let my right hand forget. Let my tongue cleave to my palate, … (Psa 137:5-6)
The choice of words in verses 5 and 6, “Let my right hand forget. Let my tongue cleave to my palate”, are not used by the Psalmist in vain. Their plain interpretation alludes to the fact that symptoms such as “paralyzed hand” and “muteness” point to a medical condition known as “massive stroke”, a sudden loss of consciousness.
The great leader and war hero of Israel Ariel Sharon (1928-2014), (אֲרִיאֵל ari’el, “lion of God”, “heroic lionlike man”; Ariel is also a symbolical name for Jerusalem), was an IDF general and politician who served as the 11th prime minister of Israel from 2001 until 2006. He served in the armed forces of Israel in the 1948 Independence war, the 1956 Suez Crisis, the Six-Day War of 1967, and the Yom-Kippur War of 1973. Yitzhak Rabin called Sharon “the greatest field commander in our history”.
The “lion of God” was the man who encouraged Israelis to establish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the so-called “the West Bank”) and start populating them with Jews. But Ariel Sharon also was the leader who gave up land (“If I forget you, Jerusalem”) under the pressure of the U.S. president George W. Bush and allowed Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from 25 settlements in Judea and Samaria and a complete withdrawal from Gaza. Gaza was then turned over to the Palestinians for the first time since the Six-day War and became breeding ground for terrorism and death. He was in his fifth year as prime minister when he suffered a massive stroke in January 2006 (“let my right hand forget”), which left him comatose (“let my tongue cleave to my palate”) and died in 2014 after eight years in a coma. Sharon was 85.
Ariel Sharon was a great Jew and a great military commander and politician, but he showed weakness as he gave up to a foreign pressure. This is how the first prime minister of Israel, Ben Gurion, responded to the U.S. pressure (“My Mission in Israel, 1948-1951”): “The United States is a powerful country; Israel is a small and weak one. We can be crushed, but we will not commit suicide”. Will the PM Benjamin Netanyahu have the strength and courage to say to the Americans: “We will not commit suicide”. And will a new leader of Israel make the same mistake Ariel Sharon made and ask America what Israel needs to do?
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May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days!
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