Read the excuses these scholars make for violence in the bible

Psalm 137 7-9 Understanding Violence in the Bible

Posted: 01/25/2013 10:57 am EST  |  Updated: 01/25/2013 11:21 am EST

The Bible comes up in the conversation on HuffPost Religion almost daily. One disturbing psalm is of particular interest commenting community. On a recent article we posted about what the bible says about hope, a commenter wrote, “I don’t know what it says about hope but I found this nifty verse about murdering infants.”

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That wasn’t the first time one of our readers brought it up. The Religion team sees Psalm 137: 7-9 appear in virtually any conversation on an article that mentions the Bible or one of our many pieces of scriptural commentary. With so much interest, we couldn’t ignore the topic of violence in the Bible any longer. What is the deal with murdering babies? It couldn’t be instruction for living in the same vein as “love thy neighbor”. Could it? What does it even mean? What’s the context?

We reached out to three scholars to get the low-down on of the most eyebrow raising pieces of scripture in the Bible. Our experts are Joel Baron, a fifth year student at Hebrew College, a pluralistic rabbinic seminary, Julia M. O'Brien, professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and Greg Carey, professor of New Testament. Both O'Brien and Carey teach at Lancaster Theological Seminary. Below is the full hebrew translation of the psalm and collection of our approaches from the scholars.

The Verse
1 By the rivers of Babylon,
there we sat and we wept
as we remembered Zion.
2 On the poplars within her we hung our lyres,
3 for it was there our captors asked us for words of song,
and our tormentors – for their amusement –
said, “Sing for us from a song of Zion.”
4 How can we sing a song of the Lord on foreign soil?
5 O Jerusalem, if I should forget you may my right hand wither.
6 May my tongue cleave to my palate
if I cease to remember you,
if I do not cause Jerusalem to be raised
to the very top of my joy.
7 Do you remember, O Lord, the Edomites on
the day of Jerusalem?
How they said, “Tear her down!
Down to her very foundation!”
8 O, Daughter of Babylon, you despoiler,
Happy is the one who pays you your recompense
as you dealt out to us.
9 Happy the one who will seize and dash your infants against the rock!

Read the rest here. Read the excuses they make.

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Yes, I agree completely Napoleon.

Very apt Napoleon!

The whole bible is a horror story. It endorses rape, murder, incest, slavery and so much more

agreed - pure horror and nonsense

Wanting so desparately to do the "will of God" the superstitious bible reader learns that Judas had betrayed Christ and later "went out and hanged himself." Belief in the casting of lots and other supernatural ways of learning of God's will, the bible reader next casts his bible upon the floor, and the book opens. The first passage that is read says,"go thou and do likewise."

I understand what you mean Dennis - religious people are very superstitious. The things they believe boggle the imagination.

There used to be so-called "residential schools" here in Canada for Native children and they were operated by Catholic, Anglican and United churches. The priests and nuns would beat, starve, rape and torture the children if they were caught laughing, reading, hugging, speaking their own indigenous language or talking of their Native heritage. The church mass murdered children who refused to convert to Christianity and then stole their land. The Christians were using the bible to commit these crimes. Here are the bible verses they used:

When the Lord God brings you into the land you are entering to possess, and drives out before you many nations and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally.

Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy. Do not allow any of them to live.

This is what you are to do to them: break down their alters, smash their sacred stones, cut down their trees and burn them in the fire.

For you are a people chosen of the Lord over all others on the face of the Earth.

These were taken from the old testament of the bible Deuteronomy 7: 1-2, 5-6. These so-called residential schools were designed for genocide to redue the Native population. In the middle of the night the Native children were taken away from their families by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and put in gun boats and taken away to the "residential schools". Once there the children were experimented on like in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany during World War 2. The children were often sterilized in an attempt to cull the Native population and this was when the Christians were beating, raping and murdering the Native children. The Natives were given electric shock treatment, forced to have abortions and much more. Those that were infected with deadly diseases like tuberculosis and smallpox were forced to play with children who were not sick and they were forced to share beds instead of the sick being separated from the healthy. When the children got sick the "schools" simply refused them medical treatment and they died and no one could prove that it was not just a tragic incident, but really murder. Millions of children were killed by these diseases and they were not naturally infected with them. Insted, the Christians gave them infected blanets so when the children slept with them in bed they would get sick. Of all the Native children forced to go to these "residential schools" it is known that at least 50% of them died from diseases or abuse. To this day, the Canadian government and churches still say they had no idea it was happening, but that is a lie. This genocide and holocaust is very similar to that of what the Jews suffered at the hands of Hitler during World War 2.

Excellent find, Steph.  I have no problem with violence in the Bible, only with attempts to rationalize it.  Those people were like us, but without the intervening centuries of development of morality.  Even so, we're not much better.

My favorite passage is Deteronomy 25:12: If two men get into a fight and the wife of one tries to help but seizes the other guy's genitals, you are to "cut off her hand.  Show no mercy."  Elsewhere, the penalty for adultery, homosexuality, and disrespecting one's parents is death.

I'll go with this:

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.
1.  The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;         5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,         10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.         15
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.         20
Honestly speaking, I didn't remember half the quoted verses in this thread from my bible study. The two prolific snippets of the "good" book that I have in memory are concerned with unfounded faith (which is ignorance) Proverbs 3 verse 5 and something that simply sickened me to my stomach Colossians 3 verse 22

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