The Bible on the Suffering Of The Victims Of The Babylonian Conquest; And Some Of The Psalms

This article is part of a series of Bible passages, which together are mainly about how the Bible says the Jewish race developed and were given laws, how they settled in ancient Israel, and how it says God sometimes punished them for disobeying his commands, which led to them changing their ways.
This is Part 1 (of 4) in Section 10: "The suffering after the Babylonian conquest, and the prophecies of the return of the Jews to Jerusalem".

Some parts of the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation are very unpleasant. If you become offended by anything, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The purpose of the Old Testament seems to have been mainly to try to scare lawless societies into behaving decently, giving up the cruel ways the Bible says they were guilty of. Hence much of the gruesomeness, which is at least in part meant to warn people committing cruel and hurtful actions to change.

In Psalm 137 in the Book of Psalms, the Bible says:

Psalm 137 (CEV)

1 Beside the rivers of Babylon
we thought about Jerusalem,
and we sat down and cried.
2 We hung our small harps
on the willow trees.
3 Our enemies had brought us here
as their prisoners,
and now they wanted us to sing
and entertain them.
They insulted us and shouted,
"Sing about Zion!"
4 Here in a foreign land,
how can we sing
about the LORD?

5 Jerusalem, if I forget you,
let my right hand go limp.
6 Let my tongue stick
to the roof of my mouth,
if I don't think about you
above all else.

7 Our LORD, punish the Edomites!
Because the day Jerusalem fell,
they shouted,
"Completely destroy the city!
Tear down every building!"

8 Babylon, you are doomed!
I pray the Lord's blessings
on anyone who punishes you
for what you did to us.
9 May the Lord bless everyone
who beats Your children
against the rocks!

In Psalm 123 in the Book of Psalms, the Bible says:

Psalm 123 (NIV)

1 I lift up my eyes to you,
to you whose throne is in heaven.
2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he shows us his mercy.

3 Have mercy on us, O LORD , have mercy on us,
for we have endured much contempt.
4 We have endured much ridicule from the proud,
much contempt from the arrogant.

In the Book of Lamentations, the Bible says:

Lamentations chapter 1 (TEV)

1 How lonely lies Jerusalem, once so full of people!

3 Judah's people are helpless slaves, forced away from home. They live in other lands, with no place to call their own- Surrounded by enemies, with no way to escape.

4 No one comes to the Temple now to worship on the holy days. The young women who sang there suffer, and the priests can only groan. The city gates stand empty, and Zion is in agony. 5 Her enemies succeeded; they hold her in their power. The Lord has made her suffer for all her many sins; Her children have been captured and taken away. 6 The splendor of Jerusalem is a thing of the past. Her leaders are like deer that are weak from hunger, Whose strength is almost gone as they flee from the hunters.

7 A lonely ruin now, Jerusalem recalls her ancient splendor. When she fell to the enemy, there was no one to help her; Her conquerors laughed at her downfall. 8 Jerusalem made herself filthy with terrible sin. 9 Her uncleanness was easily seen, but she showed no concern for her fate. Her downfall was terrible; no one can comfort her. Her enemies have won, and she cries to the Lord for mercy.

10 The enemies robbed her of all her treasures. She saw them enter the Temple itself, Where the Lord had forbidden Gentiles to go. 11 Her people groan as they look for something to eat; They exchange their treasures for food to keep themselves alive. "Look at me, Lord," the city cries; "see me in my misery."

12 "Look at me!" she cries to everyone who passes by. "No one has ever had pain like mine, Pain that the Lord brought on me in the time of his anger. 13 He set a trap for me and brought me to the ground. Then he abandoned me and left me in constant pain.
14 "He took note of all my sins and tied them all together; He hung them around my neck, and I grew weak beneath the weight. The Lord gave me to my foes, and I was helpless against them.

15 "The Lord laughed at all my strongest soldiers; He sent an army to destroy my young men. no one will help me. The Lord has called enemies against me from every side; They treat me like some filthy thing.

18 "But the Lord is just, for I have disobeyed him. Listen to me, people everywhere; look at me in my pain. My young men and women have been taken away captive.

19 "I called to my allies, but they refused to help me. The priests and the leaders died in the city streets, Looking for food to keep themselves alive.
20 "Look, O Lord, at my agony, at the anguish of my soul! My heart is broken in sorrow for my sins. There is murder in the streets; even indoors there is death.

Lamentations chapter 2 (NLT)

1 The Lord in his anger has cast a dark shadow over Jerusalem. The fairest of Israel's cities lies in the dust, thrown down from the heights of heaven.

In his day of awesome fury, the Lord has shown no mercy even to his Temple.
2 Without mercy the Lord has destroyed every home in Israel.
In his anger he has broken down the fortress walls of Jerusalem.
He has brought to dust the kingdom and all its rulers.

3 All the strength of Israel vanishes beneath his fury. The Lord has withdrawn his protection as the enemy attacks. He consumes the whole land of Israel like a raging fire. 4 He bends his bow against his people as though he were their enemy. His strength is used against them to kill their finest youth. His fury is poured out like fire on beautiful Jerusalem. 5 Yes, the Lord has vanquished Israel like an enemy.

He has destroyed her forts and palaces. He has brought unending sorrow and tears to Jerusalem. 6 He has broken down his Temple as though it were merely a garden shelter. The LORD has blotted out all memory of the holy festivals and Sabbath days. Kings and priests fall together before his anger. 7 The Lord has rejected his own altar; he despises his own sanctuary. He has given Jerusalem's palaces to her enemies. They shout in the LORD's Temple as though it were a day of celebration. 8 The LORD was determined to destroy the walls of Jerusalem. He made careful plans for their destruction, then he went ahead and did it.

Therefore, the ramparts and walls have fallen down before him. 9 Jerusalem's gates have sunk into the ground. All their locks and bars are destroyed, for he has smashed them. Her kings and princes have been exiled to distant lands; the law is no more. Her prophets receive no more visions from the LORD.

10 The leaders of Jerusalem sit on the ground in silence, clothed in sackcloth. They throw dust on their heads in sorrow and despair. The young women of Jerusalem hang their heads in shame. 11 I have cried until the tears no longer come. My heart is broken, my spirit poured out, as I see what has happened to my people. Little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. 12 "Mama, we want food," they cry, and then collapse in their mothers' arms. Their lives ebb away like the life of a warrior wounded in battle. 13 In all the world has there ever been such sorrow?

Lamentations chapter 2 (TEV)

14 Your prophets had nothing to tell you but lies; Their preaching deceived you by never exposing your sin. They made you think you did not need to repent.

15 People passing by the city look at you in scorn. They shake their heads and laugh at Jerusalem's ruins: "Is this that lovely city? Is this the pride of the world?" 16 All your enemies mock you and glare at you with hate. They curl their lips and sneer, "We have destroyed it! This is the day we have waited for!"

17 The Lord has finally done what he threatened to do: He has destroyed us without mercy, as he warned us long ago. He gave our enemies victory, gave them joy at our downfall. 18 O Jerusalem, let your very walls cry out to the Lord! Let your tears flow like rivers night and day; Wear yourself out with weeping and grief!

19 All through the night get up again and again to cry out to the Lord; Pour out your heart and beg him for mercy on your children- Children starving to death on every street corner! 20 Look, O Lord! Why are you punishing us like this? Women are eating the bodies of the children they loved! ... 21 Young and old alike lie dead in the streets, Young men and women, killed by enemy swords. You slaughtered them without mercy on the day of your anger. 22 You invited my enemies to hold a carnival of terror all around me, And no one could escape on that day of your anger. They murdered my children, whom I had raised and loved.

Lamentations chapter 3 (TEV)

1 I am one who knows what it is to be punished by God. 2 He drove me deeper and deeper into darkness 3 And beat me again and again with merciless blows. 4 He has left my flesh open and raw, and has broken my bones. 5 He has shut me in a prison of misery and anguish. 6 He has forced me to live in the stagnant darkness of death. 18 I do not have much longer to live; my hope in the Lord is gone. 19 The thought of my pain, my homelessness, is bitter poison. 20 I think of it constantly, and my spirit is depressed.

21 Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: 22 The Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue, 23 Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. 24 The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope. 25 The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, 26 So it is best for us to wait in patience-to wait for him to save us- 27 And it is best to learn this patience in our youth. 28 When we suffer, we should sit alone in silent patience; 29 We should bow in submission, for there may still be hope. 30 Though beaten and insulted, we should accept it all. 31 The Lord is merciful and will not reject us forever. 32 He may bring us sorrow, but his love for us is sure and strong.

Lamentations chapter 3 (NLT)

33 For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow. 34 But the leaders of his people trampled prisoners underfoot. 35 They deprived people of their God-given rights in defiance of the Most High. 36 They perverted justice in the courts. Do they think the Lord didn't see it?

37 Can anything happen without the Lord's permission? 38 Is it not the Most High who helps one and harms another? 39 Then why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? 40 Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn again in repentance to the LORD. 41 Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say,

42 "We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us.

43 "You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down, and slaughtered us without mercy. 44 You have hidden yourself in a cloud so our prayers cannot reach you. 45 You have discarded us as refuse and garbage among the nations.

46 "All our enemies have spoken out against us. 47 We are filled with fear, for we are trapped, desolate, and ruined." 48 Streams of tears flow from my eyes because of the destruction of my people! 49 My tears flow down endlessly. They will not stop 50 until the LORD looks down from heaven and sees. 51 My heart is breaking over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem. 52 My enemies, whom I have never harmed, chased me like a bird.

Lamentations chapter 4 (TEV)

1 Our glittering gold has grown dull; the stones of the Temple lie scattered in the streets. 2 Zion's young people were as precious to us as gold, but now they are treated like common clay pots. 3 Even a mother wolf will nurse her cubs, but my people are like ostriches, cruel to their young. 4 They let their babies die of hunger and thirst; children are begging for food that no one will give them. 5 People who once ate the finest foods die starving in the streets; those raised in luxury are pawing through garbage for food.

6 My people have been punished even more than the inhabitants of Sodom, which met a sudden downfall at the hands of God. 7 Our princes were undefiled and pure as snow, vigorous and strong, glowing with health. 8 Now they lie unknown in the streets, their faces blackened in death; their skin, dry as wood, has shriveled on their bones. 9 Those who died in the war were better off than those who died later, who starved slowly to death, with no food to keep them alive. 10 The disaster that came to my people brought horror; loving mothers boiled their own children for food. 11 The Lord turned loose the full force of his fury; he lit a fire in Zion that burned it to the ground. 12 No one anywhere, not even rulers of foreign nations, believed that any invader could enter Jerusalem's gates.

13 But it happened, because her prophets sinned and her priests were guilty of causing the death of innocent people.

14 Her leaders wandered through the streets as though blind, so stained with blood that no one would touch them.

15 "Get away!" people shouted. "You're defiled! Don't touch me!" So they wandered from nation to nation, welcomed by no one. 16 The Lord had no more concern for them; he scattered them himself. He showed no regard for our priests and leaders.

17 For help that never came, we looked until we could look no longer. We kept waiting for help from a nation that had none to give. 18 The enemy was watching for us; we could not even walk in the streets. Our days were over; the end had come. 19 Swifter than eagles swooping from the sky, they chased us down. They tracked us down in the hills; they took us by surprise in the desert. 20 They captured ... the king the Lord had chosen, the one we had trusted to protect us from every invader.

21 Laugh on, people of Edom and Uz; be glad while you can. Your disaster is coming too; 22 Zion has paid for her sin; the Lord will not keep us in exile any longer. But Edom, the Lord will punish you; he will expose your guilty acts.

Lamentations chapter 5 (TEV)

1 Remember, O Lord, what has happened to us. Look at us, and see our disgrace. 2 Our property is in the hands of strangers; foreigners are living in our homes. 3 Our fathers have been killed by the enemy, and now our mothers are widows. 4 We must pay for the water we drink; we must buy the wood we need for fuel. 7 Our ancestors sinned, but now they are gone, and we are suffering for their sins. 9 Murderers roam through the countryside; we risk our lives when we look for food. 10 Hunger has made us burn with fever until our skin is as hot as an oven.

Lamentations chapter 5 (NLT)

11 Our enemies rape the women and young girls in Jerusalem and throughout the towns of Judah. 12 Our princes are being hanged by their thumbs, and the old men are treated with contempt. 13 The young men are led away to work at millstones, and the children stagger under heavy loads of wood. 14 The old men no longer sit in the city gates; the young men no longer dance and sing. 15 The joy of our hearts has ended; our dancing has turned to mourning. 16 ... Disaster has fallen upon us because we have sinned.

17 Our hearts are sick and weary, and our eyes grow dim with tears. 18 For Jerusalem is empty and desolate, a place haunted by jackals. 19 But LORD, you remain the same forever! Your throne continues from generation to generation. 20 Why do you continue to forget us? Why have you forsaken us for so long? 21 Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had! 22 Or have you utterly rejected us? Are you angry with us still?

In Psalm 79 in the Book of Psalms, the Bible says:

Psalm 79 (TEV)

1 O God, the heathen have invaded your land.
They have desecrated your holy Temple
and left Jerusalem in ruins.

2 They left the bodies of your people for the vultures,
the bodies of your servants for wild animals to eat.
3 They shed your people's blood like water;

blood flowed like water all through Jerusalem,
and no one was left to bury the dead.

4 The surrounding nations insult us;
they laugh at us and mock us.

5 Lord, will you be angry with us forever?
Will your anger continue to burn like fire?

6 Turn your anger on the nations that do not worship you,
on the people who do not pray to you.

7 For they have killed your people;
they have ruined your country.

8 Do not punish us for the sins of our ancestors.
Have mercy on us now;
we have lost all hope.

9 Help us, O God, and save us;
rescue us and forgive our sins
for the sake of your own honor.

10 Why should the nations ask us, "Where is your God?"
Let us see you punish the nations
for shedding the blood of your servants.

11 Listen to the groans of the prisoners,
and by your great power free those who are condemned to die.

12 Lord, pay the other nations back seven times
for all the insults they have hurled at you.

13 Then we, your people, the sheep of your flock,
will thank you forever
and praise you for all time to come.

In Psalm 38 in the Book of Psalms, the Bible says:

Psalm 38 (NLT)

1 A psalm of David, to bring us to the LORD's remembrance.

O LORD, don't rebuke me in your anger!
Don't discipline me in your rage!

2 Your arrows have struck deep,
and your blows are crushing me.

3 Because of your anger, my whole body is sick;
my health is broken because of my sins.

4 My guilt overwhelms me -
it is a burden too heavy to bear.

5 My wounds fester and stink
because of my foolish sins.

6 I am bent over and racked with pain.
My days are filled with grief.

7 A raging fever burns within me,
and my health is broken.
8 I am exhausted and completely crushed.
My groans come from an anguished heart.

9 You know what I long for, Lord;
you hear my every sigh.

10 My heart beats wildly, my strength fails,
and I am going blind.

11 My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease.
Even my own family stands at a distance.

12 Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps for me;
they make plans to ruin me.
They think up treacherous deeds all day long.

13 But I am deaf to all their threats.
I am silent before them as one who cannot speak.

14 I choose to hear nothing,
and I make no reply.

15 For I am waiting for you, O LORD.
You must answer for me, O Lord my God.

16 I prayed, "Don't let my enemies gloat over me
or rejoice at my downfall."

17 I am on the verge of collapse,
facing constant pain.

18 But I confess my sins;
I am deeply sorry for what I have done.

19 My enemies are many;
they hate me though I have done nothing against them.

20 They repay me evil for good
and oppose me because I stand for the right.

21 Do not abandon me, LORD.
Do not stand at a distance, my God.

22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.

In Psalm 39, the Bible says:

Psalm 39 (TEV)

1 I said, "I will be careful about what I do
and will not let my tongue make me sin;
I will not say anything while evil people are near."

2 I kept quiet, not saying a word,
not even about anything good!
But my suffering only grew worse,
3 and I was overcome with anxiety.

The more I thought, the more troubled I became;
I could not keep from asking:
4 "Lord, how long will I live? When will I die?

Tell me how soon my life will end."
5 How short you have made my life!
In your sight my lifetime seems nothing.

Indeed every living being is no more than a puff of wind,
6 no more than a shadow.
All we do is for nothing;
we gather wealth, but don't know who will get it.

7 What, then, can I hope for, Lord? I put my hope in you.
8 Save me from all my sins,
and don't let fools make fun of me.

9 I will keep quiet, I will not say a word,
for you are the one who made me suffer like this.
10 Don't punish me any more!
I am about to die from your blows.

11 You punish our sins by your rebukes,
and like a moth you destroy what we love.
Indeed we are no more than a puff of wind!

12 Hear my prayer, Lord, and listen to my cry;
come to my aid when I weep.
13 Leave me alone so that I may have some happiness ,
before I go away and am no more.

In Psalm 44 in the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament, the Bible says:

Psalm 44 (TEV)

1 With our own ears we have heard it,
O God- our ancestors have told us about it,
about the great things you did in their time,
in the days of long ago:

2 how you yourself drove out the heathen
and established your people in their land;
how you punished the other nations
and caused your own to prosper.

3 Your people did not conquer the land with their swords;
they did not win it by their own power;
it was by your power and your strength,
by the assurance of your presence,
which showed that you loved them.

4 You are my king and my God;
you give victory to your people, 5
and by your power we defeat our enemies.

6 I do not trust in my bow or in my sword to save me;
7 but you have saved us from our enemies
and defeated those who hate us.
8 We will always praise you and give thanks to you forever.

9 But now you have rejected us and let us be defeated;
you no longer march out with our armies.
10 You made us run from our enemies,
and they took for themselves what was ours.

11 You allowed us to be slaughtered like sheep;
you scattered us in foreign countries.
12 You sold your own people for a small price
as though they had little value.

13 Our neighbors see what you did to us,
and they mock us and laugh at us.
14 You have made us a joke among the nations;
they shake their heads at us in scorn.

15 I am always in disgrace; I am covered with shame
16 from hearing the sneers and insults of my enemies
and those who hate me.

17 All this has happened to us,
even though we have not forgotten you
or broken the covenant you made with us.

18 We have not been disloyal to you;
we have not disobeyed your commands.
19 Yet you left us helpless among wild animals;
you abandoned us in deepest darkness.

20 If we had stopped worshiping our God
and prayed to a foreign god,
21 you would surely have discovered it,
because you know our secret thoughts.

22 But it is on your account that we are being killed all the time,
that we are treated like sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Wake up, Lord! Why are you asleep?
Rouse yourself! Don't reject us forever!
24 Why are you hiding from us?
Don't forget our suffering and trouble!

25 We fall crushed to the ground;
we lie defeated in the dust.
26 Come to our aid!
Because of your constant love save us!

In Psalm 102, the Bible says:

Psalm 102 (NIV)

A prayer of an afflicted man. When he is faint and pours out his lament before the LORD .

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD ;
let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.

3 For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
5 Because of my loud groaning
I am reduced to skin and bones.
6 I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
7 I lie awake; I have become
like a bird alone on a roof.
8 All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
9 For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears
10 because of your great wrath,
for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like the evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.

12 But you, O LORD , sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
14 For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
15 The nations will fear the name of the LORD ,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
16 For the LORD will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea.

18 Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD :
19 "The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death."
21 So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the LORD .

23 In the course of my life
he broke my strength;
he cut short my days.
24 So I said:
"Do not take me away, O my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you."

The next file in this section (Part 2), is entitled: "The Fate Of The People Left Behind In Jerusalem, And Prophecies Against Them And Other Nations".

The main Bible pages on this site:

Bible Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories
Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites
Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.
If you have found parts of the Old Testament or the Book of Revelation offensive, please read An Attempt to Explain Gruesome Bible Passages.

The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.

Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).

Other initials:

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