Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Holy Bible


The infants of Babylon and the rock

In the Holy Bible there are many obscure verses, which ill-intentioned people like to misinterpret and thereafter “accuse” the Holy Bible. However, that is precisely why the Holy Bible was written in this way; i.e., so that it would reveal the motives of our hearts and either lay bare evil intentions or reward with its wisdom those who with benevolent intentions seek the true significance of its words and its true depth, which God has hidden away for all of us.

A strange verse

A strange (at first glance) verse of the Holy Bible is found in the Book of Psalms 137:7-9, where we read the following:

Remember o Lord the sons of Edom, who, on the day of (the destruction of) Jerusalem, had said, ‘Evacuate her, evacuate her, even to her foundations’. O daughter of Babylon, you wretched one; blessed is he, who shall repay you with the same repayment that you repaid us. Blessed is he, who shall prevail over you and shall throw down your infants against the rock .”

The question, justifiably, that comes to mind from this verse is:  How is it possible for God to bless the one who will throw down the infants of Babylon against the rock ? What did those poor infants do to deserve it?

This verse was promptly attacked by various enemies of the truth, neo-Pagans and atheists, in their attempt to show that the Holy Bible allegedly encourages people to act barbarically. Naturally, with this stance of theirs, they have made their negative intentions very obvious and have thus drawn from the Holy Bible the message that befits their personality.

But, as we have already said, the Holy Bible is a "Jacob’s well", from which one can draw according to his intentions, good or bad.  Let us therefore leave the ill-intentioned to their rejoicing (that they have supposedly found something sinister in the Holy Bible), and let us see what we Christians will draw from this Well of Truth!

We shall be giving three aspects of interpretation of this verse further down - Historic, Prophetic and Spiritual; let every Christian therefore draw according to his needs.


The Historical events of that era

First of all, let us carefully examine the content of the verse in question:

This psalm was chanted by the captives who had been transferred out of Jerusalem, after its destruction in the year 587 b.C. and before the destruction of Babylon in 539 b.C. by the Persian armies of Cyrus. If we read this psalm from the beginning, we shall discern the nostalgia that the Judean refugees felt, as well as their indignation towards Babylon, and we shall also discern their hopes for repatriation, according to the relative prophecies  that they believed in.

The object of their indignation is Babylon – the international power at the time – and it is against Babylon that they are protesting. In this psalm, they are recalling everything that Babylon had done to them; they are also remembering their children, whom the Babylonians had killed by dashing them against rocks, and they feel their indignation overflowing. As a result, they are inclined to add that whoever renders unto the Babylonians the same malice that they had shown to the Judeans, will be worthy of being blessed. This would make them feel vindicated for their calamity.

This is the cry of anger by parents who had witnessed their children being dashed to death against rocks by the Babylonian soldiers, and their yearning for retaliation and justice.  We should remember here that, at the time, justice was meted out through the maxim “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, therefore this yearning was actually a rather “progressive” one for their time; in an era when an avenger normally required that his enemy be punished with a sevenfold punishment, Israel had been taught by its own Law that it should not exceed the extent of the enemy’s actions if it were to retaliate – only to respond with something equivalent.  Centuries would have to pass, before Christ would teach them that full justice was not retaliation at all, but forgiveness! Thus, in this context, in the era that those people were living, and with the mentality that prevailed, it was only normal for those parents who had witnessed their children being dashed against rocks by the Babylonians to desire an equivalent justice to be meted out, considering as “blessed” whoever would return the evil that the Babylonians had done – again, in accordance with the notion of justice they had at the time.

But how do we know that the Babylonians had indeed inflicted such a crime on those infants?

This is very clearly revealed in the words of the Psalm itself. It says: “…..who shall repay you with the same repayment that you repaid us. Blessed be he, who shall prevail over you and shall throw down your infants against the rock …”.  The chanting Israelites had indeed seen their infants being killed in that manner by the Babylonian idolaters, which explains why they were demanding retaliation, and the restitution of justice through retaliation.

It is interesting to note however, that they themselves did not desire to be the ones to retaliate for the tragedy that had befallen them; perhaps because they didn’t have the power, or perhaps because they were aware of the prophecies regarding these events, and that retaliation would actually take place, after the end of the 70-year domination by the Babylonians. Those chanting here are calling “blessed” the one who will bring justice by returning the same measure to the Babylonians. Notice here that they are not ascribing the term “blessed” to the avenger for the sake of the murders of the infants; they are calling “blessed” the one who will generally fulfill that retaliation. The reason they stress the infants in their psalm is because that is what pained them most, when they recalled how they had been cruelly dashed to death against the rocks. The mention of “infants on the rocks” was a highlighting of their personal suffering, expressed as a parent’s complaint after watching his child die in that manner, and his desire for the punishment of the guilty party in the same manner.

But this punishment was not to be meted out by the wronged Judeans themselves; it was to be executed eventually, by another barbaric, idolatrous people, the Persians, who had that same, idolatrous tradition.

This gruesome, inhuman tradition of the Babylonians and other idolaters was customary during that period of time. We can see such barbarities in  Maccabees B, 5:13

“There were also killings of young and old, a destruction of men and women and children, and slaughtering of virgins and infants.”

This was therefore a familiar custom during that era - a custom of idolaters - and it did not make the same impression then as it does today; in other words, it was a standard practice of idolaters whenever they conquered a city.


Prophetic interpretation of the verse

But someone might say “OK, this psalm may have been a cry of indignation by the expatriated Judeans, but what business does it have in the Holy Bible? How does it benefit us today, to have this psalm in a sacred book?

Let us examine one of the parameters of this prophecy, and then a second one....

First of all, we could point out that the Holy Bible is a prophetic book; however, the understanding of its prophecies – which are purposely veiled – is not revealed to people who are not acquainted with the Holy Bible, and certainly not to ill-meaning Neo-Pagans and Atheists.

For someone to interpret the Holy Bible properly he must first of all be within the framework of Orthodox dogmatics and tradition and then either look to the Holy Bible itself to provide that interpretation, or look for it in the holy Fathers, who are bearers of Divine Grace and possess God’s revelation for such requirements.

Before moving on to the matter of revelation through God’s Saints, let us see how the Holy Bible itself interprets this verse in question. To recall:

“Blessed be he, who shall prevail over you and shall throw down your infants against the rock .”

What here is the inference behind the word “rock ” in the Holy Bible?   Let’s see:

3…….for the Lord is benevolent, 4 approaching Whom as though unto a living rock  – one disapproved indeed by people, but to God a select one, and precious […]   6 This is why it is contained in the scripture that: “Behold, I place in Zion a cornerstone : a select one and valuable; and whoever believes in it shall not be disgraced.  7 Honour, therefore, is befitting to you who believe; but to those who are undutiful, the ‘rock ’, which those who build have disapproved, the same has become the cornerstone and the stumbling-block and the rock  of scandal, 8 for, by being undutiful, they stumble upon the Logos, unto Whom they were appointed…”       (1 Peter 2:3-8)

We see here clearly what the inference behind the word rock ” is: it is Jesus Christ!  He is the one Whom the many disapproved of, but Who became the “cornerstone ” that held up His Universal Church; He is the One whose enemies trip over and stumble and are scandalized by His words of Truth.

Who, then, are the ones that are crushed when striking a rock ?  Naturally those who have “struck” it!  Obviously, if you hit a rock , the rock  is not the one that will be hurt, but….you!  The same is written about the nations of the Antichrist that will be attacking Christ: “He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be smashed, like a potter’s vessels.” (Revelation 2:27).  And as prophesied by Moses (regarding Christ):  “…I shall raise unto them a Prophet from among their brethren, just as with you, and I shall give My utterance in His mouth and He shall utter to them whatever I shall instruct Him to. And the man who does not hearken to what the Prophet says in My name, I shall seek revenge of him…” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)

However, the verse we are examining here also mentions “infants of Babylon”.  Which, therefore, is the “Babylon” referred to prophetically, and who are her infants?

In a previous study, we have presented all the data indicating that theBabylon” prophetically referred to is Zionist Jerusalem - the political-religious capital of the Antichrist.  Please take a moment to check out that study so that you can verify all the information on the specific topic.

But “Babylon” in the Holy Bible is also called “the mother of whores and of the abominations of the earth” (Revelation 17:5). From these words, we must firstly surmise that her “infants” are “the abominations of the earth”, but, we must also realize something else: that by being called “a mother of”, these words also link Babylon through Time; in other words, the Antichrist’s “Babylon” is directly linked/related to ancient Babylon.  Because it is ancient Babylon who was the mother of the earth’s abominations. It was from ancient Babylon that godless idolatry spread throughout the known world

Even in ancient idolatrous Greece, all its profane idolatrous and licentious ‘gods’ had originated from Babylon - both directly, but also indirectly, through Egypt; lewd ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses’, such as Astarte, Aphrodite and many others.

Thus, apart from her role as an eschatological whore in the prophecies of the Holy Bible, “Babylon” also holds the place of that historical, idolatrous and godless “Babylon of  falsehood”, which leads mankind away from the true God and into idolatry and immorality. Just as the Antichrist who, although expected to become incarnate during the last days of the world and yet, the “spirit of the Antichrist” (1 John 2:18, 4:3) has already permeated the world, thus in the same manner, beyond the Eschatological incarnation of “Babylon” into a Zionist, pseudo “church” and political-religious capital, the spirit of its whoredom has already pervaded the world, over Time.  Its “infants” are the abominations of the earth, along with all those who oppose and clash with the rock  – Jesus Christ.

The human offspring of “Babylon” are most assuredly the offspring of whoredom:

 4 And I shall not be merciful to her children, for they are children of whoredom; 5 for their mother was a whore.” (Hosea 2: 4,5). Hosea’s prophecy is addressed precisely to that whore called Babylon, who may present her children as children of God but in reality they are nothing more than the offspring of her whoredom, with Satan.  And we have been provided sufficient detail on this, by Christ Himself:

34 Jesus replied to them, “Verily, verily I say to you, that anyone who commits sin is a servant of sin, 35 and a servant does not remain in the household forever: the son does remain forever.  36 If the Son therefore shall set you free, you shall indeed be free.  37 I know you to be Abraham's seed; and yet, you seek to kill me, because my words find no place among you.  38 I speak of that which I have seen near my Father; you therefore are doing that which you have seen near your father.”  

39 They replied, saying to Him, “Our father is Abraham.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works of Abraham.  40 But now you seek to kill me, a man who spoke the truth to you which I heard from God; this, Abraham did not do. 41 You are therefore doing the works of your father.

Then they said to him, “We were not born of whoredom. We have a Father: God.”

 42 Jesus therefore said to them, “If God was your Father, you would have loved me, for I came forth from within God and have come here; and neither did I come of my own (initiative), but He has sent me.  43 Why do you not recognize my voice? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my words.  44 You are of your father the devil, and you will do the wishes of your father. He was a man-killer from the beginning, and he does not remain in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he utters a lie, he utters it of his own (initiative), for he is a liar, and is the father of lies.  45 Thus, because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me.”  (John 8: 34-45).

So, that is who the children of whoredom, the children of Babylon and the Devil are: They are all those who reject the words of the Lord and oppose them. They are the servants of sin, who perform the “abominations of the earth.”

But why does the verse being examined refer SPECIFICALLY to the children of Babylon?  And who is that “blessed potentate” who will dash her abominable children against the “rock ”, Christ?

In every city and land, it is the children that ensure the survival of the next generation. Similarly in the case of Babylon, it is her children (=her spiritual descendants and successors) who ensure the continuation of her godless polemics and falsehood in every generation throughout Time.  That is why the prophecy calls “blessed” the one who will put an end to the perennial existence of Babylon’s offspring of whoredom; the one who will leave no traces of falsehood on the planet, so that the Truth of Christ can prevail thereafter.  Naturally, the first and foremost “blessed” one is Christ Himself, “the blessed and only Potentate, the king of kings and lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15), Who will crush all falsehood.

The children of Babylon have repeatedly vanquished the children of God’s Church, whenever the Church of God alienated Herself from Him and forfeited His protection. But God ensured that there would always be “children” left over for His Church, as the “remnant” for Her salvation:

25 But thus said the Lord: “For the captives of the mighty shall be removed, and the booty of the formidable shall be taken away; for I will contend with him that contends against you, and I will save your children.” (Isaiah 49:25)

But when it comes to Babylon (and when the time comes), Christ will not leave a single remnant of hers behind:

 1 Thus said the Lord: “Behold, I shall raise up against Babylon and against the inhabitant Chaldeans a scorching, destructive wind; 2 and I shall send slanderers unto Babylon, who shall thoroughly slander her and shall overrun her land. Woe be to Babylon all around, on the day of her injury. 3 Let him stretch his bow who will stretch it, and let him who has weapons gird himself with them, and do not spare her young men and eliminate all her power.” (Jeremiah 51:1-3).

When the time for Babylon’s final fall is come, there will be no “descendants” left to continue her godless politics. All of her power will have vanished, just as something is cremated by fire:

 18 And they cried out loud when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, “What city is like this great city?  19 And they threw earth upon their heads, and they cried out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘woe, woe to the great city, in which were made rich all those who had ships in the sea out of her precious goods, for in one hour has she been laid waste.’  20 Rejoice over her o heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has decided to render His judgement on your behalf, on her. 21 And a mighty angel lifted up a rock  as big as a millstone , and cast it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus, with force, shall that great city Babylon be cast down, and shall never be found again’.  (Revelation 18: 19-21).

Reference therefore to the children of Babylon is made in order to point out that there will be no remnant of Babylon left over in the end, and that her fall - which will be the repayment for all her whoredom – will be final and irreversible.

And finally, why is the word “infants” used, for the children of Babylon?

This term is not used in order to denote any innocence. There is no innocence in offspring of whoredom who war against God, and furthermore, God does not punish the innocent.

The word “infants” carries another meaning. Let us again allow the Holy Bible to explain what it implies:

14 That we no longer be as infants, wavering and shifting about with every wind of doctrine, within the sleight of men, in cunning, towards the ways of deceit….”  (Ephesians 4:14).

 3 thus also we, when we were infants, were subservient to the elements of the world […] 8 but then, by not knowing God, you served those who are gods not by nature.

(Galatians 4: 3 and 8).

This, therefore, is why they are called infants”: the Bible wants to stress their subservience to falsehood and idolatry, away from the true God.

With the above, everything becomes clear in the prophetic landscape that we are examining; the “infants” that are to be dashed to death against the “rock ” are the idolaters and the abominations of the earth, who, being the genuine offspring of the whore Babylon, will confront Christ – the stumbling block on which they will trip and be crushed.


Spiritual hesychast interpretation

It is from this same verse however, that hesychasts also draw their strength, for their spiritual course.  They too draw from the same foundation:

Christ is again the “rock”; “Babylon” is spiritual confusion and corruption, and the “infants of Babylon” are wicked thoughts, which, when reaching adulthood, become sins. That is why a Christian must exterminate evil thoughts from the moment they are generated, while they are still “infantile” and still “thoughts” – before they “grow up” and turn into a sinful act.  These wicked thoughts can be crushed on the rock  that is Christ, when a Christian -with the prayer of the heart- recites the sweetest of all names, that of our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus deflects evil contemplations.

With sobriety and a keen watch over one’s mind, Man can vanquish sin and thus become “blessed”.

However, given that the vessel of our spirituality is a tiny one, it is not spacious enough to draw even more water from the inexhaustible water-well of life found in this verse; however, a spiritual person can draw far more, for the edification of the Church.

Behold the reason therefore, for the existence of this verse in the Holy Bible; so that each one of us can draw whatever he needs:

The historian for the data on the idolatrous barbarity of ancient times,

The faithful interpreter for its prophetic elements

And the Hesychast, for those elements that will guide him towards “nepsis” (awareness).

As for the ill-intentioned reader of this article, it is only to be expected that he will be scandalized and stumble over this rock  called Christ, because he is still an “infant” - still subservient to the elements of this world and oblivious to the spiritual ones. He will be looking for wicked thoughts against Christ. That is why his demise will be to be crushed when he stumbles over Christ, Whom he has scorned.


Í. Ì.

Translation by A. N.

Article published in English on: 1-11-2008.

Last update: 1-11-2008.