Sing Us the Songs of Zion: Land, Culture, and Resistance in Psalm 137, 12 Years a Slave, and Cedar Man

In: Horizons in Biblical Theology
Mari Joerstad The Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University Durham, nc USA

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This article reads Psalm 137 in light of colonial appropriation of land and culture, contextualizing the violence of verses 8 and 9 as a response to exile and as a method of protecting Judean cultural practices. Two modern art pieces serve as points of comparison: Steve McQueen’s film 12 Years a Slave, and Joe David’s totem pole Cedar Man. The article concludes by considering how the violent language of Psalm 137 may guide contemporary ethical reflection.

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