10 AD to 30 AD, Psalm 48: Universal Jerusalem.

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2nd temple shutterstock_5536921This generation is that of the 10s and 20s.

Judea having become a Roman province since Archelaus was deposed by Augustus, it is in Rome more than ever that the destiny of the Jewish province is played out.
This generation which sees the end of reign of Auguste (14) will be marked by that of Tiberius (14/37).
With regard to Judea proper, it is the procurator Valerius Gratus (15/26) who represents the Roman power in Judea before giving way to Pontius Pilate (26/36).
At the same time, the two other sons of Herod who had divided Herod’s kingdom with Archelaus continue to reign on their territory.
Herod Antipas, brother (of father and mother) of Archelaus, reigns on Galilee and Perea (approximately the present Transjordan) from 4 BC to 39 AD, the only Jewish monarch (apart from Herod the Great) evoked by the Gospels especially for the execution of John the Baptist.
It is he again who will refuse to judge Jesus (from Galilee, Jesus is under his jurisdiction) and return it to Pontius Pilate following, among others, the story of the Gospels of Luke.
Philip, half-brother of Archelaus (son of Cleopatra of Jerusalem) is Tetrarch from 4 BC to 34 AD, from territories peripheral to Judea dominated by non-Jewish populations: Syrians and Greeks. His reign is peaceful and the regions he manages will have little impact on the generation that interests us.
It is not on the political plane that this generation stands out but on the religious level.
This generation sees the birth of Christianity or, at least, it is the scene of the life of Jesus who will be the breeding ground of primitive Christianity which itself will serve as a basis for Christianity that we will know a few generations later.
In fact, the maturation of the Christian religion will take a few centuries.
Jerusalem, then of value only to the Jewish people, becomes a city venerated by new peoples adhering to Christianity or later to Islam.
Thus The Lord, who was then only the God of the Jews, will be venerated by ever greater numbers of people, up to about half the population of the earth today.
This contagion will be through Rome, the power of the time, across the North from Jerusalem.
For nearly a thousand years, Jerusalem has survived all invasions and destruction. The kings of the earth who had conquered it as an innocent territory have disappeared without leaving an inheritance while Jerusalem is still there proudly displaying once more as the navel of the world.
This is what is mentioned in the beginning of the psalm of this generation:

(extract of the psalm 48 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 5 )

  • A song, a psalm of the sons of Korah.
  • The Lord is great and very much praised, in the city of our God, the Mount of His Sanctuary.
  • The fairest of branches, the joy of the entire earth- Mount Zion, by the north side, the city of a great king.
  • God is in its palaces; He is known as a stronghold.
  • For behold, the kings have assembled; they have passed together.
This generation, the penultimate of the first watch of the night, prefigures the second exile, the one that will follow the second destruction of Jerusalem.
This exile will be even more terrible for the Jews than was the first, that of Babylon.
But whatever the hardships suffered, they are generally beneficial to the Jewish people, because at the end of these God will remember his people as evoked by the prophecies of Isaiah.
It is precisely this apocalyptic vision of the end times when Israel will be restored to God and the nations punished by the suffering imposed on the people of God throughout the second exile that Jesus, during this generation, recalls in these sermons :
  • You [1] will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
  • Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.
  • All these are the beginning of birth pains.
This prediction of Jesus relating to the apocalyptic times associated with the oracle of Isaiah is well illustrated by the following verses of the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 48 associated to this generation, verses 6 and 7 )

  • They saw, so they wondered; they were startled, yea, they were bewildered.
  • Trembling seized them there, pain like that of a woman in labor.
This apocalyptic period will end the second exile of the people of Israel, which will begin when the Romans destroy the second temple.
However, in the generation that interests us, exile has already begun, as Flavius Josephus tells us:
  • A [2] Jew who was one of the wickedest men in the world, and who fled his country to avoid being punished for his crimes, joined with three others, who were no better than him and they professed in Rome to interpret the law of Moses. A woman of good standing, named Fulvia, who had embraced our religion, taking them for good people, had put herself under their direction. They persuaded him to give gold and purple to send to Jerusalem, and held what she put in their hands for this matter. Saturnin, husband of Fulvia, made his complaints to Tiberius, of whom he was very much loved; and this prince had no sooner known than he commanded that they should drive out all the Jews from Rome. The consuls, after an exact search, enlisted four thousand who were sent to the island of Sardinia, and severely punished a great number of others who, not to contravene the laws of their country, refused to take up arms. Thus the malice of four scoundrels was the cause that there was not a single Jew left in Rome.
It is likely that this exile of the Jews of Rome will work against Jerusalem.
Many of the exiles could have pleaded for their brothers from Judea to Rome and perhaps avoided the tragic events that will reach Jerusalem in the next generations.
But that was probably not the fate God decided. These early Jewish exiles are in fact the symbol of Jewish exile. Sardinia is associated in the Bible with Tharsys (others see Carthage or a region of Spain, even a symbol of distant islands).
Thus, coming to confirm Isaiah’s predictions, David, in his psalm, confirms that the people of Israel will be gathered from the ends of the earth:

(extract of the psalm 48 associated to this generation, verse 8 )

  • With an east wind, [with which] You break the ships of Tarshish.
The vessels of Tarsish symbolize the exile of the people of Israel. God breaking them breaks the exile of the people of Israel. However, this prophecy is only valid for the end times.
In the generation that interests us, the temple is still standing, Jerusalem is still the capital of Judea, even if it is only a Roman province. Jerusalem and the Temple are probably at the peak of their splendor and prestige.
It is therefore important that his memory be rooted in Jewish memory.
It is to this work of memory that the following of the psalm invites:

(extract of the psalm 48 associated to this generation, verses 9 to 13 )

  • As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of Hosts, in the city of our God; God shall establish it forever and ever.
  • We hoped, O Lord, for Your kindness in the midst of Your Temple.
  • As is Your name, O God, so is Your praise upon the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness.
  • Mount Zion shall rejoice; the daughters of Judah shall exult for the sake of Your judgments.
  • Encompass Zion and surround it, count its towers.
  • Give heed to its walls, raise its palaces, in order that you may tell a later generation.
  • For this is God, our God forever and ever; He shall lead us as in youth.
This fidelity to Jerusalem will never leave the Jewish people through the generations of exile thus respecting the wishes of David. At the same time that Jewish memory is being forged to be ready to go through nearly two thousand years of exile, Jesus is at the heart of his sermons.
While the Jewish people are preparing to sleep until their resurrection, Jesus sows in the same city of Jerusalem which will give birth to Christianity and consequently to Islam. Jesus sows what will awaken the pagan peoples of the earth to the recognition of the Lord:
  • While [3] a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable:
  • “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.
  • Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.
  • Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.
  • Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
Thus the disciples of Jesus will sow the word of the Christian world. Each grain is comparable to a generation since it allows to obtain grains again. The grain fallen into the good earth produces a hundredfold: Christianity will last a hundred generations. Either from the present generation that marks its beginning to the one-hundred-and-forty-seventh generation that is the last of the night of the people of Israel.

 

 

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[1] Matthew ( New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 24, verses 6 to 8 (see also Mark’s Gospel, Chapter 13 and Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 21)

[2] Flavius Josephus / Jewish Antiquities / Book Eighteenth / Chapter 5. (French: Flavius Josèphe/Antiquités Juives/Livre Dix-huitième/chapitre 5).

[3] Luke (New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 8, verses 4 to 8 (See also Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 13 and Gospel according to Mark, Chapter 4)