10 BC to 10 AD, Psalm 47: Jesus, for the nations.

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nativite shutterstock_334942868This generation is the twenty years between 10 BC and 10 AD.

This generation is marked by the tumultuous end of Herod’s reign and the partial and unglamorous succession of Archelaus his son.
This generation begins with the disgrace of Herod to Augustus who was nevertheless a strong ally.
Herod had had to pursue thieves who had fled to Arabia after provoking many disturbances on his land. He made an expedition to punish the thieves and those who supported them by sparing the population.
The Arabs then reported these events by turning the facts into disfavor of Herod, which provoked the wrath of Augustus, emperor of Rome. This disgrace will last more than a year until Auguste realizes the good right of Herod and its real restraint, thanks to the plea of Nicolas de Damas, the official biographer of King Herod whose only quotations made by Flavius Josephus have reached us.
Augustus was even ready, after this affair, to give Arabia to Herod, but changed his mind because of the tensions evoked by King Herod with his sons.

NAF-21013_f40v_Herode_condamnant_un_de_ses_filsOn the domestic front, palace intrigues, mainly led by Antipater, one of Herod’s sons, against the two sons of Herod and Mariamne, Alexander and Aristobulus, will finally bear fruit.

Herod will indeed execute Alexander and Aristobulus.
This will only benefit Antipater for a short time, because although designated as official heir, he will be executed by Herod a few days before his death.
These deletions of Herod’s most promising sons will leave the country in a void detrimental to Herod’s death.
Archelaus is the beneficiary of Herod’s last testament. Testament in particular disputed by Antipas another son of Herod designated him, on a previous testament.
Even before being crowned in Rome, Archelaus mate in blood a revolt in Jerusalem making more than three thousand dead. While Archelaus defends his position with Augustus, many troubles shake Judea.
The various uprisings often led by improvised leaders are stifled by the Romans. Finally, the Romans consider the little experience of Archelaus call him king but on a small part of the kingdom of Herod. The remaining part was shared between Philip and Antipas, other sons of Herod.
After ten years of power, Archelaus, unpopular, was dismissed by Augustus who deported him to Vienna in Gaul. Judea then passes under the immediate control of the Romans, thus becoming Roman province.
This change is causing a rapid deterioration of the political and economic climate.

Jones,_C.H.;_Hamilton,_T.H.;_Williams,_J.David._1873._View_of_the_Temple_of_Herod,_from_Olivet

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Reconstruction_of_the_Temple_of_Herod_Southeast_Corner_(Reconstitution_du_temple_d'Hérode._Angle_sud-est.)_-_James_TissotIn spite of the political disorder of this generation, this generation sees the culmination of the renovation of the Temple of Jerusalem by Herod who after eighteen years of reigns (around 19/20 BC) had begun its reconstruction. For this he did not destroy the old but reconsolida ed the building by remaking foundations and walls while giving the whole luster of the first Temple of Solomon.

The work lasts about ten years and the inauguration gives rise to a great ceremony (around 9 BC).

temple herode shutterstock_357330599This new splendor of the Temple of Jerusalem, which had probably not been reached since the time of Solomon, is a booster for religious life, particularly in the Pharisee movement generally favored by Herod.

It is likely that the strongly negative image that the Gospels gave of this movement is more inspired by the opposition between the early Christians and the rabbis, heirs of the Pharisees, at the time of the late writing of the Gospels rather than the time of Jesus.
According to the Talmudic tradition, Herod undertook to rebuild the Temple to redeem himself from his abuses against the rabbis (Pharisees) of the time on the advice of Baba Ben Bouta, a Pharisee whom he had spared.
The Temple is likely to be a prime catalyst for Jewish thought. If many Rabbis had succeeded each other since the time of Ezra laying the foundation of the Talmud, the generation that interests us will be the one that sees two masters (Shammaï and Hillel) confront each other (spiritually). Hillel will be heard most often, his principles will be the foundation of Judaism today.
This generation is that of the birth of Jesus. If Hillel has largely influenced the Jewish world, Jesus will reshape the pagan world, whether through Christianity that flows logically or through Islam that will also rely, more complex, on the message of Jesus.

Circoncision-Chartreuse-Musée_de_l'Œuvre_Notre-Dame_(1)The life of Jesus is relatively unknown, the dates of his birth and death are not known exactly.

In referring to the Gospels, there are many elements of the birth of Jesus at the end of the reign of King Herod.
It is unlikely that the « massacre of the innocent » evoked by the Gospels is a historical reality, Flavius Josephus would have probably recounted. This episode probably tends to give Jesus an image of savior comparable to that of Moses who escaped in his time the massacre of male newborn by Pharaoh.
The Temple built by Herod that allows the rise of modern Judaism through new generations of sages also takes center stage in the life of Jesus and consequently in the birth of Christianity.
Thus, the imposing grandeur of the Temple is noted in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Mark:
When Jesus enters Jerusalem, it is to enter the Temple:
  • Jesus [1] entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts.
Likewise Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had been one of the priests in the service of the Temple.

Early_life_of_Christ_in_the_Bowyer_Bible_print_13_of_21._boy_Jesus_among_the_doctors_in_the_Temple._LuiniThe Temple is not content to be part of the Gospel landscape. It is also the place that Jesus frequents from a young age (therefore during the generation that interests us) and where he builds his convictions with the wise Jews of the time in the debates.

So when he is arrested, Jesus recalls his diligence in the Temple:
  • Every [2] day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.
Assiduity he had from a young age:
  • When [3] they (- the parents of Jesus on their return from Jerusalem after the Passover celebration – ) did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.
  • After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
The Talmud (in one of the rare passages that came to us despite censorship) evokes Jesus as a character who would otherwise have been part of the wise people of the Jewish people and thus confirms Jesus’ attachment to the teaching of the masters mentioned in the Gospel of Luke:
  • The Sages [4] taught: Always have the left hand drive sinners away and the right draw them near, so that the sinner will not totally despair of atonement. This is unlike Elisha, who pushed away Gehazi with his two hands and caused him to lose his share in the World-to-Come, and unlike Yehoshua ben Peraḥya, who pushed away Jesus the Nazarene with his two hands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmong these masters, probably appeared prominently, directly or indirectly Hillel. Many modern commentators evoke the parallelism of his teaching to that of Jesus.

Herod who reconstructed the Temple and thus modeled the theater of events that will affect the destiny of humanity has also designated the actors.
Early_life_of_Christ_in_the_Bowyer_Bible_print_7_of_21._presentation_of_Jesus_in_the_Temple_&_Simeon._OpieSo he calls Simon to the great priesthood to marry his daughter.
It is likely the same Simon who will bless Jesus for the symbolic redemption at Cohen, a typically Jewish ceremony:
  • “Sovereign [5], Lord, as you have promised,
        you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
  • For my eyes have seen your salvation,
  • which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
  • a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
        and the glory of your people Israel.”
1024px-Jesús_y_el_centurión_(El_Veronés)
This mission evoked by Simeon is illustrated by the meeting of a Roman centurion, Jesus then announces the opening of the pagan world to monotheism:
  • I say  [6] to you that many will come from the east (– East: diffusion by Islam – ) and the west (West: diffusion by Christianity –), and will take their places at the feast with Abraham (common patriarch to the three monotheistic religions), Isaac (Common Patriarch to Christianity by Esau and Judaism by Jacob –) and Jacob (Patriarch of Judaism, the nation of priests –) in the kingdom of heaven.
  • But the subjects of the kingdom (– The Jews –) will be thrown outside, into the darkness (– the two remaining guards of the long night where the Jews will be in the midst of the nations and will suffer all the curses set forth in Deuteronomy while bringing light to the world – )
Michael_Angelo_Immenraet_-_Jesus_and_the_Woman_of_CanaanThis mission of spreading Monotheism in the world from Judaism is illustrated by the episode of the Canaanite who seeks help from Jesus:
  • He [7] answered (– at the solicitation of the Canaanite –), “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.
  • The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
  • He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
  • “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
  • Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
We will find again this orientation of Jesus to seek in priority the salvation of the pagans in the Gospel of Luke:
  • Jesus [8] answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous (– The Jews –), but sinners (– the pagans) to repentance.”
It is therefore in spite of a generally unfavorable political context that this generation sees the emergence of new philosophies rooted in the Jewish Bible. These will definitively change the destiny of the world by bringing to it the universal light of monotheism with Jerusalem and its Temple as a common source.
It is the birth of this universal diffusion that evokes the beginning of the psalm of this generation:

(extract of the psalm 47 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 9 )

  • For the conductor; of the sons of Korah, a song.
  • All peoples, clap hands; shout to God with a voice of praise.
  • For the Lord is Most High; yea, feared; a great King over all the earth.
  • He shall plague peoples in our stead and kingdoms under our feet.
  • He shall choose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, which He loves forever.
  • God shall be exalted with the trumpet blast; the Lord, with the sound of the shofar.
  • Sing to God, sing; sing to our King, sing.
  • For God is the King of all the earth; sing a song composed with wisdom.
  • God has reigned over nations; God has sat upon His holy throne.
Bowyer_Bible_artists_image_9_of_10._the_visitation_of_Mary_to_Elizabeth._BonvicinoMary’s praise when she visits Elizabeth, pregnant with the future John the Baptist, echoes this psalm:
  • And Mary [9] said: “My soul glorifies the Lord
  • and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
  • for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,
  • for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
  • His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
  • He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
  • He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
  • He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
  • He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
  • to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
The expansion of the divine message to all of Abraham’s descendants, which includes Esau and Ishmael, classically associated with Christianity and Islam, largely confirmed by Jesus’ messages to the pagan world already mentioned, illustrates the continuation of the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 47 associated to this generation, first part of verse 10 )

  • The volunteers of the peoples have assembled, the people of the God of Abraham,
This sharing of the divine message between the Jews who hold the original word and the pagan world will not be painless for the Jewish people, to whom the pagan world will never cease to reproach their election.
It is therefore under the power of the nations that the Jews will see the long night unfold before the long-awaited dawn begins to point to the horizon.
This resurrection, already well illustrated in the writings of the Jewish Bible (« the Old Testament »), is also recalled in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of Luke:
  • They (– The Jews –) [10] will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
This confirmation of the final resurrection of the Jewish people in a conscious world of the divine message illustrates the end of the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 47 associated to this generation, end of verse 10 )

  • for God has the shields of the earth; He is exceedingly exalted.

 

 

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[1] Mark ( New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 11, verse 11

[2] Matthew (New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 26, verse 55

[3] Luke ( New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 2, verses 45 and 46

[4]   Babylonian Talmud / Sanhedrin 107b (The William Davidson Talmud, see https://www.sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.107b.8?lang=bi )

[5] Luke ( New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 2, verses 29 to 32

[6] Matthew (New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 8, verses 11 and 12

[7] Matthew (New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 15, verses 24 to 28

[8] Luke ( New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 5, verses 31 and 32

[9] Luke ( New International Version (NIV) ), Chapter 1, verses 46 to 55

[10] Évangile de Luc, Chapitre 21, verset 24