430 BC to 410 BC, Psalm 26: The Law of Israel.

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Stich, Abbildung, gravure, engraving : 1880This generation is that of the years between 430 BC and 410 BC.

This generation will see the end of the action of Nehemiah. The texts relating to this important biblical figure, related to the rebirth of the Jewish people on his land after the Babylonian and Persian exiles, are relatively vague on the dates corresponding to the various actions of this character as well as related characters like Ezra, even contradicting each other . However, the action described is necessarily a long action that has passed over a time span covering several generations.
Nehemiah restores the people in God’s law in particular by redefining the Sabbath-related rules and imposing that the children of the people of Israel unite only with the sons and daughters of Israel. Not for the sake of racial purity but to avoid sinking once again into the non-respect of the laws that would be the inevitable consequence of a union with a man or a woman not respecting them.
Having been obliged to leave the land of Israel to return to the king Artaxerxes, Nehemiah on his return denotes certain dysfunctions to which he remedies, then makes an assessment of his action with God:
  • On [1] that day the Book of Moses was read in the ears of the people, and it was found written therein that an Ammonite and a Moabite may not enter the congregation of God forever.
  • For they did not come forward to meet the Children of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them; but our God turned the curse into a blessing.
  • Now it came to pass when they heard the Torah, that they separated all mixtures from Israel.
  • Now prior to this, Eliashib the priest, who was appointed to the chamber of the Temple of our God, was a kinsman of Tobiah.
  • And he had made him a large chamber, and in previous times they would put there the meal offering, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithe of the corn, the wine, and the oil, which were ordained for the Levites and the singers and the gate sentries, and the heave offering of the priests.
  • Now with all this, I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes the king of Babylon, I came to the king, and after some days, I requested of the king.

    ( – Presumably several years so that the events mentioned above have had time to unfold – )
  • And I came to Jerusalem, and I pondered the evil that Eliashib had done in the matter of Tobiah, by making him a chamber in the courts of the Temple of God.
  • And I was very distressed, and I cast all the vessels of Tobiah’s house out of the chamber.
  • And I commanded, and they purified the chambers, and I returned there the vessels of the Temple of God, the meal offerings, and the frankincense.
  • And I knew that the portions due the Levites had not been given, and the Levites and the singers who did the work fled each one to his field.
  • So I quarreled with the prefects, and I said, « Why has the Temple of God been forsaken? » And I gathered them and stationed them in their place.
  • And all of Judah brought the tithes of the corn, and the wine, and the oil to the treasuries.
  • And I appointed treasurers over the treasuries: Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah of the Levites, and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah, for they were deemed trustworthy, and it was incumbent upon them to distribute to their brethren.
  • Remember me, my God, concerning this, and do not erase my good deeds that I did in the Temple of my God and with its watches.
This action, and its claim by Nehemiah, illustrate well the global content of the psalm related to this generation which we recall in its entirety hereafter:
( integrity of the psalm 26 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 12 / all verses of the psalm )
  • Of David. Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked with sincerity, and I trusted in the Lord; I shall not falter.
  • Test me, O Lord, and try me; refine my reins and my heart.
  • For Your kindness is before my eyes, and I walked in Your truth.
  • I did not sit with dishonest men, neither did I go with hypocrites.
  • I hated the congregation of the evildoers, and I did not sit with the wicked.
  • I washed my hands with cleanliness, and I encompassed Your altar, O Lord.
  • To proclaim thanksgiving with a loud voice and to recite all Your wonders.
  • O Lord, I love the dwelling of Your house and the place of the residence of Your glory.
  • Gather not my soul with sinners nor my life with men of blood,
  • in whose hands are plots and whose right hand is full of bribery.
  • But I walk with sincerity; redeem me and be gracious to me.
  • My foot stood on a straight path; I will bless the Lord in assemblies.

 

 

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[1] Nechemiah – Nehemiah – Chapter 13, verses 1 to 14