70 BC to 50 BC, Psalm 44: the sign of Esau.

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Pompée_dans_le_Temple_de_JérusalemThis generation is that of the years between 70 BC and 50 BC.

This generation is marked by the real succession of Alexander Janneus after the regency of Alexandra.

But in the struggle between the two sons of Alexander Janneus, Aristobulus II and Hyrcan II, is grafted the arrival of the Romans on the chessboard of Judea. If since the arrival of the Greeks through Alexander the Great, the Romans have more or less integrated the horizon of the Jewish people, this generation sees the beginning of the real coexistence between Rome and the people of Israel, the two peoples brothers.
Rome seizes Jerusalem and begins to dictate its law in Judea.
The arrival of the Romans inaugurates a new era unfavorable for the Jewish people.
During the regency of Alexandra, Aristobulus had already shown his ambitions by seizing many cities. But Alexandra had, during her lifetime, managed the ambitions of Aristobule. His death precipitates the kingdom of Judea in the clutches of Rome.

Salome_AlexandraFlavius Josephus finishes the thirteenth book of « Jewish Antiquities » on the balance of the reign of Alexandra with this conclusion which introduces the present generation quite clearly:

  • Thus [1] his death (of Alexandra) was followed by troubles and misfortunes; but all his reign passed in peace.
When Alexandra died, Aristobulus declared war on his brother Hyrcanus, who was the high priest. Aristobulus and Hyrcan eventually conclude a peace agreement to the advantage of Aristobulus. Agreement a priori satisfactory for Hyrcan who had no particular ambition.
This situation did not satisfy Antipater, the father of the future king Herod, who took the side of Hyrcanus and pushed him to claim the throne.

The Siq leading up to the Trausury in Petra, JordanAntipas (Antipater) thus organizes the flight of Hyrcanus to Petra under the protection of Arab king Aretas, to whom Hyrcan makes territorial promises in case he regains the throne. Armed with this promise, Aretas sends an army of fifty thousand men against Aristobulus. Taking advantage of this fratricidal struggle, the Romans invite themselves to Judea.

Their alliance being sought by each party (Aristobule and Hyrcan).
Scaurus, Pompey’s envoy, initially adopted the party of Aristobulus and obtained the withdrawal of the troops of Aretas. This did not prevent the two brothers from trying to have their dispute settled directly by Pompey.

pompey shutterstock_51597049Pompey, in a tactical concern, initially seemed to support Aristobulus, but did not stop testing him and ended up being given the sovereignty of the fortresses of Judea.

Aristobulus then fled to Jerusalem. When Pompey threatened Jerusalem, Aristobulus attempted a final arrangement with Pompey, but he was not followed by his troops. The Jewish people split up, one part collaborated with Pompey, the other was determined to resist it.

3d render of trebuchet siege

After three months of siege, the Temple fell into the hands of the Romans. All the more so as they took advantage of the Sabbath day during which they did not risk any attack of the Jews to optimize the assembly of their siege engines:
  • Then [2] when the biggest tower had been shaken by the machines, and that in falling it had made fall with her the wall which was near, the Romans pressed to enter the breach. The first to climb was Cornelius Faustus, son of Sylla, followed by those whom he commanded. Furius entered on the other side with his company, and Fabius gave between them two, and also entered with his. Everything was immediately filled with dead bodies. Some of the Jews were killed by the Romans; others killed each other themselves, or rushed or set fire to their houses, death seeming sweeter to them than such frightful desolation. Twelve thousand Jews perished there, few Romans, and Absalon, uncle and father-in-law of Aristobulus, was taken. The sanctity of the Temple was violated in a strange manner, for instead of the heathen, not only had the laymen never set foot in the sanctuary, but had never seen it. Pompey entered it with several of his suite, and saw what was not permitted to look only at the priests. There he found the table, the candlesticks and the golden bowls, a great quantity of perfumes, and in the sacred treasure about two thousand talents. His piety prevented him from wanting to touch it, and he did nothing in this occasion, which was not worthy of his virtue.
This defeat of the Jews against the Romans justifies the lament attached to the beginning of the psalm of this generation:

(extract of the psalm 44 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 10 )

  • For the conductor, of the sons of Korah, a maskil.
  • O God, with our ears we heard, our forefathers told us; You performed a deed in their days, in days of old.
  • You-[with] Your hand You drove out nations and planted them; You inflicted harm on kingdoms and sent them away.
  • For not by their sword did they inherit the land, neither did their arm save them, but Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your countenance, for You favored them.
  • You are my King, O God; command the salvations of Jacob.
  • With You, we will gore our adversaries; with Your name, we will trample those who rise up against us.
  • For I do not trust in my bow, neither will my sword save me.
  • For You saved us from our adversaries and You put our enemies to shame.
  • We praised [ourselves] with God all day long, and we will forever thank Your name, yea forever.
  • But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies.
During the passage of the night, the enemies of the people of Israel had never succeeded in defeating and preserving the advantage of victory. Each time, a new actor burst in and relegated the one who had defeated the people of Israel to oblivion of history as the people of Israel rebuilt and eventually regained their sovereignty until the new enemy will come to measure against the people of Israel.
The victory of Pompey marks a turning point in Jewish history as summarized by Flavius Josephus:
  • It was  [3] thus that the division of Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, which was the cause of so many evils, made us lose our liberty, subjugated us to the Roman Empire, and compelled us to render what we had conquered. by arms in Syria (which at the time included Judea). To which we must add that these new masters demanded from us soon after more than ten thousand talents, and transferred to men whose birth was not illustrious the kingdom which had always been previously in the priestly race. But we will speak more specifically in their place of all these things.
This constant submission of the Jewish people to Rome and to the West through the ages, the Jews are beginning to discover in this generation by accumulating the military setbacks against Rome.
Thus, after having revolted the revolt of Alexander the son of Aristobulus, Gabinius, general of Rome, also succeeds in defeating Aristobulus, who, after having escaped from Rome, tried in his turn to resist.
Aristobulus will be made prisoner again.
Crassus_(13668007863)Alexander, son of Aristobulus, who had been spared by Gabinius during their first confrontation, tried unsuccessfully to revolt against the Romans. After the return of Gabinius to Rome, it is Crassus who governs Judea. To wage his war against the Parthians, Crassus did not hesitate to plunder the Temple:
  • Crassus [4], going to war with the Parthians, passed through Judea, and took in the Temple of Jerusalem not only the two thousand talents to which Pompey had refused to touch, but all the gold he found there, which amounted to eight thousand talents. He also took a solid gold beam weighing three hundred mines, each mine weighing two and a half pounds.
This plunder is illustrated in the following verse of the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 44 associated to this generation, verse 11 )

  • You make us retreat from the adversary, and our enemies plunder for themselves;
This looting only initiates a long period of domination. This time the enemy is of another caliber.

Foster_Bible_Pictures_0048-1_Jacob_Meets_His_Brother_EsauIf Jerusalem is associated with the Jewish people and consequently with Jacob, Rome is associated with Esau, to whom Isaac has promised sovereignty.

Behind Rome, you have to understand the West.
When Pompey returns to Jerusalem, he takes over Jacob. If he does not defile the Temple, he breaks into the holy of holies that was promised to Jacob. Isaac had promised the priesthood to Jacob’s descendants. The arrival of Rome in Jerusalem marks the end of Jacob’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and the Temple.
Throughout history the Jewish people will continue to suffer the power of Rome, the power of the West. No longer will the armies of Israel be victorious over the armies of Esau. Esau who thinks to hold his vengeance on his brother when he was blessed by Jacob. This blessing caused Esau’s cries and tears.
Esau tries from this generation to appropriate the priesthood that had escaped him.
For this, the West will not hesitate to constantly attack the people of Israel while pretending to protect it. Will continue to the present day the destruction of the Temple by Titus and the bloody repressions that will ensue as well as those that will follow the revolt of Bar Kokbah.
Then come the foundation of the Roman church and the progressive imposition of specific statutes for the Jews. Then the crusades, the inquisition and the massacres of the twentieth century.
Until today, when the Jews were able to regain sovereignty over their land, the West does not hesitate to throw its last strength into the battle to prevent the Jews from regaining sovereignty over the Temple and to resume their role as priests of the nations.
For this reason, the West does not hesitate to push Ishmael, the East, to attack Jacob to try to win this last battle.
But the confrontation is likely to be short, because the last battle may face East and West, and that is when God will remember his people and finally come to free him from the guardianship of Esau. He will restore sovereignty over Jerusalem and its rebuilt Temple.
It should be noted that in the present generation (70 BC to 50 BC), the East plays an already dominant role through Aretas, the Arab king and the constant support of the Arabs in Antipater.
It is to all this future of the Jewish people (in relation to the generation that interests us) that the sons of Korah describe in the end of this psalm:

(extract of the psalm 44 associated to this generation, verses 12 to 27  )

  • You deliver us as sheep to be eaten, and You scatter us among the nations.
  • You sell Your people without gain, and You did not increase their price;
  • You make us a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to those around us;
  • You make us a byword among the nations, a [cause for] shaking the head among the kingdoms.
  • All day long, my disgrace is before me, and the shame of my face has covered me.
  • From the voice of the one who taunts and blasphemes, because of an enemy and an avenger.
  • All this has befallen us and we have not forgotten You, neither have we betrayed Your covenant.
  • Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps turned away from Your path
  • -even when You crushed us in a place of serpents, and You covered us with darkness.
  • If we forgot the name of our God and spread out our palms to a strange god,
  • Will God not search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.
  • For it is for Your sake that we are killed all the time, [that] we are considered as sheep for the slaughter.
  • Awaken! Why should You sleep, O Lord? Arouse Yourself, forsake not forever.
  • Why do You hide Your countenance? [Why do] You forget our affliction and oppression?
  • For our soul is cast down to the dust, our belly clings to the earth.
  • Arise to assist us and redeem us for the sake of Your kindness.

 

 

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[1] Flavius Josephus / Jewish Antiquities / End of book thirteenth (end of chapter 24) (French: Flavius Josèphe/Antiquités Juives/Fin du livre treizième (fin du chapitre 24) )

[2] Flavius Josephus / Jewish Antiquities / Book Fourteenth / Chapter 8 (French: Flavius Josèphe/Antiquités Juives/Livre Quatorzième/Chapitre 8 )

[3] Flavius Josephus / Jewish Antiquities / Book Fourteenth / End of Chapter 8 (French: Flavius Josèphe/Antiquités Juives/Livre Quatorzième/fin du chapitre 8 )

[4] Flavius Josephus / Jewish Antiquities / Book Fourteenth / Chapter 12 (Flavius Josèphe/Antiquités Juives/Livre Quatorzième/chapitre 12 )