710 BC to 690 BC, Psalm 12: respite for the Kingdom of Judea.

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SennacheribThis generation is that of the years between 710 BC and 690 BC.

For this generation, the kingdom of Israel no longer exists as a Jewish kingdom.
The Jewish tribes that populated it are exiled and replaced by foreign peoples. We will no longer speak of the kingdom of Israel but of Samaria.

Lachishsiege1The kingdom of Judah which will end up being called Judea will not see with much consideration this neighboring country even if apparently it tries to adopt the religion of the country: Judaism.

Ezechias-HezekiahThis generation is marked by the reign of Hezekiah who began on the previous generation and will end on the next generation (Generation 13).

The establishment of foreign peoples on the territory of Samaria was initiated by the king of Assyria, who had previously exiled the Jewish tribes of the kingdom of Israel.
Following the divine intervention, the new occupants realized that the worship of the Lord had to be respected. They brought back an exiled priest, who led them to worship the Lord but associated with their ancient idol worshipers. This explains the distance taken by the inhabitants of Judea to those of Samaria since that time.
The king of Assyria Sennacherib (successor of Salmanazar who forced the exile of the kingdom of Israel) seeks to bring down the kingdom of Judah. He demands a ransom of gold and silver, which Hezekiah acquitted by stripping the riches of the Temple. Despite the payment of the imposed tribute, the king of Assyria continued on his way to Jerusalem, and confident of his strength showed a certain arrogance towards Hezekiah (who had restored the worship of the Lord to the kingdom of Judah and destroyed the ancient idols ) and his God. Rabchakeh, the envoy of Sennacherib, gives a warlike speech to the people of Judea advising them to distance themselves from their king Hezekiah and accept the same fate as the people of the former kingdom of Israel.
This bellicose speech by the representative of the king of Assyria is a good illustration of the first part of the psalm of this generation:

(extract of the psalm 12 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 5 )

  • For the conductor on the sheminith, a song of David.
  • Save, O Lord, for the pious are gone,
    • In view of Rabchake’s speech, which denies all power to the Lord with regard to that of his king. 
  • for the faithful have vanished from the sons of men.
    • Whose representative on the occasion is the king of Assyria.
  • One speaks to another with falseness,
    • Rabchakeh tries to reassure the people of Judah, but seeks only victory by assuring the same fate in the kingdom of Judah as that reserved for the kingdom of Israel.
  • smooth talk;
    • This characterizes the promises made by Rabchake for the new « promised land » to the people of Judah,
  • they speak with a double heart.
  • May the Lord cut off all smooth lips, the tongue that speaks great things.
  • Who said, « With our tongue we will overpower; our lips are with us. Who is lord over us? »
    • This is well representative of Rabchake’s speech, for which the psalmist claims divine intervention in the image of the prayer of Hezekiah (see below).
In response to this threat, Hezekiah addresses a prayer to the Lord:
  • And Hezekiah [1] prayed before the Lord and said, « O Lord God of Israel, Who dwells between the cherubim, You alone are the God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth.
  • O Lord, incline Your ear and listen, O Lord, open Your eyes and see. And listen to the words of Sennacherib, who sent him to blaspheme the living God.
  • Indeed, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their land.
  • And they have committed their gods to the fire, for they are not gods, but the handiwork of man, wood and stone, and they destroyed them.
  • And now, O Lord our God, please deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God alone. »
Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord reassures Hezekiah and inflicts defeat on Sennacherib.
The salvation of the Lord before the threat of the king of Assyria illustrates the continuation of the psalm of this generation, where Hezekiah made humble and poor by Sennacherib finds solace with God:

(extract of the psalm 12 associated to this generation, verses 6 to 8 )

  • Because of the plunder of the poor, because of the cry of the needy, Now I will rise, …
    • Intervention of the divine angel, after the intervention of the prophet Isaiah.
  •  … the Lord shall say; I will grant them salvation, He shall speak concerning them.
  • The sayings of the Lord are pure sayings, like silver refined, exposed to the earth, clarified sevenfold.
  • You, O Lord, shall guard them; You shall guard him from this generation forever.
    • Conclusion on the failure of the king of Assyria after the intervention of the angel of God who gives respite to the kingdom of Judea.
However, this victory is not final, for unfortunately the kingdom of Judah will eventually fall into the hands of the kingdom of Assyria, for the kings who succeed Hezekiah will bring back the wrath of God.
Thus, following the visit of messengers of Berodac-Baladan, new king of Babylonia, Isaiah makes the following prediction:
  • And Isaiah  [2] said to Hezekiah, « Hearken to the word of the Lord.
  • Behold a time will come when everything in your palace ( – previously, Hezekiah had shown all the treasures of the Temple to the envoys of the king of Babylonia – ) and what your forefathers have stored up, will be carried off to Babylonia; nothing shall remain, » said the Lord.
  • And they will take [some] of your sons, who will issue from you, whom you will beget, and they will be officers in the palace of the king of Babylonia. »
This prediction allows us to understand the last pessimistic verse of the psalm of this generation:

(extract of the psalm 12 associated to this generation, verse 9 )

Wicked men walk on all sides when the [one who appears] basest to the sons of men is elevated.

 

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[1] Melachim II – II Kings – Chapter 19, verses 15 to 19

[2] Melachim II – II Kings – Chapter 20, verses 16 to 18