850 BC to 830 BC, Psalm 5: Elisha.

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Giorgio_Vasari_001This generation is that of the years between 850 BC to 830 BC.

Psalm four saw the end of twilight. Psalm five initiates the dark night like the beginning of the second book of kings that illustrates the fifth generation. Because if in the first four generations, the curses begin to reach the people of Israel this is nothing next to what awaits them in the following generations.

This fifth generation is marked by the death or rather the departure of Elijah from this world. For in fact Elijah does not die but ascends to heaven in a whirlwind [1] which provokes the astonishment of the fifty young prophets who accompany him and Elisha his successor:

  • elie-chariot-feu-00016687As [2] they (Elijah and Elisha) were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
  • Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two
Elijah is the symbol of the resurrection of the Jewish people, it is he who symbolically attends the meal of Passover or is evoked during the rite of circumcision. It is about Elijah, who must precede the coming of the Messiah that Malachi lays out the following predictions:
  • “I will send  [3] my messenger (Elijah), who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger (Messiah, descendant of King David, author of the Psalms) of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
As well as :
  • “Surely [4] the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.
  • But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.
  • Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty.
  • “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
  • “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.
  • He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”
This prophecy closes the prophecy of Malachi. Malachi is in the tradition of the Hebrew Bible the last prophet to speak. The prediction concerns the coming of the Messiah preceded by the return of Elijah who will mark the end of time, the end of the night, the morning.
The departure of Elijah from the earth in a whirlwind and his return announced by Malachi at the end of the night in the morning are well illustrated by the beginning of Psalm five:

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

  • To the conductor, on nehiloth, a song of David.
  • Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my meditation.
    • Psalm four was the last of a first series under the influence of David, the fifth generation enters the deepest of the night.
  • Hearken to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for I will pray to You.
  • O Lord, in the morning …
    • On the return of Elijah who flies into the whirlwind during this fifth generation and whose return will mean the end of the night and therefore the morning or dawn.
  • … You shall hearken to my voice; in the morning I shall arrange [my prayer] to You, and I shall look forward.
  • For You are not a God Who desires wickedness; evil does not abide with You.
    • As the prophecy of Malachi indicates, the wicked will not benefit from their deeds.
elisee-ours-00016688It is Elisha who takes the follow-up of Elijah, after having cleansed Jericho, on his return towards Samaria, he undergoes insults:
  • From [5] there (Jericho) Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!”
  • He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys
Jericho is the first city that Joshua conquers when he enters the promised land, and Bethel is the city where Jacob obtained the promise of this promised land:
  • The [6] land I (God) gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”
  • Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.
  • Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.
  • Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.
Elisha’s ascension from Jericho to Beth El symbolizes the long journey of the people of Israel to definitively possess the promised land.
This journey takes place under the taunts of the people symbolized by the children who insult Elisha, saying « Get out of here, baldy!« : Why so much effort to reach your God because he abandons you. Bald, like Samson who when his hair was cut had lost all his divine powers.
But the people of Israel continue their ascent until they reach their goal at dawn. There God will punish the people who have mocked the people of Israel unjustly like the forty-two children killed by the two bears.
This illustrates the following passage from the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 5 associated to this generation, verses 6 to 8 )

  • Boastful ones will not stand before you; you hate all those who practice wickedness.
  • You destroy speakers of lies; the Lord abhors a man of blood and deceit.
  • But I, with Your great loving-kindness, shall enter Your House; I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You.

Follows [7] the battle which opposes the king of Moab to the king of Israel. Under Elisha’s leadership, the king of Israel, allied with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, and the king of Edom, will impose a defeat on Moab together. Moab was at the origin of Balaam’s intervention, who tried to bring the curse upon the people of Israel. This fight foreshadows the final battle of the people of Israel finally reunited against the other side.

This can be illustrated by following the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 5 associated to this generation, verses 9 to 13 )

  • O Lord, lead me in Your righteousness; because of those who lie in wait for me, make Your way straight before me.
  • For there is no sincerity in his mouth; there is malice in their heart; their throat is an open grave; they make their tongue smooth.
  • Condemn them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them down in the multitude of their transgressions for they have rebelled against You.
  • And let all who take refuge in You rejoice; may they ever shout for joy, and You shall shelter them, and let all who love Your name exult in You.
  • For You, O Lord, shall bless the righteous; You shall encompass him with will like a shield.

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[1] See: Melachim II – II Kings Chapter 2, verse 11.

[2] Melachim II – II Kings Chapter 2, verses 11 and 12

[3] Malachi Chapter 3, verse 1

[4] Malachi Chapter 3, verses 19 to 24

[5] Melachim II – II Kings Chapter 2, verses 23 and 24.

[6] Genesis Chapter 35, verses 12 to 15

[7] See: Melachim II – II Kings Chapter 3