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

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This generation is from the years 430 BC to 410 BC

According to our count, this generation is the 26th generation associated with Psalm 26. It is in this Psalm 26 that we therefore find an illustration of the facts of this generation.

Nehemiah’s work comes to an end in this generation.

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 with a man and a woman not respecting them jointly.

Having been forced to leave the land of Israel to return to King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah on his return reveals certain dysfunctions. He remedied it, then gave an account of his action to God.


Stricter laws

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 with a man and a woman not respecting them jointly:

  • And[2] the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinites, and all who separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, all who know enough to understand.
  • They held with their brethren, their noblemen, and entered the curse and the oath to follow the Law of God, which was given through Moses, the servant of God, and to keep and perform all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes.
  • And that we shall not give our daughters to the peoples of the land, and we shall not take their daughters for our sons.
  • And as for the peoples of the land who bring merchandise and all grains on the Sabbath day to sell-we shall not purchase from them on the Sabbath or on holy days, and we shall abandon [the land] during the seventh year [and] the loan given by every hand.
  • And we set upon ourselves the commandments to give a third of a shekel a year for the service of the Temple of our God.
  • For the bread of the arrangement and the daily meal offering and for the daily burnt offering, the Sabbaths, the New Moons, the appointed seasons, and for the holy offerings and for the sin offerings to atone for Israel, and all the work of the Temple of our God.

Nehemiah on the lookout

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 )

  1. Of David. Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked with sincerity, and I trusted in the Lord; I shall not falter.
  2. Test me, O Lord, and try me; refine my reins and my heart.
  3. For Your kindness is before my eyes, and I walked in Your truth.
  4. I did not sit with dishonest men, neither did I go with hypocrites.
  5. I hated the congregation of the evildoers, and I did not sit with the wicked.
  6. I washed my hands with cleanliness, and I encompassed Your altar, O Lord.
  7. To proclaim thanksgiving with a loud voice and to recite all Your wonders.
  8. O Lord, I love the dwelling of Your house and the place of the residence of Your glory.
  9. Gather not my soul with sinners nor my life with men of blood,
  10. in whose hands are plots and whose right hand is full of bribery.
  11. But I walk with sincerity; redeem me and be gracious to me.
  12. My foot stood on a straight path; I will bless the Lord in assemblies.

Another action of the same order and reinforcing the content of the psalm:

  • In[3] those days, I saw in Judea [people] treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing stacks [of grain] and loading them on donkeys, and also wine, grapes, and figs, and all types of loads and bringing them to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, and I warned them on the day they sold provisions.
  • And the Tyrians [who] sojourned there were bringing fish and all [types of] merchandise and selling on the Sabbath to the people of Judea and in Jerusalem.
  • And I quarreled with the dignitaries of Judea, and I said to them, « What is this bad thing that you are doing-profaning the Sabbath day?
  • Did not your ancestors do this, and our God brought upon us all this calamity, and upon this city, and you are increasing the wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath? »
  • Now it came to pass when the gates of Jerusalem cast shadows before the Sabbath, that I commanded, and the doors were closed, and I said that they should not open them until after the Sabbath, and I stationed some of my youths over the gates so that no load should enter on the Sabbath day.
  • So the traffickers and the vendors of all types of merchandise lodged outside Jerusalem once and twice.
  • And I warned them and said to them, « Why are you lodging opposite the wall? If you repeat [this], I shall lay a hand on you. » Since that time, they did not come on the Sabbath.
  • And I commanded the Levites that the watchers of the walls should purify themselves and come to hallow the Sabbath day. This too remember for me, my God, and have pity on me according to Your abundant loving-kindness.

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

[2] Nechemiah – Nehemiah – Chapter 10, verses 29 to 34

[3] Nechemiah – Nehemiah – Chapter 13, verses 15 to 22