570 BC to 550 BC, Psalm 19: Clemency after sanction.

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Hanging_Gardens_of_BabylonThis generation is that of the years between 570 BC and 550 BC.

The eighteenth generation was mainly marked by the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, she also saw the forced exile of the population of Israel to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. This exile had been widely predicted by the various prophets who succeeded each other before the destruction of the Temple was effective.
The spirit of the people of Israel had been distorted by false predictions of false prophets who were clearly not inspired. Jeremiah is anxious when God asks him to announce to the people far less favorable predictions, false prophets giving false hope to the people of Judea.
In fact the sentence had already fallen, and there remained to the people of Israel only two solutions to the punishment that came from the north, facing the armies of Nebuchadnezzar: fight and be decimated or accept the exile decided by God and survive .
And before this alternative, the role of the false prophets is still evoked by Jeremiah in the responsibility of the misguidance of the population of Jerusalem.

The prophecies of Isaiah illustrate Psalm 19. In particular those of the second part [1] of the prophecies which visibly concern contemporary prophecies to the generation of exile in Babylon:

  • Hearken [2] to this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and who emanated from the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of the Lord and make mention of the God of Israel, neither in truth nor in righteousness.
  • For they are called [as being] from the Holy City, and they leaned on the God of Israel; the Lord of Hosts is His name.
  • The first things I told from then, and they emanated from My mouth and I let [you] hear them; suddenly I did [them] and they came to pass.
  • Because of My knowledge that you are obstinate, and your nape is a sinew of iron, and your forehead is brazen.
  • And I told you from then; when it had not yet come to pass I let you hear it; lest you say, “My idol performed them, and my graven image and my molten image ordained them.”
  • You have heard, see all of it; and you, will you not tell? I let you hear new things from now, and hidden things that you did not know.
  • Now they have been created and not from then, and before the day, and you did not hear them, lest you say, “I knew them.”
  • Neither did you hearken, neither did you know, nor was your ear opened from then, for I knew that you would deal treacherously, and you were called transgressor from the womb.
  • For the sake of My name I defer My anger, and My praise is that I restrain My wrath for you, not to cut you off.
  • Behold I have refined you, but not as silver; I have chosen for you the crucible of poverty.
  • For My sake, for My sake I will do, for how shall it be profaned? And My honor I will not give to another.
  • Hearken to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, who was called by Me, I am He, I am first, yea I am last.
  • Even My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand measured the heavens with handbreadths; I call them, they stand together.
  • All of you, gather and hearken, who of them told these? The Lord loves him, who shall do His work in Babylon and [show] His arm [upon the] Chaldeans.
  • I, yea I spoke, I even called him, I brought him, and his way prospered.
  • Draw near to Me, hearken to this; in the beginning I did not speak in secret, from the time it was, there was I, and now, the Lord God has sent me, and His spirit.
  • So said the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, “I am the Lord your God, Who teaches you for your profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.
  • Had you hearkened to My commandments, your peace would be as a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
  • And your seed would be like the sand and those emanating from your innards [would be] like its innards; his name shall neither be cut off nor destroyed from before Me.
The prophet’s reaffirmation of the omnipotence of God, after many generations of wandering in which the people of Israel have tried to worship other deities, echoes the first part of the psalm of this generation to remember the work of God.
As the prophecy of Isaiah above reminds us, the beginning of the psalm takes to witness the universe of the omnipotence of God. The following recalls that only the doctrine of God can restore peace and prosperity to the people of Israel, as Isaiah just did. David recalls his own fidelity to the law of God in order to obtain clemency for his people:

(extract of the psalm 19 associated to this generation, verses 1 to 12 )

  • For the conductor, a song of David.
  • The heavens recite the glory of God, and the sky tells of the work of His hands.
  • Day to day utters speech, and night to night tells knowledge.
  • There is neither speech nor words; their voice is not heard.
  • Their line goes forth throughout the earth, and their words are at the end of the world; for the sun He made a tent therein.
  • And it is like a bridegroom emerging from his chamber; it rejoices like a mighty man running a course.
  • From the end of the heavens is its source, and its circuit is to their ends, and none is hidden from its heat.
  • The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is faithful, making the simple one wise.
  • The orders of the Lord are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes.
  • The fear of the Lord is pure, existing forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, altogether just.
  • They are to be desired more than gold, yea more than much fine gold, and are sweeter than honey and drippings of honeycombs.
  • Also Your servant was careful with them; for in observing them there is great reward.
At the same time that God announces to Jeremiah the imminent sanction, he announces the forgiveness of the faults of the people of Israel. It is the same in the prophecy of Isaiah (the one who accompanies the exile to Babylon).
It is this forgiveness that David tries to confirm in the end of the psalm:

(extract of the psalm 19 associated to this generation, verses 13 to 15 )

  • Who understands errors? Cleanse me of hidden [sins].
  • Also withhold Your servant from willful sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be perfect and I will be cleansed of much transgression.
  • May the sayings of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable before You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
In fact, for those who have accepted exile, they find in Babylon a certain tranquility as Ezekiel had predicted by evoking the divine clemency. This is also the conclusion of the second book of kings, which concludes the story of the first line from David sovereign on the land of Israel and in the presence of the first Temple.

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[1] This second part contains chapters 40 to 55 of the book of Isaiah. The book of Isaiah actually contains, in addition to the initial prophecies of the prophet Isaiah, prophecies of other prophets and other times. This part is often called “Book of Consolation”. Many passages are used by the Gospels, then by the Christian exegeses, to affirm that Jesus is indeed the Messiah expected by the Jews. Interpretation, which the Israelites obviously do not share.

[2] Yeshayahu – Isaiah – Chapter 48, verses 1 to 19