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

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    Summary

This generation is from the years 710 BC to 690 BC

According to our count, this generation is the 12th generation associated with Psalm 12. It is in this Psalm 12 that we therefore find an illustration of the facts of this generation.

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.

For the kingdom of Judah, this generation is marked by the reign of Hezekiah who began on the previous generation and will end on the next generation (Generation 13).

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. The king of Assyria demanded a ransom of gold and silver, which Hezekiah paid by stripping the riches of the Temple. Despite the payment of the imposed tribute, the king of Assyria continued his march to Jerusalem. Sure of his strength he showed a certain arrogance towards Hezekiah (who had reestablished the worship of the Lord over the kingdom of Judah and destroyed the ancient idols) and his God.

Rabchake (one of King Sennacherib’s envoys) speaks directly to the people of Judah. He urges him not to follow their monarch in his trust in the Lord to save them. In this case, he promises him a “golden” exile. In response to this threat, Hezekiah addresses a prayer to the Lord. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord reassures Hezekiah and inflicts defeat on Sennacherib.

Talk

Samaria

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.

The 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-Hezekiah

This 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 [1] divine intervention, the new occupants understood that the worship of the Lord had to be respected. They brought back an exiled priest, which led them to worship the Lord but associated with their old idolatrous cults. This explains the distance taken by the inhabitants of Judea from those of Samaria since that time.

The kingdom of Judah threatened

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:

  • And[2] in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib the king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them.
  • And Hezekiah the king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, “I have sinned, withdraw from me; whatever you impose upon me, I will bear.” And the king of Assyria imposed upon Hezekiah, king of Judah, three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold.

The king[3]  of Assyria demanded a ransom of gold and silver, which Hezekiah paid by stripping the riches of the Temple. Despite the payment of the imposed tribute, the king of Assyria continued his march to Jerusalem. Sure of his strength he showed a certain arrogance towards Hezekiah (who had reestablished the worship of the Lord over the kingdom of Judah and destroyed the ancient idols) and his God:

  • And[4] Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘So has the great king, the king of Assyria, said, “What is this confidence that you have trusted?
  • You have said but words of the lips; counsel and might are needed for war. Now, on whom do you depend that you have rebelled against me?
  • Now, behold you have depended upon the support of this splintered reed, upon Egypt, upon whom a man will lean and it will go into his palm and puncture it; so is Pharaoh the king of Egypt to all those who trust in him.
  • And if you say to me, ‘We trust the Lord our God,’ is He not the one Whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed? He has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘Before this altar in Jerusalem shall you prostrate yourselves.’
  • And now, wager now with my lord the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses if you are able to supply riders upon them of your men.
  • And how can you repulse one captain of the smallest of my master’s servants, and you rely on Egypt for chariots and horsemen?
  • Now is it with other than the Lord that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’ “

Then Rabchakeh addresses the people of Judah directly:

  • So has the king said[5], ‘Let not Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from his hand.
  • And let not Hezekiah make you rely on the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will save us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’
  • Do not listen to Hezekiah, for so has the king of Assyria said, “Make peace with me, and come out to me, and each man will eat of his vine and each man of his fig tree, and each man will drink the water of his cistern.
  • Until I come and take you to a land like your land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil yielding olives and honey, and you may live and not die, and do not heed Hezekiah for he will mislead you, saying, ‘The Lord will save us.’
  • Have the gods of the nations saved each one his land, from the hand of the king of Assyria?
  • Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad, where are the gods of Sepharvaim? He exiled them and twisted them. Now, did they save Samaria from my hand?
  • Who are they among all the gods of the lands who saved their land from my hand, that the Lord should save Jerusalem from my hand?’ “
  • And the people remained silent and did not answer him even one word, for it was the king’s order, saying, “Do not answer him.”

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).

Hezekiah’s response

In response to this threat, Hezekiah addresses a prayer to the Lord:

  • And Hezekiah[6] 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.”

The defeat of Sennacherib

Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord reassures Hezekiah and inflicts defeat on Sennacherib.

  • Therefore[7], so has the Lord said concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He shall not enter this city, neither shall he shoot there an arrow, nor shall he advance upon it with a shield, nor shall he pile up a siege mound against it.
  • By the way he comes he shall return, and this city he shall not enter,’ says the Lord.
  • ‘And I will protect this city to save it, for My sake and for the sake of My servant David.’ “
  • And it came to pass on that night that an angel of the Lord went out and slew one hundred eighty-five thousand of the camp of Assyria. And they arose in the morning, and behold they were all dead corpses.
  • And Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, left and went away, and he returned and dwelt in Nineveh.
  • And he was prostrating himself in the temple of Nisroch his god, and Adramelech and Sharezer, his sons, slew him with a sword, and they fled to the land of Ararat, and his son Esarhaddon reigned in his stead.

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[8] said to Hezekiah, “Hearken to the word of the Lord.
  • Behold a time will come when everything in your palace 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.


[1] Melachim II – II Kings – Chapter 17

[2] Melachim II – II Kings – Chapter 18, verses 13 and 14

[3] See Melachim II – II Kings – Chapter 18, verses 15 and following (continuation of the preceding quotation)

[4] Melachim II – II Kings – Chapter 18, verses 19 to 25

[5] Melachim II – II Kings – Chapter 18, verses 29 to 36

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

[7] Melachim II – II Kings – Chapter 19, verses 32 to 37

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