The Ninth of Av

How did it Begin?

It is written in Zechariah 7:5. “Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests,saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth (9th of Av) and seventh (Yom Kippur) month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? Tisha B'Av, the Fast of the Ninth of Av, is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, many of which coincidentally have occurred on the ninth of Av. The 9th of Av begins in Numbers 13-14. When the “spies” came back from Canaan, 10 of them gave a bad report. What was the people’s reaction? It is written in Numbers 14:1, “At this all the people of Isra'el cried out in dismay and wept all night long.”

What was ADONAI’s reaction? It is written in Numbers 14:28-34, “Tell them this: 'As surely as I live, ADONAI swears, as surely as you have spoken in my ears, I will do this to you: your carcasses will fall in this desert! Every single one of you who were included in the census over the age of twenty, you who have complained against me, will certainly not enter the land about which I raised my hand to swear that I would have you live in it - except for Kalev the son of Y'funeh and Y'hoshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would be taken as booty - them I will bring in. They will know the land you have rejected. But you, your carcasses will fall in this desert; and your children will wander about in the desert for forty years bearing the consequences of your prostitutions until the desert eats up your carcasses.  It will be a year for every day you spent reconnoitering the land that you will bear the consequences of your offenses - forty days, forty years. Then you will know what it means to oppose me!”

In ancient Jewish writings, God issued another decree that day: "Because you, Israel, cried for no reason on this day, I, God, will see to it that you have reason to cry on this day forever after." That day was the 9th of Av.

This Day in History

The following points of history happened on Tisha B’Av:

- 1461 B.C.E.    - The 10 spies gave a bad report on Israel

  - 587 B.C.E.     - First Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylonians – It was caused by Idol Worship

    - 70 C.E.          Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome – It was caused by hatred towards brothers producing the destruction of unity

  - 135 C.E.        - Bar Kokhba's revolt against Rome failed. Simon bar Kokhba was killed, along with more than 100,000 other Jews, including Rabbi Akiva, and the city of Betar was destroyed. The Roman Emperor Hadrian turns Jerusalem into a Roman city. 

- 1290 C.E.         - King Edward I of England signs an edict expelling all Jews from England and they expelled every Jew from its empire. Great Britain, as a Nation, has never been the same.

 - 1492 C.E.        - Spain Expelled every Jew. The Jews were expelled from Spain on Aug. 2, 1492.  They were set adrift in boats with no oars, anchors, sails, food or water. The Next day, Christopher Columbus left Spain for America.  Columbus mentions the exodus from Spain in his diary and connected it with Tisha B’Av.  [The greatest Diaspora community the world had ever known until then came to an end, and Spain also lost its position as a world power]

 - 1914 C.E.         -  World War I started. Its aftermath produced the conditions that started World War II (in 1914 Tisha B'Av was August 1, the day Germany declared war on Russia and the Swiss army mobilized. World War I caused unprecedented devastation across Europe and set the stage for World War II and the Holocaust.)

 - 1940 C.E.          - Himmler presents his plan for the "Final Solution" to the Jewish problem to the Nazi Party. 

 - 1942 C.E.         - On the eve of Tisha B'Av 1942 (July 23rd), the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka. Also on this date, the Treblinka extermination camp opened in occupied Poland, east of Warsaw. (Look at the years 1492 and 1942 – they have transposed digits)

- 1990 C.E.          - Gulf War broke out [ended on Purim]

- 2005 C.E.          - Starting at midnight on August 14, 2005, the entry and presence of Israeli citizens in the areas to be evacuated was prohibited under paragraph 22A of the Implementation of the Disengagement Plan Law 2005.  Disengagement from the Gaza Strip was completed on August 22, and from northern Samaria on August 23, 2005. (The Beginning of Dividing Israel for Peace) How is it Working?

The Destruction of the First Temple

How do you reconcile these two verses in scripture?

It is written in II Kings 25:8-9, “In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month ...came Nebuchadnezzar ... and he burnt the house of the LORD...”

It is written in Jeremiah 52:12-13, “In the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month... came Nebuchadnezzar ... and he burnt the house of the LORD...”

According to the Talmud it states, “On the seventh the heathens entered the Temple and ate therein and desecrated it throughout the seventh and eighth and towards dusk of the ninth they set fire to it and it continued to burn the whole of that day. ... How will the Rabbis then [explain the choice of the 9th as the date]? The beginning of any misfortune [when the fire was set] is of greater moment.  (Talmud Ta'anit 29a)

Tisha B'Av is the culmination of a three week period of increasing mourning, beginning with the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, which commemorates the first breach in the walls of Jerusalem, before the First Temple was destroyed.

In connection with the fall of Jerusalem, three other fast-days were established at the same time as the Ninth Day of Av: these were the Tenth of Tevet, when the siege began; the Seventeenth of Tammuz, when the first breach was made in the wall; and the Third of Tishrei, known as the Fast of Gedaliah, the day when Gedaliah was assassinated according to II Kings 25:25 and Jeremiah 41:2..

 For the Orthodox Jew, during this three week period, weddings and other parties are not permitted, and people refrain from cutting their hair. From the first to the ninth of Av, it is customary to refrain from eating meat or drinking wine (except on the Sabbath and from wearing new clothing.

Tisha B’Av and Yom Kippur

The restrictions on Tisha B'Av are similar to those on Yom Kippur:

  • To refrain from eating and drinking (even water);
  • No washing, bathing, shaving or wearing cosmetics;
  • No wearing leather shoes;
  • No engaging in sexual relations (some refrain from any displays of physical affection); and
  • Studying Torah.

Work in the ordinary sense of the word [not the Sabbath sense] is also restricted. People who are ill do not need to fast on this day. Many of the traditional mourning practices are observed: people refrain from smiles, laughter and idle conversation, and sit on low stools.

In the Synagogue, the book of Lamentations is read and mourning prayers are recited. The ark (cabinet where the Torah is kept) is draped in black. In Sephardic communities, it is also customary to read the Book of Job.

9th of Av and the Messiah

The sages named the seven Haftarah portions between Tisha B’av and Rosh Hashanah “The Seven Messages of Consolation,” all of which came from Isaiah. Now, instead of beginning our self-examination within the 10 Days of Awe (between Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur), we begin our preparation for the Holy Days “seven weeks” earlier on Tisha B’av, with the hope of learning from the past so we don’t have to repeat the past in our future.

Consider this: If the attack on Pearl Harbor isn’t strong enough a comparison, what would happen if America let it happen again, in the same place, and on the same day. That would be a day of “double infamy”.

For the Jewish people, it did happen again. The second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, again on Tisha B’av. Forty three years earlier, on that same day of Tisha B’av in 27 CE, Yochanan (John the Baptist) declared this prophetic warning, “The ax is already laid at the root of the tree” (Luke 3:9). These words of John help us understand who he is and why his life is inextricably linked to Shabbat Nachamu and the ninth of Av.

“Nachamu” (Parasha V’et’chanan) is the first of the seven messages after Tisha B’av, which opens with these incredible words: It is written in Isaiah 40:1-3, “Comfort, yes, comfort My people! says your God. Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her... For she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God”

John was quoting that week’s Haftorah.

When Yeshua was immersed by John on or near the 9th of Av, it was a very important fast day on the Jewish calendar. Yeshua, the Messiah began a 40 day fast immediately after His immersion.

When John was asked “who are you,” in John 1:19, he gave a first person, eyewitness testimony.  He quotes Isaiah the prophet, “I am ‘ The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of Adonai’ (John 1:23).’” In other words, “If you want to know who I am, read this week’s Haftarah portion.”

At the time, Yeshua the Messiah departs into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. These same 40 days parallel precisely the first 40 days of Israel’s 40 year wilderness journey that, according to Jewish tradition, began on the 9th of Av (Numbers 14:34).

But as Yeshua went into the wilderness, what were they reading during these seven weeks in every synagogue? Following Shabbat Nachamu, the next four weeks of Isaiah are divided into four readings from Isaiah 49:14-55:5, with some very interesting edits missing in the sequence: Isaiah 51:4-11 (8 verses) and Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

Why did the rabbis omit Isaiah 53? Is it because it vividly points to Yeshua as our Messiah on the very week (4th message) where Moses himself declares in the Torah portion: “the Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

Luke’s Gospel in chapters 3 and 4 allows us to look through the lens of the Torah and Haftarah portions to see a clearer, more observant picture of Messiah in the Brit Hashanah (New Testament) as we approach the Holy Days every year. But, there’s more.

Carefully examine the dialogue of Yeshua, the Messiah with Satan during His temptation. Messiah refutes Satan exclusively from the Torah portions in Deuteronomy that were being read in every synagogue during the first three weeks of the seven messages.

‘“And Satan said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ But Yeshua answered him, saying, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’ (Luke 4:3-4). This is a direct quote fromDeuteronomy 8:3 - Parsha Ekev, week two.

Now, look the larger context of Deuteronomy with the Messiah’s answer: “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these 40 years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger....that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone...(Deuteronomy 8:2-3).”

Please understand that Yeshua had nothing to say to Satan in the wilderness, except to quote the Torah portions being read in the synagogue at the very time of His testing.

Finally, when Yeshua returns to Nazareth they are about to read from the seventh message of Isaiah, Parashah Nitzavim (Isaiah 61:10-63:9). As Messiah was handed the scroll of Isaiah, He began to read, “The Spirit of Adonai is upon me; ... he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the imprisoned and renewed sight for the blind...” (Luke 4:18-19)

He is quoting Isaiah 61:1-2a. He then said, “Today, these Scriptures are fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21).

It has been exactly 49 days from Tisha B’av to Nitzavim and 43 days betweenNachamu and Nitzavim. This is more than enough time for Messiah’s wilderness journey. Look at the Scriptures we read every year between Tisha B’av and Nitzavim. He has fulfilled more than we have ever imagined. He came at the right time, to the right place, to make right all our past days of infamy, so that our future can be found in Him.

 Orthodox Jews believe that until the arrival of the Messiah, this day will continue to be observed as a fast; when the Messiah and the rebuilding of the Temple come, it will become a great celebration. This notion is asserted on the basis of a passage in the Book of Zechariah that foretells of the transformation of four fast days into joyous holidays.

It is written in Zechariah 8:19, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month (17th of Tammuz), and the fast of the fifth (9th of Av), and the fast of the seventh (Yom Kippur), and the fast of the tenth (10th of Tevet – II Kings 25:1-4) , shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.”

The 9th of Av occurred because of the lack of trust in God.  Only one thing can change it – the complete trust in God.    

 When will that day come?

It is written in Zechariah 14:1-4, “Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when thespoil taken from you will be divided among you. For I will gather all thenations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled , but the rest of the people will not be cutoff from the city.

 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on aday of battle.  In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in frontof Jerusalem on the east ; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from eastto west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.”

 When will that day come?

It is written in Zechariah 12:10, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will lookon Me whom they have pierced ; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”

 When will that Day come?

It is written in Matthew 23:39, “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!' "

On that day, there will be complete Trust in Adonai