The next big holiday on the biblical calendar is Tisha B Av. It is also more simply known as the 9th of Av. There are 12 months of the biblical calendar and Av is the 5th month. Most of us are not familiar with the biblical calendar because the world follows the Gregorian calendar where the months have names like January, February, March, April and so on. But, long before the Gregorian calendar there was the Hebrew biblical calendar. This is the calendar instituted by God and it has never ceased to exist. Man instituted the Gregorian calendar, but this is not the one referred to in the Bible, and it is not the one followed by God’s ancient people, the Jews. Even though the world does not operate on the biblical calendar, it is important to see how God uses it to reveal his sovereignty over time and history. This year Tisha B Av (9th of Av) falls on August 10, 2019, beginning at sundown, and will last through sundown August 11.
The biblical month of Av usually falls in July or August each year on the Gregorian calendar. This year the month of Av began on August 2, 2019 and will end on August 31. The month of Av is associated with fasting and mourning because it was on the 9th of Av that the Temple was destroyed. This happened not just once, but TWICE. The first Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. and the second Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. Both years this happened on the 9th of AV, also known as Tisha B Av on the biblical calendar. Because of these tragedies, Tisha B Av is known as the saddest day on the biblical calendar.
Sadly, these are not the only events that happened on the 9th of Av (Tisha B Av). The Bar Kochba Revolt was crushed on this date in 135 A.D. During this revolt, Jews rebelled against the Romans. The Roman Emperor Hadrian despised the Jewish religion and vowed to rid Rome of what he considered the detestable Jews. The Jews organized revolts and were successful for a time, but eventually Hadrian violently crushed them, along with their hopes to rebuild the Temple. Out of spite, Hadrian renamed the entire land of Israel. He called it Palestina (Palestine). He chose this name to mock the Jews because the name Palestina was a reference to the Jews’ ancient enemies- the Philistines. After this, Hadrian continued persecuting Jews by forbidding them to observe the Sabbath. They also could not study the Torah or meet in synagogues. (Now you know why to this day much of the land of Israel is referred to as Palestine…..)
Delving further into history, we find that the First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II on the 9th of Av. The Crusade itself began on the 24th of Av on August 25, 1096. Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland were the first to suffer the wrath of the crusaders. Over 10,000 Jews were killed in just the first month alone. The Crusaders led massive executions of Jews in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. On June 7, 1099, the Crusaders began the siege of Jerusalem. One of the first things they did was set fire to a synagogue. Something of interest to note is that on June 7, 1967 (exactly 868 years later) Israel reclaimed East Jerusalem in the Six Days War, thus unifying the capital. This was the first time the entire capital was in Jewish hands since Rome scattered the Jews and burned the Temple back in 70 A.D.! There are many similarities between the ancient Romans and many of today’s modern Arab nations, whose main goal is to erase the Jews from the face of the earth. Luckily, we have a faithful God who will not let that happen.
The Inquisitions that began in the 1200’s and lasted for centuries thereafter were campaigns of terror used to forcibly convert the Jews (and Muslims and “heretics”) to Christianity by order of the Catholic Church. The Inquisitions began in England in 1290, and in Spain/Portugal in 1492. Can you guess what date they BOTH occurred? The 9th of Av!!!!!! During both Inquisitions Jews were forced to covert to Christianity, or they were killed or expelled from the country. Jews’ property was confiscated and their citizenship was revoked. Tortures and killings ensued, and deportations abounded. Many people do not realize this, but England was the first European nation to require Jews to wear a badge, marking who they were. Laws that persecuted Jews were passed with little or no resistance during these dreadful times.
The Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306. This happened one day after the 9th of Av (Tisha B Av), occurring on the 10th of Av. The Jews were arrested and told they had to leave all their goods behind. They were forced to leave with only the clothes on their backs.
There are other notable historical events that occurred on, or near the 9th of Av.
Germany declared war on Russia, beginning World War I on the 9th of Av (August 1-2, 1914). It was the most destructive war to date and its aftermath included millions of deaths. Interestingly enough, a total solar eclipse occurred in this same month on August 21, 1914. The war had just broken out and then the sun went dark 21 days later! The eclipse crossed over Eastern Europe, and many people took this to be a bad omen. Does that August 21 date sound familiar to you? It should because there was a total solar eclipse over the United States on August 21, 2017- exactly 103 years after the World War I eclipse! What’s interesting about World War I is that it led to the formation of the modern state of Israel. Why? Because during the war the British gained control of the lands of the Ottoman Empire (Muslim Empire). After the war, the British began dividing the land up and decided they would set aside some land for a home (country) for the Jewish people. In 1917, the Balfour Declaration was signed, which laid out the plans for a future Jewish home to be located in modern day Israel. This did not come to fruition until after World War II, but nonetheless, World War 1 paved the path to it, and allowed the plans to be laid.
Believe it or not, there’s more…………….
On August 2, 1941, which is the 9th of Av on the biblical calendar, Heinrich Himmler received the official approval from the Nazi party for the Final Solution (the extermination of the Jews). What’s interesting about World War II is that most historians call World War II a continuation of World War I. This means historians often say World War I started on August 1, 1914, (the 9th of Av) but technically World War II started on that date too! If you think about it that way, you could say BOTH WARS are tied to Tisha B Av!
Moving on to more modern times……………..On August 15, 2005, the disengagement of the Gaza Strip began. This coincided with the 10th of Av, which is just one day after Tisha B Av. Over 8,000 Jews had to leave their homes behind. Keep in mind that Israel gave the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians in exchange for “peace”. Before this, the Gaza Strip remained part of Israel and Israeli citizens were living there. Once the deal was made, these citizens were forced to leave their own land. Unfortunately, this land deal did not bring peace, but constant rocket fire. To this very day, violence erupts from the Gaza Strip daily, with targeted attacks directed at Israel.
As you can see, Tisha B Av coincides with major tragedies for the nation of Israel. The date is tied to events which cause great sorrow. This date is tied to destruction, dispersal, and often a loss of property, land and livelihood. This would make one wonder why these types of events fall on the biblical calendar in this way. Keep in mind God is sovereign and he is in charge of the calendar and the events which fall on it. We certainly should never predict calamities based on a date. But, it’s important we realize that God does use his holy calendar to get our attention. He is often drawing our focus to his plan for redemption, and in this case, his plan for his ancient people the Jews. God is not out to bring calamity on his own people. Instead, he is reminding us a day is coming where strife, destruction and calamity will come to an end. The Bible gives many clues to this coming redemption In fact, The Bible has some good news regarding this somber date (Tisha B Av) , as well as a few others. Just look at what it says in Zechariah 8:19 below…..
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth,seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”
Now you are probably wondering, “what are the fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months?” Well, there are certain times on the biblical calendar when the Jewish people are to fast (refrain from eating or participating in “joyful” activities). The 10th of Tevet is the fast being referred to in the 10th month because Tevet is the 10th month on the biblical calendar. This fast day will occur in December/January on our calendar each year. This date is tied to the destruction of the First Temple and marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were surrounded by Israel’s enemies.
The 17th of Tammuz is the fast the verse refers to as occurring in the fourth month. This would be June or July on our calendar. This fast is tied to the Temple and marked as the day the walls around the Temple were breached.
The 9th of Av- also known as Tisha B Av, is the fast which occurs in the 5th month. This would be July or August on our calendar. This is the date I have been writing about above, and it marks when the First and Second Temples were destroyed.
Finally, the last date being referred to in the verse is the 3rd of Tishri. This occurs in the 7th month, falling in September or October on our calendar each year. This date marks the date when the people had the governor of Jerusalem murdered.
So in the verse mentioned earlier, the prophet Zechariah is saying that all these days of mourning and weeping will be turned into days of happiness! They will become days of feasting instead of fasting! That has not happened yet, but we can be assured it will happen in the future as God redeems the nation of Israel. God is drawing our attention to the fact that he will bring restoration to broken things. The Temples are broken. The government is broken. The people are broken. The reminder of this brokenness is brought to light each year when Tisha B Av (9th of Av) is observed, as well as the other fast days. This is so when redemption does come, the people will know exactly where it came from, and how God is completely sovereign over it.
I want to explain a bit more about one of the fasts mentioned in Zechariah. It is called the Fast on the 17th of Tammuz. This is also a day where many Jews around the world will fast and pray. Above, I told you this date on the biblical calendar commemorates the date when the walls of Jerusalem were breached. Oddly enough, the walls were breached twice on this date! When the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586 A.D., it happened on the 17th of Tammuz. Well, guess what? The same thing happened in 70 A.D. when the Romans sacked Jerusalem! The walls were breached on the same date on the biblical calendar. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Not only were both Temples destroyed on the same date on the biblical calendar (9th of Av), but the walls were breached on the same date also (17th of Tammuz).
There are other events that have happened on the 17th of Tammuz as well. For instance, according to Rabbinic tradition, this is the date Moses came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments. He had been on the mountain for 40 days. Unfortunately, he returned to find the Israelites practicing idolatry. They set up a golden calf! Moses had to break the tablets because of the Israelites’ grave sin. Like the walls of the Temple that were breached, God’s trust had been breached by the blatant sins of the Israelites. In addition, the 17th of Tammuz is the same date that King Manasseh of Israel set up an idol in the holy sanctuary. Another blatant breach of trust!
Other significant events happened as well. On July 15, 1099 the walls of Jerusalem were breached once again, but this time there was no Temple (because it had already been destroyed back in 70 A.D.). The Siege of Jerusalem took place from June 7 to July 15, 1099 A.D. during the First Holy Crusade. As I stated earlier, the Crusades were a series of holy wars sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church. One of the goals involved taking back Jerusalem from Muslim rule (the Fatimid Caliphate) At the time, both Jews and Muslims were living in Jerusalem. When the city was attacked, carnage abounded. Thousands upon thousands were slaughtered by the Crusaders. The Jewish population took a direct hit and suffered tremendously. Can all this be coincidence? The order to begin the Crusades occurred on the 9th of Av and the walls of Jerusalem were breached on the 17th of Tammuz! What are the chances?
Here’s something interesting you probably don’t know and it relates to the United States! The 17th of Tammuz coincides with American Independence Day every 10 to 20 years. This means the 17th of Tammuz falls on JULY 4th on our calendar every 10-20 years. The last time this happened was in 2015. Was there anything special about 2015? Well, it was a shemitah year. In biblical cycles shemitah years are tied to a rising and falling of economies and kingdoms. In previous Shemitah years, such as 2001 and 2008, an economic crisis hit the economy, as well as a national tragedy (2001). In 2015, we did not see a plunge in the economy to the degree it was seen in those years, but we had what economists termed a “flash crash” in August 2015.
On August 24th, 2015 , the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its first 1,000 point plunge on an intra-day basis. Economic panic from Chinese markets spread around the world, causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to fall 1,089 points just minutes after the opening bell. Market heavyweights General Electric and Pepsi were down more than 20%. Even Amazon fell by 8.7%. Luckily, the market bounced back, but it was a warning…………..bigger drops could be on the horizon.
2015 was also a campaign year. The campaign of 2015, and the election following in 2016, would be one of the wildest in history! Donald Trump took the title in 2016, but 2015 was the lead up to it all. It was a rising and falling of kingdoms, beginning in the biblical shemitah year. When Trump took office, a complete power shift took place. Washington D.C. saw a breach in it’s usual routine. A man who had never held political office was now sitting in the Oval Office. Yes, the walls of Washington were breached! The 17th of Tammuz coinciding with July 4th this particular year seems to have prophetic implications.
Not only does the 17th of Tammuz coincide with July 4 every now and then, but THE VERY FIRST FOURTH OF JULY FOR OUR NATION HAPPENED ON THIS DATE! July 4, 1776 just happened to fall on the 17th of Tammuz. The Declaration of Independence is tied to this biblical date! The United States of America declared its independence from England and the birth of a nation took place when this document came into being. The walls were kicked down and America was the one doing the kicking! The Kingdom of England fell that day and the Kingdom of America rose from the ashes. Keep in mind, however, that it is God who allows kingdoms to rise and fall.
America is far from a perfect kingdom. Certainly the Lord allowed our nation to rise and go forth bearing freedom. But, our nation has been doing a lot of rebelling lately. I wish I could say the rebellion was against idolatry or pagan practices. Unfortunately, we are seeing a full on rebellion against God and his biblical principles. This is not the kind of rebellion we want! When ancient Israel rebelled against God’s laws and purposes, the nation was destroyed and scattered by their enemies.
The United States has already seen a breach in our security. We’ve seen breaches in our economy. We are even seeing breaches in our borders! Like Israel, we are a nation that is tied to God and formed by God. Like Israel, our land stands for freedom and democracy. Our nation is often the one that keeps evil around the world at bay. I’m not saying we don’t have our demons of the past as a nation. We certainly do. But, all in all, our nation was set apart to follow God’s principles. The further we stray, the bigger the hole in the wall gets. Many of us are worried about building a wall, but do we realize that no man made wall will save us if the SPIRITUAL WALL FALLS! People think America is incapable of sinking. That’s what they said about the Titanic! America is a young nation- just 243 years old. We are a blink in the timeline of history. But, at the same time, we are a pivotal and important blink. Why? Because we are a nation of Christians who love Jesus! That means there are plenty of us to change the tide and influence others. We don’t influence them through bullying or hate. We influence them with love, and by speaking the truth in love. We don’t spread love by approving of everything. We let the truth be heard, but when we say it, we must keep Christ at the forefront. Many people think agreeing and approving is how you show love and respect. That’s not true. Jesus loves us enough to let us know when we need to turn from sin. Jesus doesn’t approve of sin. He asks us to turn from it. He is faithful to forgive us when we repent. The ultimate act of love happened when Jesus died for our sins on the cross. Just because he died for sin doesn’t mean we get a free pass in order to go on sinning. We turn from sin because the one who first loved us died for us! As we remember the 9th of Av,( which begins at sundown on August 10 and lasts through sundown August 11), we should pray for the time of redemption that will come to the nation of Israel and the nations of the world. We can be certain Jesus will restore all things, even the Temple, because he is the Living Temple who will rule and reign from Jerusalem one day.
The 17th of Tammuz actually marks a three week period of mourning for the Jews. From this date until the 9th of Av, the Jewish people will pray, fast and weep. Weddings are forbidden during this time. The 17th of Tammuz occurred on July 20, 2019. The period of mourning starts on this day and lasts through the 9th of Av, which ends the evening of August 11.
But, another holiday awaits the Jewish people after this three week period of mourning. It is known as Tu B Av. This holiday falls just six days after the 9th of Av and it is often called the Valentine’s Day of Israel. This is a day to celebrate and be glad. Many couples like to get married on this special day. It is considered a day of love because the time of mourning is over. Some scholars say it is a reminder of the great wedding that will take place between Messiah Jesus and his people one day. Right now most of Israel does not recognize Jesus as their Messiah. The Bible promises, however, that one day they will recognize their groom and welcome him by saying, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” This phrase is commonly spoken at Jewish weddings when a Bride and her family welcome the Groom. One day Israel will welcome her groom with open arms.
It just so happens that last year there was a total lunar eclipse on Tu B Av, and it was seen from Jerusalem! (July 27, 2018) . This one was special because it was the longest eclipse of this century! The moon passed almost directly through the center of the earth’s shadow. Because of this, the moon spent spent the longest time of the 21st century in eclipse. This particular eclipse is known as a micro moon because the moon is at its greatest distance from Earth. Because it’s at this great distance, it spent a lot of time in the shadow of Earth. The total phase of this eclipse lasted 1 hour and 43 minutes. So, this gave spectators plenty of time to view it! Israel got a good long look at this one! The next time there will be a total lunar eclipse (blood moon) this long will be in 2123 ! I’d say that’s worth noting!!! For more info on the eclipse click on the link below….
It is on this holiday that the “daughters of Jerusalem” shall go out in the vineyards (fields) and dance. It was a day for unmarried women to wear white and let the unmarried men know they were available. That is why this holiday is often likened to Valentine’s Day. Tu B Av foreshadows a day when the Bride of Christ will be forever linked to the Groom, Jesus. The joy experienced will overshadow any sadness of the past. There will be no more tears or mourning. A day of feasting will begin, and last forever.
This year Tu B Av just happens to fall on my birthday. That is very special to me. Actually, I was born in the month of Av back in 1973. That’s interesting because all my life I have felt a close connection to the Jewish people. Ever since I studied the Holocaust in seventh grade, I have mourned for them. I feel a great need to remind the world that God is not done with his ancient people. God longs to redeem them and turn their sorrow into joy. I long for that same thing. Maybe that’s why I was born in the month of mourning- the month of Av.
Strangely enough in the process of writing this blog, my family’s sweet bird Charlie passed away. It happened on the 6th of Av- just 3 days before the 9th of Av. He was the sweetest little bird and my son loved him so much. My son had a special bond with the bird and he brought joy to our lives every single day. After he passed away, I sobbed and cried because I realized I wouldn’t hear his beautiful songs in the morning. I wouldn’t feel his soft feathers on my face. I wouldn’t see my son laugh as Charlie did his favorite tricks.
Now, my heart sinks each morning when I see the empty cage. I find myself longing for what I once had- that sweet little bird who brought so much joy.
It made me think of the month of Av, and particularly the 9th of Av. The Jewish people lost the Temple of God that day. It was a physical temple of course. But, it was a beautiful place of worship and joy. It is where they celebrated the living God. On the 9th of Av, destruction struck the Temple. The joy of the people came to ruin. It was like looking at an empty cage. Afterward, the people longed to see their Temple rebuilt. They longed to hear the songs of worship and to bring their offerings of praise. To this day, the Jewish people long to see their beloved Temple again. They mourn for what was lost.
The good news is that one day they will see their Temple! That Temple is Jesus Christ! He is the living Temple who will rule from Jerusalem. The joy they thought they lost forever will return in the blink of an eye.
As far as my little Charlie, I believe I will see him again one day. The Bible isn’t specific about what happens to animals when they die, but it does say the animal kingdom will be restored. So, it is possible that includes animals we have cared for on earth.
As we remember Tisha B Av and finish out the month of AV, let’s take the truth to heart- the truth is that Jesus will turn all our mourning into feasting and celebration one day. All the things we thought we lost will be returned to us, but in a much grander, more glorious way. The Temple will shine brighter than the sun and the little birds will fly higher than the moon. I can’t wait for that day.
For more info on the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse see link below: It also has information about the total solar eclipse coming in 2024!!! This will be the second eclipse to hit the United States in 7 years! I will be blogging about this eclipse very soon…..
Below is an article about the World War 1 eclipse that happened on the same date as the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017