Summertime Mournful History – Tammuz 17 to Tisha B’av :: By Cynthia Nuara

Throughout history summertime has been a woeful time for the Jewish people, particularly beginning on Tammuz 17, which occurs right after the summer solstice. This day begins a three-week mourning period. The last nine days (1st to the 9th of Av) are days of increased mourning. Spiritually, this time is marked by a renewed call for repentance – a time during which the rabbis read weekly from the prophets of the Bible, who warn them of imminent judgment from God.

The Sabbath before the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av) is sometimes referred to as “black sabbath” due to the harsh warnings from the prophet Isaiah because of their apostasy (Isaiah 1:1-17). Various calamities have befallen the Jewish people during this period throughout the centuries. Therefore, it is considered to be an ominous season.


Tammuz 17 is an annual Jewish fast day, marking the beginning of this three-week period of sorrows for the lost vision of Zion, which leads up to the tragic fast day of Tisha B’Av. This year the fast of Tammuz 17 began at sunset on June 24th and ended at sunset on June 25th.

Holidays are celebrated on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year, but the Jewish year is not the same length as a solar year on the civil calendar used by most of the western world. Therefore, the date shifts on the civil calendar.

Throughout Jewish recorded history, the following ten calamitous events all occurred on Tammuz 17:

1. In 1313 B.C. Moses broke the tablets of the Law when he came down from Mt. Sinai and saw the golden calf the people had built to worship. This breaking of God’s spiritual symbol of giving the law recorded in Exodus 32:19 was a very significant moment for Israel, because it signified God’s coming judgment. Subsequently, they kept sinning against God. Therefore, most did not get to see the Promised Land.

2. In 586 B.C., three weeks before the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple, the Babylonians breached the walls and stopped the daily sacrifice. It was impossible for the Jews to get sheep for the morning and evening sacrifice.

3. In 70 A.D., three weeks before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple, the Romans attacked the city, stopping the supply of sheep for the morning and evening sacrifice.

The fighting in Jerusalem continued for three weeks until the 9th of Av, when the Holy Temple was set aflame.

4. King Manasseh, one of the worst of the Jewish kings, had an idol placed in the Holy Sanctuary of the Temple, defiling it (2 Kings 21:7).

5. In 135 A.D, prior to Bar Kokhba’s revolt, the Torah was burned, by Roman military leader, Apustomus.

6. In 1239 Pope Gregory IX ordered the seizing of all Talmud manuscripts.

7. In 1391 over 4000 Spanish Jews were killed in Toledo and Jaen, Spain.

8. In 1559 the Jewish Quarter of Prague was looted and burned.

9. In 1944 the whole population of the Kovno ghetto was taken to the death camps.

10. In 1970, Libya ordered the seizing of all Jewish property.

TISHA B’AV (Ninth Of Av)

Tisha B’Av is an annual Jewish fast day, named for the ninth day (Tisha) of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. It is the culmination of the three-week period of mourning that is associated with the breaking of a spiritual symbol of God’s favor.

The 9th day of Av is known as the saddest day of the Jewish year. Every time this anniversary has come up for thousands of years, Jews have mourned for the loss of their temple. This year it begins at sundown on July 15 and ends at sundown on July 16.

The following 17, recorded disasters have befallen the Jewish people on this day throughout history. The list is not complete:

(Depending on the source, a couple of these “year dates” may vary by one or two years, but all sources agree that they occurred on the 9th of Av).

1. In 1313 B.C. the first recorded 9th of Av disaster began when Moses and the Israelites neared Canaan, the land that God promised Abraham He would give to his descendants (Genesis 12:1-8; Exodus 6:2-8). Canaan included what we know today as Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, northwestern Jordan, and some western areas of Syria.

As Moses and the Israelites approached Canaan, he sent 12 spies (one from each of the 12 tribes) to report back on the agriculture and lay of the land. After 40 days Joshua and Caleb brought back a good report and believed that God would help them succeed in conquering the land from the wicked Canaanites. The other ten spies brought back an evil report of giants (Nephilim) in the land and deemed it to be unconquerable.

That night, on the 9th of Av, the people cried, saying they’d rather go back to Egypt than be killed by the Canaanites. They also wanted to stone Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb. Even after all the miraculous things God had done for them leading up to and during their exodus from Egypt, they had no faith in His promise.

When this happened, God declared His judgment on that generation of Jews: Everyone age 20 and older (Numbers 14:29) would not live to see the Promised Land. They would have to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until their death. Only their children would enter the Promised Land along with Joshua and Caleb.

According to the Hebrew Talmud: “God said, ‘You wept in vain. I will establish this date for you as a time of real weeping for all generations'” (Taanis 29a).

2. In 586 B.C. the city of Jerusalem and the First Temple (Solomon’s Temple) were both destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar.

The Jews had been warned for a long time to cease from their idolatry, but they didn’t listen. They had even stoned the prophet Zechariah to death in the temple courtyard for rebuking them. All things made of gold and silver were taken by the Babylonians; including the beautiful works of art with which King Solomon had once decorated the temple. The holy vessels of the temple that could be found were also taken to Babylon.

In addition to the 940,000 people Nebuchadnezzar had already killed, millions more were killed both inside and outside of the city. Many thousands who had escaped the sword were taken into captivity in Babylon, where some of their very best leaders had already preceded them. Only the poorest of Jerusalem were permitted to stay and plant vineyards and work in the fields.

3. In 70 A.D. the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans lead by Titus, scattering the people of Judea and commencing the Jewish exile from the Holy Land.

The Arch of Titus, located in Rome and built to commemorate Titus’s victory in Judea, depicts a Roman victory procession with soldiers carrying spoils from the Temple, including the Menorah; which were used to fund the construction of the Roman Colisseum.

In Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus (a Jewish historian who was a contemporary of the apostle Paul) said that when the burning of the Second Temple happened on the very same day in history as the destruction of the First Temple, it was the finger of God.

4. In 71 A.D. the Romans plowed Jerusalem with salt so that nothing would be able to grow there for centuries.

5. In 135 A.D. Simon bar Kokhba, who was hailed as a Messiah by the Jews (the heroic figure they were looking for to restore Israel) led a rebellion against Rome, which was the last rebellion of the Jews in history. Emperor Hadrian’s six full legions of armies brutally destroyed the Jewish army, killing 100,000. Outside of Jerusalem, 1.5 million people were killed.

The Romans then barred Jews from Jerusalem, except to attend Tisha B’Av. Although Jewish Christians hailed Jesus as the Messiah and did not support Bar Kokhba, they were barred from Jerusalem along with the rest of the Jews. It is said that the war and its aftermath helped differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism.

6. In 136 A.D. the Roman emperor erected a pagan temple on the site of the destroyed Jewish Temple. He made Jerusalem, the holiest city for the Jews, into a pagan city.

7. In 1096 A.D. the First Crusade officially commenced, killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland. A total of 1.2 million Jews were killed by this crusade.

8. In 1290 A.D. King Edward I of England signed an edict that expelled all the Jews from England, accompanied by pogroms (organized killings) and confiscation of books and property.

Interestingly, England had been growing in power up until it expelled the Jews, but their power waned significantly afterward. It was not until the Cromwell Revolution of Parliament against the king─when the Jews were allowed to come back─that England began to arise as a world power again.

How nations have treated the Jews in history determined whether they rose or fell. But has the world learned this lesson? No! As the old saying goes, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So many either want to attack and destroy Israel, or keep dividing this tiny little state until there’s nothing left of it.

9.In 1306 A.D. right after the Fast on the 9th of Av, 100,000 Jews were arrested in France, all in one day. King Phillip IV had planned this so he could confiscate their property and sell it. They were sentenced to exile and had to leave behind their belongings, leaving with only the clothes they were wearing and a small sum of money.

10. In 1492 King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella declared a decree that all Jews were to be expelled from Spain and all Spanish territories or be killed. That is the day that Columbus, an Italian Jew, set out from Spain. The last boat of Jews was beside Columbus’s ship waiting for the tide, to set sail.

11. In 1914 World War I was declared. On that day Russia started a program of persecution against the Jews in eastern Russia, killing up to 100,000.

12. In 1941 SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution.” Almost 50% of the Jews on the face of the earth were captured and killed as a result.

13. In 1942 the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka, where they were gassed in the ovens.

14. In1989 Iraq walked out of talks with Kuwait, which set the stage for the Gulf Wars.

15. In 1994 the bombing of the building of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina killed 86 people and wounded some 300 others.

16. In 2005, the 9th of Av was a mournful day for the Jewish people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as the deadline to voluntarily vacate their homes was the next day. Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan, also known as the “Gaza expulsion plan,” was a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, adopted by the government on June 6, 2004 and enacted in August 2005, to resettle all Israelis from the Gaza Strip and from four settlements in the northern West Bank. Israeli citizens refusing to accept government compensation packages and voluntarily vacate their homes were forcefully evicted by Israeli security forces.

17. In 2012 opening ceremonies began at the London Olympics. The request to honor the 40th anniversary of the massacre of 11 athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics was refused.

According to an article on the National Jewish Outreach Program website (NJOP), other smaller tragedies have occurred at this time in Jewish history throughout the world.

God’s chosen people brought these judgments upon themselves because of their unbelief and disobedience, but has God abandoned them? No, He hasn’t. See the following selections from Romans chapter 11:

“I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! …at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:

‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear,

to this very day.’ …Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:

‘The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’

As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.”

God’s compassion and love for the Jewish people are revealed in the Scriptures. Even after all His judgments against them, God still encourages, His chosen people─Israel─to seek Him again. The book of Lamentations is a cry from God, revealed through the prophet, Jeremiah.

“The faithful love of the Lord never ceases, and His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

“In all their affliction He was afflicted…” (Isaiah 63:9a).

Despite worldwide persecution a remnant survives to this day, and God has brought them back into their land in this last generation. And He says that they will never be forced to leave it again!

“For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land” (Joel 3:1-2).

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14).

The Jewish fasts and feasts are “a shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17). As Christians, we know what that means, according to the Bible – and not just for Israel, but for the nations as well.

The last three feasts (Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles) are celebrated in the fall season and are yet to be fulfilled. It is clear that significant events will occur to ultimately fulfill them in the near future.

There are Bible scholars who believe the Rapture will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets. One reason they believe this is because this feast day is also known as: “No Man Knows the Day or the Hour” due to the brief time period when the sliver of the New Moon occurs, which is the signal for the feast to begin. If the watchmen miss it for some reason, the feast is automatically celebrated the next day.

However, the Lord tells us in His Word that we are to be watching and waiting for our deliverance from the wrath to come to occur at any moment. On whatever day this occurs, it will end the Age of Grace, and God will then turn his full-focus toward the Jews; 144,000 of them (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes) will come to recognize Christ as their Messiah and will go throughout the world preaching the gospel during the Tribulation.

The Bible tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We know that a short window of false peace will occur with which the Antichrist will delude the world. But true peace will happen when Jesus Christ─the Messiah─returns and establishes His Kingdom here on earth for 1000 years. It is then that the saved Jews and Arabs will live in harmony.

After the 1000 years are up, Satan will be loosed from the bottomless pit to make his final stand for control, but he and his armies will be quickly defeated.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’

He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’

He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children’” (Revelation 21:1-7).

Come, Lord Jesus!