A Day of Mourning :: By Randy Nettles

The next historical anniversary date for Israel is the 9th day of Av, otherwise known as Tisha B’Av.  Av is the 5th month on the Jewish calendar. The current Jewish calendar year is 5777. This year the 9th day of Av is on July 31, 2017.

Tisha B’Av is not one of the appointed Feast days of the Lord, but is a “fast” and a day of mourning. There have been 8 tragic events for the Jewish people that have occurred on this day throughout history.

1)  Twelve Jewish spies survey the Promised Land – Moses sent out 12 tribal leaders to spy out the land and its inhabitants for 40 days prior to entering the Promised Land of Canaan. 10 of the 12 spies returned with negative reports about how impossible it would be to conquer the enemy, due to mighty giants living in the land.

Even after witnessing God’s miracles and His promise of victory, the 10 spies showed no faith that the newly formed nation of Israel could prevail and take the land from the enemy. They advised the children of Jacob against going to war against the Canaanites.

The Bible records that the people believed the evil report and mourned all night in fear. They turned against Moses, Aaron, and the two faithful spies (Caleb and Joshua). Some rebels in the group led an attempt to stone Moses and to return to the bondage of Egypt .

“According to the ancient Jewish commentary, the Mishna (Ta’anit 29a), this event occurred on the 9th day of the month of Av” [1], in the year 2317 on the Jewish calendar. The date on our modern Gregorian calendar was July 8, 1444 BC, on a Friday.

God destroyed the rebel leaders and informed the people they would wander in the wilderness for forty year for their rebellion and disobedience…one year for every day the spies had searched out the land.

This tragic rebellion and unbelief in God’s promises caused the temporary loss of the Promised Land for an entire generation. Everyone 20 years and older would not live to enter the Promised Land, save for Caleb and Joshua. “Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel ; and the people mourned greatly” (Numbers 14:39).

From this day on, the 9th of Av became a “fast” of mourning as the Jews wept over their lack of obedience to God and their subsequent punishment.

2)  The destruction of Solomon’s Temple by the Babylonians – The Babylonian army under Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem in 588 BC. After a 2 year siege they breached the walls on the 17th day of the 4th month of Tammuz. The Babylonians broke through the city walls, killed multitudes, burned the Temple , and took its precious vessels. This tragic event occurred on Av 9, 3175 (July 10, 586 BC), on a Monday.

“According to the Jewish commentary, Me’am Lo’ez, by Rabbi Yakov Culi and Rabbi Aguiti, and other historical sources, including Ta’anit 29a, from the Jerusalem Talmud; the Babylonian army fought their way into the Temple on the 7th day of Av.  The soldiers ate, drank, and caroused there until the 9th of Av. And toward evening, they set the Temple on fire. It burned all night and through the next day, the 10th of Av. Jeremiah, the prophet, was an eyewitness to this tragic event.

This national tragedy has been commemorated by the Jews ever since the solemn fast, on the 9th of Av, known as Tisha B’Av. For more than 2000 years, the Jews have read the book of Lamentations in which Jeremiah laments the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the great Temple of Solomon .” [2]

3)  The destruction of the second temple by the Romans The Romans had been at war with the Jews since AD 66. They finally were about to crush the revolt by destroying their capitol, Jerusalem , in AD 70. Over 1,250,000 people were surrounded inside the city by the Roman legions. The original attack had occurred on the Feast of Passover when a huge number of pilgrims came to the Temple to give sacrifices and were thereby trapped in the city.

The Roman general Titus offered terms of surrender that would have preserved the Jews city and Temple , but the Jews refused. Thus the city and the Temple were destroyed on Av 9, 3830 (August 1, AD 70), on a Friday.

This tragic event fulfilled Jesus prophecy 37 years earlier when he said, “for the days shall come upon you, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about you, and compass you round, and keep you in on every side, and shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you: and they shall not leave in you one stone upon another, because you knew not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:43-44).

This prophecy was fulfilled to the smallest detail. As the Temple burned with tremendous heat, the sheets of gold that covered much of the Temple melted. The molten gold ran down into the cracks between the foundation stones. Afterwards, the Roman soldiers used wedges to overturn every stone to get to the gold, thus fulfilling Christ’s words.

4)  The Romans plowed Jerusalem and the Temple Mount  –  One year after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple , the Romans plowed the Temple Mount and the city. This occurred on Av 9, 3831 (July 22, AD 71), on a Wednesday.

This was a complete fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah, “Therefore shall Zion for your sakes be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountains of the house as the high places of the forest” (Micah 3:12).

“A rabbinical source (Ta’anit 26b), records this was done to turn the city into a Roman colony.”[1]

5)  The destruction of Simon Bar Kochba’s army – After the fall of Jerusalem , there was a period of enforced peace between Rome and Israel . In AD 133, a dynamic warrior named Simon Bar Kocbha, led a rebellion against Rome . He was successful for two years until Emperor Hadrian and his vast Roman army destroyed the Jewish rebels.

Many people believed that Bar Kochba was the Jewish Messiah, including the famous scholar Rabbi Akiba. The Jews still believed the Jewish Messiah would be a great warrior and would lead Israel in victory against the Romans and other enemies.

This event partially fulfilled the prophecy by Jesus when he said, “I am come in my Father’s name, and you receive me not; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive” (John 5:43).

On that terrible day of the 9th of Av, in the Jewish year 3895 (August 3, AD 135), on a Wednesday; the last great army of an independent Israel (ancient) was slaughtered without mercy.  The prophet Isaiah may have referred to this event when he prophesied, “Within sixty five years Ephraim ( Israel ) will be too shattered to be a people” (Isaiah 7:8).

6)  England expelled the Jews –  Following condemnation of the Jewish Talmud by Pope Gregory IX in the year AD 1236, criticism of Jews increased and Jewish communities began to be displaced throughout Western Europe.

King Edward I of England issued a declaration in 1275, cancelling all debts owed to Jews and forbidding them from making any loans to non-Jews. In addition, Edward arrested a number of Jewish leaders, demanding a ransom before releasing them. On Av 9, 5050 (July 24, AD 1290), on a Monday; King Edward expelled all Jews from England , confiscating all their assets for himself.

The history of England’s rise and fall can be traced to this ancient prophecy in the book of Genesis. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).

England ’s decline started approximately at this time and continued until 400 years later, when Oliver Cromwell, granted the Jews the legal right of settlement in 1657. England prospered at this time and later. At the end of World War I, a victorious England held power through its British Empire over one-quarter of the world.

In the 1920s and throughout the period until 1948, England repeatedly reversed its promises to the League of Nations and failed to provide a national homeland for the Jews (as promised by the Balfour declaration). During World War II, the Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis of Germany, because they had no homeland to flee to when the persecution of Adolf Hitler began. Even the U.S. turned down many Jewish immigrants that were trying to enter the country at this time.

In the years between 1917 through 1948, England lost her vast empire; and was no longer the world’s preeminent superpower.

7)  Spain expelled the Jews – On Av 9, 5252 (August 10, AD 1492), on a Wednesday; the Spanish government ordered the expulsion of Jews from Spain . Every Jew who would not immediately be baptized was required to leave the country. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, desiring to create an entirely Catholic nation, sought to erase Judaism from Spain .

The Spanish Empire declined at this point…never to fully recover.

On this same day in history, Christopher Columbus left Spain and discovered the New World . This event was significant to the Jews because eventually America provided a place of refuge for the Jewish people. When the new nation of Israel was reborn in 1948, the U.S. of America became Israel ’s strongest advocate and protector.

The United States was the first country to recognize Israel as a nation of the world. America ’s rise to world power status began with her friendship with Israel …for God said, “I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you.” (Genesis 12:3).

8)  Russia Mobilized for WWI and launched persecutions against the Jews – On Av 9, 5674 (July 31, 1914), on a Friday, World War I was declared by Russia and Germany . The mobilization of Russia ’s army triggered persecutions and attacks against the Jews in eastern Russia , killing tens of thousands, and forced many to immigrate to the Holy Land. This immigration helped set the stage for the historical events leading to the creation of the modern nation of Israel in 1948.

World War I might have been the start of the prophecy by Jesus when he told his disciples “nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7). More than 12 million people died during this “war to end all wars.”

The 9th of Av will also occur on July 31 of this current year 2017. It will be 103 full calendar years, to the exact date (for both the Gregorian and Jewish calendars), that Russia and Germany declared war against one another and entered into World War I. It was also a tragic day for the Jewish people…another day to mourn and fast on Tisha B’Av.

However, the Bible speaks of a time when Israel ’s fasts will turn into feasts.

“Thus says the Lord of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace” (Zechariah 9:19).

This will occur when Jesus, the Messiah, returns to the earth to set up his Millennium and eternal kingdoms. The remnant of Jewish believers will inherit all of the land God originally promised to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Jews will finally become what God intended for them to be…a blessing unto the nations and will lead many to the Lord.

“For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. And it shall come to pass, that as you were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong” (Zechariah 8: 12-13).


[1] [2] ARMAGEDDON: Appointment with Destiny, Grant R. Jeffrey, pp. 72, 73.