Av is the fifth month on the Hebrew calendar, and Tisha represents the number 9, so Tisha B’Av means the ninth of Av. It is a day of extreme sadness, even called the saddest day of the year in Israel, and for the more orthodox Jewish folks around the world. It is a day of fasting in remembrance of significant tragedies over the millennia which occurred on or near that date.
Although not established as a biblical observance, there is scriptural evidence Tisha B’Av was held as a day of fasting. Zechariah 7:3 asks, “Should I weep in the fifth month and fast as I have done for so many years?”
In 2023, Tisha B’Av is noted from sundown July 26th to sundown the 27th.
It is absolutely amazing, but this date on the Hebrew calendar (remember it will fall on various dates on our calendar, but always in July or August), marks the day when both Holy Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.
In 586 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army concluded its attack on Jerusalem by burning the House of the Lord built by King Solomon. Then in 70 A.D., the Romans, under the direction of General Titus, did the same to the second Temple. According to the Talmud, in addition to the Temple destructions, there are three other tragedies which warrant mourning and fasting on this day.
Also included in the Talmudic list are the day of the fearful report of the spies Moses sent into the land of Canaan from Numbers 13 & 14; the Roman defeat of a Jewish rebellion led by Bar Kochba in 135 AD, which included a massive slaughter; the full destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans a year later, rebuilding it as Aelia Capitolina, a pagan city from which Jewish inhabitants were banished.
In addition to these tragedies, it is believed there were several other calamities for the Jewish people coinciding with the 9th of Av. More modern occurrences which share similar dates include the declaration of the First Crusade, in which many Jews were killed, the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290, and from Spain in 1492, plus some of the Holocaust related horrors.
Nevertheless, as followers of Yeshua, we believe all the grief of the past has been redeemed by His blood, and we are free to rejoice.
Indeed, Zechariah 8 declares in verses 14, 15 and 18 “Just as I determined to punish you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath . . . so again in these days I am determined to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. The fast of the fifth month (Av) shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”
Jeremiah 31:13 also promises, “For I will turn their mourning to joy.” Our Jewish brethren need to know this has been fulfilled in Jesus, even as He said in John 16:20 “ . . . and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.”