“From the straits I called to the Lord.” Psalm 118:5
The Month of Av in the Hebrew calendar starts this coming Saturday. The three-week period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av is known as the Dire Straits (or “distress” see Lamentations 1:3—“All who have overtaken her have done so in the midst of her distress”.)
The period of the Dire Straits starts on the 17th of Tammuz – the month before Av. Jerusalem’s walls were breached and Jerusalem fell; Jerusalem’s two Temples on the Temple Mount were destroyed on that same day, the 9th of Av, and the two Jewish exiles – first to Babylon for 70 years, and second throughout the world for about 2000 years – occurred on the 9th of Av.
The Jews have experienced many calamities over the centuries, and it is amazing to learn that most of those calamities occurred on the same day of the year, the 9th of Av.
The destruction of the Jerusalem Temples, especially that of the Second Temple, changed the path of Jewish history and the Jewish nation as the Jews were dispersed in the Diaspora among the nations (few Jews remained in the land) and survived against all odds. They went through persecution, expulsions and relocation, suffering, and calamities. Nonetheless, the Jews as a people were preserved by Jewish tradition and a longing to return to Jerusalem.
The 9th of Av, Tisha b’Av, commemorates a list of catastrophes so severe that Jews believe God appointed this date for Jewish suffering.
Some of the catastrophes and calamities that happened to the Jews on the 9th of Av were:
586 BCE: The First Temple was destroyed on the 9th of Av in the year 586 BCE when most of the Jews from Judah and Benjamin were exiled to Babylon and Persia (Jeremiah 52).
69 CE: Five centuries later in 69 CE, the Romans attacked, torched, and destroyed the Second Temple on the 9th of Av, the same day as the first temple’s destruction. Most of the Jews were exiled to the Roman Empire. Many were sold into slavery and many were tortured and killed.
133 CE: When the Jews rebelled against Roman rule, they believed that their leader, Simon bar Kochba, would bring them victory and fulfill their messianic longings. However, in 133 CE, the Jewish rebels were brutally butchered in a final battle at Betar. The date of the massacre was the 9th of Av!
A year after their conquest of Betar, the Romans plowed over the Temple Mount and built on the ruins of Jerusalem a pagan city that they renamed Aelia Capitolina.
1290 CE: on the 9th of Av, the Jews were expelled from England.
1492 CE: the Golden Age of Spain came to an end for the Jews. The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition forced mass conversion to Catholicism upon the Jews. Furthermore, Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand banished the Jews from Spain and Jewish property was confiscated. The edict of expulsion was signed on March 31, 1492, and the Jews were given exactly four months to leave the country. The Hebrew date when no Jew could no longer remain in Spain was the 9th of Av.
WWII and the Holocaust were actually the outcomes of WWI that were set into motion also on the 9th of Av. As we know, 6 million Jews were tortured and murdered in the Holocaust as part of the Nazi’s “Final Solution” to get rid of all the Jews. After the war, Gentiles in Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Hungary continued to persecute and murder Jews.
1949 CE: Israel won the war of independence. Yet, the Old City of Jerusalem remained in Jordanian hands, and Jews were forbidden to go up to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall except for one day, the 9th of Av.
2000 CE: Arab terrorist attacks and violence erupted in Jerusalem while Jews observed the 9th of Av.
2005 CE: The forced evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005 occurred on the 9th of Av.
According to God’s plans, the 9th of Av was meant to be a day of joy and celebration. When God led Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land in the year 1313 BCE, the 9th of Av was the day they were to enter the Holy land at Kadesh Barnea (the shortest distance from Egypt to the land of Israel.) Twelve men were sent to spy out the land. However, 10 spies (besides Joshua and Caleb) through lack of faith and full of fear brought back a negative report and said it was better to return to Egypt rather than be killed by the giants in the land. Because of their unbelief, the day of joy turned into a day of mourning.
God was highly displeased by Israel’s rebellion and lack of faith and made the people wander in the Sinai desert for 40 years until that whole generation died; only their children would have the privilege of entering and possessing the Promised Land. (Num. 13-14)
God has faithfully brought back His beloved Israel to the Land He promised their forefathers, and today the nation of Israel is again in the land of Israel. One day, the people of Israel will look upon the one they have pierced, Yeshua, (Zech. 12:10,) and they will proclaim, “Baruch haba beshem Adonai” (blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord) Matt. 23:39.) Yeshua said that on that day they would see Him again, but this time they will see Him as their Messiah and Savior. They will mourn for Him as for a firstborn Son (Zech. 12:10). And then, All Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:26.) On that day, God will turn the mourning into great joy again.
Please Pray With Us
This is a dangerous time for Israel and the Jewish people world-wide. We are seeing evidence of rising antisemitism in many countries, including the United States. Please pray for our people, wherever they may be, for safety and especially for salvation.