The 9th of Av (Tisha b’Av) is the final day of the “three weeks of sorrow” or “dire straits.” In 2016, the “three weeks of sorrow” began on the 17th of Tammuz* (July 24th) and ends this Sunday, August 14th (9th of Av). Historically, the 9th of Av is the most cursed day in Jewish history. It is a solemn day of fasting, prayer, and reflection on the most destructive events in biblical history. Zechariah refers to the 9th of Av as, “the fast of the fifth” (Zechariah 8:19), as Av is the fifth month on the religious Hebrew calendar (God’s calendar).
Hebrew Religious Calendar
1st month - Nisan (March/April)
2nd month - Iyar (April/May)
3rd month - Sivian (May/Jun)
4th month - Tammuz (Jun/Jul)
5th month - Av (Jul/Aug)
6th month - Elul (Aug/Sept)
7th month - Tishri (Sept/Oct)
8th month - Heshvan (Oct/Nov)
9th month - Kislev (Nov/Dec)
10th month - Tevet (Dec/Jan)
11th month - Shevat (Jan/Feb)
12th month - Adar (Feb/March)
According to Zechariah 8:19, lamentations are observed four times per year. The first fast is observed in the 4th month of Tammuz, because it is when the Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar) breached the walls of Jerusalem (Tammuz 17). The second fast is observed in the 5th month of Av, because it is when both Temples were destroyed (586 Bc/70AD), which occurred on the 9th of Av. The third fast is observed in the 7th month of Tishri, because of the assassination of Gedaliah. The fourth fast is observed in the 10th month of Tevet, because of the beginning of the Babylonian siege around Jerusalem prior to the beaching of the walls on Tammuz 17.
Why did the Lord curse the 9th day of Av?
This cursed day began its infamous pattern of judgment when God commanded the children of Israel to conquer the Promised Land, because He had given all of the land “into their hands,” according to His promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants (Abrahamic Covenant- Genesis 12-28).
Numbers 13:1-2, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel, from each tribe (12) of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”
However, ten of the twelve spies that were sent into the Promised Land brought back a bad report to Moses, because of their fear of the “giants” that inhabited it. Only Joshua and Caleb (two good spies) trusted God and had faith that His mighty hand would deliver them. The day this occurred on was the 9th of Av.
Numbers 13:17-33, “Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes. So they went up and spied out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near the entrance of Hamath. And they went up through the South and came to Hebron; Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were there. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs. The place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the men of Israel cut down there. And they returned from spying out the land after forty days. Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. Then they told him, and said: “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan. Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
Numbers 14:6-9, “But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”
Although Joshua and Caleb trusted the Lord and had faith that He would deliver the people and the land “into their hands,” the others were faithless and feared the people of the land. The result of their disobedience to God was catastrophic.
Numbers 14:28-37, Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness.And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection. I the Lord have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report of the land, those very men who brought the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the Lord. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive, of the men who went to spy out the land.”
From this event forward, the 9th of Av has been a day of judgment and calamity for the children of Israel. As we go through the list of catastrophes on this solemn day, keep in mind that these events all occurred on the same biblical day, the cursed 9th of Av!
The 9th of Av
1435 BC – Ten of the twelve spies returned with a bad report. (Began the 9th of Av curse)
586 BC – The first Temple (Solomon’s temple) was destroyed by the Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar-586BC). Approximately 100,000 Jewish people were killed during this invasion. Most of the remaining survivors were taking captive to Babylon for exactly 70 years, as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 25:8-11, “Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to My words, I will summon all the peoples of the north and My servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them, and make them an astonishment, a hissing, and a perpetual desolation. I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 52)
70 AD – The second Temple was destroyed by the Romans (General Titus). Over 2,500,000 Jews died as a result of war, famine and disease. Over 1,000,000 Jews were exiled to all parts of the Roman Empire. Over 100,000 Jews were sold as slaves by the Romans. The children of Israel were killed and tortured in “gladiatorial games and pagan celebrations” in the Roman provinces. Messiah prophesied about the Temple’s destruction in 70AD and also the reason for this judgment.
Matthew 24:1-2, “Then Jesus departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Luke 19:41-44, “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
Messiah also prophesied about the children of Israel being tortured, killed, and exiled.
Matthew 23:31-36, “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”
Approximately forty years later (70AD) this prophecy was fulfilled (See death numbers above-70AD). Please read Matthew 23 for a very sober understanding of Messiah’s anger towards false religious leaders and prophets.
71 AD – The Roman army plowed the city of Jerusalem with salt.
Matthew 23:37-39, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
133 AD – Turnus Rufus plows the site of the Temple. The Romans build the pagan city of Aelia Capitolina, on the site of Jerusalem.
135 AD – When the Jews rebelled against the Romans, they believed that the leader of the rebellion, Simon Bar Kochba, was the Messiah. The One true Messiah, Jesus, prophesied about this blasphemy and abomination.
John 5:43, “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.”
The children of Israel’s hopes were destroyed as 100,000 people were brutally killed, including the false Messiah Simon Bar Kochba, in the final Battle at Betar.
1096 – During the First Crusade, declared by Pope Urban II, 10,000 Jews were killed in the first month. Overall, 1.2 million Jews were killed during this crusade, totally destroying many communities in Rhineland and France.
1190 – The Martyrs of York – 500 Jews died as a result of the rich storming a castle in York England, killing all 500 on July 14, 1190. The Hebrew biblical date was again the cursed 9th of Av.
1290 - England expelled all Jews from the country
1492 – The Golden Age of Spain came to a close when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered the Jews to be exiled from Spain (Alhambra Decree). The edict of expulsion was signed on March 31, 1492, and the Jews were given exactly four months (August 2/9th of Av) to either convert to Catholicism, leave Spain, or be killed. However, the next day, Av 10, Christopher Columbus (Jewish) sailed three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria to the West Indies, and eventually founded America. America would eventually become the safest refuge for the children of Israel in world history!
1555 – The Jews were separated and moved into a Roman ghetto
1914 – World War I was declared. In Eastern Russia, the Russian government began a campaign of severe persecution against the Jews at that time. Also, Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914, which caused massive upheaval in Europe and the aftermath led to the Holocaust.
1941 – On August 2, 1941, SS commander Heinrich Himmler formally received approval from the Nazi Party for “The Final Solution.” As a result, the Holocaust began and almost one third of the world’s Jewish population perished, which again, occurred on the 9th of Av.
1942 – Hitler’s proclamation to kill the Jewish people occurred on this cursed day. Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust, killed Polish Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto. 800,000 innocent Jewish people were exterminated at Treblinka, and 6,000,000 overall in the Holocaust.
1989 - Iraq walks out of talks with Kuwait, which lead to the first Gulf War.
1990 - The Gulf War begins against Saddam Hussein to liberate Kuwait.
1994 - A major bombing took place in Buenos Aires at the Jewish Community Center, killing 85 people and wounded 300 people.
2005 - The Jewish people were forced to evacuate Gaza because of the pressure from the Bush administration and United Nations. 24 hours later, America was evacuating Louisiana. (Hurricane Katrina)**
Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.”
As we can see, the 9th of Av is clearly the most cursed day in Jewish history. It is the last day of the “Three Weeks of Sorrow.” It is a solemn day of fasting, reflection, and prayer. The Torah portion for this weekend is “Devarim,” which means, “these are the words.” (Deuteronomy 1:1-3,22, Isaiah 1:1-27, and Mark 14:1-16). The 9th of Av also ushers in the Fall Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23); Feast of Trumpets (Repentance), Yom Kippur (Redemption), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Rejoicing). The odds of these catastrophes happening to the same people, of the same country, over the centuries, and on the same day is, 1 chance in 15.318 billion times a billion times a billion or: 15,318,685,820,000,000,000,000,000,000!
I hope you will join us in prayer for the children of Israel to come to salvation through Yeshua (Jesus), the Jewish Messiah, and also pray for the nation of Israel’s protection on this cursed date, now and in the future. Amen, Amen, and Amen