The Ninth of Av is a national day of mourning for the Jewish nation. This is the day when the First and the Second Temples of Jerusalem were destroyed. This day is marked by tragic events during Jewish history and has become a symbol of the pursuit and disaster bechanced to the Jewish people.
9 Av 1312 B.C. Messengers sent by Moses panicked among Jewish people because of conquest of Canaan. People were scared and refused to come into the land of Israel promised by God. As a result, it was the next generation that came into the Promised Land after 40 years.
9 Av 586 B.C. Babylonians destroyed the walls of Jerusalem during a three week time period. They then captured the city and destroyed the First Temple after which 70-years of Babylonian captivity began.
9 Av 70 AD Romans destroyed the Second Temple after a siege of Jerusalem.
9 Av 132 AD Temple Mount in Jerusalem was razed at the order of Roman superiors. This event served as a key reason for the rebellion of Bar-Kochba which continued for three years after this.
9 Av 135 AD Romans captured Betar, the last outpost of Bar-Kochba after which a mass Jewish expulsion from the Land of Israel began.
Truthfully, these dates are largely unknown by Christians although the majority at least understand that the First and Second Temples were destroyed. This article will be not about what is commonly known by people who are more or less familiar with the Bible, but rather, it will be about what Jewish tradition says about it. So, it is very important for us to explore this traditional Jewish context with regard to these special dates in hopes that it would reveal more and more for believers in the God of Israel from all nations. In addition to the destruction of the First and the Second Temples on 9 Av respectively, there were other events known to have occurred on 9 Av as well:
- Call of Pope Urban II in 1905 to start the Crusades during which many Jewish communities were destroyed;
- Mass Jewish expulsion from England in 1290;
- Mass burning of the Talmud and Jewish books in Paris in 1240;
- Mass Jewish expulsion from France in 1306;
- Mass Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492;
- Beginning of the World War 1 in 1914;
- Treblinka Death Camp began functioning in 1942.
Many people also consider the evacuation of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and from north of Samaria in 2005 to be a national disaster. This event began on 10 Av.
There is a very rich rabbinical Jewish tradition connected with 9 Av. One of the torches of Judaism, or as one might say, a father of the Talmud, shared an ancient legend as follows:God addressed the people of Israel when they were crying in the desert after hearing the report of the messengers sent by Moses. They were crying about their hopeless situation and their belief that they had no chance now to enter the Promised Land; the land that the promised to them, but now seemingly in vain. According to ancient tradition, God told His people, “Today you were crying without any serious reason. You were crying for you didn’t believe Me, My Word and promise. But the days will come on this very same date when you will cry for very serious reasons.”
This is such an old Judaic tradition. And to be clear, it is not the Word of God or Torah, yet there is a sound idea in it. When the nation of Israel and believers of all nations begin to blame the Lord for something; when believers grumble and complain saying, “Why don't You keep Your promises, God?!”, we know that it can't be like this. Rather, it’s something else; either God hasn’t actually promised what He is being accused of not delivering, or, people haven’t truly understood the conditions for which the promises are to be fulfilled. When believers cry, blame God, or feel sorry for themselves without any real reason from God’s side, their consequences of spiritual deception are reflected on or influence physical world. And then God lets the present tragedies happen.
Now, when these tragedies happen, people tend to either discern the course of events, repent and return to God’s principles, or they blame God even more.
What is the main reason for the grumbling? This is not tradition, is it? In fact, it stems from disbelief. What is disbelief? It ultimately is the downgrading of God in our eyes. Such grumbling can be common or public as that case with messengers. In fact, they contaminated with their disbelief which came from fear (fear exceeded their knowledge of God) all people of Israel, although God's purpose for Israel was to spread faith in God for all the nations, which was to become a public crier of faith for all nations. They poisoned all of the people with their disbelief so intensely that the situation became impossible to change.
Grumble. Yeah, one can be surprised that such could happen within an entire nation; and not just any nation, but ultimately within what would be God’s nation.
It was dependent on the people whether they were going to open God’s potential which had been given to them in God’s mercy by God himself who is faithful to His word, or, if they were going to continue on behaving like ordinary people; like the pagans around them who depended on the fallen world and the spiritual powers that partially rule it.
Unfortunately, God’s people didn’t truly realize their full potential. Although they knew God’s plans and purposes, they were constantly deviating from them. That's a problem! And, actually, it has proven to be an everlasting problem.