Now, according to the biblical calendar, this coming Wednesday evening (July 26, 2023) and continuing through to Thursday, is the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, a day also widely known in Jewish circles as Tisha B’Av. It is the day taken to remember the destruction of both the 1st and the 2nd Temples, which, and listen to this, fell on the same date, separated by over 650 years. The Temple’s first destruction came in the year 586 B.C., while the second one came in 70 A.D.
It was Josephus, the Jewish historian of the 1st century, who recorded the date of the destruction of the second Temple and was surprised to see that both Temples were destroyed on the same day. And so, the 9th of Av stayed engraved in the mind of the Jew who daily prays for the rebuilding of the Temple.
And history has also left us some signs of this last destruction. Very close to the Western Wall in Jerusalem you can see these massive stones which are believed to be the very ones belonging to the 2nd Temple, stones which were thrown down from on top by the Romans. They are kept there as a memorial of this tragedy.
The Saddest Day
So, the 9th of Av is considered the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. In many orthodox synagogues, congregation members will sit on the floor or on low benches, as will private mourners do in their homes. They will dim the lights as a symbol of the darkness that has befallen their people on that day. The megillah on Lamentation, the Book of the Lamentations of Jeremiah will also be recited. This is the Book which relates the great suffering following the destruction of the 1st Temple.
Tradition has added that many other tragedies also came on this day. They say that it was on the 9th of Av, when the Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem, Aelia Capitolina. It is also said that on this day in 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain in the Inquisition. Another tradition claims that it is on this day that the Messiah would be born.
As opposed to modern Jewish thinking, many among the ancient rabbis attach the redemption of humanity with the suffering of the Messiah. The famous chapter of Isaiah 53 which speaks of the suffering Messiah is quoted in many rabbinic writings, connecting the death and redemptive mission of the Messiah with suffering. The Talmud, the Kabbalah, and the Midrash Rabba are among many other Jewish books confirming that the Messiah will die in similar fashion to how Yeshua died.
But the 9th of Av also points to how important the Temple is for the Jewish people. Many groups today are working hard in Israel to have the Temple rebuilt soon and its construction should begin any day now for the Temple is one last piece of the puzzle that is needed for the very end time prophecies of the Great Tribulation to begin.