Saturday, August 06, 2011

When mourning will be turned to joy

Next Tuesday, Jerusalem will come to a standstill. There will be no public transport. Shops will be closed. People will gather at the Western Wall to pray and to mourn. Next Tuesday is Tisha b'Av.

Tisha b'Av - the ninth of the Jewish month of Av - has been a remarkable day in Jewish history. (The Jewish calendar does not coincide with the Gregorian calendar, so Tisha b'Av falls on a different date on the civil calendar each year.)

On Tisha b'Av, according to Jewish tradition, the Israelites were forbidden to enter the Promised Land for a further 40 years after the 12 spies came back with a bad report.

On Tisha b'Av in 586 BC Solomon's Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian exile began.

On Tisha b'Av in AD 70 the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans.

On Tisha b'Av in AD 135, the Bar Kokhba revolt ended when Betar, the last Jewish stronghold, was taken by the Romans.

On Tisha b'Av in AD 136, the Temple area was ploughed under by the Romans as Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a pagan city.

On Tisha b'Av in AD 1290, the Jews were expelled from England.

On Tisha b'Av in AD 1492 the Jews were expelled from Spain.

And Tisha b'Av in 1942 marked a mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, and the first killings at Treblinka extermination camp.

But Zech 8:19 prophesies a day when Tisha b'Av will be a day of rejoicing:

Thus says the Lord of hosts:
'The fast of the fourth month,
The fast of the fifth,
The fast of the seventh,
And the fast of the tenth,
Shall be joy and gladness and cheerful feasts
For the house of Judah.
Therefore love truth and peace.'

The whole chapter is about how the Jews will be gloriously restored in the Messianic age. Read it and marvel.