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What happened on the Ninth of Av?

What happened on the Ninth of Av?

A Historical Overview


The 9th of Av, Tisha b'Av, commemorates a list of catastrophes so severe it's clearly a day set aside by G‑d for suffering.

Picture this: The year is 1313 BCE. The Israelites are in the desert, recently having experienced the miraculous Exodus, and are now poised to enter the Promised Land. But first they dispatch a reconnaissance mission to assist in formulating a prudent battle strategy. The spies return on the eighth day of Av and report that the land is unconquerable. That night, the 9th of Av, the people cry. They insist that they'd rather go backThe Jews were shocked to realize that their Second Temple was destroyed the same day as the first to Egypt than be slaughtered by the Canaanites. G‑d is highly displeased by this public demonstration of distrust in His power, and consequently that generation of Israelites never enters the Holy Land. Only their children have that privilege, after wandering in the desert for another 38 years.

The First Temple was also destroyed on the 9th of Av (423 BCE). Five centuries later (in 69 CE), as the Romans drew closer to the Second Temple, ready to torch it, the Jews were shocked to realize that their Second Temple was destroyed the same day as the first.

When the Jews rebelled against Roman rule, they believed that their leader, Simon bar Kochba, would fulfill their messianic longings. But their hopes were cruelly dashed in 133 CE as the Jewish rebels were brutally butchered in the final battle at Betar. The date of the massacre? Of course—the 9th of Av!

One year after their conquest of Betar, the Romans plowed over the Temple Mount, our nation's holiest site.

The Jews were expelled from England in 1290 CE on, you guessed it, Tisha b'Av. In 1492, the Golden Age of Spain came to a close when Queen Isabella and her husband Ferdinand ordered that the Jews be banished from the land. The edict of expulsion was signed on March 31, 1492, and the Jews were given exactly four months to put their affairs in order and leave the country. The Hebrew date on which no Jew was allowed any longer to remain in the land where he had enjoyed welcome and prosperity? Oh, by now you know it—the 9th of Av.

The Jews were expelled from England in 1290 CE on, you guessed it, Tisha b'AvReady for just one more? World War II and the Holocaust, historians conclude, was actually the long drawn-out conclusion of World War I that began in 1914. And yes, amazingly enough, Germany declared war on Russia, effectively catapulting the First World War into motion, on the 9th of Av, Tisha b'Av.

What do you make of all this? Jews see this as another confirmation of the deeply held conviction that history isn't haphazard; events – even terrible ones – are part of a Divine plan and have spiritual meaning. The message of time is that everything has a rational purpose, even though we don't understand it.

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Discussion (83)
August 18, 2015
I appreciate your hard work lined out here, as well as your gentle and patient answers to questions below. Our God is a God of order and timeliness!
July 28, 2015
9/11 not 9 Av
The Jewish year does not start in January-so Av is not the 11th month.
September is the 9th month anyway. Tuesday 11 September 2001 is 23 Elul 5761
The 9th of Av in 2001 was 29 July.
South Africa
July 27, 2015
To Deborah
No, 9/11 did not occur on the 9 of Av, it coincided with the month of Elul. Staff
July 26, 2015
Did 9/11 occur on Tisha B' Av?
Deborah Ringer
July 26, 2015
Bill, fear of the unknown is harder to accept. Even when living under terrible conditions, some prefer to go back or stay with what they had. At lease they know what they had. Takes guts to leave a sure thing.
July 25, 2015
The one thing we have learned from history is that we have not learned one thing from His-Story.
Tim W. Eno
the wilderness
July 23, 2015
Doesn't make sense
It's hard to believe that an entire people who have witnessed the ten plagues, the seas parting, Sinai, the pillar of smoke/fire...why would they cry and want to go back to Egypt? Having personally witnessed all those miracles how could they be distrustful?
July 19, 2015
To Anonymous
The date that you provide is the date given by historians based on secular sources. The date provided on our site is based on a book called Seder Olam Rabba, dating back to the 2nd century CE and attributed to Rabbi Yosef ben Halafta. The sources for the dates in Halafta's book come from rabbinic traditions recorded in the Talmud as well as numerous chronologies written in the Hebrew Bible.

Jewish chronology relies on an unbroken chain of tradition and a highly accurate dating system. It is also essential to remember that traditional Jewish chronologies, have always been based on accurate astronomical phenomenon: the movement of the moon (months) and sun (years). A combination of an unbroken tradition of the Hebrew Bible and an accurate, astronomical, time-based system, gives traditional Jewish chronology a high degree of accuracy, especially when it comes to the major events of Jewish history. Staff
July 19, 2015
Not saying that this article does not have merit-- but I do have to point out that the temple was not destroyed in 423 BC, but rather 586 BC.
August 17, 2014
From Wikipedia: Av... is the eleventh month of the civil year
So... 9th Av = 9/11
So... what do you make of that?
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