by Arlene Berg

SHIVAH  ASAR be-TAMMUZ – pronounce “Shivah Asar” with a short “i” and short “a’s.”  “Tammuz” is pronounced with a short “a” and long “u.”  With the accents, these words are pronounced as “shiv-A  a-SAR be-tam-MUZ.”

SHIVAH ASAR be-TAMMUZ – Hebrew for SEVENTEENTH of TAMMUZ, or the FAST OF THE SEVENTEENTH of TAMMUZ.  Tammuz is the Hebrew name of the Jewish month which roughly corresponds to July.  The Jewish months are based on the lunar calendar, as opposed to the solar.

“Five things happened to our fathers on the 17th of Tammuz . . . the tablets (of the Law) were broken; the daily sacrifice was discontinued; the city (walls were) breached; Apostomos burnt the Torah; and set up an idol in the Temple.”  –  Mishnah (a foremost Jewish commentary).

Three weeks after the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz is Tisha B’Av, or the Ninth of Av.  Tisha B’Av is the fast day which commemorates the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians (under Nebuchadnezzar) in 586 B.C. and the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans (under Titus) in 70 A.D.   Both Temples were destroyed on this very same day – the Ninth of Av!

On the 17th of Tammuz, the walls of the city of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 70 A.D.  On the ninth of Tammuz, the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. (II Melakhim, or II Kings 25:2-4; Yirmeyahu, or

Jeremiah 52:6,7).   The fast day is observed on the 17th instead of the ninth day because the destruction of the Second Temple under Titus and the Romans was greater than that of the First Temple under Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians.   On the 17th of Tammuz in 70 A.D., another very important event also occurred — THE DAILY SACRIFICES IN THE TEMPLE CEASED!

Because of the solemn nature of this time of year in the Jewish calendar, the three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av are observed as a period of mourning.  Religious Jewish people refrain from haircuts, weddings, dancing, and playing music.

During the “Nine Days” before Tisha B’Av, this mourning intensifies.  The laundering of clothes is prohibited, although baby diapers and other small children’s clothing may be washed, if necessary.  Except on Friday before the Sabbath, bathing is not permitted, even a shower in cold water!  One does not even put on fresh clothes during these “Nine Days” of intense mourning.  Pleasure bathing and swimming are also forbidden.  The eating of meat or poultry, and the drinking of wine (symbols of joy and plenty) are also prohibited, except on the Sabbath or at a meal for a Bris, or Brit (circumcision), or for a Pidyan HaBen – Redemption of the First Born.  Some religious Jewish people will not eat meat or drink wine for the full three-week period.  One reason for this practice is found in Daniyyel, or Daniel 10:2,3 – Daniel mourned for three weeks, did not eat bread, meat, or drink wine, and did not “anoint” himself.   In time past, many  very religious Jewish people used to fast during these three weeks.

Zekharya, or Zechariah 8:19 reads, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts:  The fast of the fourth month (Fast of the 17th of Tammuz), and the fast of the fifth (Tisha B’Av), and the fast of the seventh (Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement), and the fast of the tenth (Fast of the Tenth of Teveth), shall be to the house of Judah JOY and GLADNESS, and CHEERFUL FEASTS.”

Judaism says that with the coming of the Messiah and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, these fast days will be transformed from days of national mourning to joyful holidays!

Won’t you pray that on Tuesday, July 11, 2017 and during these three weeks of mourning (through Tuesday, August 1, 2017), that God will speak to a countless number of religious Jewish people the world over as they fast and mourn.  How we long for Him to draw many of these religious people to Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah!  He, indeed, is the Living Temple of God (John 2:19-21), the One Who so longs to transform them and give them a brand new, abundant, and eternal life (John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17)!

“Jesus answered, and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days?  But he spoke of the temple of his body.”  –  John 2:19-21.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  –  John 10:10.

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