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Monthly Bible Question | November

What were the four fasts mentioned by Zechariah?

Zechariah 8:18-19: “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.”

Prophet Zechariah painted by Michelangelo - Sistine Chapel, Public domain

In Jewish history, some fasts were instituted to mourn, repent or remember crisis events. The four fasts mentioned by Zechariah were all associated with the destruction of Judah and the Temple at the time of the exile to Babylon.

  • 4th month fast - the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 52:6-7)

  • 5th month fast – the burning of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple (Jeremiah 52:12-13)

  • 7th month fast – the assassination of Gedaliah (governor of Judah) and his men (Jeremiah 41:1-3)

  • 10th month fast – Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1)

At the time of these prophecies, some of the Jews had returned to Judah, and the rebuilding of the Temple was nearly complete. In chapters 7 and 8, Zechariah declares that these fasts could be discontinued and would become joyful festivals when the Temple had been rebuilt. Zechariah 8:22-23 is also a foreshadowing of the New Jerusalem when people from “all languages and nations” will worship God (Revelation 7:9).

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