The Burning of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s Army, Painting by Juan de la Corte

Siege of Jerusalem

Today, observant Jews from around the world will be participating in a fast from sunrise to sunset. Today’s fast is known as Asarah B’Tevet, which means the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tevet. It was on this day, in the year 3336 from Creation (425 BCE)*, that a series of events took place led to the destruction of the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem. On this day, the armies of the Babylonian Emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Thirty months later—on 17 Tammuz 3338—the city walls were breached, and on the 9th of Av of that year the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The Jewish people were subsequently exiled to Babylonia for 70 years, after which they returned to Israel and built the second Holy Temple.

As it is with most of the other Jewish fast days (e.g. the 9th of Av and Yom Kippur), in addition to the fasting, there are additions to the daily prayers and an overall focus of mourning and repentance.

Other Calamities

Other calamities that befell the Jewish people during this period and which are commemorated on this day are: the forced translation of the Torah into Greek by the ruling Egyptian-Greek emperor Ptolemy (9th of Tevet) and the passing of Ezra, the Scribe (8th of Tevet).

Despite the Jewish people’s return to Israel, there is still no Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the contention and dispute surrounding the Jewish people’s holiest sites continue. Therefore, Jews throughout the world continue to mourn the loss of the Holy Temple and the spiritual void that it left in its place until its return – may it be soon in our days.