What is Tisha B’Av? A Day of Mourning and Remembrance

Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning and remembrance. On the Hebrew calendar, it is the 9th day of the month of Av. On the Gregorian calendar, it typically falls in late July or early August. 

Tisha B’Av | A Day of Mourning

Tisha B’Av is a date when many calamities fell on the Jewish people. This is why it is considered a day of mourning.

From the beginning of a 40-year period of wandering in the wilderness, to the violent end of the Bar Kochba Revolt in 136 A.D., to the expulsion of Jews from England, then Spain, to events of the Holocaust, Tisha B’av is considered “the saddest day of the year.”

The Destruction of the First and Second Temples

The ancient Jewish Temple that was destroyed on Tisha B’Av.

Tisha B’av is most remembered for the destruction of the First and the Second Temples. 

  • The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians on the 9th of Av in 586 B.C.
  • The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans on the 9th of Av in 70 A.D. 

Tisha B’Av is a day of deep sadness, mourning, fasting, prayer, repentance, and remembrance.

Major Tragedies That Happened & Are Remembered on Tisha B’Av 

The day of mourning originated in the first century A.D. as a fast day to commemorate the tragedies in Jewish history, which were said to have occurred on the 9th of Av. However, as time passed, more tragedies continued to occur on the same date. Catastrophes were added to the list, making this day a call for remembrance and reflection.  

Tisha B’Av is a culmination of a three-week period of mourning called Bein HaMitzarim in Hebrew, which translates to “between the narrow straights.”

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrases…

  • Between the straits
  • Dire straits

These phrases referenced the days of distress when the Jewish people were forced between two dangerous sides in their situations. 

This is when there is much spiritual warfare, and we must be alert and sober because the enemy is looking to whom he may devour (see 1 Peter 5:8).

These days of distress, or dire straits, are referenced in Lamentations 1:3…

  • “Judah has gone into captivity, under affliction and hard servitude; she dwells among the nations, she finds no rest; all her persecutors overtake her in dire straits.” (emphasis added)

These words were written after Jerusalem’s defeat by Babylon. While once the city was full of people and prosperous, it was later conquered and left empty. Once it was great among the nations, then it became like a slave.  

  • “How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow is she, who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces has become a slave!”—Lamentations 1:1

This is God’s chosen city with His name written on it. Its captivity and affliction became a time of mourning. 

Tragedies remembered on Tisha B’Av… 

  1. Ten spies brought a bad report to Moses about the land of Israel. They refused to enter the Promised Land. As a result, God allowed the generation to wander in the desert for 40 years and die in the wilderness (Numbers 14). 
  2. King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the First Temple in 586 B.C.
  3. The Romans destroyed the Second Temple in 70 A.D.
  4. The Betar fortress was breached and destroyed in the Bar Kochba Revolt.
  5. Roman general Turnus Rufus plowed over where the Temple once stood.
  6. Jewish people in York, England, were victims of an anti-Semitic massacre in 1190, where they were trapped and murdered.  
  7. The Jewish people were expelled from England in 1290. 
  8. The Jewish people were expelled from Spain in 1490. 
  9. Germany declared war on Russia, and World War I began, leading to the Holocaust.

Tisha B’Av and Yeshua HaMashiach

Tisha B’Av is known as a day of mourning and remembrance—a day “between the narrow straits.” But we have hope in Yeshua HaMashaiach—Jesus the Messiah.

  • Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). 
  • Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). 

As born-again Believers, we can expect difficult times. We can expect a narrow gate that has pressure on both sides to try to close in around us. But when we put our faith in the Son of God, trust that He is the way through the dire strait, and know His Spirit guides us, we can rest rather than experience days of distress! 

He is our high place. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is our rock. Though we pass through waters, He will be with us. Through the rivers, we will walk, but they will not overtake us. When we walk through fires and trials, we will not be burned (see Isaiah 43:12). 

These are the words God wants us to remember as we go through a season of dire straits and days of distress. He is right here with us, refining our characters so that when we come out on the other side, we are shaped and molded to hold the new wine He is pouring out. Through the dire straits, He is giving us new wineskin!

Remember. Ask God to Turn Mourning into Dancing.

A man and woman dancing in the ocean, as concept for asking God to turn mourning into dancing.

It might seem like the enemy is working overtime during this period of mourning. However, it is our time to take authority in Jesus’ name, declare God’s truth over the nation of Israel, pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and ask that any weapon of warfare used against us in the spiritual realm will not prosper. 

We can declare His promises and blessings over our lives and the lives of those we love. And we can press into Jesus rather than allow the pressures of this world to impress our minds, wills, and emotions. 

We can remember the tragedies that fell upon the Jewish people and pray for them, in Jesus’ name! 

  • “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all their troubles!”—Psalm 25:22

We can stand with Israel and declare God’s protection over her, in Jesus’ name!

  • “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent…”—Isaiah 62:6 

We can pray for God’s city, Jerusalem, in Jesus’ name!

  • “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you.’”—Psalm 122:6

We can ask that any weapon formed against us will not prosper, in Jesus’ name!

  • “‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,’ says the Lord.”—Isaiah 54:17

We can remember that even though the physical Temples have been destroyed, we are the temple of the Lord, in Jesus’ name! 

  • “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”—1 Corinthians 3:16-17

We can remember we worship a God that works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, in Jesus’ name! 

  • “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”—Romans 8:28

We can ask Him to turn our mourning into dancing and clothe us with gladness, in Jesus’ name! 

  • “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”—Psalm 30:11-12

We can put God into remembrance of all His Word, in Jesus’ name!

  • “Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted.”—Isaiah 43:26

In Summary

Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av, is a day of mourning and sadness. Great tragedies fell upon the nation of Israel on or around this day. It has become known as “between the straits” or “dire straits,” meaning days of distress. 

Spiritual warfare can be intense during this season, but this is our opportunity to press into God and allow Him to shape our characters so we can hold the new wine He is pouring out in the coming season!