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Sunday, October 2, 2011

What Happened When the First Temple Fell to Nebuchadnezzar: Today We Remember: Fast of Gedalia

Nadene Goldfoot
Judaism contains many holidays commemorating periods and events of our history.  That's why we know our history so well.  Today is a special day to recall an important event which is called "The Fast of Gedalia".  Since this is a sad remembrance, fasting is done.

The first temple was destroyed 2,500 years ago, and the Jews were exiled to Babylonia by Nebuchadnezzar, the conqueror.  He did finally ease up his thinking and allowed some Jews to remain in their land.  He even appointed a good Jewish man, Gedalia, to be the administrator of the territory.  In time some Jews were able to return.

One day Yishmael ben Netaniah, a rebellious sort, who was still angry about the King of Babylon having taken his family and neighbors away, rose up and killed Gedalia, who was the closest he could take revenge on.  This happened on the 3rd of Tishrei, which is today.

The people were frightened that because the administrator had been killed, Babylon would again attack the people, so their first thought was to hide in Egypt.  At the time Egypt was a morally corrupt society, and Jeremiah, the prophet and advisor did not want his people to go there.  The Jews asked his advice which was to stay calm and remain and that Babylon would just send someone else.  This didn't set well with the people who were sure they would seek revenge for Yishmael's act, so they all went into Egypt.

A few year later, Babylon conquered Egypt and in doing so killed tens of thousands of Jews.  Somehow, Jeremiah survived the attack.  We have learned quite a lesson from this episode and that is to trust in G-d.  The people had just not been ready to completely do so.  "No matter how far away you are, you can return and God will forgive you", is another lesson we learn from this story. 


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