Fast of Gedalia

Fast of Gedaliah
Official name Hebrew: צוֹם גְּדַלְיָּה
Also called Fast of the seventh month
Observed by Jews
Type Jewish
Significance Mourning the assassination of Gedaliah
Observances Fasting
Begins 3rd day of Tishrei at dawn (if Shabbat, then 4th day of Tishrei at dawn)
Ends The same day, at sunset
2015 date September 16
2016 date October 5
Related to Ten Days of Repentance

The Fast of Gedaliah (/ɡɛdəˈl.ə/ or /ɡəˈdɑːljə/; Hebrew: צוֹם גְּדַלְיָּה Tzom Gedalya), also spelled Gedalia, is a minor Jewish fast day from dawn until dusk to lament the assassination of the righteous governor of Judah. His murder ended Jewish autonomy following the destruction of the First Temple.[1]


When the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he killed or exiled most of its inhabitants and appointed Gedaliah, son of Achikam, as governor of the now-Babylonian province of Judah. Many Jews who had fled to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other neighboring lands returned to Judah, tended the vineyards again, and enjoyed a new respite after their earlier suffering.

However, Baalis, king of Ammon, was hostile and envious of the Judean remnant and sent a Judean, Yishmael Ben Netaniah, who was descended from the royal family of Judea, to assassinate Gedaliah. In the seventh month (Tishrei) of 582/1 BCE (some four to five years following the destruction of the Temple, although the exact year is unclear and subject to dispute; others claim the assassination took place in the same year as the destruction), a group of Jews led by Yishmael came to Gedaliah in the town of Mitzpa and were received cordially. Gedaliah had been warned of his guest's murderous intent, but refused to believe his informants, having the belief that their report was mere slander. Yishmael murdered Gedaliah, together with most of the Jews who had joined him and many Babylonians whom the Babylonian King had left with Gedaliah. The remaining Jews feared the vengeance of the Babylonian King (in view of the fact that the King's chosen ruler, Gedaliah, had been killed by a Jew) and fled to Egypt.[2]

In Hebrew Bible

The events are recounted briefly in the Hebrew Bible in 2 Kings 25:25–26:

But it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, came, and ten men with him, and smote Gedaliah, that he died, and the Jews and the Chaldeans that were with him at Mitzpah.
And all the people, both small and great, and the captains of the forces, arose, and came to Egypt; for they were afraid of the Chaldeans.

A fuller account is in Jeremiah, chapter 41,[3] where the murder of a group of envoys and the kidnapping of the gubernatorial staff and family are also related.:

In the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah son of Elishama, of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, at Mizpah.
As they ate bread together there at Mizpah, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and ten men with him got up and struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam son Shaphan with the sword and killed him, because the king of Babylon had appointed him governor in the land.
Ishmael also killed all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.[4]

In Josephus

In Josephus's books of the Antiquities of the Jews, the story of the conspiracy is provided in considerable detail. [5]

Institution of fast

The surviving remnant of Jews was thus dispersed and the land remained desolate. In remembrance of these tribulations, the Jewish sages instituted the 'Fast of the Seventh' (see Zechariah 8:19) on the day of Gedaliah's assassination in the seventh month.

It is suggested that Gedaliah was slain on the first day of Tishrei but the fast is not commemorated until after Rosh Hashanah, since fasting is prohibited during a festival. The Rabbis[6] have said that the aim of this fast day is to establish that the death [i.e. murder] of the righteous is likened to the burning of the House of God. Just as they ordained a fast upon the destruction of the Jewish Temple, likewise they ordained a fast upon the death of Gedaliah.


The fast is observed immediately after the second day of the High Holy Day of Rosh Hashana, the third of Tishrei in the Hebrew calendar. The Gregorian (civil) date for The Fast of Gedalia varies from year to year based on when it corresponds with the third of Tishrei.

When Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday and Friday, the fast is postponed until Sunday (which would be the fourth of Tishrei), since no public fast may be observed on Shabbat (Saturday) with the exception of Yom Kippur.

In 2009, this fast day was observed on September 21.
In 2010, this fast day was observed on September 12 (fourth of Tishrei).
In 2011, this fast day was observed on October 2 (fourth of Tishrei).
In 2012, this fast day was observed on September 19 (third of Tishrei).
In 2013, this fast day was observed on September 8 (fourth of Tishrei).
In 2014, this fast day was observed on September 28 (fourth of Tishrei).
In 2015, this fast day was observed on September 16 (third of Tishrei).
In 2016, this fast day was observed on October 5 (third of Tishrei).
In 2017, this fast day will be observed on September 24 (fourth of Tishrei).
In 2018, this fast day will be observed on September 12 (third of Tishrei).
In 2019, this fast day will be observed on October 2 (third of Tishrei).
In 2020, this fast day will be observed on September 21 (third of Tishrei).


The fast is observed from dawn until the stars appear at night. As with regular fast days, the hazzan includes the prayer Aneinu in the repetition of the Amidah during Shacharit and Mincha as a separate Bracha between the prayers for redemption and healing, and in the private recitation of the Mincha amidah it is recited as an addition to Shema Koleinu (general prayer acceptance). The Avinu Malkeinu prayer is recited and as it is during the Ten Days of Repentance the additions reference the new year. A Torah scroll is taken from the ark and the passages of Ki Tissa are read from the Torah (Exodus 32:11–14 and 34:1–10). The same Torah reading is added at Mincha, followed in Ashkenazic congregations by a Haftarah reading. As the fast falls during the days of Penitence, the S'lichot prayer is recited before the start of Shacharit and incorporates also an extra paragraph relating to the Fast of Gedaliah. There is no Slichot service at the time of the repetition of the Amidah.

In the Spanish and Portuguese rite, the prayers are recited from the Book of Prayers for Fast Days. There are lengthy additions to the prayers that are not found in the daily and Sabbath siddur, and that are specific to the day as well as prayers that are common to all the fast days with the exception of Yom Kippur.


  1. "Jewish Holidays: The Fast of Gedaliah". Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  2. Orthodox Union description of the Fast of Gedalia accessed 2012-09-14
  3. Interlinear Hebrew/English text of Jeremiah, 41 online at Mechon Mamre, accessed 2008-10-02
  4. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 3rd Ed. 2001
  5. Babylonian Talmud, tractate "Rosh Hashannah"
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