web analytics
May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


The Meaning of Today’s 10th of Tevet Fast


Front-Page-010612

Asara B’Teves, the 10th of Teves, commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar that ultimately culminated with the First Temple’s destruction on the 9th of Av the following year.

Of course, Jewish residents of our holiest city have been no strangers to military sieges. One of the most famous was led by the Assyrian monarch Sancheirev against the Judean king Chizkiyahu and his small nation (recorded in II Chronicles 32), over a century before Nebuchadnezzar rose to power. This siege ended miraculously when Hashem orchestrated the sudden deaths of nearly the entire Assyrian army.

Other well-known sieges of Jerusalem include the Roman encirclement that resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, and the one led by the emperor Hadrian and his leading general Julius Severus in 135 CE in response to the revolt of Bar Kochba.

Yet one of the saddest and most painful sieges in Jerusalem’s history was imposed not by a force of gentile invaders but rather by one group of Jews against another. The siege marked a climax in an internal struggle that had been raging for centuries within the Jewish nation, and would ultimately result in the destruction of our Holy Temple.

After the death of Yehuda Aristobulus (103 BCE), Alexander Yannai became king. Yannai was the son of Yochanan Hyrcanus, grandson of Shimon and great grandson of Matityahu. He would rule for twenty-seven years, until 76 BCE.

Following Aristobulus’s death, Yannai married his brother’s widow Shlomtzion through the process known as yibum, or levirate marriage. At the beginning of their marriage, Shlomtzion prevailed on her new husband to deal kindly with the Pharisees, who represented the majority of the Jewish people and were the guardians of the Torah-true tradition dating back to Sinai. Her brother, Shimon ben Shetach, was the leading sage of the time and Yannai conferred with him on both political and religious matters.

But this peaceful arrangement would not last for long, largely because of Pharisee disproval of Yannai’s territorial ambitions.

Over time, a sizable rift developed between Yannai and his people, one that would lead to violence, bloodshed, and civil war. Many sages were tortured and killed. Others were forced to seek refuge, either by fleeing the country or by going into hiding.

Taking advantage of this situation were the Sadducees. Using their close relationship with Yannai, they secured practically every significant political position for their party. Even the Sanhedrin came under their control, the result of which was numerous errors in judgment and practice. (The Sadducees lacked sufficient knowledge in Jewish law. Their insistence on a literal interpretation of the Torah further guaranteed these errors.)

The strain between the two sides remained palpable yet subdued. In 90 BCE, however, all of that would change. Yannai set out on another military campaign into Transjordan. After experiencing initial successes, Yannai was repelled in a battle against the Nabateans. Caught in an ambush, Yannai “was thrown down into a deep valley… and hardly escaped with his life” (Josephus, Antiquities).

Yannai and his forces fled back to Jerusalem. The news of Yannai’s setback resonated with the Pharisees. Sensing an opportunity to rid themselves of their oppressive ruler, they rose up in open rebellion against him.

* * * * *

The civil war that followed would last six painful and torturous years. All told, in excess of fifty thousand Jews died. As the war progressed, Yannai and his supporters seized the upper hand. In desperation, certain Pharisees struck a deal with Demetrius III of Syria, inviting him to invade Judah. Many Jews joined the Syrian forces. The year was 88 BCE.

Demetrius, whose army was nearly double in size compared to that of Yannai, soundly defeated his adversary in a battle near Shechem. Yannai and his remaining forces fled. Out of pity and concern for their fellow Jews, six thousand Jewish fighters who had been serving under Demetrius now switched sides, forcing the Syrians to leave the battlefield and return home.

The Pharisees hoped Yannai would reciprocate this display of good will with a new attitude of his own. If their rebellion had not impressed upon him the need to rule over them with justness and kindness, perhaps this gesture would. Sadly, Yannai refused to come to terms with his people.

Shlomtzion and Yannai had two sons together. Neither of them, however, was viewed as a suitable candidate to succeed Yannai.

The elder son, Hyrcanus II, was a quiet and private man. He lacked the natural leadership skills and personal drive to serve as leader. Temporarily, he assumed the office of high priest and was regarded as the eventual heir to the throne.

His younger brother, Aristobulus II, was of a vastly different temperament. He was bold, ambitious, and a fearless warrior. For those reasons, he, too, was deemed an inappropriate fit to succeed Yannai, and would be limited to a secondary role in governmental affairs.

About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive coach and president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at 212-470-6139 or at president@impactfulcoaching.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Meaning of Today’s 10th of Tevet Fast”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
American dollars.
IRS $50M Cyber Security Scandal Stretches to Russia
Latest News Stories
French Ambassador Gerard Araud, in his then capacity as permanent representative to the U.N., addresses the U.N. Security Council in May 2014.

Both Westmacott and German ambassador Peter Wittig warned that if the U.S. Congress blocked a deal by not enabling sanctions relief to take place, the international sanctions regime would collapse.

American dollars.

A cyber security breach into the IRS computer system has been traced back to Russia. Cost; $50 million-plus.

Fire in Rahat

The temperature has been scorching hot for the past couple of days. And that’s been setting off brush fires. There have been massive fires, big fires and little fires all over the country. Some homes near Beit Shemesh were evacuated last night due to the approaching fires. As if it wasn’t hot enough outside.

Shimon Peres and Tony Blair shake hands in Jerusalem.

The U.S. State Dept. had a difficult time explaining what the Quartet has ever accomplished except spending money.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki is the latest Republican to throw his hat in the crowed GOP ring of presidential hopefuls. He declared his candidacy in a video post Thursday morning and touted his actions as governor following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “We need to recapture that spirit, that sense that we are one […]

A former of official of the same FIFA, which is considering expelling Israel, blamed “Zionism” for a bribe charge in 2011.

The South Carolina senator may run to be the Republican presidential nominee but has little chance of winning.

The request comes out to $4.1 billion a year starting from 2017, 10 percent more than the current military aid.

The firm’s Jewish co-founders handed out $1,500 worth of ice cream at Sander’s presidential campaign event in Vermont on Wednesday.

The Hareidi politicians agreed to not protest the country club after the mayor agreed to move it. So much for agreements.

Does the popularity of smoking grass mean that is good for the soul?

The US decides “no more extensions” as international nuclear talks with Iran come down to the wire.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky expresses his firm support for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.

With temperatures soaring, everyone is getting in the water…

Russia closed its deal Monday to deliver the powerful S-300 missile defense system to Iran… eventually.

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff

The reaction is so strong that nine times out of ten, parents engage in some form of coping mechanism before arriving at a level of acceptance of a special-needs diagnosis.

Rabbi Naphtali Hoff

We must create an atmosphere of complete intolerance for such conduct, while reminding our children that we can take pride in our unique and distinctive purpose without knocking others.

In which specific respects are we to attempt to “relive” yetzias Mitzrayim?

Until recent times, every powerful nation that has ever ruled the world has been fundamentally anti-Semitic.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

A central concept in any discussion about happiness is achieving clarity. “Ain simcha ela k’hataras hasefeikos” – there is no joy as that experienced with the removal of doubt.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

He ruthlessly crushed the revolt, and, despite lacking official Roman sanction, ordered the rebel leaders put to death without trial.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/besieged-by-our-own/2012/01/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: