web analytics
July 4, 2015 / 17 Tammuz, 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
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2012.
Hillary Clinton Says She Will Be Better Friend than Obama to Israel
Latest News Stories
Zarif and Kerry on the Fourth of July.

Kerry spent the Fourth of July talking with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Placard at counter protest of neo-Nazis in London on Saturday.

Thirty Policemen escorted a total of 21 neo-Nazi in the “anti-Jewification” protest that flopped.

Young teenagers point rifles at Syrian soldiers at ancient Roman amphitheater.

ISIS released a video of a modern-day replay of the thirst for blood in ancient Roman amphitheaters.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2012.

The woman who once kissed Suha Arafat has a different attitude when it comes to funding her campaign for president.

A third Grad rocket was found in the Eshkol region on Saturday.

If Lapid decides that his party will support the proposal in the Knesset, he will go down in history as the man who saved Israel’s gas industry and credibility.

The House of Bishops, led by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, overwhelmingly defeated the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions resolution.

US alone voted no on UNHRC Resolution condemning only Israel for wrongdoing in last summer’s conflict.

Sinai terrorists expanded their range of attack Friday, aiming rocket fire at southern Israel as well.

5:21 PM The rocket landed in a field in the Eshkol region. Apparently from Sinai. 5:06 PM Channel 1 reports that citizens say they saw the rocket fly over from Sinai. 4:49 PM IDF Spox says they believe only 1 rocket was launched. The IDF is examining if the rocket was launched from the Sinai. […]

Iran is not budging in nuclear talks on its refusal to allow spot inspections of military sites.

Nothing like a Kosher frank for the 4th of July, even if this year, you have to cook it before Shabbat.

Nothing quite like Hamas terrorist supporters on the Temple Mount openly waving their flags..

Machsom Watch women came to harass IDF soldiers in Hebron but embarrassed themselves instead.

A Palestinian Authority Arab was shot and killed after he attacked an Israeli army commander driving in near Jerusalem.

The US Mennonite church votes to table an anti-Israel BDS resolution for two years.

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff

In addition to the palace’s tremendous size it was home to the “hanging gardens,” which were counted among the seven wonders of the ancient world.

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.

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.

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: