Fast of Gedalia

Fast of Gedalia

The Fast of Gedalia (or Gedaliah) ( _he. צוֹם גְּדָלִיָּה, IPAEng|gɛdˈlaɪə or IPA2|gɪˈdɑlyə, Tzom Gedaliah) is a Jewish fast day from dawn until dusk to lament the assassination of the righteous governor of Judah of that name, which ended Jewish rule and completed the destruction of the first Temple.


When the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he killed and 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.

Baalis king of Ammon, however, hostile and envious of the Judean remnant, sent and encouraged a Jew, Yishmael Ben Netaniah, who was a descended from the royal family of Judea, to assassinate Gedaliah. In the seventh month (Tishrei), a group of Jews led by Yishmael came to Gedaliah in the town of Mitzpa and was 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 (seeing as his chosen ruler, Gedaliah, had been killed by a Jew) and fled to Egypt.

In Hebrew Bible

The events are briefly recounted 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, [ [ Interlinear Hebrew/English text of Jeremiah, 41] online at Mechon Mamre, accessed 2008-10-02] where the murder of a group of envoys and the kidnapping of the gubernatorial staff and family are also related.

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 was "postponed" till after Rosh Hashanah, since fasting is prohibited during a festival. Concerning this fast day, the Rabbis have said that its aim is to establish that the death 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 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 2006, this fast day was observed on September 25.
In 2007, this fast day was observed on September 16 (fourth of Tishrei).
In 2008, this fast day was observed on October 2.
In 2009, this fast day is observed on September 21.


The fast is observed from daybreak until the stars appear at night. As a minor fast day, other laws of mourning are not required. Selichot are recited during Shachrit by orthodox communities. The cantor includes the prayer Aneinu in the repetition of the Shachrit and in private recitation of the Mincha amidah. 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, the Thirteen Divine Attributes are said, and the Passages of Vayechal are read from the Torah (Exodus 32:11-14 and 34:1-10). The same Torah reading and also a Haftorah reading are added at Mincha.

External links & references

Jewish holidaysHigh Holidays

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