Easton's Bible Dictionary: M. G. Easton, M.A., D.D.
The sole fast required by the law of Moses was that of the great Day of Atonement (q.v.), Lev. 23:26-32
. It is called "the fast" (Acts 27:9
The only other mention of a periodical fast in the Old Testament is in Zech. 7:1-7, 8:19, from which it appears that during their captivity the Jews observed four annual fasts.
- The fast of the fourth month, kept on the seventeenth day of Tammuz, the anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans; to commemorate also the incident recorded Ex. 32:19. (Comp. Jer. 52:6,7.)
- The fast of the fifth month, kept on the ninth of Ab (comp. Num. 14:27), to commemorate the burning of the city and temple (Jer. 52:12,13).
- The fast of the seventh month, kept on the third of Tisri (comp. 2 Ki. 25), the anniversary of the murder of Gedaliah (Jer. 41:1,2).
- The fast of the tenth month (comp. Jer. 52:4; Ezek. 33:21; 2 Ki. 25:1), to commemorate the beginning of the siege of the holy city by Nebuchadnezzar.
There was in addition to these the fast appointed by Esther (Esther 4:16).
Public national fasts on account of sin or to supplicate divine favour were sometimes held.
- 1 Sam. 7:6;
- 2 Chr. 20:3;
- Jer. 36:6-10;
- Neh. 9:1.
There were also local fasts.
- Judg. 20:26;
- 2 Sam. 1:12;
- 1 Sam. 31:13;
- 1 Ki. 21:9-12;
- Ezra 8:21-23
- Jonah 3:5-9.
There are many instances of private occasional fasting (1 Sam. 1:7, 20:34; 2 Sam. 3:35, 12:16; 1 Ki. 21:27; Ezra 10:6; Neh. 1:4; Dan. 10:2,3). Moses fasted forty days (Ex. 24:18, 34:28), and so also did Elijah (1 Ki. 19:8). Our Lord fasted forty days in the wilderness (Mt. 4:2).
In the lapse of time the practice of fasting was lamentably abused (Isa. 58:4; Jer. 14:12; Zech. 7:5). Our Lord rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocritical pretences in fasting (Mt. 6:16). He himself appointed no fast. The early Christians, however, observed the ordinary fasts according to the law of their fathers (Acts 13:3, 14:23; 2 Cor. 6:5).
Original from The Bible Foundation - bf.org. They claim public domain status for their original text.