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The Destruction of the Temple, 9th Av, 70 CE – a new pilgrimage

Table 2. Post Second Temple Calendar With With Fourth Extra-Biblical Pilgrimage

7. Tishrei (SUCCOTH)
8. Cheshvan
9. Kislev
10. Tevet
11. Shevat
12. Adar
1. Nisan (PESACH)
2. Iyyar
3. Sivan (SHAVUOTH)
4. Tammuz
5. Av (9TH AV)
6. Elul

In 70 CE, Titus son of Vespasian, led Roman and auxiliary forces against the first Jewish revolt. Tiberius Alexander, nephew of Jewish philosopher Philo was appointed Chief of Staff of invading Roman forces. Jerusalem and the Temple were captured and destroyed after five-month siege and the revolt was crushed. The Temple was destroyed and the Holiday pilgrimages ceased. The Jewish historian Josephus gives indications of more than three million Jews in all of Judea and Galilee and estimated that more than a million died in the siege of Jerusalem. The Roman historian Tacitus estimated 600,000 deaths. Tens of thousands were sold into slavery and many taken to Rome. A special Roman tax was levied on all Jews in the Roman Empire since, according to the Romans, Jupiter Capitolinus (god of Rome) had defeated the God of Jerusalem. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai, who fled during siege, re-established the Jewish Sanhedrin council for national leadership in Yavneh (Jamnia).

In 118 CE Hadrian ascended the Roman throne. In the second year of his reign, he at length overcame Bar Kocheba’s second Jewish revolt, through means of his general Julius Severus, who had been previously stationed in Britain (England). He captured the uncommonly large and strong city of Bither, and caused such wasting and destruction in Palestine that they exceeded the misery produced by Titus. He destroyed 50 strong places and 985 towns and villages, and there fell 580,000 Jews by the sword, besides the large numbers who were carried off by famine, fire, and the pestilence, and not counting those who were dragged away into foreign lands, and sold as slaves. Near Hebron, four slaves were sold for one seah, about a peck of barley. Near Beitar lay the dead, in a stretch of 18 mills (13½ English miles), for years without interment, till the reign of the succeeding emperor; because Hadrian would not permit the slain to be buried.[1]

Roman Emperor Hadrian also caused a wall to be built around Jerusalem, and allowed no Jews to come even within the environs of the city.[2] It was only at a later period that they were permitted to go to the surrounding mountains, probably the Mount of Olives, to cast a mournful, sorrowing look towards the seat of their ancient glory. Later yet, they purchased from the Greek and Roman garrison the permission to enter its precincts once a year, on the day of its destruction, the 9th of Av (August), in order to weep there for their mournful fate, and the fall and dispersion of Israel.[3] This became the fourth Extra-Biblical Pilgrimage, see Table 2 above.


  1. Yerushalmi Taanith, 4
  2. Lamentations Eicha. 5:2
  3. A Short History of Palestine, Rabbi Joseph Schwarz.