Updated: Jul 17
Tevet is the name of the 10th Hebrew month (counting from the month of Nissan). On the civil calendar it is the 4th Hebrew month. It is a winter month and corresponds to our Gregorian months of December/January.
The eight days of Hanukkah usually continue over into the month of Tevet in most years.
The month of Tevet is historically known as a month of reflection and mourning for 3 reasons:
First, II Kings 25:1-2, Jeremiah 39:1, and Ezekiel 24:1-2 denote the beginning siege of Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, set his armies against the city. The siege lasted two years before the city fell and the Temple was destroyed in 586 BC, resulting in the Babylonian captivity of the nation. The scriptures listed tell us that the siege began on the 10th day of the 10th month (Tevet). Observant Jews usually fast from sunrise to sunset (no food or drink) on this day.
In modern Israel the 10th of Tevet marks a day of mourning for people whose death or place of death is unknown. Hence, a remembrance of those who perished in the Holocaust.
Second, the 8th day of Tevet is traditionally recognized as the day when the Septuagint (LXX) was finished, as ordered by Ptolemy of Egypt, marking a decline in use of the Hebrew text in favor of the Greek version. Again, this is not seen as a favorable transition by observant Jews. When any document is translated from the original language things are lost in translation.
The third reason is because it is traditionally believed that Ezra the scribe died in the month of Tevet.
One can see, based on the first reason alone, why Jewish history regards the month as a reflection of national tragedy.
Tevet is a Babylonian name and is believed to connote “sinking” or “immersing”. This could be related to the heavy winter rains which occur during the month making most of the Middle East a muddy swamp. In Babylonian the name actually meant “muddy month”. Some Hebrew scholars state that it shares the Hebrew root word “tov”, meaning good.
So, how do we turn all of this gloomy reflection and mourning into “tov” (good)? I will give you two reasons, but the second one is the best!
In the book of Esther we read that it was in the 10th month (called by the name Tevet) that Esther was taken to the King and chosen to be his new Queen (Esther 2:16-18). If one knows this story then we know how the mourning/fasting of the Jewish people was turned into joy as Esther saved her people from destruction.
The practice of fasting/mourning on the 10th month of Tevet (as well as the fast of the 4th, 5th, and 7th months) has been practiced since ancient times. However, we read in the book of Zechariah that these times shall be turned into times of “joy and gladness, and pleasant appointed times” during the Messianic Era:
Zechariah 8:19 Thus said YHVH of hosts, 'The fast of the fourth, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth months, are to be joy and gladness, and pleasant appointed times for the house of Yehudah – and they shall love the truth and the peace.' (TS2009)
Hence, when our Messiah Yeshua returns and sets up His kingdom on earth, there shall never be any more reflection of national tragedies and mourning. He will turn all of our sorrows into joy.
This is my reflection during this month – the promised words of the prophet Zechariah and our coming joy!