Zechariah 8:18-19 speaks of four man-made traditional
fast days which are not commanded in the Torah.
Should we keep them?
Zekaryah (Zechariah) 8:18-19
18 Then the word of YHWH of hosts came to
19 "Thus says YHWH of hosts:
‘The fast of the fourth month, the fast of the
fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of
the tenth shall be joy and gladness and
cheerful feasts for the House of Judah.
Therefore love truth and peace.’”
Many people mistakenly believe this passage means
that the House of Judah is to keep these man-made
traditional fast days with joy and gladness, but this is
not YHWH’s meaning at all. Rather, YHWH is telling
the Jews not to fast, but to be joyful on those days.
How did these fast days get started? When King
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took the Jews into exile,
he burned the House of YHWH with fire, and broke
down the walls of Jerusalem all around.
Melachim Bet (2nd Kings) 25:8-10
8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day
of the month (which was the nineteenth
year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of
Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the
guard, a servant of the king of Babylon,
came to Jerusalem.
9 He burned the house of YHWH and the
king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem,
that is, all the houses of the great, he
burned with fire.
10 And all the army of the Chaldeans who
were with the captain of the guard broke
down the walls of Jerusalem all around.
The Jews responded by declaring four traditional fast
days: the ninth day of the fourth month, the tenth day of
the fifth month, the third day of the seventh month, and
the tenth day of the tenth month. Notice that these do
not refer to the Day of Atonements, or Yom Kippur,
which is the tenth day of the seventh month.
Vayiqra (Leviticus) 23:27-28
27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh
month shall be the Day of Atonement. It
shall be a set-apart gathering convocation
for you; you shall afflict your souls, and
offer an offering made by fire to YHWH.
28 And you shall do no work on that same
day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make
atonement for you before YHWH your
They Orthodox/Pharisees have their reasons for these
things, but it is not our purpose to get into them here.
Rather, simply let us note that YHWH commands us to
be careful not to add to the festivals that He commands
us to keep, in His Torah.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4:2
2 “You shall not add to the word which I
command you, nor take from it, that you
may keep the commandments of YHWH
your Elohim which I command you.”
Let us take a brief review of history, so we can better
understand the context of Zechariah 8:18-19.
YHWH told Jeremiah that He would allow the Jews to
return to His land after the seventy years of their Exile
had been completed.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 29:10
10 “For thus says YHWH: ‘After seventy
years are completed at Babylon, I will visit
you and perform My good word toward you,
and cause you to return to this place.’”
Daniel counted the years, and then prayed that YHWH
would remember His people, and have compassion
9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of
Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the
Medes, who was made king over the
realm of the Chaldeans —
2 in the first year of his reign I, Daniel,
understood by the books the number
of the years specified by the word of
YHWH through Jeremiah the Prophet,
that He would accomplish seventy
years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
3 Then I set my face toward YHWH
Elohim to make request by prayer and
supplications, with fasting, sackcloth,
One man sows, and another man reaps. YHWH then
sent word through the Prophet Zechariah, that Judah
was to begin returning to His land.
Zecharyah (Zechariah) 1:14-16
14 So the messenger (angel) who spoke
with me said to me, "Proclaim, saying,
‘Thus says YHWH of hosts: "I am zealous
for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal.
15 I am exceedingly angry with the nations
at ease; for I was a little angry, and they
helped — but with evil intent."
16 ‘Therefore thus says YHWH: "I am
returning to Jerusalem with mercy. My
house shall be built in it," says YHWH of
hosts, "and a surveyor’s line shall be
stretched out over Jerusalem."’
We cover more of the history in the chapter on the
Book of Esther, but in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah,
the Jews did begin to return to the land, and they also
began to build the Second Temple.
8 Now in the second month of the second
year of their coming to the house of Elohim
at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of
Shealtiel, Yeshua the son of Yehotzadak,
and the rest of their brethren the priests
and the Levites, and all those who had
come out of the captivity to Jerusalem,
began work and appointed the Levites from
twenty years old and above to oversee the
work of the house of YHWH.
However, now that the Jews were back in the Land and
the Temple was being rebuilt, the Jews wanted to know
if they should continue to keep the fast days that they
had instituted because of the destruction of the temple.
YHWH responded with a series of questions to them,
essentially asking them, “When you fasted and
mourned these seventy years, did you really fast for
Me? (No.) Didn’t you really fast for yourselves? (Yes).
Because I never told you to fast on those days! Why
didn’t you just keep the Torah that I gave through
Zecharyah (Zechariah) 7:1-7
7 Now in the fourth year of King Darius it
came to pass that the word of YHWH came
to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth
2 when the people sent Sherezer, with
Regem-Melech and his men, to the house of
Elohim, to pray before YHWH,
3 and to ask the priests who were in the
house of YHWH of hosts, and the prophets,
saying, "Should I weep in the fifth month
and fast as I have done for so many years?"
4 Then the word of YHWH of hosts came to
5 "Say to all the people of the land, and to
the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned
in the fifth and seventh months during
those seventy years, did you really fast for
Me — for Me?
6 When you eat and when you drink, do you
not eat and drink for yourselves?
7 Should you not have obeyed the words
which YHWH proclaimed through the
former prophets when Jerusalem and the
cities around it were inhabited and
prosperous, and the South and the Lowland
In other words, “Why did you make up your own days
of fasting? Why did you not just keep My word?”
One might ask why it would be a problem if our Jewish
brothers want to make up a few fast days of their own,
to honor YHWH above and beyond what YHWH says
He wants us to do. The answer is that YHWH does not
really consider that to be honoring Him. He gives us
another witness, not to add to the commandments that
He gives us.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 12:32
32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to
observe it; you shall not add to it nor take
away from it.”
As we explain inTree of Knowledge, Tree of Life, the
grand test is to see if we will do what YHWH asks us to
do (which is to keep to the Tree of Life), or if we will ‘do
our own thing’ based upon our own thoughts (which is
the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil). When
we add an additional festival day, or an additional fast
to His calendar that is precisely what YHWH prohibits.
King Solomon tells us that those people are liars.
Mishle (Proverbs) 30:6
6 Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke
you, and you be found a liar.
And here is why it is especially grievous: In the opening
chapter of this book (Why the Torah Calendar?) we
recounted an old Jewish saying: that whoever’s
calendar you keep, that is whom you worship. If we
are careful to keep YHWH’s calendar, and to do only
as He commands, then YHWH considers that we are
worshipping Him. However, if we keep calendars that
have been created by men, then we are worshipping
men: and this is to worship an object of the Creation,
rather than the Creator.
One’s actions show one’s loyalty. If we obey YHWH
gladly, then our loyalty is with Him. However, if we
obey men, then our loyalty is not with YHWH, but with
man. In YHWH’s sight, this is tantamount to rebellion
against His authority.
When I was first called into the Messianic Movement, it
seemed to me that the quickest way to recreate the
Faith Once Delivered to the Saints was to do as
Yeshua and His apostles had done: that is, to start with
Second Temple Period Judaism, and reject everything
that contradicts with the Torah. However, as YHWH
continued to lead and guide me, I began to realize that
we cannot always see what conflicts with the Torah;
and so I began to realize that a much safer and surer
approach is be to begin with the Instructions of Elohim
(i.e., YHWH’s Torah), and then to add nothing to it, and
subtract nothing from it. If I cannot verify a tradition or
a teaching by the Words of Elohim (i.e., YHWH’s or
Yeshua’s words), then I cannot consider it to be Torah.
Our Orthodox brethren consider that when YHWH gave
the Torah to Moshe, He also gave Moshe the power to
modify it, as needed. They further consider that they
have inherited this power from Moshe. Therefore they
believe that their man-made customs and traditions
constitute literal ‘Torah Law’; and this is precisely what
they call it.
Zecharyah (Zechariah) 8:23
23 "Thus says YHWH of hosts: ‘In those
days ten men from every language of the
nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish
man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we
have heard that Elohim is with you."’"
It is a wonderful thing that YHWH is calling His
servant Ephraim out of the nations, to return back
home to his inheritance in the Land, the Language
and the Law. However, as much as we love our
brother Judah, let us be careful not simply to
accept his interpretations of ‘Torah Law’, let we
also be found guilty of giving our loyalty not to the
Creator, but to the Creation.
May YHWH please deliver all of His people from all
unrighteousness, soon and in our day.
In Yeshua’s name,