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The Blue Letter Bible

Dictionaries :: Fast

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Below are articles from the following 2 dictionaries:
Easton's Bible Dictionary


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" (Act 27:9).

The only other mention of a periodical fast in the Old Testament is in Zec 7:1-7; 8:19, from which it appears that during their captivity the Jews observed four annual fasts.

(1.) 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 Exd 32:19. (Jer 52:6, 7.)

(2.) The fast of the fifth month, kept on the ninth of Ab (Num 14:27), to commemorate the burning of the city and temple (Jer 52:12,13).

(3.) The fast of the seventh month, kept on the third of Tisri (comp. 2 Kings 25), the anniversary of the murder of Gedaliah (Jer 41:1,2).

(4.) The fast of the tenth month (Jer 52:4; Eze 33:21; 2Ki 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 (Est 4:16).

Public national fasts on account of sin or to supplicate divine favour were sometimes held. (1.) 1Sa 7:6; (2.) 2 Chr. 20:3; (3.) Jer 36:6-10; (4.) Neh 9:1.

There were also local fasts. (1.) Jdg 20:26; (2.) 2 Sam. 1:12; (3.) 1Sa 31:13; (4.) 1Ki 21:9-12; (5.) Ezra 8:21-23: (6.) Jon 3:5-9.

There are many instances of private occasional fasting (1Sa 1:7: 20:34; 2Sa 3:35; 12:16; 1Ki 21:27; Ezr 10:6; Neh 1:4; Dan 10:2,3). Moses fasted forty days (Exd 24:18; 34:28), and so also did Elijah (1Ki 19:8). Our Lord fasted forty days in the wilderness (Mat 4:2).

In the lapse of time the practice of fasting was lamentably abused (Isa 58:4; Jer 14:12; Zec 7:5). Our Lord rebuked the Pharisees for their hypocritical pretences in fasting (Mat 6:16). He himself appointed no fast. The early Christians, however, observed the ordinary fasts according to the law of their fathers (Act 13:3; 14:23; 2Cr 6:5).

King James Dictionary

Fast: Abstaining from Food.

Moreover when ye FAST, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to FAST. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou FASTEST, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to FAST, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:16-18)

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