December 1998: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Sha’ban/Ramadan 1419

Volume 14 No 12

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Submitters Perspective

Monthly Bulletin of the International Community of Submitters Published by Masjid Tucson

Fasting in the Bible

The religious practices of Islam (Salat, Zakat, Fasting, and Hajj) were given to Abraham and practiced by all messengers that followed him, including Jesus.

Fasting is almost always mentioned in the Bible along with special prayers of petition. Examples of such fasting are in the time of Esther (Esther 4:3 and 9:31), in the experience of Daniel (Daniel 6:18 and 9:3), and in the advice of Jesus (Matthew 17:21 and Mark 9:29). The words of David especially connect fasting with prayer of petition: “While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again?” 2 Samuel 12:22-23.

In this text we see that fasting appears in the Bible along with weeping. Dressing in sackcloth, sitting in ashes, and not wearing perfume are also mentioned (Nehemiah 9:1; 1Kings 21:27). Proclaiming a fast

is often associated with a solemn assembly as well (Joel 1:14; 2:15 et al.). It appears that special months of fasting were instituted during the Babylonian captivity of Judah, probably in view of the crisis (Zechariah 8:19). “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.” This verse clearly suggests that these months of fasting would no longer be observed when the reason for their existence, the Babylonian captivity, disappeared.

But there is no specific legislation dealing with fasting. It is assumed in the Bible text that everyone already knows that fasting is a valid practice and how it should be done.

This may indicate that some portions of the Torah have been lost, since legislation is assumed. In fact, the only fasting mentioned in the Torah or books of Moses is the forty-day fast of Moses (Exodus 34:28) “And he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water.” From this we can see that the fast of the Bible is not a partial one as in Christianity, but complete: absolutely nothing can be eaten or drunk. From the fast of Moses, of Elijah (1Kings 19:8), and of Jesus (Matthew 4:2), we can see that on certain occasions a fast of forty days was required. The great length of this fast indicates that, since it is stated to be complete, it must have permitted some

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