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Easton's Bible Dictionary

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Additional Resources
• Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
Jewish; divisions of the law
• Baker's Evangelical Dictionary
Fast, Fasting
• King James Dictionary
• International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Fast, Fasting
Greek - holdfast, holding fast
Greek - make fast, fastened
Greek - stick fast, stuck fast
Greek - holding fast
Greek - hold fast
Greek - hold fast, holding fast
Greek - fasting, fast, fastings
Greek - fast, fasted, fasting
Greek - stand fast
Greek - hold fast
Hebrew - fast
Hebrew - stand fast, stedfast
Hebrew - stand fast
Hebrew - was fast asleep
Hebrew - fast, fasted, fasting
Hebrew - fast, fasted, fasting, times of fasting
Hebrew - stand fast, steadfast
Hebrew - held fast, hold fast, hold her fast
Hebrew - keep fast, fasten its grip, held fast, hold fast, holding fast, remained steadfast
Hebrew - held fast
Hebrew - fast, stedfast, steadfast
Hebrew - caught fast, fasten, fastens, held them fast, hold fast, holds fast
Hebrew - closed fast
Hebrew - bind you fast
Hebrew - stick fast
Hebrew - fast
Hebrew - fastened, held fast

The sole fast required by the law of Moses was that of the great Day of Atonement (q.v.), Leviticus 23:26-32. It is called "the fast" (Acts 27:9).

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

  • 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 Exodus 32:19. (Compare Jeremiah 52:6,7.)

  • The fast of the fifth month, kept on the ninth of Ab (Compare Numbers 14:27), to commemorate the burning of the city and temple (Jeremiah 52:12,13).

  • The fast of the seventh month, kept on the third of Tisri (Compare 2 Kings 25), the anniversary of the murder of Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41:1,2).

  • The fast of the tenth month (Compare Jeremiah 52:4; Ezek. 33:21; 2Kings 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 4:16).

    Public national fasts on account of sin or to supplicate divine favour were sometimes held.

  • 1 Samuel 7:6;
  • 2 Chronicles 20:3;
  • Jeremiah 36:6-10;
  • Nehemiah 9:1.

    There were also local fasts.

  • Judges 20:26;
  • 2 Samuel 1:12;
  • 1 Samuel 31:13;
  • 1 Kings 21:9-12;
  • Ezra 8:21-23:
  • Jonah 3:5-9.

    There are many instances of private occasional fasting (1 Samuel 1:7: 20:34; 2Sam 3:35; 12:16; 1 Kings 21:27; Ezra 10:6; Nehemiah 1:4; Daniel 10:2,3). Moses fasted forty days (Exodus 24:18; 34:28), and so also did Elijah (1 Kings 19:8). Our Lord fasted forty days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2).

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

  • Copyright Statement
    These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    Bibliography Information
    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for 'Fast'". "Easton's Bible Dictionary".
    <>. 1897.

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