b'JEWISH CALENDAR COMPANIONFAST OF GEDALIAHMARK PASHAT he Fast of Gedaliah is one of the four minor fast days in the Jewish calendar. It is a dawn-to-dusk fast observed on the 3rd Tishrei, the day after Rosh Hashanah. The fast commemorates the murder of Gedaliah, the man appointed governor of Judea in the aftermath of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586/7 BC. InthelateseventhcenturyBCtheBabylonians had become the major power in the Near East after the demise of the Assyria Empire. Within Judea dissenting opinions existed astowhetherornottoacceptBabylonianhegemony.When opportunities arose the Judeans often revolted. After many years of conflict, it was Zedekiahs failed rebellion against the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 589/8 BC that proved to be the final straw. Judea faced an onslaught of punitive campaigns, during which time many members of the Judean royal family, nobility, priests and upper classes were killed, captured or fled. Finally after a long siege, Jerusalem fell, the Temple was destroyed and the ultimate subjugation of the Judean kingdom was complete. For Nebuchadnezzar however the conquest of Judea was merely a preparatory stage for the invasion of his primary target, Egypt. He did not wish to raze Judea to the ground, and despite the exile of many, community life continued, with the poorer classes permitted to remain and farm the land. Over this remnant he appointed Gedaliah as governor. We learn about Gedaliah primarily in II Kings 25:22-26 and Jeremiah 40-41 where he is introduced as a member of the influential Shaphan family, prominent supporters of the prophet Jeremiah. Gedaliahwasawise,gentleandmodestman.Onhearingof hisappointment,manyJudeanswhohadtakenrefugeinthe surrounding lands returned. Gedaliah was a pragmatist in difficult circumstances. He saw cooperation with the Babylonians as the best chance to rebuild the community. Under his governorship the Babylonian garrison stayed out of Judean affairs and the fledgling Jewish commonwealth began to prosper. 13'