In the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar moved against Jerusalem with his whole army. He besieged it, and they built towers against it all around. The city continued in a state of siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
As I left my apartment this morning, I noticed that the weather in Jerusalem on 10 Tevet is rainy and very cold. (Not as cold as, say, the northern United States outdoors, but much colder indoors.) And I couldn’t help but wonder: What was Nebuchadnezzar thinking? Why pick this time of year to send his army to Jerusalem, where they’d have to build towers in the cold and rain? Everyone knows that military campaigns start in the spring. The besieged people inside were also presumably doing ok at that point, since they would have already harvested whatever they’d need for the winter. Indeed, according to Jeremiah 52:6, they didn’t run out of food until the summer (the fourth month is Tammuz). So what gives? Clearly, לצערנו, Nebuchadnezzar was successful in the end, but was this the most effective way of accomplishing his objective? Or is this the biblical narrative’s subtle way of indicating that the destruction of Jerusalem was divine punishment and not a mere human conquest, by showing that the destruction went ahead despite questionable tactics (cf. Elijah pouring water on the altar before it gets consumed by fire)? Any thoughts?
May this be the last year that the fast of Tevet is a day of mourning. (Since this is a sad day, I’m not going to amuse myself and about three of you by pointing out that, redemption or no redemption, 10 Tevet will in fact not occur in 2008.)