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Zechariah 8:19 – First Mention of Fasting

Few people realize that the first mention of fast or fasting in the Bible is way back in 2nd Samuel.

Nowhere in the books of the Law does the concept of fasting appear, although by Samuel’s time (1 Samuel 7:6) it was well established. The closest thing to fasting in the Law was the Day of Atonement where the people were told to deny themselves for one day Leviticus 23:26-28.

Feasts, Not Fasts

The word fasting’s not found in the Law.
Then from Samuel on it’s see-saw.
In Zech’, fasts become feasts.
Eat those veggies, roast beasts.
From God’s Judah went shouts of hurrah!

Not in Genesis thru 1 Samuel
Occasional, 2 Samuel 12:21
Prophecy, Zechariah 8:19
Deuteronomy 16:7
Genesis 49:10 


Fasting was much admired by the Pharisees who fasted twice a week in Jesus’ time Luke 18:10-14. The word fast took on a different tone in Acts 13:2-3.

See more from the book of Zechariah


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6 comments on “Zechariah 8:19 – First Mention of Fasting

  • Good day,

    I thank you for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.
    Apon further study I found that the first mention of fasting is found in 1 Samuel 7:6. Samuel called for a national fast on the occasion afer Israel was defeated by the Philistines, the Ark of the covenant had been taken in battle. Thanks

  • Mike, We have adjusted the website accordingly. Jim

  • Hi.
    Would Moses’ 40 days without food and water not be counted as a fast?

  • Marcus, Yes, but it was God-ordained (Exodus 34:28)
    and apparently not Moses’ idea. Thanks for the keen observation. Jim Burgoon

  • If you don’t count the fast that Moses did in Exodus 34, then the first instance of fasting in the bible is in the book of Judges 20:26. The word fasted in Judges in Hebrew is the same one used in 1 Samuel 7:6 meaning that even before Samuels birth the practice of Fasting was already establish and commonly known.

  • Hi,
    The first mention of word Fast is here

    „Then all the people of Israel, the whole army, went up and came to Bethel and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.“
    ‭‭Judges‬ ‭20:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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