n the beginning of creation, when God created man, He immediately gave the command to fast and like a caring mother and excellent teacher, entrusted his salvation.
(St. John Chrysostom).
Many Church Fathers, particularly St. Basil the Great, maintain that fasting was legislated in Paradise
itself through the commandment God gave to Adam and Eve forbidding them to eat from “the tree of theknowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:16
-17). St. Basil writes characteristically:
“No, go back through history and inquire into the ancient origins of fasting. It is not a recent invention;
it is a heirloom handed down by our fathers. Everything distinguished by antiquity is venerable. Haverespect for the antiquity of fasting.
It is as old as humanity itself; it was prescribed in Paradise.
the first commandment Adam received: „Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ye shall not eat.‟
Through the words „ye shall not eat‟ the law of fasting and abstinence is laid down.”
God Himself gave the commandment for a strict daily fast to Moses. This is the fast that occurredduring the Day of Atonement Feast; Yom Kippur (Lev. 16:29-30; 23:27-33). It comprises the only fastthat Mosaic Law orders and it was very strict; truly no eating. The Israelites wanted to atone God for theirsins with this fast.After the Babylonian captivity, other regular fasts were also fixed in memory of the great religious andnational events or various calamities (i.e. for the contrition of Moses of the two stone tablets of the Law[Ex. 32]; for the
Jerusalem‟s capture by the Babylonians [4 Kgs. 24
-25; 2 Chron. 36; Jer. 52:4, LXX],when the Temple of Solomon was set on fire [2 Chron. 36:19; Zach. 7:3], etc.).There were also temporary/extra fast days apart from the appointed fasts commemorated in the OldTestament. In the epoch of the Judges, a fast for the slaughter of thousands of Israelites by the sons of Benjamin occurred (Jdgs. 20:26). The Israelites for the unexpected death of their King, Saul (1 Kgs.
31:13). Still, David and his men fasted when they learned of the death of Saul‟s and his sons (2 Kgs. 1:11
-12).In the Old Testament, we also have individual, private fasts apart from the temporaray/extra fasts of theIsraelite nation or some group of people. For example, the Prophet Moses fasted 40 days and 40 nights on
top of Mount Sinai when he was about to receive the 10 Commandments from God: “he did n
bread, nor drink water,” as the Book of Exodus mentions (34:28).
The Prophet Elias fasted “forty daysand forty nights” as he proceeded to “Mount Choreb” (3 Kgs. 19:8
“If fasting was a necessity in Paradise, it is much more a necessity outs
ide of Paradise. If fasting was an
useful medicine before the traumatism, it is much more useful after the traumatism”
The Prophet Daniel also submitted to a strict fast. He says about himself: “
In those days I Daniel wasmourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, and no flesh or wine entered into my mouth, neitherdid I anoint myself with oil, until thre
e whole weeks were accomplished” (Daniel 10:2
-3). The inhabitants
of Nineveh responded to the Prophet Jonah‟s sermon with fasting and repentance: “
And the men of Nineve believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sack cloths, from the greatest of them to the least
of them” (Jonas 3:5). Thus they escaped destruction.