Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


Additional Links

Yôm (יוֹם, Strong's #3117), “daylight; day; time; moment; year.” This word also appears in Ugaritic, extrabiblical Hebrew or Canaanite (e.g., the Siloam inscription), Akkadian, Phoenician, and Arabic. It also appears in post-biblical Hebrew. Attested at every era of biblical Hebrew, yôm occurs about 2,304 times.

Yôm has several meanings. The word represents the period of “daylight” as contrasted with nighttime: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). The word denotes a period of twenty-four hours: “And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day …” (Gen. 39:10). Yôm can also signify a period of time of unspecified duration: “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made” (Gen. 2:3). In this verse, “day” refers to the entire period of God’s resting from creating this universe. This “day” began after He completed the creative acts of the seventh day and extends at least to the return of Christ. Compare Gen. 2:4: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day [beyôm] that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.…” Here “day” refers to the entire period envisioned in the first six days of creation. Another nuance appears in Gen. 2:17, where the word represents a “point of time” or “a moment”: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day [beyôm] that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Finally, when used in the plural, the word may represent “year”: “Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year [yamim]” (Exod. 13:10).

There are several other special nuances of  when it is used with various prepositions. First, when used with ke (“as,” “like”), it can connote “first”: “And Jacob said, Sell me this day [first] thy birthright” (Gen. 25:31). It may also mean “one day,” or “about this day”: “And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business …” (Gen. 39:11). On Joseph’s lips, the phrase connotes “this present result” (literally, “as it is this day”): “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Adonijah used this same phrase to represent “today”: “Let king Solomon swear unto me today that he will not slay his servant …” (1 Kings 1:51). Yet another nuance appears in 1 Sam. 9:13: “Now therefore get you up; for about this time ye shall find him.” When used with the definite article ha, the noun may mean “today” (as it does in Gen. 4:14) or refer to some particular “day” (1 Sam. 1:4) and the “daytime” (Neh. 4:16).

The first biblical occurrence of yôm is found in Gen. 1:5: “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” The second use introduces one of the most debated occurrences of the word, which is the duration of the days of creation. Perhaps the most frequently heard explanations are that these “days” are 24 hours long, indefinitely long (i.e., eras of time), or logical rather than temporal categories (i.e., they depict theological categories rather than periods of time).

The “day of the Lord” is used to denote both the end of the age (eschatologically) or some occurrence during the present age (non-eschatologically). It may be a day of either judgment or blessing, or both (cf. Isa. 2).

It is noteworthy that Hebrew people did not divide the period of daylight into regular hourly periods, whereas nighttime was divided into three watches (Exod. 14:24; Judg. 7:19). The beginning of a “day” is sometimes said to be dusk (Esth. 4:16) and sometimes dawn (Deut. 28:66-67).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Day'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. 1940.

Search for…
Enter query in the box below:
Choose a letter to browse:
Prev Entry