Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(properly יוֹם, yzm, ἡμέρα ). The variable length of the natural day ("ab exortu ad occasum solis," Censor. de Die Nat. 23) at different seasons led in the very earliest times to the adoption of the civil day (or one revolution of the sun). as a standard of time. The commencement of the civil day varied in different nations: the Babylonians (like the people of Nuremberg) reckoned it from sunrise to sunrise (Isidor. Orig. v. 30); the Umbrians from noon to noon; the Romans from midnight to midnight (Plin. 2:79); — the Athenians and others from sunset to sunset (Macrob. Saturn. 1:3; Gell. 3, 2). (See CHRONOLOGY).
The Hebrews adopted the latter reckoning (Leviticus 23:32, "from even to even shall ye celebrate your Sabbath"), which appears even in Genesis 1:5, "the evening and the morning were [on] the first day" (a passage which the Jews are said to have quoted to Alexander the Great, Gemara, Tamid, 66, 1; Reland, Ant. Hebrews 4:15). Some (as in Godwyn's Moses and Aaron) argue foolishly, from Matthew 28:1, that they began their civil day in the morning; but the expression ἐπιφωσκούση shows that the natural day is there intended. Hence the expression "evening-morning" = day (Daniel 8:14, Sept. νυχθήμερον ), the Hindoo ahoratra (Von Bohlen on Genesis 1:4), the Greek νυχθήμερον (2 Corinthians 11:25). There was a similar custom among the Athenians, Arabians, and ancient Teutons (Tac. Germ. 11, nec dierum numerum ut apud nos, sed noctium computant . . nox ducere diem videtur") and Celtic nations (Caesar, Bell. Gall. 6:18, "ut noctem dies subsequatur"). This mode of reckoning was widely spread; it is found in the Roman law (Gains, 1:112), in the Niebelungenlied, in the Salic law (inter decemn noctes), in our own terms "fortnight," "se'n-night" (see Orelli, etc. in loc. Tac.), and even among the Siamese ("they reckon by nights," Bowring, i, 137) and New Zealanders (Taylor's TeIka-Miaui, p. 20). No doubt this arose from the general notion "that the first day in Eden was 36 hours long" (Lightfoot's Works, 2:334, ed. Pitman; Hesiod, Theogon. 123; Aristoph. Av. 693; Wilkinson, Anc. Eg. 4:274). Kalisch plausibly refers it to the use of lunar years (Genesis p. 67). Sometimes, however, they reckoned from sunrise (ἡμερονύκτιον, comp. Psalms 1:2; Leviticus 7:15).
The less obvious starting-points of noon and midnight, the former adopted by the Etruscans, etc., the latter by the Roman priests, Egyptians (see, however, Lepsius, Chronol. p. 130), and others, were chosen either as the culminating points, as it were, of light and darkness, or for astronomical purposes (Ideler, Hb. d. Chron. 1:29, 80, 100 sq.; comp. Tacit. Germ. 11; Macrob. Sat. 33, etc.). To the Hebrews, the moon had distinctly been pointed out as the regulator of time (Psalms 104:19). Nevertheless, it has always been a moot point whether the Hebrews, at all times and in all respects, began their calendar or civil day with the night. (See Felseisen, De civili Judceorum die, Lpz. 1702; Federreuther, De diebus Egyptiacis, Altd. 1757.) It has been argued that, if this had been the case, the lawgiver could not have designated those very evenings which he wished to belong ritually to the following (15th, 10th) day, as the evenings of the previous (14th, 9th) day (Leviticus 1. c.). Further, that in common Biblical phraseology, the day is frequently mentioned before the night (Psalms 1:2, etc.); and that of the fast days mentioned in Zechariah 8:19, only one begins with the previous evening. Finally — not to mention other objections — it has been alleged that even in ritual points the Bible occasionally reckons the night as following, not as preceding the day (Leviticus 7:15). There seems, in fact, no other way of reconciling these apparent inconsistencies than to assume (comp. Mishnah, Chulin, v. 6) that no absolute rule had been laid down with respect to the commencement of the civil day, and that usage varied somewhat with the customs of the people where the Hebrews were for the time sojourning. The prevalent method of computation, however, is evinced by the fact that the Jewish civil day still begins, not with the morning, but the evening — thus the Sabbath commences with the sunset of Friday, and ends with the sunset of Saturday. That this was the case in Judaea in our Savior's day is evident from the evangelists' account of the Passion. In New England the same mode of reckoning the Sabbath was formerly common. (See FESTIVAL).
The Jews are supposed, like the modern Arabs, to have adopted from an early period minute specifications of the parts of the natural day (see Jour. Sac. Lit. Jan. 1862, p. 471). Roughly, indeed, they were content to divide it into "morning, evening, and noonday" (Psalms 55:17); but when they wished for greater accuracy they pointed to six unequal parts, each of which was again subdivided. These are held to have been:
(I.) Ne'sheph, נֶשֶׁ Š(from נָשִׁ Š, to blow), and shach'ar, שִׁחִר, or the dawn. After their acquaintance with Persia they divided this into (a) the time when the eastern and (b) when the western horizon was illuminated, like the Greek Leucothea — Matuta Ñ and Aurora; or "the gray dawn" (Milton) and the rosy dawn. Hence we find the dual Shaharaim as a proper name (1 Chronicles 8:8). The writers of the Jerus. Talmud divide the dawn into four parts, of which there was;
1. Aijeleth ha-shachar (q.v.), "the gazelle of the morning," a name by which the Arabians call the sun (comp. "eyelids of the dawn," Job 3:9; ἁμέρας βλέφαρον, Soph. Antig. 109). This was the time when Christ arose (Mark 16:2; John 20:1; Revelation 22:16; ἡ ἐπιφωσκούση, Matthew 28:1). The other three divisions of the dawn were,
2. "when one can distinguish blue from white" (πρωϊ v, σκοτίας ἔτι οὔσης, John 20:1; "obscurum adhuc cceptae lucis," Tacit. H. 4:2). At this time they began to recite the phylacteries.
3. When the east began to grow light (ὄρθρος βαθύς, Luke 24:1).
4. Twilight (λίαν πρωϊ v, ἀνατείλαντος τοῦ ἡλίου, Mark 16:2; Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad loc.). (See DAWN).
(II.) Bo'ker, בֹּקֶר, sunrise. Some suppose that the Jews, like other Oriental nations, commenced their civil day at this time until the Exodus (Jennings's Jewish Ant.). (See MORNING).
(III.) Chom hay-Yom', הֹם הִיּוֹם, "heat of the day" (Sept. ἕως διεθερμάνθη ἡ ἡμέρα, 1 Samuel 11:11; less exactly elsewhere μεσημβρία ), about 9 o'clock in the forenoon.
(IV.) Tsohora'yim, צָהַרִיַם, "the two noons" (Genesis 43:16; Deuteronomy 28:29). (See NOON).
(V.) Ru'ach hay-Yom', רוּחִ הִיּוֹם, "the cool (liter. wind) of the day," before sunset (Genesis 3:8); so called by the Persians to this day (Chardin, Voy. 4:8; Jahn, Bibl. Arch. § 29). (See AFTERNOON).
(VI.) E'reb, עֶרֶב "evening." The phrase "between the two evenings" (Exodus 16:12; Exodus 30:8), being the time marked for slaying the paschal lamb and offering the evening sacrifice (Exodus 12:6; Exodus 29:39), led to a dispute between the Karaites and Samaritans on the one hand, and the Pharisees on the other. The former took it to mean between sunset and full darkness (Deuteronomy 16:6); the Rabbinists explained it as the time between the beginning (δείλη πρωϊ v α, "little evening") and end of sunset (δ . ὀψία ), or real sunset; Josephus, War, 6:9, 3; Gesenius, s.v.; Jahn, Bibl. Archcaeol. § 101; Bochart, Hieroz. 1:558). (See EVENING).
(VII.) Chatsoth', חֲצוֹת (from חָצָה, "to divide"), midnight. In later Hebrew also mid-day (Mishna, Pesach, 4:1, 5, 6). (See MIDNIGHT).
Since the Sabbath was reckoned from sunset to sunset (Leviticus 23:32), the Sabbatarian Pharisees, in that spirit of scrupulous superstition which so often called forth the rebukes of our Lord, were led to settle the minutest rules for distinguishing the actual instant when the Sabbath began (ὀψία, Matthew 8:16 = ὅτε ἔδυ ὁ ἣλιος, Mark 1:32). They therefore called it the time between the actual sunset and the appearance of three stars (Maimon. in Shabb. c. 5; comp Nehemiah 4:21-22); and the Talmudists decided that "if on the evening of the Sabbath a man did any work after one star had appeared, he was forgiven; if after the appearance of two, he must offer a sacrifice for a doubtful transgression; if after three stars were visible, he must offer a sin-offering;" the order being reversed for works done on the evening after the actual Sabbath (Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad Matthew 8:16; Otho, Lex. Rab. s.v. Sabbathum). (See SUNSET).
Before the Captivity the Jews divided the night into three watches (Psalms 63:6; Psalms 90:4), viz. the first watch, lasting till midnight (Lamentations 2:19, A. V. "the beginning of the watches") =ἀρχὴ νυκτός; the "middle watch" (which proves the statement), lasting till cock-crow (Judges 7:19) = μέσον νυκτῶν; and the morning watch, lasting till sunrise (Exodus 14:24) = άμφιλύκη νύξ (Homer, II. 7:433). These divisions were probably connected with the Levitical duties in the Temple service. The Jews, however, say (in spite of their own definition, "a watch is the third part of the night") that they always had four night-watches (comp. Nehemiah 9:3), but that the fourth was counted as a part of the morning (Buxtorf's Lex. Talm. col. 2454; Carpzov, Appar. Crit. p. 347; Reland, Antiq. pt. 4, § 18). (See WATCH).
In the N.T. we have allusions to four watches, a division borrowed from the Greeks (Herod. 9:51) and Romans (φυλακή· τὸ τέταρτον μέρος τῆς νυκτός, Suid.). These were, 1. ὀψέ, ὀψία, or ὀψία é ρα, from twilight till 9 o'clock (Mark 11:11; John 20:19); 2. (μεσονύκτιον, midnight, from 9 till 12 o'clock (Mark 13:35); 3. ἀλεκτοροφωνία, till 3 in the morning (Mark 13:35; 3 Maccabees 5:23); 4. πρωϊ v, till daybreak, the same as πρωϊ v α (é ρα ) (John 18:28; Josephus, Ant. v. 6, 5; 18:9, 6). (See NIGHT).
The word held to mean "hour" is first found in Daniel 3:6; Daniel 3:15, Daniel 3:5 (שָׁעָה, shaah', also "a moment," Daniel 4:19). Perhaps the Jews, like the Greeks, learned from the Babylonians the division of the day into twelve parts (Herod. 2:109). In our Lord's time the division was common (John 11:9). It is probable that Ahaz introduced the first sun-dial from Babylon (ὡρολόγιον, מִעֲלוֹת, Isaiah 38:8; 2 Kings 20:11), as Anaximenes did the first σκιάθηρον into Greece (Jahn, Arch. § 101). Possibly the Jews at a later period adopted the clepsydra (Joseph. Ant. 11:6). The third, sixth, and ninth hours were devoted to prayer (Daniel 6:10; Acts 2:15; Acts 3:1, etc.). (See HOUR).
The days of the week had no proper names among the Hebrews, but were distinguished only by their numeral order from the Sabbath (see Lightfoot's Works, 2:334, ed. Pitman). (See WEEK).
The expression ἐπιούσιον, rendered "daily" in Matthew 6:11, is a ἃπ . λεγ ., and has been much disputed. It is unknown to classical Greek (ἔοικε πεπλάσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν Εὐαγγελιστῶν, Origen, Orat. 16). The Vulg. has supersubstantialem, a rendering recommended by Abelard to the nuns of the Paraclete. Theophyl. explains it as equivalent to sufficient (ὁ ἐπὶ τ א οὐσίᾷ καὶ συστάσει ἡμῶν αὐταρκής ), and he is followed by most commentators (compare Chrysost. Hom. in Or. Domin., Suid. and Etym. M. s.v.). Salmasius, Grotius, etc. arguing from the rendering מָחָרּ in the Nazarene Gospel, translate it as though it were equivalent to to-morrow's (τῆς ἐπιούσης ἡμέρας, or εἰς αὔριον, Sixt. Senensis Bibl. Sanct. p. 444 a). But see the question examined at length (after Tholuck) in Alford's Greek Test. ad loc; Schleusner, Lex. s.v.; Wetstein, N.T. i, p. 461, etc. (See DAILY). In Ezekiel 4:4-6, a day is put symbolically for a year. Erroneously supposing this statement to be a precedent, many interpreters of the prophecies have taken it for granted that one day stands for a year in the prophetic writings of Daniel and John. Such, however, is not the case; -the word day is to be taken in its literal sense, unless the context expressly intimates the contrary. On the prophetic or year-day system (Leviticus 25:3-4; Numbers 14:34), see a treatise in Elliot's Hor. Apoc. 3, 154, sq., and Prof. Stuart on "The Designations of Time in the Apocalypse," Bib. Repository, v. 33-83. (See YEAR).
The ancients superstitiously held that certain days were lucky (fasti) and others unlucky (nefasti), and the distinction was sometimes indicated by different colors in the calendar (‘ red-calendar" or rubric). (See CALENDAR).
The duration of the Mosaic or demiurgic days of Genesis 5-31, has been a matter of considerable dispute. The various opinions on this subject, and the difficulties in which most of them are involved, are stated under the head of CREATION (See CREATION) . See also the articles (See COSMOGONY); (See SABBATH); (See MILLENNIUM); the Methodist Quarterly Review, April, 1865; Evangelical Quarterly Review, January, 1868 (art. Geology).
The word day is often used by the sacred writers to denote an indefinite time (Genesis 2:4; Isaiah 22:5). The "day of temptation in the wilderness" was forty years (Hebrews 3:8). The "day of the Lord" signifies, generally, a time of calamity and distress (Isaiah 2:12; Joel 2:11). It is also used of a festal day (Hosea 7:5), a birthday (Job 3:1), a day of ruin (Hosea 1:11; Job 18:20; comp. tempus, tempora reipublicae, Cic., and dies Cannensis), the judgment-day (Joel 1:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:2), the kingdom of Christ (John 8:56; Romans 13:12), and in other senses which are mostly self- explaining (see Wemyss, Symbol. Dict. s.v.). In 1 Corinthians 4:3, ὑπὸ ἀνθρωπίνης ἡμέρας is rendered ‘ by man's judgment:" Jerome (ad Algas. Quaest. x) considers this a Cilicism (Bochart, Hieroz. 2:471). On Romans 13:12, there are two treatises — Kuinol, Explicatio (Giess. 1808); Rachm, De nocte et die (Tubingen, 1764). (See TIME).
The phrases "LAST DAY" (or days), "THAT DAY," are "the general formula of the prophets for an indefinitely left future opened up in perspective" (Stier, Words of Jesus, 2:361, Am. ed.), designating the Messianic period, with its introductory age, that of the Maccabees (after the return from exile), and its consummation in the millennium. (See ESCHATOLOGY). In a more literal and limited sense, the final judgment is designated. (See LAST DAY).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Day'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/d/day.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.