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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Day And Night

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"Day," יום , yōm ; ordinarily, the Hebrew "day" lasted from dawn to the coming forth of the starts (Nehemiah 4:21 ). The context usually makes it clear whether the term "day" refers to the period of twenty-four hours or to daytime; when there was a possibility of confusion, the term לילה , laylāh , "night," was added (Genesis 7:4 , Genesis 7:12 ; Genesis 31:39 ). The "day" is reckoned from evening to evening, in accordance with the order noted in the account of Creation, namely, "And there was evening and there was morning, one day" (Genesis 1:5 ); Leviticus 23:32 and Daniel 8:14 reflect the same mode of reckoning the day. The phrase ערב בּקר , ‛erebh bōker , "evening-morning," used in this last passage, is simply a variation of yōm and laylāh , "day" and "night"; it is the equivalent of the Greek νυχθήμερον , nuchthḗmeron (2 Corinthians 11:25 ). That the custom of reckoning the day as beginning in the evening and lasting until the following evening was probably of late origin is shown by the phrase "tarry all night" (Judges 19:6-9 ); the context shows that the day is regarded as beginning in the morning; in the evening the day "declined," and until the new day (morning) arrived it was necessary to "tarry all night" (compare also Numbers 11:32 ).

The transition of day to night begins before sunset and lasts till after sunset; the change of night to day begins before sunrise and continues until after sunrise. In both cases, neither ‛erebh , "evening," nor bōḳer , "morning," indicate an exact space of time (compare Genesis 8:11 ; Exodus 10:13 ; Deuteronomy 16:6 ). The term נשׁף , nesheph , is used for both evening twilight and morning dawn (compare 1 Samuel 30:17 ; 2 Kings 7:5 , 2 Kings 7:7 ; Job 7:4 ). Since there were no definite measurements of the time of day, the various periods were indicated by the natural changes of the day; Thus "midday" was the time of the day when the sun mounted its highest (צהרים , co̱hŏrāyim ); afternoon was that part of the day when the sun declined (נטות היּום , neṭōth ha -yōm ); and evening was the time of the going down of the sun (ערב , ‛erebh ). "Between the evenings" (בּין הערבּים , bēn hā -‛arbayim' was the interval between sunset and darkness. The day was not divided into hours until a late period. שׁעה , shā‛āh = Aramaic (Daniel 3:6 ), is common in Syriac and in later Hebrew; it denoted, originally, any short space of time, and only later came to be equivalent to our "hour" (Driver). The threefold division of the day into watches continued into post-exilic Roman times; but the Roman method of four divisions was also known (Mark 13:35 ), where all four divisions are referred to: "at even" (ὀψέ , opsé ), "midnight" (μεσονύκτιον , mesonúktion ), "at cock crowing" (ἀλεκτοροφωνία , alektorophōnı́a ), "in the morning" (πρωί , prōı́ ). These last extended from six to six o'clock (of also Matthew 14:25 ; Mark 13:35 ). Acts 12:4 speaks of four parties of four Roman soldiers (quaternions), each of whom had to keep guard during one watch of the night. In Berākhōth 3b , Rabbi Nathan (2nd century) knows of only three night-watches; but the patriarch, Rabbi Judah, knows four. See also DAY .


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Day And Night'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/d/day-and-night.html. 1915.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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