I have to confess up front that this side of eternity, I will probably never buy in to the belief that the day begins in the evening. I pretty much settled in on my position in 2017 after doing some research. However, I stumbled upon information recently that compelled me to write this article. Believe me, I am not trying to stir up contention among my brothers and sisters in the faith. What I am presenting here is an explanation based on research as to how I came to this conclusion. I invite your comments and am open to hearing your position on the matter if you disagree. Let’s dive in, shall we.
In The Beginning
The creation narrative begins with a chaotic earth immersed in darkness. Then Yahuah says, “Let there be light: and there was light.” Yah separated the light from darkness and told us that the light was a good thing.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Ruach Elohiym moved on upon the face of the waters. And Elohiym said, Let there be light: and there was light. And Elohiym saw the light, that it was good: And Elohiym divided the light from the darkness.Genesis 1:2-4 Cepher
Why did Yah declare the light to be good? When trying to answer this question we have to go back to the Hebrew where the word translated as good is tov (טוב). The meaning implies that the light is functional. The word for light is or (אור). Or has several meanings, depending on the context. In this case it is associated with illumination.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path..Psalm 119:105
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.Isaiah 9:3
The righteous and faithful Simeon, full of the Word, was enlightened. He had eyes that saw the promised Messiah. And because he understood prophecy, he could fully comprehend how Yeshua’s light would be able to save not just Hebrews but people of all nations.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.Luke 2:30-32
The word darkness (choshek) means obscurity, and figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, or wickedness. The primitive root of choshek is chashak which means to be or become dark, grow dim; to hide, conceal or obscure.
When Yeshua began his ministry in Galilee, he came face to face with people who were unable to fully understand Yah or His Kingdom. The message of the Gospel of the Kingdom was obscured or confused due to years of bad theology. This is why Yeshua’s teaching was so earth shattering. Through the Ruach Elohiym (Spirit of Elohim) Messiah brought illumination to their minds that enabled them to comprehend the fullness of the Gospel message.
When Yeshua heard that John had been imprisoned, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which is by the sea in the region of Zebulun and Naptali, to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles — the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. From that time on Yeshua began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”Matthew 4: 12-17
When Does A Day Begin?
And Elohim called the light day, and the darkness He called night, and there was evening, and there was morning, day one.Genesis 1:5
Day. How can one three letter word imply so many meanings? If you searched the definition of this noun, here is a sampling of what the results will return:
- the interval of light between two successive nights
- the time between sunrise and sunset
- the portion of a day allotted to work
- the light of day; daylight
- each of the 24 hour periods, reckoned from one midnight to the next, into which a week, month or year is divided [and corresponding to a rotation of the earth on its axis.1]
- the time between sunrise and sunset
However, the consensus among modern definitions of the word “day” seems to be either —
- a time existing between the rising and setting of the sun, or
- a period of 24 hours corresponding to a single revolution of the sun around [the fixed, stationary] earth. 2
Most followers of rabbinical Judaism believe the day begins at night. Meir M. Ydit, writing for the Conservative Judaism Journal in 1981, asserts that the Jewish rendering of a day beginning in the evening is not based on Scripture, but on customs and historical changes.
In the Jewish tradition it is customary to count the day from the onset of night (i.e., the visibility of three stars in the sky) until after the sunset of the following day. Thus the halakhic ruling: Halailah nimshakh aharei hayom, the night follows (i.e., is part of the day which comes after it. This method of counting was based upon the language of the Bible in the creation story (Gen. 1) where it says several times “and it was evening, and it was morning, the first (second, third, etc.) day.” Because of the language of the Bible, in which the evening is antecedent to the morning, it was reasoned that in the counting of the unit “day” the evening is reckoned to belong to the day which comes after it. However, a more precise scrutiny of this test shows that the opposite is true…But we should know that this time-honored custom which we regard and accept as obligatory evolved gradually and is the result of historical changes.The Counting of ‘Day’ and ‘Night’, by Meir M. Ydit, Conservative Judaism Journal, Vol. 35, No.1, Fall 1981, The Rabbinical Assembly,
So, What Does Scripture Say?
When Yah separated the light from the darkness, this action also divided “time” into day and night. Let’s examine the two foremost luminaries and understand their purpose and function.
Then Yahuah made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.Genesis 1:16
How does Scripture define the term “day” from a traditional (non-Jewish) Hebraic perspective? To find out, we will go back to Genesis.
And Elohim called the light ‘day’ and the darkness He called ‘night.’ And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, one day.Genesis 1:5, The Scriptures TS 2009
Jeff Benner’s translation reads like this:
5 and~he~will~CALL.OUT(Verb) (וַיִּקְרָא / wai’yiq’ra) Elohiym (אֱלֹהִים / e’lo’him) to~LIGHT (לָאוֹר / la’or) DAY (יוֹם / yom) and~to~DARKNESS (וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ / wê’la’hho’shekh) he~did~CALL.OUT(Verb) (קָרָא / qa’ra) NIGHT (לָיְלָה / lai’lah) and~he~will~EXIST(Verb) (וַיְהִי / wai’hi) EVENING (עֶרֶב / e’rev) and~he~will~EXIST(Verb) (וַיְהִי / wai’hi) MORNING (בֹקֶר / vo’qer) DAY (יוֹם / yom) UNIT (אֶחָד / e’hhad)
which, reads like this in English:
“and Elohiym called out to the light, day…and to the darkness he called out, night…and evening existed and morning existed: a day unit.”
Christian Standard Bible
God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” There was an evening, and there was a morning: one day.
International Standard Version
calling the light “day,” and the darkness “night.” The twilight and the dawn were day one.
New American Standard 1977
And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
It seems to me that Genesis 1:5 is saying the 24 hour period we generically refer to as a day consists of 4 parts: morning, day, evening and night. They are one unit. In my humble opinion, I do not believe the verse is saying that a day begins at night.
Morning = H1242
boker: dawn (as the break of day); generally morning: — day, day, early, morning, morrow
Day = H3117
yom: from an unused root meaning to be hot; a dry (as the warm hours),
Evening = H6153
erev: dusk — day, even, evening, evening tide, even tide, night.
from H6150 arab, a primitive root; to grow dusky at sundown: — be darkened, evening, toward evening.
H6151 arab, commingle: — mingle, mingle self, mix.
Night = H3915
layil: a twist (away of the light); i.e. night; figuratively adversity: — night, midnight, night season.
Here are a few Scripture verses that distinguish day from night.
|2 Samuel 2:32||And they brought Ash’el and buried him in his father’s burial-site, which was in Beyth Lehem. and Yo’ab and his men went all night, and they came to Hebron at daybreak.|
|Exodus 18: 13,14||And it came to be, on the next day; that Mosheh sat to rightly rule the people. And the people stood before Mosheh from morning until evening.|
|Judges 16:2||…the Azzathites saying, “Shimshon has come here!” So they went round and lay in wait for him all night at the gate of the city, and kept silent all night, saying, “In the morning, when it is daylight, then we shall kill him”|
|Judges 19:9||And the man arose to go, he and his concubine and his servant. But his father-in-law, the young woman’s father said to him, “See, the day is now drawing toward evening. Please spend the night. See, the day is coming to an end. Stay here, and let your heart be glad. And you shall rise early tomorrow for your journey, and you shall go to your tent.”|
|Luke 24:29||But they pleaded with Him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day* is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.|
*2250. hémera — definition: day; usage: a day, the period from sunrise to sunset.
Clear as Night and Day
Based on my understanding and research, morning + day + evening + night = the four parts of one 24 hour day.
The disciples said to him, “Teacher, the Yahudim were seeking just now to stone you, and are you going there again?” Yeshua replied, Are there not twelve hours in the day. If anyone walks around in the daylight, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks around in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.John 11: 8-10
This statement by our Messiah is as clear as day.
For many years the tags “and there was evening, and there was morning, day X” threw me into a state of confusion. But when you add evening and morning, you have a 24 hour “day unit.” Thanks be to Elohim, that He is not the author of confusion, but clarity that comes by walking in the light of Torah.
It is my position that evening, by definition, concludes the day(time) hours and always follows a period of light. This means that “day” commenced first (following morning) and nighttime was preceded by evening — making a full 24 hour day. So, a day (governed by the greater light of the sun) cannot begin in the evening, when the day ends and the moon (the lesser light) takes over to rule the night.
When speaking of the Day of Yahuah, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy told believers in Thessalonica:
You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness.
If we are children of the light, why would our Father tell us to begin each day in darkness?
1 Based on the heliocentric globe model of earth. See The Gospel Worth Dying For, Chapter 7, “Biblical Cosmography.”
2 Based on geocentric biblical cosmology.
Brenda Ross is a co-author of the book, “The Gospel Worth Dying For.” She enjoys writing, cooking, reading, and almost anything Sci-Fi. Her craving for learning new things will not be satisfied until she learns how to play the acoustic guitar. Brenda loves meeting new friends and spreading the message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Very well written! I 100% agree with your conclusion based on scripture. The main arguments I have seen for reckoning a day beginning at evening are, that there was “darkness” on the face of the deep prior to the creation of light, and the 2 feast days that we are specifically told the begin in the evening. I don’t find these to be good arguments but those are the ones I see most of the time.
Thank you Amanda! I have wanted to write this article for some time now but wanted to be secure in my position. Please feel free to share a link to this article with anyone in your circle of friends who may find the information useful.