The Day
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The Day

The Day — in Hebrew, haYom, comes with the salutation: Yom Tov – “Yontev” in Yiddish – which means, Good Day. Good Morning would be Boker Tov, and Good Evening, Erev Tov. The Jewish day is reckoned from sunset to sunset – it starts with evening - that is because Genesis 1:5 tells us that when God had finished His first day of creation He announced "And it was evening and morning, one day." Therefore, based on this biblical passage, the Jewish reckoning of the day begins with evening, which we now reckon from the setting of the sun. To consolidate this concept, in Leviticus 23:32 where we read instructions on how to celebrate the holidays - which in the context of their observance are called Shabbats – this reckoning of the day is again reiterated, "From evening unto evening shall you observe your Shabbats."

The days of the week do not posses names, they are known by their number, Yom Rishon - First Day (Sunday), Yom Sheni - Second Day (Monday), Yom Shlishi – Third Day (Tuesday), Yom Revi’i – Fourth Day (Wednesday), Yom Chamishi – Fifth Day (Thursday), Yom Shishi – Sixth Day (Friday), with the exception of the seventh day which is called, Shabbat. This name was given based on Genesis 2:2-3: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He Shabbat on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it He had Shabbat from all his work which God created and made.”

The division of day in the Brit Chadashah – which still consisted of a mostly agrarian society - followed the same natural division based on the observance of the sun. Thus, daylight time was counted from the rising of the sun. We read in Mark 15:25: “And it was the third hour when they crucified Him (Yeshua).” The rising of the sun in the spring time at the Passover holiday was at approximately 6 a.m., thus, the third hour was meant to say that was around 9 o’clock in the morning. In verse 33 of the same chapter we read further: “And when the sixth hour had come, darkness fell over all the earth until the ninth hour" [this is a fulfillment of a prophecy from AMOS 8:9]. These two designations of time correspond to noon and 3 p.m. respectively. At this time of the year in spring, the day ends at around 6 p.m. The nighttime was divided in three-hour periods called watches: Luke 12:38 mentions a second and a third watch. People managed to somehow count the hours empirically for many, many decades because the mechanical clock was not developed until centuries later.

The Jewish day is also divided by its religious services, each part having its appropriate prayers based on the sacrificial service as established in the Temple time:

- Evening - Erev - Maariv Service;

- Morning - Boker - Shacharith Service;

- Afternoon - Tzaharaim - Minchah Service.

During the Babylonian captivity, we see Daniel practicing these tree-times daily prayers by kneeling towards Jerusalem, Daniel 6:10: “Now when Daniel… went into his house; his windows were open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, and he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.”

 

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