AN EXAMINATION INTO WHEN THE SABBATH BEGINS
THIS IS NOT A 12 HOUR SABBATH STUDY NOR LUNAR!
This is by no means to be a contentious article or to cause division; for most Messianic believers have all come from one form of Christianity or other, and are each of us, walking in the light we have received.
If we are seeking, He says we will find and He will reveal Himself to those who show their love by keeping His commandments (John 14:21).
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Most of us who have come out from Christianity, following traditions of man and honouring the first day of the week rather than the seventh look to Israel and seek the Jewish roots because we assumed they are keeping the First Covenant to the letter.
What we really find is that the Israelis of today have their own traditions which, according to Talmud, are above Scripture. Some of the traditions within Judaism are simply inherited from the Pagan nations that they were assimilated into during the exile in Babylon and Assyria. Some of these traditions include: naming months after false gods (Tammuz, Nisan, Siwan), replacing the Name of Yahweh with “Adonai”, etc. It should come as no surprise because Yahushua, himself saved some of His most scathing rebukes for the “experts” in the Torah. The Yisra’ĕlites also had an earlier form of writing which changed to the Babylonian style of modern Aramaic we know today.
The truth is, that there is only one truth! “Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17) So, there is no point in looking to others to find how to please Yahweh. He has given us the truth in His Word.
For the Jews, the Shabbat traditionally starts at evening, when the sun has gone down, and ends 24 hours later. This is what a number of Messianics follow in regard to the Sabbath. Let’s examine the Scriptures and see where the truth is.
The best place to start is at the start. What does the creation in Genesis reveal?
Genesis: chapter 1:1-5
“1 In the beginning Elohim created the shamayim and the earth. 2 And the earth came to be formless and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Ruaḥ̣ of Elohim was moving on the face of the waters.3 And Elohim said, “Let light come to be,” and light came to be. 4 And Elohim saw the light, that it was good. And Elohim separated the light from the darkness. 5 And Elohim called the light ‘day’ (yom)and the darkness He called ‘night.’ And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, day one.”
Note: The Light was not sunlight for the first 3 days and 3 nights, this is a picture of Yahushua, in the earth.
John 12:46 “I am come as a light into the world…”
We know that the “light” (Yahushua) was the first creation:
“15 …who is the likeness of the invisible Elohim, the first-born of all creation. 16 Because in Him were created all that are in the shamayim and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or rulerships or principalities or authorities – all have been created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all, and in Him all hold together.”
LIGHT=Or=Yom, DARKNESS=Night=Layelah, EVENING=Erev, MORNING=Boker, FIRST=Echad.
Hebrew is cyclic rather than linear thinking.
Erev = mixing or a blending. You can’t have it without both Light and darkness, which means the Light was there prior to the darkness.
Morning = Boker, boker is a breaking, dividing, separation, delineation or demarcation
All was stated as happening in order, then boker occurs, and that was the Echad or unified day. This is not the word Rishone for first.
So, to simplify:
The daylight part of a 24 hour period is called “DAY” (Hebrew: YOM).
EVENING (EREV) =Mixing of the Light and darkness after sunset
MORNING (BOKER) =break of day, which is the sun breaking the horizon.
Note: It is true that “yom” can mean an undefined period of time unless it is defined, as it is in the Genesis account (“there came to be evening and there came to be morning”)
This account of day one is no different than describing the age of a child. You are not one year old to you have lived a whole year. Likewise, Genesis describes the events that took place, then night to morning an is called “the first day.”
The six day creation defines for us when a day starts:
In the beginning there is nothingness, or darkness, then Elohim creates light and calls it “day”. That is the start. Scripture states that evening came, then morning (start of the next day), that was the first day.
The creation process continues like this for six days:
DAY (Create) – EVENING – MORNING. It’s really that simple. A day is morning to morning.
At the end of the six days of creation we read:
“1 Thus the shamayim and the earth were completed, and all their array. 2 And on the seventh day (yom)Elohim completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day (yom) from all His work which He had made. 3 And Elohim baruḵ the seventh day (yom) and qadosh it, because on it He rested from all His work which Elohim in creating had made.”
So to clarify when a day starts, scripture informs that Elohim rested and blessed the SEVENTH DAYLIGHT PERIOD (YOM). Not the sixth night!
This is NOT saying a day is 12 hours. A full “day” in the creation account is defined as 24 hours starting in the morning.
If you believe that “there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the first day” supports a day beginning in the evening then you must believe that a day is 12 hours. As we will see from Scripture this is not the case.
WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURES?
As we continue through Scripture, we find many narratives that define a 24 hour day beginning in the morning, The following are some of the most straightforward:
“16 And Elohim made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, and the stars.”
Note: Why would Yahweh start a day with the ‘lesser light’?
“18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness…”
Note: The order: day – night, light – darkness…
“33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the first-born went in and lay with her father, and he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she arose. 34 And it came to be on the next day that the first-born said to the younger, “See, I lay with my father last night.”
Note: The “next” day followed the night.
“13 And Mosheh stretched out his rod over the land of Mitsrayim, and YHWH brought an east wind on the land all that day and all that night. Morning came, and the east wind brought the locusts.”
Note: “that day” belongs to “that night”, then the “Morning came”
“22 And it came to be, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Mosheh. 23 And he said to them, “This is what YHWH has said, ‘Tomorrow is a rest, a Shabbath qadosh to YHWH. That which you bake, bake; and that which you cook, cook. And lay up for yourselves all that is left over, to keep it until morning.’ ” 24 And they laid it up till morning, as Mosheh commanded. And it did not stink, and no worm was in it. 25 And Mosheh said, “Eat it today, for today is a Shabbath to YHWH, today you do not find it in the field. 26 “Gather it six days, but on the seventh day, which is the Shabbath, there is none.” 27 And it came to be that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.”
Note: Yahweh said “Tomorrow” was Sabbath, then “morning” comes and Mosheh said “eat it today, for today is a Sabbath”.
“13 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.”
Note: the “next day” starts in the “morning.”
“5 And Aharon saw and built an altar before it. And Aharon called out and said, “Tomorrow is a festival to YHWH” 6 And they rose early on the next day, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
Note: Aaron said “tomorrow” is a festival and the “next day” they “rose early.” You don’t rise at night.
“20 This is the offering of Aharon and his sons, which they bring near to YHWH beginning on the daywhen he is anointed: one-tenth of an ĕphah of fine flour as a daily grain offering, half of it in the morningand half of it at night.”
Note: The offering was to be brought to Yahweh in “the morning”, the “beginning of the day.”
“15 As for the flesh of the slaughtering of his peace offering for thanksgiving, it is eaten the same day it is offered, he does not leave any of it until morning.”
Note: How can you eat your peace offering “the same day” and “not leave any of it till morning” if your day starts at night!?
“32 And the people were up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail. He who has least gathered ten omers. And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp.”
Note: “that day” belongs to “that night,” then the “next day” comes
“6 And Yahoshua tore his garments, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of YHWH until evening, both he and the elders of Yisra’ĕl, and they put dust on their heads… 10 And YHWH said to Yahoshua, “Rise up! Why are you lying on your face?… 13 “Rise up, qadosh the people, and you shall say, ‘Qadosh yourselves for tomorrow, because thus said YHWH Elohim of Yisra’ĕl, “That which is under the ban is in your midst…”
Note: It was already “evening” when Yahweh told Yahoshua to set themselves apart for “tomorrow,” so a day cannot begin at evening.
“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.”
Note: Rising “early tomorrow” implies the start of the day being morning. You will never see the words “early, at night…”
“And Shemu’ĕl answered Sha’ul and said, “I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today. And tomorrow I shall let you go and make known to you all that is in your heart…26 And they rose early. And it came to be about the dawning of the day that Shemu’ĕl called to Sha’ul on the roof, saying, “Rise, so that I send you on your way.”
Note: Rising “early” at “the dawning of the day” again equates the start of the day being morning.
1 Samuel 19:10-11
“10 and Sha’ul sought to smite the spear through Dawid, and into the wall, but he slipped away from the presence of Sha’ul, so he smote the spear into the wall. And Dawid fled and escaped that night. 11 And Sha’ul sent messengers to Dawid’s house to watch him and to put him to death in the morning. And Mikal, Dawid’s wife, informed him, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you are put to death.”
Note: Again, It was already “night” when Mikal told Dawid to flee for “in the morning,” or “tomorrow” he was to be killed, so a day cannot begin at evening.
1 Samuel 28:8-19
“8 And Sha’ul disguised himself and put on other garments, and went, he and two men with him. And they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Please divine for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name.”… 11 So he said, “Bring up Shemu’ĕl for me.”… 16 Then Shemu’ĕl said, “And why do you ask me, seeing YHWH has turned aside from you and has become your enemy?… 19 “Further, YHWH also gives Yisra’ĕl with you into the hand of the Pelishtites. And tomorrow you and your sons are with me. YHWHalso gives the army of Yisra’ĕl into the hand of the Pelishtites.”
Note: If Sha’ul came at “night” how could fight the Philistines “tomorrow”?
1 Samuel 30:17
“17 And Dawid smote them from twilight until the evening of the next day. And none of them escaped, except four hundred young men who rode on camels and fled.”
Note: If a day were from evening to evening the Scripture would not read “the next day.”
2 Samuel 24:13-15
“13 Gad then came to Dawid and informed him. And he said to him, “Should seven years of scarcity of food come to you in your land? Or would you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or should there be three days’ plague in your land? Now know and see what answer I take back to Him who sent me.” 14 And Dawid said to Gad, “I am in great trouble. Please let us fall into the hand of YHWH, for His compassion is great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 15 And YHWH sent a plague upon Yisra’ĕl from the morning till the appointed time, and from Dan to Be’ĕrsheba seventy thousand men of the people died.”
Note: The “three day” plague started in the “morning,” not at night.
“22 The kindnesses of YHWH! For we have not been consumed, For His compassions have not ended. 23They are new every morning, Great is Your trustworthiness.”
Note: “new every morning,” because morning is a new day.
“6 And YHWH Elohim appointed a plant and made it come up over Yonah, to be a shade for his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Yonah greatly rejoiced over the plant. 7 But as morning dawned the next day Elohim appointed a worm which attacked the plant so that it withered.”
Note: “morning” starts the “next day.”
“7 And it shall be one day which is known to YHWH, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.”
Note: A 24 hour day is mentioned here with the day preceding the night.
NEW COVENANT DAY START
“1 Now after the Shabbath, toward dawn on one of the shabbathoth, Miryam from Magdala and the other Miryam came to see the tomb.”
When examining the Greek text of Matthew 28 it is quite enlightening what it actually reads: οψε (Now after the) δε σαββατων (shabbath,) τη επιφωσκουση (toward dawn…)
The first word ‘opse’ (οψε) reads this in the Strong’s: G3796
ὀψέ – opse – op-seh’ From the same as G3694 (through the idea of backwardness); (adverbially) late in the day; by extension after the close of the day: – (at) even, in the end.
What this is saying literally is: “At the close of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn…”
Note: In all these examples the Sabbath ended at “dawn.”
“2 And very early on one of the shabbathoth, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.”
“1 And on one of the shabbathoth, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared”
Note: – John 20:1 “And on one of the shabbathoth Miryam from Magdala came early to the tomb, while it was still dim, and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.” Most translations translate the words “still dim” as “still dark” which would make the account inconsistent with the other three! In fact, the Greek word “skotia“ Strong’s# 4653 primarily means ‘dim.’
“16 And when evening came, His talmidim went down to the sea, 17 and entering into the boat, they were going over the sea toward Kephar Nahum. And it had already become dark, and Yahushua had not yet come to them. 18 And the sea was rising because a great wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about five or six kilometres, they saw Yahushua walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were afraid. 20 And He said to them, “It is I, do not be afraid.” 21 They wished therefore to take Him into the boat, and at once the boat was at the land where they were going. 22 On the next day…”
Note: This is straightforward. It was already dark at night when these things took place… the the next day.
John 13:27-30 “And after the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Yahushua, therefore, said to him, ”What you do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the table knew why He said this to him, 29 for some were supposing, because Yahudah had the bag, that Yahushua was saying to him, ”Buy what we need for the Festival,” or that he should give somewhat to the poor. 30 So, having received the piece of bread, he then went out straightaway, and it was night.”
Note: Why would the disciples even be thinking that Yahushua would be asking Yahudah to BUY if the Festival of Unleavened Bread had started that night? It would be considered a High Sabbath on which no one would buy or sell! The obvious fact is that the Festival started in the MORNING on the 15th.
“3 And they arrested them, and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening.”
Note: Again dark, then the next day.
“9 And in the night a vision appeared to Sha’ul: A man of Makedonia was standing, begging him and saying, “Come over to Makedonia and help us.” 10 And when he saw the vision, immediately we sought to go to Makedonia, concluding that the Master had called us to bring the Good News to them. 11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrakĕ, and the next day came to Neapolis.”
Note: The next day follows the night yet again…
“31 So the soldiers, as they were commanded, took Sha’ul and brought him by night to Antipatris. 32 And on the next day they left the horsemen to go on with him, and returned to the barracks.”
Note: Again, the next day follows the night.
Having the night as the first part of the day seems to be a reversal of many of Yahushua’s parables which He describes Himself as the us as “light of the world” (Jn 8:12, Jn 9:5, Jn 12:46, etc.) and we should “walk in the light” and “not in darkness” (Jn 8:12, Jn 11:9-10, Jn 12:35, Jn 9:4, etc.)
Many of the New Covenant letters likewise use similar parables.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
“5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.”
See also: Rom 13:12-13, Eph 5:8, 1Thess 5:7-8. Why start a day when we all sleep?
With so many Scriptural references defining the day and when it begins, one wonders what compels some to hold to the traditions of the evening to evening Sabbath? To be fair there are a couple of references that can cause confusion if taken out of context.
“26 And YHWH spoke to Mosheh, saying, 27 “On the tenth day of this seventh month is Yom ha’Kippurim. It shall be a qodesh gathering for you. And you shall afflict your beings, and shall bring an offering made by fire to YHWH 28 “And you do no work on that same day, for it is a Yom ha’Kippurim, to make atonement for you before YHWH Elohim. 29 “For any being who is not afflicted on that same day, he shall be cut off from his people. 30 “And any being who does any work on that same day, that being I shall destroy from the midst of his people. 31 “You do no work – a Law forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 ‘It is a Shabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your beings. On the ninth dayof the month at evening, from evening to evening, you observe your Shabbath.”
It is quite clear in the context of this Law that the Sabbath for the day of atonement differs from other Sabbaths, in that Yahweh Specified this particular High Sabbath to be kept from evening to evening. Notice that Yahweh makes it clear by numbering the days; that the day of atonement is on the “tenth day” but the fast commences on the “ninth day” at evening.
Why would Yahweh Command us to start the fast on the ninth day at evening if the tenth day started at evening anyhow? It also makes sense to keep this fast this way, as some children may find it difficult waking; having not eaten all night, to fast throughout the day and then another night; a total 72 hours.
Another exception is the night of the Passover in which Yahweh led His people out of Egypt:
“5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, is the Pesaḥ to YHWH.”
One glaring problem of the evening to evening observance is that it is impossible to celebrate your passover on the evening of the 14th and eat your celebration meal “that night”!
If your “day” starts in the evening then celebrate at night, then you have passed into the 15th according to an evening to evening reckoning…
“6 And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then all the assembly of the congregation of Yisra’ĕl shall kill it between the evenings. 7 ‘And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. 8 ‘And they shall eat the flesh on that night, roasted in fire – with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.”
Note: This whole Festival takes place on the one day of the 14th, starting “between the evenings” and continuing that night!
Some express difficulty in correlating the morning to morning reckoning with the Passover, yet the timing of this important festival is not defining when a day starts or ends; Yahweh simply wants us to honour the feast on the night of the 14th because that is the time He led His people out of Mitsrayim…
“1 Guard the month of Aḇiḇ, and perform the Pesaḥ to YHWH your Elohim, for in the month of Aḇiḇ
YHWH your Elohim brought you out of Mitsrayim by night.”
“6…you slaughter the Pesaḥ in the evening, at the going down of the sun, at the Appointed Time you came out of Mitsrayim.”
The Feast of unleavened Bread follows on from the Passover and we are also commanded to remove leaven from our homes from that night:
“18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month in the evening.”
Something to take into account: If someone keeps Passover at the “beginning” of the 14th (end of the 13th), they sit with 8 days of unleavended bread, where the command is clear to eat unleavened bread from the eating of the Pesach for 7 days. Ex. 12:15, 19; 13:6,7; 23:15; 34:18; Lev. 23:6; Num. 28:17 ; Deut. 17:8. Most importantly:
Deuteronomy. 16: 2-3
“2 And you shall slaughter the Pesaḥ to YHWH your Elohim, from the flock and the herd, in the place where YHWH chooses to put His Name. 3 “Eat no leavened bread with it. For seven days you eat unleavened bread with it, bread of affliction…”
Note: This suggests that Passover is the start of the 7 day unleavened bread period, which is a continuous 7 day period and not an 8 day period.
The festival of Unleavened bread simply cannot begin at sundown after the Passover as Scripture commands the leftovers to be burnt “before morning” which involves kindling a fire; something forbidden on a Sabbath.
For a detailed article and comparison of the different traditions of celebrating Pesach, click the link below:
Another apparent anomaly is:
“18 Did not your fathers do the same so that our Elohim brought all this evil on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Yisra’ĕl by profaning the Shabbath.” 19 And it came to be, at the gates of Yerushalayim, as it began to be dark before the Shabbath, that I commanded the gates to be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened till after the Shabbath. And I stationed some of my servants at the gates, so that no burdens would be brought in on the Shabbath day. 20 And the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares spent the night outside Yerushalayim once or twice, 21 and I warned them, and said to them, “Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I lay hands on you!” From that time on they came no more on the Shabbath.”
“As it began to be dark before the Shabbath” could infer that Sabbath starts when the sun goes down, but does not have to be the case. Against the weight of all other Scripture it would be foolish to base your Sabbath on this one verse. In fact, it was customary to close the gates at night and earlier in Nehemyah we see why they were closing the gates:
“3 And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Yerushalayim be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are standing by, let them shut the doors and bolt them. And appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Yerushalayim, each at his post, and each in front of his own house.”
Nehemyah had ordered them to shut the gates at night anyhow and were not to be opened “until the sun was hot”, and as we can see from the context of the Scripture, Nehemyah did not want the Sabbath profaned by merchants carrying in their wares and selling on the day of rest. The merchants undoubtedly travelled on the sixth day and arrived toward the end of the day, so Nehemyah simply shut the gates on them.
Notice also the text, “Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again, I lay hands on you!” “Laying hands” on someone (obviously forcefully) is not something one would do on the Sabbath which tends to infer that the evening they arrived was not when the Sabbath commenced.
It should also be noted that this all took place after more than 150 years of captivity in Babylon which, as stated is where the Yisra’ĕlites had absorbed so many of the Babylonian traditions (see references below). It is unlikely but this may well be the first account of an evening to evening Sabbath.
There are also a great number of Scriptures that declare uncleanliness till evening and certain events taking place before evening that could add to the error of assumption that a day starts in the evening. None of these Scriptures actually state this, and it is common sense to be made clean at evening so the persons may come into the camp to spend the night, as it was unlawful for an unclean person to come into the camp. More importantly, if the next day were a Sabbath an individual would not be able to participate in any qodesh assembly and would have to wait for the next evening.
Some see evidence that this is how the Pharisees, instituting an evening to evening day created a “fence law” around this.
It was for this reason that dead bodies were removed before evening (Josh 8:29, Mark 15:42) and that it was Commanded in the Torah (Deut 21:23) but not because it was the start of a new day.
SUN WORSHIP OR MOON WORSHIP?
Some may use the excuse that starting the day in the morning is based on sun worship, but this is an invalid argument as the same can be said about evening start being based on moon worship since moon worship is equally as ancient as sun worship. In fact, looking at many historical commentaries (see below) it appears the Israelites inheriteded lunar observance from the Babylonians who revered the moon above the sun in that it was more mysterious at night.
It is also interesting to note that the phrase “night and day” appears 13 times in Scripture, yet the phrase “day and night” appears 28 times (twice as many).
The order of “day” preceding “night” in Scripture is used 84 times compared to only 19 of the opposite (over four times as many).
When determining a set period of time (e.g. “forty days and forty nights” which appears 11 times) the Scriptures always use the order of day and night. Why would the Scriptures record a count of days starting with the “day” if a day starts with a night?
Notice the order of the natural processes that Yahweh has ordered:
Genesis 8:22 “As long as the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.”
Many who observe evening start try to claim that Scripture shows a picture of darkness first, then Yahweh sent Yahushua as the light, yet Yahushua Himself uses the reverse showing that He indeed is the light, but darkness follows:
4“It is necessary for Me to work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day – night is coming, when no one is able to work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
This is what Yahweh has to say about the order of day and night:
20 “Thus said YHWH, ‘If you could break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there be not day and night in their season, 21 then My covenant could also be broken…”
25 “Thus said YHWH, ‘If My covenant is not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the laws of the shamayim and earth, 26 then I would also reject the descendants of Yaʽaqob…”
So far we have examined the Scriptures from which should come all our docrine, but it is also interesting to delve into some of the studies of historians and commentaries…
“…The nighttime is considered as belonging to the preceding period of daylight. from this there developed the meaning of “day” in the sense of the cycle made up of one period of daylight and one period of darkness, or according to our modern reckoning, twenty-four hours…from the natural viewpoint the twenty-four hour day begins at sunrise…
however, beside this conception there arose another idea of the twenty-four hour day, according to which this daily period began at sunset. it was no doubt the lunar calendar of the Jews which gave rise to this viewpoint…
although the earlier computation did not die out completely, the custom of considering the day as beginning at sunset became general in later Jewish times…” (Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible. p.497)
“There can be no doubt that in pre-exilic times the Israelites reckoned the day from morning to morning. The day began with the dawn and closed with the end of the night following it…” (Jacob Zallel Lauterbach, Rabbinic Essays, (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1951), p. 446)
“…To the Light He gives the name Day, to the Darkness the name Night…Thus the work of the first day, reckoned probably from morning to morning, is accomplished. The period of Light is followed by Evening and Darkness, which comes to an end with the next morning when the second day begins…”(Peake’s Commentary on The Bible, p.136).
“In the Old Testament the earlier practice seems to have been to consider that the day began in the morning. In Gen. 19:34, for example, the “morrow” (ASV) or “Next Day” (RSV) clearly begins with the morning after the preceding night…” (Jack Finegan, The Handbook of Biblical Chronology, p.7-8).
“…In earlier traditions a day apparently began at sunrise (e.g., Lev. 7:15-17; Judg. 19:4-19)…
later its beginning was at sunset and its end at the following sunset…
this system became normative…
and is still observed in Jewish tradition, where for example , the sabbath begins on Friday evening at sunset and ends Saturday at sunset…” (Oxford Companion to the Bible, p.744).
“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” (Jdg 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 Num 11:32)”(International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)
“…It is also interesting that according to the Karaite historian Al-QirqisanI (ca. 975 CE), the dissident Meswi al-Okbari (ca.850 CE) broke from traditional Rabbinical Judaism in an attempt to get back to the original religion and began the reckoning of the day from sunrise. (The Itinerary of R. Benjamin of Tudela, ix, 5-8, ed. Gruhut-Adler, (1904), p. 23)
“Among the Greeks the day was reckoned from sunset to sunset…” (Handbook of Chronology, op.cit., p.8)
“Among the ancient Israelites, as among the Greeks, the day was reckoned from sunset to sunset. This was the custom also of the Gauls and ancient Germans, and was probably connected originally with the cult of the moon. There is, however, evidence that this was not the custom at all times…” (Delitzsch in Dillmann’s commentary on Gen. i. 5)
“…Early in the old testament period, when Canaan was under Egypt’s influence, the day started at sunrise…
later, perhaps under Babylonian influence, the calendar seems to have changed. the day began at moonrise (1800 hrs) and a whole day became an evening and a morning…” (Lion Encyclopedia of the Bible – p.163).
“…The Israelites, like the Babylonians, counted their days from sunset to sunset…” (NIV Study Bible, p.707)
“We know little about the old Israelite calendar, apart from the laws of the festivals. But the Mishnah (the collection of Jewish law made at the end of the 2nd century AD) fully describes the system which the Jews had worked out under Babylonian influence…” (Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible).
“When the Jews returned to Palestine after their Babylonian exile (516 B.C.E.) they brought back with them the Babylonian astronomy and way of reckoning time…” (What is a Jew, p. 108)
“In order to fix the beginning and ending of the Sabbath-day and festivals and to determine the precise hour for certain religious observances it becomes necessary to know the exact times of the rising and setting of the sun. According to the strict interpretation of the Mosaic law, every day begins with sunrise and ends with sunset… (Jewish Encyclopedia, p. 591-597)
“Days were reckoned from morning to morning…
Following the reign of King Josia (c. 640-609), and especially after the Babylonian exile a number of significant and enduring changes occurred in the Israelite calendar showing that the Jews gradually adopted the Babylonian calendar of the time…the seven day week persisted despite its failure to divide evenly either the month or the year. the day however, was counted from evening to evening, after the Babylonian fashion…” (New Catholic Encyclopedia -Volume 11, p.1068)
“So far as we know, the Babylonian calendar was at all periods truly lunar…
the month began with the evening when the new crescent was for the first time again visible shortly after sunset. consequently, the Babylonian day also begins in the evening…” (Exact Sciences in Antiquity, p.106)
“…Numerous scholars have argued for the existence in Bible times of a sunrise method of day reckoning…the evidence for the sunrise reckoning is significant and cannot be ignored…” (The Time of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, Chapter 5)
“In Israel, the day was for a long time reckoned from morning to morning…and it was in fact in themorning, with the creation of light, that the world began; the distinction of day and night, and time too, began on a morning (Gen. 1:3-5, cf. 14:16, 18). The opposite conclusion has been drawn from the refrain which punctuates the story of creation: “There was an evening and there was a morning, the first, second, etc., day”; This phrase, however, coming after the description of each creative work (which clearly happens during the period of light), indicates rather the vacant time till the morning, the end of a dayand the beginning of the next work…The change of reckoning must there fore have taken place between the end of the monarchy and the age of Nehemias… this would bring us to the beginning of the exile…” (Ancient Israel, p.181-182).
“The first evening was not the gloom, which possibly preceded the full burst of light as it came forth from the primary darkness, and intervened between the darkness and full broad daylight. It was not till after the light had been created, and the separation of the light from the darkness had taken place, that evening came, and after the evening the morning…It follows from this, that the days of creation are not reckoned from evening to evening, but from morning to morning…” (Commentary on the Old Testament, The First Book of Moses, p. 51)
“In early Jewish practice,… it seems to have been customary to reckon the day from sunrise to sunrise, or, rather, from dawn to dawn. Thus the law for the “praise-offering” (lev. 7:17 (pt) specifies that this sacrifice must be eaten on the day upon which it is offered, and that nothing may be left until morning. The repetition of the law in Lev. 22:30… is even more explicit: “On that very day (when it was sacrificed) it shall be eaten; ye shall not leave anything of it until morning. Clearly the next morning is here reckoned as belonging to the next day, and not the same day as the preceding evening and night. In other words, the day is reckoned here from sunrise to sunrise…
Likewise in Exod. 16:19f…the manna was given to the people in the morning, just at dawn and before the sun had become warm (16:21). It was to be eaten only on the day upon which it was gathered; nothing was to remain over until the next morning; that which did so became foul. Here, too, the day seems to have been reckoned from dawn to dawn…From Matt. 28:1 It may be inferred that the practice of reckoning the day from sunset to sunset was not universal in Israel, but in certain circles the older practice continued for several centuries…It is manifest that the day is still reckoned here from dawn to dawn. This is also the implication of the parallel passage, Mark 16:1f…Luke 23:56b-24:1 seems to imply the same…
Finally, it is significant that in the second Temple, throughout its entire existence, the practice seems to have been in all ritual matters to reckon the day from dawn to dawn, and not according to the later practice, from sunset to sunset…even the rabbis, who, themselves, reckoned the day from sunset to sunset, and refused to admit the legitimacy of any other practice, or rather, absolutely ignored all divergent practice, none the less had to admit the validity of the interpretation of Lev. 7:15…
the day was at one time reckoned from sunrise to sunrise…
The earlier practice, which continued until the time of the secondary strata of the Priestly code, was toreckon the day from dawn to dawn…
The later practice was to reckon the day from sunset to sunset...
It is impossible to tell exactly when this change in the mode of reckoning the day took place in Israel, and what causes brought it about. Possibly it may have had something to do with the introduction of the lunar calendar instead of the solar, for the lunar calendar naturally presupposes a reckoning of the day from nightfall to nightfall…
It was probably coincident with the revision of the festival calendar, which took place in the period after the time of Ezra, and was, in all probability, the work of the soferim or of the Great Synod in the fourth century B.C. This may also be inferred from the statement in the Talmud (Berachoth 33a) that the men of the Great Synod instituted the ceremonies of Kiddush and Havdalah, the solemn sanctification of the Sabbath on Friday eve, and its equally solemn ushering out on Saturday eve, in other words, ceremonies specifically marking the beginning and close of the Sabbath as at sunset. These were ceremonies for the Jewish home instead of the Temple. This, coupled with the fact that in the second Temple the old system of reckoning the day from dawn to dawn continued to be observed, as we have seen, may perhaps indicate that this entire innovation was the work of an anti-priestly group or party in the Great Synod…”(The Sources of the Creation Story – Gen. 1:1- 2:4, p. 169-212)
“A new stage in the investigation of the problem of the calendar of ancient Israel was marked by the appearance of a learned article by E. Koenig in 1906…He maintains that two distinct calendars were current in ancient Israel. The first, a solar calendar…This solar calendar was well adapted to the conditions of the simple, agricultural life which the Israelites lived during the first period of their sojourn in Palestine. It reckoned the day from sunrise…
The second calendar was a luni-solar year…The day now came quite naturally to be reckoned from sunset…This second calendar was obviously based upon Babylonian models and was adopted under direct Babylonian influence at about 600 B.C., when Babylonian religion and general culture began to affect with steadily increasing force the Jewish exiles in Babylonia and, through those of them who return from exile, the Jews who had remained in Palestine.
This broadly sums up Koenig’s conclusions…
…the time of the transition from the reckoning of the day as beginning with morning to the reckoning of it as beginning with evening…
…that in the earlier calendar and in the literature which records this the day was reckoned from the morning, presumably from sunrise, while in the later calendar and the literature pertaining thereto the day was reckoned from the evening…must be eaten upon the day upon which it is sacrificed, and that nothing of it must be allowed to remain over until morning. Obviously the implication here is that the next morning is no longer a part of the day upon which the sacrifice was offered, but mark the beginning of the next day…
…Elsewhere we have presented quite a mass of evidence which establishes conclusively that the earlier practice in Israel during the biblical period was to reckon the day from sunrise to sunrise…
…That in the earliest period of Israelite sojourn in Palestine, under calendar 1, the day was reckoned from morning to morning is established by a superabundance of evidence…
…This in turn, together with other important considerations, would point to a time approximately about the beginning or the first half, of the third century B.C. as that of the introduction of the new system of reckoning the day.” (Supplementary Studies in The Calendars of Ancient Israel, p. 1-148).
Note: It is interesting to note the wide variety of commentators who may not agree on many points of doctrine, but do agree that the Scriptural day begins at first light in the morning.
If you have any verse in Scripture that clearly states a day starts in the evening then we would love to know, but the conclusion of the matter is: If you have no Scriptures to support your belief then you have added to Yahweh’s Commands and are practicing vain traditions.
May Yahweh bless you as you seek to obey…
An attempt has been made at a rebuttal to this study by Tom Martincic of Eliyah.com which aside from this topic of when a day begins is in agreement with practically everything on the 2besaved.com website.
Sadly, Tom has given no Scriptural proof that a day starts in the evening other than the three common misunderstandings given earlier based on tradition.