AJSL: The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures
HUCA: Hebrew Union College Annual
JQR: The Jewish Quarterly Review
ZDMG: Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlaendischen Gesellschaft
(Journal of the German Oriental Society)
1. Julian Morgenstern, "The Sources of the Creation Story - Gen. 1:1-2:4," AJSL, XXXVI, (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1920), p.169-212
'It would, accordingly, have been natural and logical to regard the day as beginning with morning, and to have reckoned the day from sunrise to sunrise, instead of from sunset to sunset, as is obviously implied in the oft-repeated formula, "And it was evening, and it was morning, ....day," and as was the practice in later Judaism.
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 remain became foul. Here, too, the day seems to have been reckoned from dawn to dawn. This, too, seems to be the implication of Is 21:12, where the morning is represented as preceding the night...
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: "And on the Sabbath day they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came unto the tomb." (On the other hand, the parallel passage in John 20:1 seems to imply the later system of reckoning the day from sunset to sunset...
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.
From this it is clear that at different periods in Israel's history two distinct systems of reckoning the day obtained. The earlier practice, which continued until the time of the secondary strata of the Priestly Code, was to reckon 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 a 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...'
2. Julian Morgenstern, "Supplementary Studies in The Calendars of Ancient Israel," HUCA, X, (Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, 1935), p.1-148
'That certain passage of the Bible indicated that the day was reckoned from sunrise...
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... so that the Passover-Mazzot festival and the Sukkot festival were transferred from their original moments of celebration to the full moons of the first and seventh months respectively... 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..
... (1) 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, and that the later practice of reckoning the day from sunset to sunset or from evening to evening is definitely attested only in late secondary passages of the Priestly Code and in still later writings..
That in the earliest period of Israelite sojourn in Palestine, under Calendar I, 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.'
3. P. J. Heawood, "The Beginning of the Jewish Day," JQR, XXXVI, (The Dropsie College For Hebrew and Cognate Learning, Philadelphia, 1945-1946), p.393-401
'... the only place in the Mishna where the question is definitely raised as to what constitutes a complete day, it is laid down that for all offerings that must be consumed the same day, the duty of consuming them lasts until the rise of dawn... and that the Sages said "until Midnight" only to keep a man away from transgression... One is the first chapter of Genesis, where a rendering like that of the A.V. in ver. 5: "The evening and the morning were the first day" has given the impression of a day consisting of two parts, the first described as evening the second as morning. But [Hebrew text] is daybreak, not a period of morning, and the translation is corrected in the R.V. The literal Hebrew runs: "There was evening and there was daybreak one day." And as St. Augustine lucidly expounds the passage: [Latin Text] (Aug. De Gen. cont. Man. I 16 (X): the complete day cannot be said to have passed until night too has passed and morning has come to begin a new day...
Another O.T. passage often referred to is Lev. 23.32 "From evening unto evening shall ye keep your Sabbath"; it is sometimes ignored that this has nothing to do with the weekly Sabbath, but is concerned with the very special ceremonies and restrictions of the Great Day of Atonement, Tisri 9-10. If it is lightly said, "no doubt the weekly Sabbath followed the same rule," it must be remembered that the weekly Sabbath was a joyful festival, while the other was the most penitential occasion in the whole year - a day for a man to afflict his soul....
... notably the Athenians, began their days in the evening...
So far the evidence, when not ambiguous, has turned out to be definitely in favor of a day beginning in the morning...
...the Sabbath was dawning (Luke 23.54) and even to explain away reference to daylight and interpret it as meaning 'the Sabbath was coming on' - i.e. in the evening...
...because in some part of the Acts, even more plainly than in the Gospel, he seems to begin his day in the morning, or at cockcrow, nor be disquieted because even Matthew does not use "the strict Jewish day."...
As we have seen, the Temple ritual began about cockcrow and was continued with much ceremony until the offering of the morning sacrifice; but it was only when the appointed watcher was able to say "The whole East is lighted up" ([Hebrew text]) [adding in reply to a further interrogation "As far as Hebron" (Tam. 3.2)] that the great gate of the Temple was unlocked and thrown open with a noise which, it was said, could be heard as far as Jericho; and then and then only could the lamb (or lambs) of the "Continual Burnt Offering" be slain (Tam. 3.7, 8). Until the Temple ritual was in abeyance, this must have been the supreme moment, palpable to all, in the actual beginning of the Sabbath day.'
4. Jacob Z. Lauterbach, "The Sabbath in Jewish Ritual and Folklore," in the "Rabbinic Essays by Jacob Z. Lauterbach," (Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, 1951), p.437-470
'WHEN DOES THE SABBATH BEGIN?
... As the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week and extends over one whole day, a brief discussion of the development of the Jewish system of reckoning the day is necessary to determine the time of the coming in and the going out of the Sabbath.
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 close with the end of the night following it, i.e. with the last moment before the dawn of the next morning..."And it was evening and it was morning, one day." This passage was misunderstood by the Talmud, ... But it was correctly interpreted by R. Samuel b. Meir (1100-1160) when he remarked: "It does not say that it was night time and it was day time which made one day; but it says 'it was evening,' which means that the period of the day time came to an end and the light disappeared. And when it says 'it was morning,' it means that the period of the night time came to an end and the morning dawned. Then one whole day was completed."
There are many more indications in the Pentateuch pointing directly or indirectly to the mode of reckoning the day from morning to morning... "on the same day it shall be eaten, ye shall leave none of it till the morning" which directly indicates that the day comes to an end on the next morning... in regard to the Day of Atonement, where the Law wishes to make the fasting on it stricter than on any other fast day so as to include also the preceding night, the Law specifically states that it should begin with part of the preceding day and therefore expressly says: "And ye shall afflict your souls in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even shall ye keep your Sabbath." This indirectly but unmistakably points to a mode of reckoning the day from morning to morning. In post-exilic times, however, probably not later than the beginning of the Greek period, a change in the system of reckoning the day was made, and the day was reckoned as extending from the preceding to the following evening. As might be expected, such a radical innovation was not immediately generally accepted. It took some time before it entirely supplanted the older system. In certain spheres of the population the older system continued to be in use, either exclusively or side by side with the newer system. Thus in the Temple service the older system continued all through the time of the existence of the second Temple, and there the day was reckoned from morning to morning, or as the Talmud puts it [Hebrew text] "In sacrificial matters the night follows rather than precedes the day." In some circles or among some Jewish sects the older system continued and the Sabbath was observed from Saturday morning to Sunday morning... and the morning of Saturday - not Friday evening - marked the entrance of the Sabbath. But the majority of the people, following the teachings of the Halakah, reckoned the day from evening to evening...
...The passage in Neh. 13.19-21 does not necessarily prove that already at the time of Nehemiah, the night preceding the Sabbath was part of the Sabbath...
...Likewise the author of the Gospel according to Matthew has preserved the older system, for we read there 28.1: :In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week." So according to him the Sabbath extended towards the dawn of Sunday morning.
Benjamin of Tudela (second half of the twelfth century) reports about a certain Jewish sect on the island of Cyprus whose members observed the Sabbath from Saturday morning to Sunday morning, or as he puts it, who desecrated the night preceding but keep holy the night following the Sabbath day. See [Hebrew text] ed. L. Grunhut, I (Frankfurt a.M., 1904), P.23
... that the Jewish women refrained from work on Saturday night even after the Sabbath had gone...This custom of the women is disapproved by the teachers and declared to be not a proper custom... But in spite of the disapproval of the teachers the custom has persisted among pious Jewish women to this day. It is evident that this custom of the Jewish women, which is supported by the saying of the Mekilta, is a relic of the ancient practice of keeping the Sabbath till the dawn of Sunday...The teachers, insisting that the Sabbath extends only from evening to evening... they did not succeed in making them abandon their practice of refraining from work on Saturday night, evidently because the latter custom was a survival of the ancient practice of observing the Sabbath till the dawn of Sunday.'
5. Solomon Zeitlin, "The Second Day of the Holidays in the Diaspora," JQR, XLIV, (The Dropsie College For Hebrew and Cognate Learning, Philadelphia, 1953-1954), p.183-193
'... In Deut. 28.66 in the so-called Masoretic text, the reading is, "night and day." However, the Septuagint and the Targum according to Jonathan have "day and night." Hence, the so-called Masoretic text here is faulty. In Jer. 14.17 our text has "night and day"; the Septuagint and the Pesikta R. have "day and night." The reading in the so-called Masoretic text again is faulty... It is clear that when God created the light and it went down, then the darkness (night) came, and when the light appeared again, that constituted one day.
The solar calendar was used by the Hebrews before the time of the Restoration. Later there was substituted for the solar calendar a lunar-solar calendar... Previously the year had begun with the spring. In the new calendar the new year began with the autumn... the day began with the sunset or when the stars became visible.
This change of calendar aroused great protest among the Jews. The author of the book of Jubilees expressed his opposition in very strong words.
See S. Zeitlin, The Book of Jubilees, pp. 13-15; idem. The Zadokite Fragments, pp. 15-17. The author of the book of Jubilees complained that those "who will make observations of the new moon" will go wrong as to the beginnings of the Sabbaths... The author protested that by a change from a solar to a lunar calendar the Sabbath would be disturbed, and the holy part of the Sabbath would be profaned and the profaned part of the day would be made holy.'
6. Solomon Zeitlin, "The Book of Jubilees," JQR, XXX, (The Dropsie College For Hebrew and Cognate Learning, Philadelphia, 1939-1940), p.13-15
'Furthermore, the author protects vigorously against the change from the solar to a solar-lunar calendar... This proves that the Book of Jubilees was written at the time when the calendar was changed from solar to solar-lunar time, and some Jews opposed this innovation... and they will confound all the days, the holy with the unclean, and the unclean day with the holy; for they will go wrong as to the months and sabbaths and feasts and jubilees... How can we otherwise account for the author's forceful arguments against the change of calendar, if we should assume that the book was written during the Maccabean period. The calendar had already been changed centuries earlier and had long ago become a dead issue.'
7. Translated from the Ethiopic text by R. H. Charles, D.LITT., D.D., "The Book of Jubilees or The Little Genesis," (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1917), p.64-65
'...And command thou the children of Israel that they observe the years according to this reckoning - three hundred and sixty-four days, and (these) will constitute a complete year, and they will not disturb its time from its days and from its feasts; for everything will fall out in them according to their testimony, and they will not leave out any day nor disturb any feasts...For there will be those who will assuredly make observations of the moon - now (it) disturbeth the seasons and cometh in from year to year, ten days too soon...A lunar year consists of 354 days...'
8. Jacob Mann, "The Observance of the Sabbath and the Festivals in the First Two Centuries of the Current Era according to Philo, Josephus, the New Testament, and the Rabbinic Sources" in "The Collected Articles of Jacob Mann," (M. Shalom Ltd., Israel, 1971), p.433-532
'... In Jamnia it was the duty of the Nassi to preach on every Sabbath... At the beginning of the second century we hear of sermons delivered also on Friday night...'
9. Solomon Zeitlin, "Some Stages of the Jewish Calendar" in the "Solomon Zeitlin's Studies in the Early History of Judaism," (KTAV Publishing House, Inc., New York, 1973), p.183-193
'... We know also that in the first three centuries of the present era, the early Christians had not yet separated themselves from the Jews and still kept their festivals according to the Jewish calendar.
...This is to say that the month had thirty days, which means, again, that the calendar of the Bible was a solar one. In a solar calendar, the day could not have started from the evening, according to the current practice in the Jewish calendar, but from sunrise; and that is the meaning of the verse, "there was evening and there was morning, the first day," that is to say, from sunrise to sunrise constituted one day, divided into two parts - day and night. This opinion was already expressed by a famous Rabbi in the twelfth century, the Rashbam... the meaning is not that the Jews had started the day with the evening, but that the law had ordained they should fast on the tenth day of the month and on the ninth thereof, so that the fast consisted of two half-parts of two consecutive days. This system of beginning the days with the morning was also practiced by the Chaldeans according to the testimony of Pliny the Elder...'
10. Edited by W. Gunther Plaut, "The Torah - A Modern Commentary," (Union of American Hebrew Congregations, New York, 1981), p.920- 930
'At what point did the civil day begin? There is some evidence that at one time the day was reckoned from sunrise to sunrise. But before the close of the biblical period, it had become standard to reckon the day from sunset to sunset, and this has been Jewish practice ever since...
... The language of verses 5 and 6 suggests that the evening when this sacrifice was performed was considered part of the fourteenth day and that the fifteenth - the Matzah festival - did not begin until the next morning...
... Here again is a suggestion that the new day began at daybreak rather than sundown...'
11. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, "The Talmud - The Steinsaltz Edition," (The Israel Institute for Talmudic Publications, Random House. Inc., New York, 1989), p.281
'[Hebrew text] Day. In Hebrew, as in many other languages, this word has two meanings: (1) A unit of time lasting twenty-four hours, and (2) daytime as distinct from nighttime. The Halakhic "day" of twenty-four hours usually begins at nighttime with the appearance of three medium-sized stars ([Hebrew text]); hence, according to the Talmud, the day follows the night rather than the other way round. An exception occurs, however, with regard to the laws of the Temple service, In this case the day is considered to begin in the morning (at dawn or at sunrise), and hence as far as these laws are concerned the night follows the day.'
12. Victor P. Hamilton, "The Book of Genesis - Chapter 1-17," (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1990), p.118-121
'5 The fact that evening is placed before morning throughout this chapter is not a foolproof indication that the OT reckons a day from sunset to sunset. There is some evidence that strongly suggests that the day was considered to begin in the morning at sunrise. For example, this view is supported by the fact that when the OT refers to a second day the time reference is the morning (Gen. 19:33-34; Judg. 6:38; 21:4). Similarly, the phrase "day and night" is much more frequent than "night and day." Thus it seems likely that this refrain in Genesis refers not to the computation of a day but rather to the "vacant time till the morning, the end of a day and the beginning of the next day."'
13. Roland de Vaux, O.P., "Ancient Israel - Its Life and Institutions," tr. John McHugh,(McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, rpr.1965), p.180-183
'... The Egyptians reckoned it from one morning to the next and divided it into twelve hours of day time and twelve of night; the hour varied in length with the latitude and the season...
In Israel, the day was for a long time reckoned from morning to morning. When they wanted to indicate the whole length of a day of twenty-four hours, they said "day and night" or some such phrase, putting the day first... This suggests that they reckoned the day starting from the morning... "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 day and the beginning of the next work... "The next day the elder said to the younger, Last night I slept with my father; let us make him drink wine again tonight" (Gn 19:34)... "If you do not escape to-night, to-morrow you are a dead man" (I S 19:11). In the house of the witch of Endor, Samuel appears to Saul during the night and says to him: "To-morrow, you and your sons will be with me" (I S 28:19)...
... According to Lv 7:15 and 22:30, the meat of sacrifices must be eaten the same day, not leaving anything to be eaten to the morning of the next day. Had the day begun in the evening the wording would have ordered the meat to be eaten before the evening... All this presumes that the day began in the morning.
The change of reckoning must therefore have taken place between the end of the monarchy and the age of Nehemiah. One could date it more precisely if it were certain that in Ez 33:21-22 the evening and the morning of v.22 both applied to the fifth day of v.21. This would bring us to the beginning of the Exile; unfortunately the text is not explicit.'
14. U. Cassuto, "A Commentary on the Book of Genesis," Part I, tr. Israel Abrahams, (The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1944), p.28-29.
'[And there was evening and there was morning, one day] When day-time had passed, the period allotted to darkness returned (and there was evening), and when night-time came to an end, the light held sway a second time (and there was morning), and this completed the first calendar day (one day), which had begun with the creation of light.
... An examination of the narrative passages of the Bible makes it evident that whenever clear reference is made to the relationship between a given day and the next, it is precisely sunrise that is accounted the beginning of the second day.... So, too, in Lev. xxiii 32, with regard to the Day of Atonement,... thus the evening before the tenth is called the ninth of the month.
It will thus be seen that throughout the Bible there obtains only one system of computing time: the day is considered to begin in the morning; but in regard to the festivals and appointed times, the Torah ordains that they shall be observed also on the night of the preceding day. This point is explicitly emphasized whenever a certain precept has to be observed particularly at night, like the eating of unleavened bread on the night of Passover and fasting on the evening of the Day of Atonement. In the case of the Sabbath and the other festival days, however, there was no need to stress that work was prohibited on the night preceding, since agricultural tasks (and it is specifically these that the Torah has in mind) are performed only by day. There is no discrepancy, therefore, in our verse at all.'
15. Gary C. Miller, "The Scriptural Weekly Sabbath is NOT From Sunset to Sunset," (International Congregation of Yahweh, Pocahontas, Arkansas, USA, 1986)
Suggest that the Sabbath of the Scripture is reckoned from Saturday morning at dawn (before sunrise) through Saturday night which comes about an hour or so after sundown.
Please contact the Author for details:
Mr. Gary C. Miller
P.O. BOX. 208
Pocahontas, Arkansas 72455
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