Keith Hunt - Evening - as used in the Old Testament Restitution of All
Things


  Home Navigation & Word Search

Evening - How it is used in the Old Testament

Can it be used from noon onwards?


                             by

                         Keith Hunt



     Some years back one of the publications from one of the
Sabbath/Festival observing groups of the Church of God, stated
this in their study paper:

     "....#6153 ....erev: this word is generally translated as
'evening' and comes from the root with the suggested original
meaning of 'enter, go in' (as in Assyrian). It refers not
to sunset, but rather the period before sunset (possibly
beginning at noon, when the sun begins its descent). Thus, it
primarily refers to the late afternoon periods of the day....."
(Answers Publication, 1991).

     Now, they want us to believe that "evening" can be anytime
from NOON, and they also assert this Hebrew word "PRIMARILY
refers to the LATE AFTERNOON periods of the day."

     Wow, I think that is quite a mouth-full, to have us believe,
they say that evening can be NOON or anytime after. I'm
scratching my head on this one. If "even" or "evening" in the
Bible, the Old Testament anyway, really means ANY TIME after NOON
to dark or primarily refers to LATE AFTERNOON, then what may I
ask does the words, "mid-afternoon" or "late afternoon" or "early
afternoon" mean? If "evening" means "late afternoon" them maybe
"late afternoon" means "evening" with this reasoning and
understanding of words. Maybe "morning" means "afternoon" and
"late in the day" means "late in the morning" and "day" means
"night" and "night" means "day."

     Is the Bible written in some "secret code" or strange
language that needs a degree in lock-smithing to open it up and
REALLY understand what it is saying, or was it written
in pretty well the common every day language of the time?

     I have shown in my in-depth study called "Evening - How it
is used in the New Testament" on this Website, that as far as the
NT goes at least, the word "evening" is never from NOON, or in
the "late afternoon" or "middle afternoon" but is from EITHER
"sunset" or "after the twelfth hour" or after what we call 6 p.m.
I ask the reader to study carefully my study mentioned above, and
clearly have this truth of the NT demonstrated and proven, as the
NT interprets the NT on what "evening" means.
     We commonly refer to "evening" as sunset and after, or after
6 p.m. or the twelfth hour of the day as used by the Jews (in
Jesus' day. You will remember Jesus saying, "Are there not twelve
hours in the day......").

     It was no different in Jewish life or the life of Israel,
back in the Old Testament days, and for those whom God inspired
to write the books of the OT. The Bible is full of common
everyday understandable use of language. Morning means morning
and not afternoon. Night time means night time and not day time
or noon time. Noon means noon and not morning or day break.
Morning means that time of day up to noon. Night time means that
time when is dark. Afternoon means from noon to evening. Evening
means from either sunset to dark or the time after the twelfth
hour or 6 p.m.
     The evening for Bible times was not shortly after noon, or
middle afternoon. If words for the time of day can have large
boarders such as "evening" meaning the second after noon time,
then words to express certain time frames have lost all meaning,
and then truly those who say the Bible can say whatever anyone
wants it to say, is indeed true.

     But the Bible cannot be made to say anything that people
want it to say, although many do indeed choose to read it this
way. The NT has some serious words to say to readers that want to
make the Bible say what they want it to say. Such people Peter
said, "twist and wench the Scriptures to their own destruction."

     Answers Publication list a number of passages they think
uphold their theories and ideas on the word "evening." The
Passages they list are:

Judges 19:9,14; 1 Sam.17:16; Genesis 8:11; Gen. 24:11; 2
Sam.11:2; Joshua 8:29; Gen. 19:1; Exodus 12:8; Deut. 16:6; 2
Chron. 18: 34.

     I shall go over them shortly, but first let's take a look at
THREE very respected Hebrew Word expounding sources: The
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Nelson's Expository
Dictionary - The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.

The INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA

     EVEN...EVENING...EVENTIDE......The words are used in
slightly different meanings: (1) The time of sunset, the
beginning of the Heb.day, as in Lev. 15, where direction are
given for the removal of uncleanness, which took place at sunset.
(2) Twilight, the time of approaching darkness when lamps are
lighted; Ex. 30; 8 (lit. "between the two evenings); Jer. 6:4
("the shadows of the evening"). (3) The early part of the night
(Prov. 7:9; Ezk. 12:7)......"Eventide" 'eth erebh,' "time of
evening" (2 Sa. 11:2; Isa. 17:14)......

NELSON'S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY

     ereb..."evening, night." The noun 'ereb' appears about 130
times and in all periods. This word represents the time of the
day immediately preceding and following the setting of the sun.
During this period the dove returned to Noah's ark (Gen. 8:11).
Since it was cool, women went to the wells for water in the
"evening" (Gen. 24:11). It was at "evening" that David walked
around on top of his roof to refresh himself and cool off, and
observed Bathsheba taking a bath (2 Sam. 11:2). In its first
biblical appearance, 'ereb' marks the "opening of a day" - "And
the evening and the morning were the first day" (Gen.1:5). 
     The phrase "between the two evenings" means the period
between sunset and darkness, "twilight" (Exod. 12:6; KJV, "in the
evening").
     Second, in a late poetical use, the word can mean "night: -
"When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be
gone? and I am full of tossings to and fro unto the dawning of
the day" (Job 7:4).

The THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

     ereb. Evening, night.  This common masculine noun for
"evening" likely developed from the expression, "the setting of
the sun, sunset." It is cognate to Akkadian 'erebu' a common verb
of wide usage, which includes "to enter, go down (of the sun)."
Akkadian 'erib samsi'  means "sunset." Compare Arabic 'garifa'
"to set (of the sun),' and Ugaritic 'rh sps ( - m'rb),
"sunset."......
     ereb is found 131 times in the OT. The phrase "there was an
evening and there was a morning" occurs six times in the creation
narrative (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31)........
     ereb in Levitical legislation respecting uncleanness. One
was considered unclean because of certain acts "until the
evening" (Lev. 11:24, plus thirty times). That is, one was
unclean for the duration of the day.
     Evenings were quite important for sacrificial acts and
ceremonial meals in ancient Israel. The Passover began on the
evening of the fourteenth day of the first month (see
Ex. 12:6, 18). Sometimes, as in Ex. 12:6, the Hebrew reads
literally, "between the two evenings," likely "twilight," the
time interval between sunset and darkness in which there
is a state of illumination. Only in Job 7:4 does 'ereb' denote
"night" proper.

     There it is, from three highly respected theological
sources.  One of them does say the word means "immediately
before" sunset. But "immediately before" is a LONG way from NOON
or any time thereafter, or middle afternoon, as Answers
Publication wants you to believe the word means.
     The truth of the matter is that such a meaning has been
FORCED into the word by the sect of the Pharisees to uphold their
Passover time practice, from the time when the Pharisees came
into being in the centuries after the 70 year Jewish captivity by
the Babylonians (in the 5th century B.C.). And such a teaching as
this word supposedly meaning anytime from noon and after, has
been blindly swallowed by people and groups of people who did not
research the matter carefully and deeply enough.

     As we shall now proceed to see the word "evening" or 'ereb'
in the Hebrew means sunset or the length of time from sunset to
darkness. And there is also the common usage of "evening" as
AFTER the 12th hour of the day, which in Israel's (and the Jews
of Jesus' day) was the time AFTER what we call 6 p.m. Again, this
I prove from the NT interpreting itself....Bible interpreting the
Bible, as I show in my study called, "Evening - the word as used
in the NT"

THE PASSAGES GIVEN BY 
ANSWERS PUBLICATION

Judges 19: 9,14

     A careful study of this section of Scripture shows that it
does not say what ANSWERS PUBLICATION says it says. You may want
to use the KJV translation. I will quote from the TANAKH - an
English translation from the Hebrew by the Jewish Publication
Society.
     Verse 9: "Then the man....started to leave. His
father-in-law, the girl's father, said to him, 'Look, the day is
WANING TOWARDS evening; do stop for the night. See the day is
declining, spend the night here.....' "
     
     Ah! Did you see it? It was not YET evening; it was WANING
TOWARDS - heading towards evening, but it does NOT say it was
evening. There is a BIG difference between heading towards a town
in your car and actually being at the town.
     The man heads out and was determined to spend the night
either in Gibeah or in Ramah - verses 10 to 13. It was still not
evening; it was only WANING TOWARDS evening.

     Now notice verse 14. "So they travelled on, and the SUN SET
when they were near Gibeah of Benjamin."

     Here we have Biblical proof that evening and sunset are
CONNECTED. The man travelled as "the day was very far spent"
(verse 11) - as the day was WANING TOWARDS evening (verse 9), but
NOT YET evening for the sun had not yet set. In this particular
case evening is thought of as sunset. When sunset and evening
came, the man spent the night at Gibeah.

     ANSWERS PUBLICATION do themselves say very early on in their
study paper that a day starts and ends "approximately at sunset"
to use their very own words.

     There is NOTHING in this account in Judges 19 to warrant a
teaching that "evening" is any time after noon time or even the
middle of the afternoon.

1 Samuel 17: 16

     As the sun goes down behind the hills in Palestine - as it
sets in the evening - it does not immediately become BLACK with
night. There is some time where it is still light; a time the
Bible calls "the shadows of the evening" (Jer. 6:4). And also,
"In the twilight, in the evening" (Prov. 7:9).
     During this time you could still see sufficiently to do many
things. It would not have taken long for an Israelite to have
mounted a horse and galloped down the hillside to fight
the Philistine, or have run on foot to meet him, and do battle
with him. Remember the Philistine had made it his habit to come
at "evening" to challenge someone from the army of Israel to
fight him. The Israelites knew he would appear at evening time,
and anyone going out to fight him could be ready beforehand, with
all his armor on, to meet his challenge.
     It would not have taken that long, just a few minutes, for
David to gather five smooth stones from the brook for his sling,
to get ready to fight the huge champion fighter from the
Philistines.
     
     If we take this wording to mean it was sunset and not the
thought that it could have been evening after the 12th hour or
after our time we call 6 p.m., we still have plenty of time for
two men to do physical battle against each other. With two men in
armor, a spear, a sword, a dagger, going to go at it with hand to
hand combat, I doubt very much the fight would have lasted more
than half an hour. Just the weight of the armor alone would have
weakened one of them within a half hour of hand combat. So
two men fighting at sunset under those physical conditions would
not have been abnormal or out of the question at all. We are
after all talking here about two hand to hand combat men, not a
run and hide and fight merry-go-round scenario that could last
for a few hours.
     And the way David had it panned out it was only going to
take a few minutes to kill this giant of a man.
     All this taking place at sunset is well within the time
before it would be dark with night.

Genesis 8:11

     Can a dove fly at sunset, when the sun has just gone below
the horizon, and it is still light? Yes of course it can. Then
the dove may have already been flying for an hour or so before
arriving back on the ark at evening or sunset. It was evening
that the dove landed on the ark, but it may not have been evening
when the dove started on its journey BACK to the ark.  There is
nothing here to suggest we understand "evening" as anything
but sunset when the dove actually came to Noah's hand and back
onto the ark.

Genesis 24:11

     What could be nicer than after a long hot day in Palestine
under a blazing sun, than to have it sink behind the hills
leaving shadows of coolness. What better part of the day could
there be to water your live stock? There's still enough light to
see your flocks and do these last chores before bedding down for
the dark night.
     I know how nice this is for I have had first hand experience
at doing this very thing. As a young man in my early 20s working
in a Horse Riding Dude Ranch, I often, after a hard day in the
sun, with the horses on the trail, would unsaddle them and lead
them to water as the sun set and the evening began. It was a
great part of the day - cool shadows, yet enough light to
accomplish the job before me.
     The again, if we take "evening" to be AFTER the 12 hour (or
our 6 p.m.), it could mean that if sunset was 9 p.m. you may be
watering your live-stock at say 8 p.m. The hot daytime sun would
have replaced with the cooler evening sun even if it had not yet
set.

2 SAMUEL 11:2

     Again, what better part of the day to bathe ones self in the
outdoor pool, than the time when the sun was just setting,
falling behind the hills - in the cool of the evening,
before the darkness set in for the night, unless there was a
clear sky and a bright full moon.
     There is a time lapse of up to an hour in some parts of the
world, from sunset to the blackness of night. Indeed, plenty of
time to bathe ones self in the outdoor pool. We need to remember
that the account does not say Bathsheba was naked, only that she
was very beautiful to look upon. When I lived in Florida for 3
years and walked the beach at sunset time, many women with little
on were still on the beach, and I could easily see if they had a
great figure or if they were beautiful to look upon. It would
seem David could also.

JOSHUA 8:29

     This verse can prove that "eventide" equals "sun-set." It is
TWO ways of saying the same thing, a figure of speech often used
in the Bible. We today often use this figure of speech. You say
it one way and say it again another way as you emphasize and
amplify what transpired at that point in reference that you are
using. The twilight - shadows of the evening - would still afford
them the light they needed to do the task they were given. The
king Ai was hanging on the tree until "eventide" - having been
hanging for some time before eventide. Then at eventide or as the
sun set Joshua commanded they take Ai down from the tree.

GENESIS 19:1

     When the sun sets it does not instantly become "black as
coal" but is "twilight time." I can still see my neighbor working
in his garden, or the children playing in the school yard across
from my house. So also could Lot see the angels coming to Sodom
during the evening part of the day - dusk: when the sun has gone
down below the horizon or hills but it is not yet dark night.

EXODUS 12:18

     The "even" here is the same as "between the two evenings" of
verse 6 - DUSK or TWILIGHT. This verse is fully explained in my
study "Was the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread 7 or 8 Days in
Length?" The phrase "between the two evenings" I have also fully
explained in another study under the Passover topic.

DEUTERONOMY 16:6

     The phrase "at the going down of the sun" cannot be taken as
automatically meaning when it first starts to descend after
reaching its highest point in the sky, i.e. going down from noon
time. The word "even" comes before this phrase, so understanding
even to be sunset of the period of time from after the 12 hour of
the day, we should certainly not jump at the idea of "even" means
from anytime from noon onwards. This verse is also talking about
the time of the Passover, so the reader should study all my other
studies on the Passover time issue.

2 CHRONICLES 18:34

     This is as we have covered in Joshua 8:29. It is two ways of
saying the same thing. He lived until EVEN, at the time of the
sun going down (sunset), the beginning of the evening - he died.
Such figures of speech abound in the Bible, so much so that
Bullinger thought it necessary to write a thousand page plus book
dealing with figures of speech in the Bible.

     None of the above prove that "even" - "eventide" - is NOON,
or MIDDLE  AFTERNOON, or LATE AFTERNOON, as the Answers Study
paper would like you to believe that it can mean.

                 ...........................

Written 1991 and re-written 2003 


 
  Home Top of Page


Other Articles of Interest:
  Between the two evenings? Spring Feast - 7 or 8 days? Deut. 16: 1-8

 
Navigation List:
 

 
Word Search:

PicoSearch
  Help