Keith Hunt - "Evening" in the Old Testament #1 - Page One   Restitution of All Things
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"Evening" in the Old Testament #1

The foundational meaning


                             by 

                         Keith Hunt


Some would have us believe that the word "evening" in the OT
(maybe the NT as well - but I've covered that in full depth in
the study "'evening' as used in the NT") is kinda "generic" or is
very broad and covers a good chunk of the day light hours as
well, even from the second past high noon.

We shall now begin to see the truth of the matter on this idea
and topic of "evening" in the OT.

I will start by giving you THREE "well-respected" word
Dictionaries of the OT, on the word "evening." The last one
quoted is the fullest and so in some ways more important a
Dictionary of OT words than the first two, but all three are very
well respected in the "theological world" of Christianity.


VINE'S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT:

'ereb, (#6153) "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 the 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 evenings" means the period between
sunset and darkness "twilight" (Ex 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).

END QUOTE

NELSON'S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT:

EVENING

'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 m 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 fast day" (Gen.1:5). The phrase
"between the 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 now the dawning of the day" (Job
7:4).

END QUOTE

We notice that the two above dictionaries same the same thing.

We also notice they say this word 'ereb means IMMEDIATELY before
sunset. Well as we look at EVERY place in the OT where this word
is used we have to question the accuracy of such a statement.
But let's suppose it is true. What constitutes "immediately
before sunset"? Does 3 pm in the middle of the afternoon mean
"immediately before sunset"? Does high noon or one second after
the sun starts to make its descent from high noon to sunset mean
"immediately before sunset"? Some would have you believe it does.
Some like the theology of the Pharisees would have you believe
"immediately before sunset" means or can mean, immediately the
second when the sun starts to go down from its highest point of
the day.

I really DOUBT that Nelson or Vine was trying to say what the
Pharisees taught when they said 'ereb is immediately before and
after sunset.

I DOUBT Nelson and Vine thought 'ereb was kinda "generic" or so
broad that it could include ANY TIME from HIGH NOON until the
MORNING of sunrise.

We have seen that in ONE case the word 'ereb can mean NIGHT, but
NIGHT is not 3 pm in the afternoon nor is it the second after
high noon.

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 'rb sps (= m'rb), "sunset." Other
important Hebrew words for time periods of the day are: yom
"day," 'et "time," boker "morning," and layla "night" (all of
which see). Some have suggested that "Europe," the western land
is derived from this root (BDB, GB and cf. the American Heritage
Dictionary ).
'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), delimiting the six days of
divine creative activity, This phrase would indicate that in
ancient Israel a day began with sunrise. Some have felt this at
variance with the Jewish practice of regarding sunset as the
beginning of the next day. Cassuto, after dealing with the
biblical data and the Jewish custom, concludes that there was
"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" (U.Cassuto, Genesis, l,
p.29 [his emphasis]. This judgment appears vindicated in the
employment of 'ereb in Levitical legislation respecing un-
cleanness. 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 sacrifice 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.

END QUOTE


The TWOT presents the thought that the Jews reckoned the day as
beginning in the morning or sunrise, but I have seen very little
or no evidence to support such a claim that the Jews from the
days of Moses ever taught or believed or practiced such a time
setting as starting the day in the morning (of course some small
sects of Judaism may have taught such a theology, but I am not
aware of even those sects, if they ever existed at all, teaching
such a beginning of the day time frame - Keith Hunt).

What is important to note is that the scholars of the TWOT NEVER
CAME CLOSE to stating that 'ereb or "evening" could EVER mean the
middle of the afternoon or the second after high noon. 

If they had thought or had come in their studies of the word as
used in the OT, that "evening" could be 3 pm or immediately after
high noon, they surely would have said SOMETHING to that effect.
If they had come to realize that "evening" could be a broad
"generic" time frame to include a large portion of the day light
hours, even right back to the second after high noon as the
Pharisees taught, they surely would have stated something to that
effect for us....BUT THEY STATE NOTHING CLOSE TO THAT, completely
SILENT with such an idea for "evening."

We shall now start to go through EVERY PLACE in the OT where
'ereb is used, looking at the CONTEXT of each. I shall use the
Englishman's Hebrew/Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament,
that lists every place where #6153 (of Strong's Concordance) is
found.

This will be a long but thorough study, and will take a number of
studies to complete, which in turn may take me a number of
months, as I have other studies to work on and up-load to this
Website.

Keith Hunt

December 2003

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