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My Research on the Bible and Biblical Hebrew Shorties

In biblical Hebrew — “Yom” is not necessarily “Day”

“Day” in Genesis Creation Narrative is not necessarily Day (consistently with other uses of “Yom” in biblical Hebrew).

In a recent post (and an accompanying podcast), we have shown that Erev and Boker, in Genesis creation narrative (Genesis 1), do not represent “Evening” and “Morning”, as commonly interpreted, and as traditionally assumed. Rather, these two words represent, respectively, two states — one of “Mixture”, Erev, the other of its opposite, Boker (outcome of sorting out the mixture into its constituents, namely, a state of “non-mixture”).

Does Yom in Genesis 1 mean “Day” (as commonly translated into English)?

Or perhaps the word, as used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, has a more general meaning, denoting, simply and non-specifically, “Period of time”?

To answer this intriguing question, we inspect verses in the Jewish Hebrew Bible, where Yom is used. The latter appears therein, with variations, no less than 2291 times. Naturally, in most cases Yom, and its variations, represent “Day”.

But…not always and not necessarily so.

We find out that in a considerable proportion of the verses, Yom simply denotes “Period”, whether in the future (future period, “in/on that day”) or currently (present period, “to this day”). We note that “Time”, in the common sense, does not appear at all in the Bible (where it rarely does appear, it means exclusively a specified point in time, like in “appointment time”). Therefore, “Day” is used instead to denote unspecified period of time. No other meaning can possibly be attached to the word, as it appears and being used in those verses.

Here are a few examples:

[1] “…he is the father of Mo’av to this day” (Genesis 19:37-38);

[2] “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and Jehovah alone shall be exalted on that day” (Isaiah 2:11);

[3] “And it shall come to pass on that day that Jehovah shall beat out his harvest from the strongly flowing river to the Wadi of Egypt, and you shall be gathered up one by one, O Children of Israel” (Isaiah 27:12);

[4] “In that day shall the Lord of Hosts be a glorious crown, beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people” (Isaiah 28:5);

[5] “For the day is near, the day of Jehovah is near, a day of clouds, a time of doom it shall be for the nations” (Ezekiel 30:3);

[6] “In that day people will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, even from Egypt to the river, and from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain” (Micha 7:12);

[7] “On that day Jehovah will be one and His name One” (Zechariah 14:9).

4 replies on “In biblical Hebrew — “Yom” is not necessarily “Day””

Very interesting explanation. Indeed if one follows up the concept of DAY in the Torah and in the entire Tana”ch, “Day” is not always a 24H period of time, but rather is used in a wider context of clarity etc.

This is much clearer once you re-read Genesis 1,5:
“וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד.”
So hashem called the LIGHT day, the light is called Yom. The darkness is called Layla. So therefore, it automatically splits 24 hours days into 2 sections and those are the repeated sections of times where we have this separation, so together they are YOM, but in the more generalize term, you can see by the fact Hashem calls the LIGHT day as things are actualized and are clear are called Yom. One needs to pounder further about the concept of light and how it used. Things are “clear as day” in Hebrew: Barur Kashemesh.

Thank you very much !

Oren

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Excellent explanation, in particular, Genesis specified equivalence of “Light” with “Yom”, and “Lack-of -Light” (Darkness) with “Layla” (Night). Thank you for the comment.

Liked by 2 people

Thanks for the comment. I am sure that this interpretation (as appearing in the post) solves one long-standing mystery of Genesis 1: The use of the term “Day” before the sun was even made (on the Fourth Day). Thus, a logical flaw inherent to current interpretation of “Day” in Genesis 1 is in fact eliminated.

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