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The Days Of Creation


Hornet
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Is Genesis chapter 1, does the word "day" mean a 24-hour period of time? I was just wondering because many Christians think that this word is not referring to a 24-hour period of time. They think that the word "day" means "a long, indefinite period of time." In the other chapters of Genesis, the word "day" is referring to a 24-period of time. For example, in Genesis 21:4, Abraham circumcised Isaac when he was eight days old. Obviously, the word "day" refers to a 24-hour period of time in this verse.

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Is Genesis chapter 1, does the word "day" mean a 24-hour period of time? I was just wondering because many Christians think that this word is not referring to a 24-hour period of time. They think that the word "day" means "a long, indefinite period of time." In the other chapters of Genesis, the word "day" is referring to a 24-period of time. For example, in Genesis 21:4, Abraham circumcised Isaac when he was eight days old. Obviously, the word "day" refers to a 24-hour period of time in this verse.

 

The Hebrew word yom 'day' (in its singular form) means a 24-hour period of time or the period of daylight in that period. Like any other word, it can be used metaphorically (like, 'in my father's day, thus and so'). But, I am unaware of anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures in which it is used like this. I explored this question some time ago with a professor of Hebrew whose specialty is Biblical Hebrew. She assured me that the meaning in Genesis is 'day,' not a long, indefinite period of time, 'eon.'

 

Also, please note that in verse 5 in the same passage that God separates the light from the darkness and named the period of light 'day' (yom) and the darkness 'night.'

 

George

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The Hebrew word yom 'day' (in its singular form) means a 24-hour period of time or the period of daylight in that period. Like any other word, it can be used metaphorically (like, 'in my father's day, thus and so'). But, I am unaware of anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures in which it is used like this. I explored this question some time ago with a professor of Hebrew whose specialty is Biblical Hebrew. She assured me that the meaning in Genesis is 'day,' not a long, indefinite period of time, 'eon.'

 

Also, please note that in verse 5 in the same passage that God separates the light from the darkness and named the period of light 'day' (yom) and the darkness 'night.'

 

George

 

Thank you for your input. Genesis chapter 1 doesn't use any expressions such as "In the days of ..." or "In my ... day."

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Thank you for your input. Genesis chapter 1 doesn't use any expressions such as "In the days of ..." or "In my ... day."

 

Sorry for the confusion, it was a clumsy attempt using an English metaphor to illustrate the point. I am not aware of any instance of the singular yom used this way in the Hebrew Scriptures (nor was the professor I consulted with).

 

There are a number of instances in the Hebrew Scriptures where the plural form 'days' (yamin) is used in this sense. Examples include Gen 26:1, Gen 47:8, 1 Kg 10:21.

 

George

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Is Genesis chapter 1, does the word "day" mean a 24-hour period of time? I was just wondering because many Christians think that this word is not referring to a 24-hour period of time. They think that the word "day" means "a long, indefinite period of time." In the other chapters of Genesis, the word "day" is referring to a 24-period of time. For example, in Genesis 21:4, Abraham circumcised Isaac when he was eight days old. Obviously, the word "day" refers to a 24-hour period of time in this verse.

 

I believe that the biblical narrative, properly read, is that a day is a 24 hour period. To say that a day is a thousand years or some such seems contrived and doesn't make much sense when considering the context.

 

Obviously, then, the story is fictitious and meant to communicate a deeper truth than merely an historical account of the creation.

 

The fact that the story of creation takes place in a garden is significant when you consider the symbolic meaning of such a place in Jewish culture. It's like the song by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Woodstock:

 

Well I came across a child of God, he was walking along the road

And I asked him tell where are you going, this he told me:

Well, I'm going down to Yasgur's farm, going to join in a rock and roll band.

Got to get back to the land, set my soul free.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon,

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden..

 

NORM

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I believe that the biblical narrative, properly read, is that a day is a 24 hour period. To say that a day is a thousand years or some such seems contrived and doesn't make much sense when considering the context.

 

It is not so contrived when taking 2 Peter 3:8 into consideration:

 

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

 

Or Psalm 90:4:

 

"For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night."

 

 

Obviously, then, the story is fictitious and meant to communicate a deeper truth than merely an historical account of the creation.

 

So obviously, you should probably rethink your use of the word "obviously." Especially as modern science so far has continued to reaffirm an Old Earth/Biblical view of the Genesis 1 story. If both Science and the Bible agree on something, I think it's not to hard to trust it as being true.

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It is not so contrived when taking 2 Peter 3:8 into consideration:

 

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

 

Or Psalm 90:4:

 

"For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night."

 

 

Jazmine,

 

I don't think either of these authors intended to propose that a day is, in fact, one thousand years. These were intended to be symbolic or metaphorical. There is no where, to my knowledge, in the Hebrew Scriptures where the singular yom 'day' is unambiguously used to mean a long period of time. If you know of any, I would be most interested.

 

Also, I don't think one can use later writers (particularly one writing in Greek 1000 years +/- later) to explicate the meaning of yom in the Creation Story.

 

BTW, welcome.

 

George

 

George

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I am certainly no expert in Hebrew even though my studies have included such. Yet, the question asked is "In Genesis chapter 1, does the word "day" mean a 24-hour period of time?" . The answer to me, is not so simple unless you were the writer of Genesis and knew exactly what was meant. Why? Because the word "Yom" can indeed mean a wide variety of time periods. See this study for a really interesting perspective on the biblical use of that word.

 

Joseph

 

PS Hi Jazmine. Thanks for posting\ and welcome to the forum. Perhaps you will take a few moments to post a short introduction of yourself in the 'Introduction Area" so we all can be better acquainted.

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Because the word "Yom" can indeed mean a wide variety of time periods. See this study for a really interesting perspective on the biblical use of that word.

 

Joseph

 

Joseph,

 

All the instances, that I am aware of, of 'day' being used in a generic 'eon' sense in the Hebrew Scriptures are the plural yamim 'days.' The word in the Creation Story is singular. I think the confusion comes when authorities don't mention this distinction.

 

With respect to the Creation Story, in earlier verses (Gen 1:3-5), it says the the light was separated from the darkness and God called the light yom 'day' and the darkness night. To presume that the author defines singular yom as the period of light and then immediately switches to an 'eon' meaning is a bit of a stretch.

 

I would be very interested if anyone can cite any verse in the Hebrew Scriptures in which the singular form is used to mean an indefinite period of time.

 

George

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George,

 

If you read the study completely that i referenced where yom is translated time and the other points in the study and still hold to the 24 hour meaning, I guess there is insufficient evidence to determine it for both you and others and people will continue to disagree on that point. Perhaps it is not so simple a matter since there is such great disagreement that remains even with those who have made a timely study of it. Anyway it is not so important to me so i will merely leave it to the writer/(s) of Genesis and those who wish to debate it to believe as they will.

 

Peace,

Joseph

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George,

 

If you read the study completely that i referenced where yom is translated time and the other points in the study and still hold to the 24 hour meaning, I guess there is insufficient evidence to determine it for both you and others and people will continue to disagree on that point. Perhaps it is not so simple a matter since there is such great disagreement that remains even with those who have made a timely study of it. Anyway it is not so important to me so i will merely leave it to the writer/(s) of Genesis and those who wish to debate it to believe as they will.

 

Peace,

Joseph

 

This study, in fact, supports the point I made earlier that these 'authorities' fail to make the distinction between the singular and plural. The plural form, like in English and other languages, is syntactically and semantically different from the singular (which is used in the Creation Story).

 

I did not check every reference they used, but selected the ones that I thought might be the best candidates for a long period of time meaning:

 

1 Kg 11:42 - plural

1 Kg 1:1 - plural

2 Chr 2:19 - plural

Gen 47:28 - plural

Gen 21:2 - The word yom is not in this verse.

Gen 21:7 - The word yom is not in this verse.

Zech 8:4 - plural

Deut 5:29 plural

Gen 40:4 plural

2 Chr 15:3 - plural

 

I found no evidence that the singular 'yom' is used in any of these to indicate a long period of time. In fact, the word yom did not even occur in two of the references cited.

 

If you can find such a usage in the Hebrew Scriptures, I would be most interested.

 

George

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George ,

 

Try this reasoning..... HERE. tell us what you think.

 

Unpersuasive.

 

It says, "Nothing is symbolic. The Hebrew word yom has three literal meanings - a 12-hour period of time (sunrise to sunset), a 24-hour period of time from sunset to sunset (the Hebrew day), and an indefinite period of time."

 

But, it offers no evidence of the "indefinite period of time" meaning. To assert something as a fact and offer no supporting evidence is not impressive scholarship.

 

I would like these 'authorities' to give just one clear, unambiguous citation from the Hebrew Scriptures of the singular yom used in this sense. I am not saying it doesn't exist. I am saying I have never found it and I have looked several times. And, I consulted with a professor of Biblical Hebrew (and native speaker of Hebrew) several years ago on this question. She said it did not mean an indefinite period of time.

 

George

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George,

 

After hearing your point of view and re-examining the data you supplied privately, I concur that. perhaps from your deeper level of research in Hebrew texts, to the best of our knowledge, it can be concluded by me (speaking only for myself) , at least for now, that the writer actually meant a 24 hour period and 7 literal days rather than as i originally suggested. Thanks for all your research and patience.

 

Joseph

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George,

 

it can be concluded by me (speaking only for myself) , at least for now, that the writer actually meant a 24 hour period and 7 literal days rather than as i originally suggested. Thanks for all your research and patience.

 

Joseph

 

Joseph,

 

Thank you for the kind comments. I don't think a literal reading (as 7, 24-hour days or the alternative 7 eons) is necessary for appreciating the story. It could still have been intended as metaphor.

 

Also, I think the author shows great insight into the general order of creation well before any scientific information was known.

 

George

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