Monday, September 13, 2010

The Hebrew Word for "day" is יום "Yowm"

The definition of the Hebrew word translated as "day" in English is found in your Strong's Concordance.

#3117 יום "yowm" From an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literal (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figurative (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverb):--age, + always, + chronicals, continually(-ance), daily, ((birth-), each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone), + elder, X end, + evening, + (for) ever(-lasting, -more), X full, life, as (so) long as (... live), (even) now, + old, + outlived, + perpetually, presently, + remaineth, X required, season, X since, space, then, (process of) time, + as at other times, + in trouble, weather, (as) when, (a, the, within a) while (that), X whole (+ age), (full) year(-ly), + younger.

A definition of a word does not necessarily give you a definition of the term. For that you must look at the context in which it is used. So what does Genesis chapter one, the first place where the word יום appears in the Bible, tell us about the definition of the term?

Genesis 1:5 MKJV 5 And God called the light, Day. And He called the darkness, Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

In this verse the word yowm יום is used twice. The first time it describes what “God called the light”. The second time it defines a period of time between “the evening and the morning”. This seems like a contradiction because the time between “the evening and the morning” is a period of time dominated by darkness or what we call night.

You have to look beyond the English translation and into the Hebrew context. What does this verse mean from the Hebrew cultural perspective? First of all the word yowm is three Hebrew letters "י", the "ו" and the "ם", Hebrew is read right to left. The letters are the Yood, the Vav and the Mem. The yood means hand, the vav means nail, to secure or control and the mem means chaos or waters. So in the literal meaning, yowm means “the hand that controls the waters”.

In Jewish tradition a “day” is defined as “between the evenings”, that is from one evening, or sunset to the next. The understanding is that the “evening” is the beginning of the period of darkness and the “morning” is the beginning of the period of light. And since the Torah describes a “day” (second usage) as “the evening and the morning”, a complete day always begins at sunset and continues to the next sunset including both the night and day (first usage) periods.

Elsewhere in the creation account in Genesis, we see that when God first created the earth and it was without form and void. He then, by His word alone created light. He then by His hand (yood) separated the light from the darkness. It also says in the Genesis creation account that God “separated the waters from the waters”. We see his Hand (yood), separating, or controlling (vav) the waters (mem).

Each day when the sun sets, and each day when the sun rises, remember that it is only by the hand of God that the universe is secure. That the “chaos” is “controlled” by His “hand”.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan Cathcart

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