August 12, 2021
NOTE: It is important, at the outset, for the reader to know that this blog post from yours truly, John Rosemond, is an extension of my previous blog post (Aug. 5, 2021). Part two, if you will. Whether you have read that post or not, I highly recommend that you read or re-read it before plunging herein.
Among others, Ken Hamm, Founder and CEO of Answers in Genesis, insists that the word “day” used six times in Genesis 1 as “And there was evening, and there was morning, the (numerical adjective) day” refers to a 24-hour period. I mention Hamm in particular because he (a) is arguably the most well-known 24-hour day advocate and (b) seems to be one of those fellows who is challenged by the mere fleeting thought that he might be mistaken about something. To be sure, Hamm is correct about many things, but he is wrong on this issue.
First, when the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) was written by Moses, God’s scribe, Hebrew was a relatively young language. It did not consist, relatively speaking, of a large number of root words. It was also highly metaphorical. For those reasons primarily, many words had multiple meanings. “Day” is one such example. As is the case with “day” in English (e.g. “in Ben Frankin’s day…), a yom in Hebrew could/can mean, in addition to a 24-hour period, a longer, even much longer, period of time.
Take a gander at Genesis 1, verses 4 and 5: “God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”
Could it be reasonably asserted that the two uses of “day” mean the same thing? Did God call the light a 24-hour something. No, it could not and He did not. The first use does not refer to a passage of time while the second use obviously does.
So, we have thus far established that the word “day” in Genesis 1 does not always mean the same thing from one usage to the next. Context is everything. Now, we must establish that when “day” is used to mean a passage of time, the passage in question is not 24-hours in length.
The first observation to be made in that regard is that God did not create the sun—the heavenly body by which a solar day (24 hours, approx.) is defined—until “day” four. Said another way, a 24-hour day did not exist on “days” one, two, and three.
But the most compelling reason to reject the 24-hour day hypothesis has nothing to do with the meaning of the word yom but with the meanings of two Hebrew words even more important to a correct understanding of the Bible’s creation account—erev and boker.
Each of the Bible’s six creation days ends with “And there was evening, and there was morning—the [numeric adjective] day.” Why is evening named first? After all, the space between dusk (evening) and dawn (morning) is night, not day. Furthermore, the sun and moon—by which time on earth is and has always been ascertained—were not created until day four, so the question becomes: On days one, two, and three (specifically), what is meant by evening and morning if evening and morning (as we understand the terms) did not yet exist?
Old Testament scholars point out that the Hebrew words for evening and morning—erev and boker—can also mean, respectively, chaos and order. If those were the meanings intended, or one of the meanings intended, then what is described is precisely what happened as God formed the universe: He took the boiling chaos of the Big Bang and brought order to it, organizing it into its fundamental components, beginning with the elements, according to set laws of physics and chemistry. Furthermore, He did so in stages, the way a cabinet maker would build an armoire, an artist would execute a portrait, or a contractor would build a house. God began with a concept, a blueprint of sorts, and went about executing it in a precisely intentional manner, making sense out of non-sense. If true (and I believe it is), then this means that “day” (yom) in the Genesis account does not refer to a twenty-four-hour cycle, but to the period of time between chaos and order in each of six phases of creation, that the lengths of said periods may well differ, and that the actual length of any interval is irrelevant to the purpose of this essay.
Copyright 2021, John K. Rosemond