From sun time to clock time

“So long as mankind lived by raising crops and herding animals there was not much need for measuring small units of time.  The seasons were all-important–to know when to expect the rain, the snow, the sun, the cold…Daylight time was the only important time, the only time when men could work…

No change in daily experience is more emptying than the loss of the sense of contrast between day and night, light and dark.  Our century of artificial light tempts us to forget the meaning of night… “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day,” announced Jesus (John 9:4…), “the night cometh, when no man can work…

The first step in making night more like day was taken long before people became accustomed to artificial lighting.  It came when man, playing with time, began measuring it off into shorter slices…Our precise uniform hour is a modern invention…sundials, or shadow clocks, were the first measuring devices…

For centuries the sun’s shadow remained the universal measure of time…

Only by escaping the sun’s tyranny would we ever learn to measure out our time in universally uniform spoonfuls…

…for most of history, water provided the measure of time when the sun was not shining.  And until the perfection of the pendulum clock about 1700 the most accurate timepiece was probably the water clock…

While man allowed his time to be parsed by the changing cycles of daylight he remained a slave of the sun.  To become the master of his time, to assimilate night into the day…he had to find a way to mark off precise small portions–not only equal hours, but even minutes and seconds…He would have to make a machine…

These first mechanical clocks came into an age when sunlight circumscribed the times of life and movement, when artificial lights had not yet begun to confuse night with day…imperative of the machine itself, was to incorporate both hours of darkness and hours of sunlight into a single equal-houred twenty-four day…

…for most of history, mankind did not think of a day as a unit of twenty-four hours. Only with the invention and diffusion of the mechanical clock did the notion become common…”

(The Discoverers, by Daniel J. Boorstin, Random House – New York, copyright 1983, Pages 26, 27, 28, 29, 36, 37, 38, 41)




Concordance Definitions

The Guideposts Family Concordance gives some very good definitions on words related to the Biblical “day”:

Day:  “the time between sunup and sundown” (The daylight – Genesis 1:5, 16) (12 hours – John 11:9) (Opposite of night – Mark 5:5)

Dawn:  “the break of day” (Worked from – Nehemiah  4:21) (Joshua  6:15)

Dayspring:  “dawn or sunrise” (Job  38:12)

Morning: “the first part of the day” (Early risers – Judges 19:5, 8)

Noon:  “midday” (2Samuel 4:5)

Evening: “last hours of sunlight” (Meditation – Genesis 24:63)

Sun:  “the luminous solar body that provides light and heat for the earth” (Made to rule – Genesis 1:16)

The Guideposts Family Concordance to the Bible, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers



Excerpt from the book “A Discourse Upon The Sabbath (Year 1628):

“In the next place I am to show what I mean by Day in the 4th commandment:  By Day I understand the time of light only, namely all that space of time and light from day peep or day break in the morning, until day be quite off the sky at night:  that by Day is meant the light, see Genesis 1:5.  God (who knows best to name things) called the Light, Day, see 1Thes. 5:5,8…and that the day begins even while it is but a little light… and this is from first approach of light upon our horizon before sunrise unto the last departure of light, after sunset, from off our horizon…that is the day from day break, to last shutting in of the day, so long as is any light in the sky…”  (pgs. 85-86)

“Now this is the day which God commanded in the 4th commandment and which I urge here, namely, the time of light…”  (pg. 158)

Theophilus Brabourne (1628)

To read more on Theophilus Brabourne you will find more information under “Articles”.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words


“…the beginning of daylight,” is translated “break of day” in Acts 20:11.” (page 147).

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (by W.E. Vine, Merill F. Unger, William White Jr. – Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Atlanta, London, Vancouver. c 1984, 1996.)

The unintended disservice of young earth science

Excerpt from the book, “The unintended disservice of young earth science” By Andrew S. Balian, Esq. (2011), pages 439 & 440:

Numerous encyclopedias and resources clarify that in the Bible a terrestrial day only meant in its specific sense the period of daylight.  It did not include the night-time hours.  Only outside of the Bible did the term day come to mean 24 hours…

Some of this analysis is borrowed from Neil Gardner, A CASE FOR THE 12 HOUR SABBATH…”

The Passover Papers

Excerpt from the book, “The Passover Papers” by Paul R. Finch (2009), page 202:

The present writer believes that only the day period of the seventh day was the Sabbath, and not a 24 hour period that included the night time.  This opinion is not unique to this author.  See Neil Gardner, A Case for the 12 Hour Sabbath…”