The Concept of Time - Night Watches in the Bible

The Concept of Time

The Natural Day was from sunrise to sunset.

The natural Night was from sunset to sunrise.

The Civil Day was, at least in later times in Israel, from sunset one evening to sunset the next day; for “the eveing and the morning were the firstday.”

Night (ancient)

First watch:= until about midnight.(Lam. 2:19)

LAMENTATIONS 2:19 Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street.

Middle watch:= including midnight. (Jud. 7:19)= until 3 A.M.(Ex. 11:4)

JUDGES 7:9 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.


EXODUS 11:4 And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt:

Morning watch: = until 6 A.M.(Ex. 14:24)

EXODUS 14:24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,

Night (New Testament)

First watch, evening                    = 6 to 9 P.M.

Second watch, midnight              = 9 to 12 P.M.

Third watch, cock-crow              = 12 to 3 A.M.

Fourth watch, morning                 = 3 to 6 A.M.

Day (ancient)

Morning: until about 10 A.M.

Heat of the day: until about 2 P.M.

Day’s decline: until about 6 P.M.

Evening or cool of the day: after 6 P.M.

Day (New Testament)

Third hour                           = 6 to 9 A.M.

Sixth hour                           = 9 to 12 midday

Ninth hour                          = 12 to 3 P.M.

Twelfth hour                        = 3 to 6 P.M.

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