The Language of Creation, Confronting the God-Plus-Evolution Myth (Part 2)

24-Hour Days

The final meaning refers to days of 24‑hours. The most basic way of defining a day was from evening to evening, which is indicated in the text by evening and morning. The ancient Israelites, contrary to us, started their new days at sunset. Thus, Friday night right after sunset would already be considered the Sabbath and the day would end Saturday evening at around the same time.


Another way to indicate a regular day of 24‑hours is by hayom hazeh היום הזה which is translated as “the very same day.” In Gen 7:13 we read: “On the very same day Noah…entered the ark.” Likewise, Gen 17:23 states: “So Abraham took… all who were born in his house… and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day…” In both of these passages, the word day makes reference to the same day – that is the 24-hour period they were currently in. It is clear that the word here does not refer to an indefinite period of time but rather to a 24-hour period.

Days with a Cardinal Number

When a cardinal number (one, two, three, four, etc.) appears in front of the word day, it refers only and always to one (or many) period(s) of 24 hours. There are numerous verses which elucidate this point. “But Jacob said to him… ‘And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die.’” (Gen 33:13)


What Jacob is saying to his brother Esau is that there is a limit to how far little children and cattle can go in one day. The reference is clearly to one 24-hour period of time. Numbers 11:20 clarifies the usage even more. The children of Israel complained against the LORD because they did not have meat like they had in Egypt, the very place where God rescued them from. In frustration with his stubborn children, He declares that they will have more meat than they know what to do with: “You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you…”  (Num 11:20)


Here the meaning of day or days is clear. There would be not just one, or two, or five, or ten, or twenty days, but a whole month’s worth of meat. The meaning of the word day is augmented by the contrast with the word “month” chodesh חודשׁ, which only refers to the time of about thirty days or one cycle of the moon and never anything else.


Further proof that yom day refers to a 24-hour day when preceded by cardinal numbers is found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. God, in explaining the judgment coming upon the world, says, “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights…” (Gen 7:4) God gave Noah another seven days – not long, indefinite periods of time, but seven 24-hour days, until the floodwaters would come. Indeed after seven literal days, the waters of the flood came: “And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth.” (Gen 7:10) Verse 11 surpasses the previous two in precision by telling us exactly when this occurred. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up…” (Gen 7:11)


This description is not just about some indefinite period of time. It was on the 17th of the second month, a very real time that the flood came. And then the record (verse 24) tells us specifically how long the waters were on the earth. “And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days.” One hundred and fifty days in the text is not some long, undetermined era. Some people would contend that the days of the flood are irrelevant since Noah was simply a mythical or an allegorical figure. However, if one accepts the words of Jesus and the New Testament, then one must also accept that Noah was a real person who lived through the worldwide flood. (See Mat 24:37, 38, Luke 17:26, 27, 1Pet 3:20, 2Pet 2:5, Heb 11:7) Thus, because Jesus and the disciples accepted Noah as real, we must understand the days described in Gen as being real, 24-hour days.


The list of verses in the Hebrew Scriptures is extensive which confirms that every time a number comes before day it is referring to a 24‑hour day; a few more examples clearly illustrate the principle. “Then he put three days’ journey between himself and Jacob…” (Gen 30:36). “Forty days were required for [Joseph]… and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days” (Gen 50:3). “And seven days passed after the LORD had struck the river” (Exod 7:25). “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel” (Exod 12:15). “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none” (Exod 16:26). “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land?” (2 Samuel 24:13). Although there are too many verses to list them all here, throughout the entire Hebrew Scriptures, in every case where a number precedes day, it deals with the literal usage of day rather than an indefinite period of time.


The days in Gen 1, therefore, should be understood as literal, 24-hour days due to the usage of the limitation of the evening and the morning (see also Num 28:3, 4) found throughout Genesis 1 (the fact that the sun was not created until the fourth day is irrelevant since the rotation of the earth is what constitutes a day – the light source is immaterial). Even though the evidence points to literal, 24-hour days in Genesis one, the old-earth camp is still persuaded that these days are long periods of time rather than normal (24-hour) days. They suggest that the usage of ordinal numbers (first, second, third, fourth etc.) rather than cardinals denotes different eras of time and thus the first era (day) is followed by the second era (day) etc. where each day equals an unknown but extremely long period of time in which the slow processes of evolution, with God’s help, had enough time according to Darwin’s model of slow change.


There are some fatal flaws to this theory, however, from a biblical perspective. First of all, the first day of Genesis in the Hebrew is not actually defined as the first day, but rather as day one or yom echad יום אחד. The word echad is the cardinal number one and should not be understood as first ראשׁון rishon, but as in the series one, two, three, four, etc. We have seen previously that any time day occurs with a cardinal number, it always refers to a literal, 24-hour day. So we can conclude that the first day of creation was 24 hours.

Days with Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.) are also used in a literal sense when used with day just like cardinal numbers. Ezekiel records that on a particular (literal) day of a particular month of a particular year God again spoke to him: “Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me” (Ezek 24:1). Likewise, Ezra records the exact day when the temple was finished: “Now the temple was finished on the third day of the month of Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius” (Ezra 6:15).


We find in the book of Numbers a usage of ordinal numbers that is parallel to Gen 1. In Gen 1 we saw the chronology of creation described as one day and then the second day, the third day etc. In Numbers 29, God lists the various sacrifices and on which day they are to be performed for the feast of Tabernacles. Notice that the days listed have the same ordinal numbers as used in Gen. “On the second day (יום השׁני yom hasheni) present twelve young bulls…On the third day (יום השׁלישׁי yom hashlishi) present…On the fourth day (יום הרביעי yom harevi’i) present… On the fifth day (יום החמישׁי yom hachamishi) present…” (Num 29:17, 20, 23, 26).


The days above were most certainly real and literal days in which specific things had to happen; they were not long drawn out periods of time. The text employs the use of ordinal numbers as does Gen 1 but here we do not conclude that those days were indefinite periods of time; they were simply days. Thus even with ordinal numbers a day is just a literal, 24-hour day.