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"At Even" does that mean at sunset or at dark?

If the day begins at even, does that mean at sunset or at dark?

This is important to know since both the weekly and annual Sabbath's are to be observed based on the term "at even".

First lets define what is sunset and dark in an effort to figure this out:

  • Sunset is when the sun is no longer visible but the sky is still lit up from the sunlight.
  • Dark occurs when all the sunlight has disappeared from the sky, which is approximately 25 minutes after sunset.

All the translations are from the Strongs Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary.

So what are the Scriptures that use the statement "At Even" that infer a time of day?

  • "And there came two angels to Sodom at evenH6153; "(Genesis 19:1)
  • "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evenH6153, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even." (Exodus 12:18)
  • "And the other lamb thou shalt offer at evenH6153, " (Exodus 29:41)
  • "And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at evenH6153," (Exodus 30:8) 
    Aaron lit the lamps at even, so it must still have been some what light out.
  • "It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at evenH6153, from even unto evenH6153, shall ye celebrate your sabbath." (Leviticus 23:32)
  • "In the fourteenth day of this month, at evenH6153, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it." (Numbers 9:3)
  • "And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at evenH6153 in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel." (Numbers 9:5)
  • "The fourteenth day of the second month at evenH6153 they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs." (Num 9:11)
  • "And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at evenH6153." (Numbers 19:19)
  • "The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at evenH6153;" (Numbers 28:4)
  • "And the other lamb shalt thou offer at evenH6153: as the meat offering of the morning, and as the drink offering thereof, thou shalt offer it, a sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD." (Numbers 28:8)
  • "But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at evenH6153, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt." (Deuteronomy 16:6) 
    Notice that the sun was not down completely, but going down.
  • "And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evenH6153 in the plains of Jericho." (Joshua 5:10)
  • "And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at evenH6153, which was also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place were Benjamites." (Judges 19:16) 
    It's hard to image that an old man would be walking from his work in the fields back then in total darkness.
  • "And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at evenH6153." (1Samuel 20:5)
  • "And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at evenH6153 he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house." (2Samuel 11:13)
  • "And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at evenH6153: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot." (1Kings 22:35)
  • "And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at evenH6153;" (1Chronicles 23:30)
  • "Then shalt thou bring forth thy stuff by day in their sight, as stuff for removing: and thou shalt go forth at evenH6153 in their sight, as they that go forth into captivity." (Ezekiel 12:4) 
    Notice that it was still light enough out that the they could be seen as they left.

(H6153) From H6150; dusk: - + day, even (-ing, tide), night.
(H6150) A primitive root; to grow dusky at sundown: - be darkened, (toward) evening.

There can be no confusion in that it is the same word used over again in each instance above.

The following are from the new testament:

  • "And at evenG3798, when the sun did setG1416, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils." (Mar 1:32)
  • "Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at evenG3796, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:" (Mar 13:35)

(G3798) From G3796; late; feminine (as noun) afternoon (early eve) or nightfall (later eve): - even (-ing, [-tide]).
(G1416)
Prolonged forms of an obsolete primary word δύω duō (to sink); to go “down”: - set.
(G3796)
(adverbially) late in the day; by extension after the close of the day: - (at) even, in the end.

The following scriptures deal with the subject of a darkness in an effort to show the differences between "at even" and "dark".

  • "And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was darkH5939, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces." (Genesis 15:17)
  • "And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was darkH2822, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them." (Joshua 2:5)
  • "And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be darkH6751 before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day." (Nehemiah 13:19)
  • "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet darkG4653, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre." (John 20:1)

(H5939) Feminine from an unused root meaning to cover; dusk: - dark, twilight.
(H2822) From H2821; the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness: - dark (-ness), night, obscurity.
(H6751) A primitive root (rather identical with H6749 through the idea of hovering over (compare H6754)); to shade, as twilight or an opaque object: - begin to be dark, shadowing.
(G4653) From G4655; dimness, obscurity (literally or figuratively): - dark (-ness).

The following scripture is interesting only in that it uses several terms for both evening and night all in the same sentence.

  • " In the twilight,H5399 in the evening,H6153 H3117 in the blackH380 and darkH653 night:H3915" (Pro 7:9)

(H5399) From H5398; properly a breeze, that is, (by implication) dusk (when the evening breeze prevails): - dark, dawning of the day (morning), night, twilight.
(H6153) From H6150; dusk: - + day, even (-ing, tide), night.
(H3117) From an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literally (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figuratively (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverbially): - age, + always, + chronicles, continually (-ance), daily, ([birth-], each, to) day, (now a, two) days (agone),
(H380) Diminutive from H376; the little man of the eye; the pupil or ball; hence the middle (of night): - apple [of the eye], black, obscure.
(H653) Feminine of H651; duskiness, figuratively misfortune; concretely concealment: - dark, darkness, gloominess, X thick.
(H3915) From the same as H3883; properly a twist (away of the light), that is, night; figuratively adversity: - ([mid-]) night (season).


Final Thought

After reading the above, all indications are that a day begins with the setting of the sun (the sun has gone from view and the land is in complete shadow). When it comes to defining the point at which days begin and end, it is better to use the scriptures and empirical evidence than the traditions of men and a subjective standard.

A good website to check for complete Sun and Moon Data is the Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Keep in mind that the times given at this site are not exact for figuring God's "at even", it will fall some where between sunset and end civil twilight listed depending upon your exact location.

The Church of God Proclaimed




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