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Abarim Publications' Biblical Dictionary: The New Testament Greek word: ωρα

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/om/om-r-a.html

ωρα

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary

ωρα

The noun ωρα (hora) describes a time interval of indefinite length but natural manifestation (years, months, days, but not centuries and millennia). It comes from the Proto-Indo-European root yer- from which we get our word "year" and was also adopted into English as the word "hour"; that's twice the same word, both times meaning "a certain stretch of time". Actually, our Greek word ωρα (hora) describes any cycle of time that can be clearly observed in nature: a year, season, month, day and even the parts of a day that are observable: morning, noon, afternoon, evening. Since an hour is largely arbitrary, our Greek word didn't mean "hour" in the sense of sixty minutes, but rather as arbitrary marker to indicate how far the actually observable cycle (the day) had progressed. In other words: the third hour was mark number 3 on the dial but not the time span between marks 2 and 3.

Our word was used to indicate specific points in a temporal cycle. Hence bedtime was known as the hour of going to bed. Since all business occurred during the day, for ordinary people the day had twelve hours but the night did not (John 11:9) In the second century BC, an astronomer called Hipparchus had begun to also divide the night into 12 hours, but that was largely a theoretical endeavor and only useful for astronomers. Preceded by the preposition προς (pros), which describes a motion toward, the idiom "approaching an hour" or rather "a little while" was formed.

Our word in plural may denote any string of cycles but is used proverbially to indicate the seasons and particularly spring. Since spring was associated with blushing youth, the word ωρα (hora) acquired a connotation of loveliness. In Greek mythology, the Horae were lush female deities in charge of the seasons.

The noun ωρα (hora) is used 107 times in the new testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:

  • Together with the prefix ημι (hemi), meaning half: the noun ημιωριον (hemiorion), meaning half-period (Revelation 8:1 only).
  • The adjective ωραιος (horaios), literally meaning timely, or pertaining to just the right time. Our core word ωρα (hora) was associated with spring, and spring with fair maidens and dapper suitors, and our adjective ωραιος (horaios) reflects just that. In the flow of the narrative it can often be translated with youthful, beautiful or attractive. It occurs 4 times in the New Testament, twice as the name of one of the gates of Jerusalem; see full concordance.