19. The yom problem
— Yom; The Biggest Biblical Creation Theory Obstacle —
The word yom
The Hebrew word for day is yom and this word appears in Scriptures over 1400 times. And without exception this word, when written in the singular sense, means day. And that's it. Never anything else. Eons are indicated with the plural form: days, as in the days of such and such. The most popular counter argument is that the meaning of our word is fiercely restricted to 'day' for about a thousand times in the sequential Scriptures, but in the secluded chapter of Genesis 1 means something completely different! But honestly, if in Genesis 1 our word should have meant 'long time' it would have said 'long time'. There are words available in Hebrew that mean just that. None of which occur in Genesis 1.
The word as used in Genesis 1 means day and day alone. There's no way around it, and every serious theory to make (systematic, not theological) sense out of Genesis 1 should first and foremost address the yom-problem.
The solution lies in the rule we've established four chapters ago:
Hold that thought (11)
In Hebrew Scriptures, and all models derived thereof, entities are reckoned solely after their behavior and not after their appearance. An entity is a behavior, not that which executes the behavior.
To define something, the Hebrew language does not look at outer parameters but always at the action that needs to be named. The time-length of a yom is an outer parameter and not regarded in Hebrew. Since time and space are the four dimensions of space-time, and we measure sizes in the spatial dimensions with a ruler, a clock is a ruler for time. An hour is a 'distance' just like a mile.
A yom is not defined as something that is 24 hours long, but something that executes the action that defines a yom. Strictly spoken, a yom does not even have to have a length, as long as it executes the typical behavior that defines it. Forcing a static 24-hour mold upon the word yom may appear quite pious but flies flat in the face of the Second Commandment.
A yom therefore is a phase of a continuum (whether space-time, complexity or something else) that consists of two periods: a 'dark' part and a 'light' part. During the dark part of a regular day people sleep and are disconnected. During the light part they communicate and work together. Any other manifestation of yom should display the same kind of darkness (elements not connected) and lightness (elements connected).
horse ≈ swallow
horse ≈ cow
= between 1 & 2 meters high; 4 legs
|cow ≠ horse ≠ swallow|
swallow = 25 cm long; 2 legs, 2 wings ≠ horse or cow
yom = a phase of a continuum that consists of two periods; dark and light.
During the dark part the elements are not connected.
During the light part the elements are connected.
day = 24 hours long
Examples of he yom-phenomenon other than a civil (24-hour) day
- The birth and getting connected of neurons in a baby's brain.
- The emergence of like-minded people, who find each other and form a society or congregation.
- The emergence of quantum particles that coalize at the moment of hydrogen formation.
- The invention of the electronic computer during WWII; the emergence of the Internet during 80's and 90's.
- Every period of the Household Set (atoms coalize and make cells; cells coalize and make minds).
- When many observations turn into one unified understanding of the universe (faith).
- Even more abstract but certainly valid: herd without shepherd (night) herd with shepherd (day). Same with a nation and king. Same with house and abba.
If you are interested in a lengthy look at Scriptural use of the word yom, check out the below supplement.
Else, step up to the next page:
A close look at Genesis 1 →
On Yom - Keywordsyom:
Day; as in our modern language, the word yom denotes both the entire cycle of one day and the light segment of it. Many wonder if in the Bible a day consists of a dark part first and then the light, or vice versa. But that's typical calendar-thinking. Look at waves on the ocean. Does the wave-peak precede the wave-trough or vice versa?
Activities were conducted on the light part of the day, but in case of special days (Sabbath and feasts) the jurisdiction of rules and regulations pertaining to that day commenced at the closure of the previous light part.
Night; period of darkness.ur:
Light; applied to the full array of electromagnetic functions, as well as instructions, wisdom, grace, blessing, etc. Light brings people together. Since the self-similar applications of the word ur (blessing, grace, etc) may stretch for any length of period, the corresponding yom does so too.hoshek:
Darkness; absence of light, not the absence of God. This word is most often used to indicate curse or judgment, even to describe the darkness of the grave. Lack of light causes people to break apart. (The Second Law of thermo-dynamics dictates that in a system to which no energy (=light) is added the degree of chaos must increase).boqer:
Morning. From the verb baqar, meaning to seek/ inquire. It's suggested that the most rudimental meaning of the root is 'to split', hence the breaking of dawn. But frankly, nothing is broken. Instead the root seems to denote the closing in on something, approaching something (to check it out or to simply bond). Another derivation of this root is 'herd', which is a collection of animals that are loosely bonded. Morning is the time of day when objects become visible and begin to relate, and people begin to connect.ereb:
Evening. Derivation ma'arab is contrasted by mizrah where zarah means 'to rise'. Mizrah means 'place of rising, or the east'. Ma'arab means 'place of setting, or the west'. Hence the root ereb denotes a going down, as opposed to the 'rising' of the word dawn. In the evening all things begin to dissolve against the backdrop of the night.shahar:
Dawn. Comes from a verb meaning both 'be black' and 'seek earnestly'. Black and white are both dark ( Explain) but black is the color of receptivity for light, while white is the color of light-rejection. As with the word for 'morning', the word shahar denotes the quest for relationship.
Most often this word is used in concert with the verb ala, to rise. In Hebrew dawn does not break but rise.
Twilight (both in the evening as in the morning). From the verb nashap, 'to blow': "But He merely blows on them and they whither" - Isaiah 40:24. "You blew with your wind, the sea covered them - Ex 15:10.
Usages of the word yom that may help explain its meaning.
...but of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you may not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.
Immediately after the fall, both physical and spiritual death are introduced (Ephesians 2:1). Yet at the expulsion, Seth still had to be born and Adam lives another 800 years after the birth of Seth. This very difficult passage warrants a much more exhaustive treatment, but for now it suffices to say that if indeed this story reports the lethal consumption of a certain fruit, the death of Adam did not occur on the same civil day as when he ate the fruit. In this particular text, the word yom denotes something else than a civil day.
A civil day follows the setting and rising of the sun. But during a year the sun 'moves' up and down as well, from maximal northern declination on the first day of summer, to maximal southern declination on the first day of winter. The obvious self-similarity of year and day did not go unnoticed by the Bible writers:
For the day of vengeance is to Yahweh, the year of repayments for Zion's cause.
For the day of vengeance is in My heart, and the year of My redeemed has come.
We stress that the word yom to the Hebrews did not put in mind a simple nudge on a calendar but much rather a period of indefinite length and most definite theme, arguing the theme to set the day's boundaries and not the clock, most often not localizing the expressed sentiment to one specific duration of 24 hours at all:
De 32:35 Vengeance and retribution belong to Me; in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the things prepared are hurrying for them.
2 Samuel 22:19 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, and Yahweh was my support.
Job 15:23 He is wandering, for he seeks for bread. Where is it? He knows that the day of darkness is at his hand.
Job 20:28 The increase of his house shall depart, flowing away in the day of His wrath.
Job 21:30 For the wicked is kept for the day of calamity; they shall be brought to the day of wrath.
Job 38:23 which I have reserved for the time of distress for the day of battle and war?
Psalm 18:18 They went before my face in my day of calamity, but Yahweh was my support.
Psalm 20:1 To the chief musician. A Psalm of David. May Yahweh answer you in the day of distress; the name of the God of Jacob set you on high.
Psalm 20:9 Save, O Yahweh! The King will answer us in the day of our calling.
Psalm 27:5 For in the day of evil He shall hide me in His shelter; in the secrecy of His tabernacle, He shall hide me; He shall set me up on a rock.
Psalm 41:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. Blessed is he who acts wisely toward the poor; Yahweh will deliver him in the day of evil.
Psalm 50:15 And call on Me in the day of distress; and I will save you; and you shall glorify Me.
Psalm 59:16 But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing of Your mercy in the morning. For You have been my strong tower, and my hiding place in the day of my trouble.
Psalm 77:2 In the day of my distress I sought the Lord; my hand was open in the night and did not grow numb; my soul refused to be comforted.
Psalm 86:7 I will call on You in the day of my trouble, for You will answer me.
Psalm 102:2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; bow down Your ear to me in the day I call; answer me quickly.
Psalm 110:3 Your people shall be willing in the day of Your power; in holy adornment from the womb of the dawn, to You is the dew of Your youth.
Psalm 110:5 The Lord at Your right hand shatters kings in the day of His anger.
Psalm 137:7 O Yahweh, remember for the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem; who said, Make it bare! Make it bare even to its foundation!
Psalm 140:7 O Yahweh the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of armor.
Pr 6:34 For jealousy is the rage of a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance,
Pr 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
Pr 16:4 Yahweh has made all for His purpose, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Isaiah 2:12 For the day of Yahweh of Hosts shall be on all the proud and lofty ones, and on all that is lifted up; and it will be abased;
Isaiah 13:13 So I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall move out of its place, in the wrath of Yahweh of Hosts, and in the day of His fierce anger.
Isaiah 17:11 In the day of your planting you fence it in; in the morning you make your seed sprout; the harvest is a heap in the day of sickness and incurable pain.
Isaiah 27:8 You will contend with her by driving her away, by sending her away. He shall take away by His harsh wind, in the day of the east wind.
Jeremiah 16:19 O Yahweh, my strength and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the nations shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, Our fathers have inherited only lies, vanity, and there is no profit in them.
Jeremiah 17:17 Do not be a terror to me; You are my refuge in the day of evil.
Lamentations 1:12 Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold, and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow which is done to me, with which Yahweh has afflicted me in the day of His burning anger.
Ezekiel 7:7 The encirclement has come to you, O dwellers of the land. The time has come, the day of tumult is near, and not a shout of the hills.
Ezekiel 16:56 For your sister Sodom was not to be heard from your mouth in the day of your pride,
Ezekiel 22:24 Son of man, speak to her: You are a land, she is not being cleansed, you are not rained on in the day of disgust.
Ezekiel 33:12 And you, son of man, say to the sons of your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his trespass. And the evil of the evil, in the day he turns from his wickedness, he shall not fall by it. And the righteous shall not be able to live by it in the day he sins.