Between the Evenings

1.a. "Between the evenings" is an uncomfortable concept for those not familiar with Biblical time keeping. But it is wording used eleven times in the Old Testament as confirmed by the Masoretic Text (MT), Jay P. Green Sr.’s Interlinear Bible (TIB) and Robert Young's Literal Translation (YLT). It is not used in two popular translations: The King James (KJV) and the New International Version (NIV). Even though it is absent in the KJV translation and the word even or evening is substituted this does not negate the fact that the concept of "between the evenings" is still present. Please bear with us while we explain this.

 

1.b. Why is this explanation of "Between the Evenings" to be believed while all the others available are not, unless of course they agree with this apologetic? The other explanations focus on that which Rabbinical Judaism teaches, or that which some other groups apparently believed in antiquity. This apologetic is not concerned with the opinions of men, whether those opinions be ancient or modern. This apologetic is only concerned with one thing - that which God teaches! The Bible is our only authority! The other explanations build their case upon the errant and random musings of men. This explanation depends only upon Bible Scriptures. Also, I have not sought out this definition of "between the evenings" to satisfy any preconceived agenda: such as when the Jewish sacrifices and Passover must (according to their desires) occur. This would include Hebrew Roots groups and others that concern themselves with observing Old Testament rituals in contrast with that which Christ expects of us in the New Testament.

 

1.c. Some, who write on this subject, correctly point out that between the evenings is transliterated from the Hebrew to English as ben ha arbayim. Ben is between. Ha is the, or the two. Arbayim is evenings, with the “im” on the end making the word plural. This is the last time I will discuss ben ha arbayim because this teaching not only Scripturally defines between the evenings, but it also Scripturally defines even/evening. So I am not concerned with the “ha” for “the” in the middle, that is pretty elementary. I am concerned with the root words of “between (beyn ביך)” and “even or evening (ereb ערב)”. I have not inserted the diacritic markings because I do not have the software with which to do so, if it even exists - I assume it must somewhere.

 

2.a. First, let us approach this subject in reverse. We will give you the meaning of "between the evenings". If you want to know the Scriptural support for this meaning, then please read on. If you are satisfied with the meaning we give, then you can stop here and be confident that you have the correct Biblical definition. However, it is always recommended to read on and to verify the Scriptures that are used.

 

2.b. In the Bible, there are two evens in each day. When the sun reaches its apex in the sky, which is high noon, it is then no longer rising or waxing. The sun then begins to descend or wane. This is the first even in a day. When the sun sets, even though there may be up to thirty minutes of daylight available, the second even of the day has occurred. Between the evenings is the time period between these two evens. In other words, between the evenings is between noon and sundown. There is no afternoon in biblical time keeping, that period of the day is called evening or between the evenings. If a reference has been erroneously made to afternoon (KJV Judges 19:8) it is because the text has been modernized to our current day concept of afternoon.

 

2.c. Therefore, during all Biblical times and especially with the Hebrews, any time between noon and sundown was considered to be in the evening. In our modern society in America, we think of evening as the time between sundown and bedtime. We really do not know when our evening ends, and our evening end may be different for different people. But Biblically, an evening is very defined: it is between the time the sun begins to wane in the sky and when the last sliver of the disk of the sun disappears below the western horizon.

 

2.d. So, each time you read even or evening in the Bible, you must discern by the context, which even or evening is being spoken of: 

 

(1) noon, 

 

(2) sundown, 

 

(3) any time between noon and sundown, or 

 

(4) the entire period between noon and sundown. 

 

Do not make the mistake that even or evening in the Bible has the same meaning as it does today. Doing so will obscure the full and proper meaning of the text. Unfortunately, this is the error made by most translators, scholars, pastors and laymen.

 

2.e. Now that we know what between the evenings means, let us explore some key Scriptures that apply this concept.

 

3.a. Genesis 24:11 KJV, "And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening (Strong's H6153 ereb ערב), even the time that women go out to draw water." Please keep in mind that italicized words are not in the original text, but are added by the translators to convey the original meaning in the language we are reading. However, sometimes these additions are irritating and in the way, rather than being helpful. One could read the above Scripture, leaving out the italicized words, and do no damage to the meaning of the sentence.

 

3.b. When is "the time of the evening (ereb ערב)”. It certainly is not sundown. People would be drawing their water in the dark. Especially on this particular occasion, when Rebekah drew water for ten camels. It seems to me that she was a mighty herculean woman. You try drawing water from a well with a bucket or even a hand pump system and see how long it takes you to fill ten thirsty camels. Personally, I would collapse from fatigue before I finished, even on my best day. If it was not at sundown, then it must have been prior to sundown. How much prior? I would suspect at least an hour prior to sundown, maybe more. The point is, the Scriptures are describing a time of day as evening ereb ערב when it is broad daylight in the afternoon according to our current day reckoning. This Scripture supports the idea of between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב being a time between the noontime even ereb ערב and the sundown even ereb ערב. The afternoon (according to our current day reckoning) was, in Genesis, the evening ereb ערב. After sundown it was night, prior to sundown it was evening ereb ערב. There was no time of day that was referred to as afternoon.

 

4.a. Exodus 16:12-13 KJV, "12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even (Strong's H996 beyn ביך the H6153 ereb ערב) ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am [Yahowah] your God. 13 And it came to pass, that at even (Strong's H6153 ereb ערב) the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the host." Verse 12 tells us the quail are coming between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב, in other words sometime from noon to sundown. Then verse 13 tells us that they came at even ereb ערב, in other words they came in the afternoon, but I would judge that it began to happen at the first even ereb ערב of the day; i.e., noontime. In Biblical times one must determine when even ereb ערב means noon, sundown, any time between noon and sundown, or the entire period between these two evenings ereb ערב. God is not going to tell us that the quail will arrive between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב and then one verse later tell us they arrived at sundown (the second even ereb ערב of the day). Both references to even ereb ערב and between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב in verses 12 and 13 are telling us that the quail are arriving and then did arrive in the evening ereb ערב, which begins at noon (which is our modern day afternoon).

 

4.b. Please notice that in verse 16:12 the King James translators, when translating the word even ereb ערב, ignored the Hebrew word beyn ביך which means between. I am at a lost to explain why scholars would make such an omission. If they wished to leave the impression that this was going to happen after sundown, the beginning of our modern day evening, then they have committed the worst possible infraction that a translator can commit: The infraction is that they have stopped being translators and have become interpreters. If this omission had been corrected in subsequent translations, that would have ended the problem. But it has not been corrected. The last King James Bible I bought off the shelf still reflects the same gross error. But we still have some translations that are true to the original wording: Two that I know of are Robert Young's Literal Translation and Jay P. Green Sr.'s Interlinear Bible. The Stone Edition Tanach also does not use “between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב”, however, they do correctly translate it as “afternoon”, which updates ancient evening to our modern concept of afternoon.

 

4.c. A correct translation of Exodus 16:12 would be "I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, [between the evenings] (Strong's H996 beyn ביך the H6153 ereb ערב) ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am [Yahowah] your God." Then we would know that when the quail arrived in verse 13 that even ereb ערב meant the high noon even ereb ערב when the sun first stops rising and begins going down.

 

5.a. Here is another Scripture that shows how the King James translators translated the term between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב. Exodus 29:38-39 KJV, "38 Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even (Strong's H6153 ereb ערב)." Exodus 29:38-39 TIB, "38 And this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs daily, sons of a year; 39 the one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the second lamb you shall offer between (Strong's H996 beyn ביך)  the evenings (Strong's H6153 ereb ערב).” Lamb one is sacrificed in the morning. Lamb two, according to the KJV wording, is sacrificed at even ereb ערב. This can lead one to mistakenly assume that the second lamb was sacrificed at sundown. The TIB makes it clear that the second lamb was sacrificed between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב, which is prior to sundown, most likely in mid-evening (our current day mid-afternoon).

 

5.b. We must consider the whole council of God to determine what the King James translators meant when they used the term even or evening instead of between the evenings. Further into this teaching, the stories in 1 Kings 18 and Matthew 14 make it hard to believe that these translators were not aware of the concept of "between the evenings" and that it meant the period of time from noon to sunset. Personally, I think they missed it because of some other troublesome translations they did along the way - those are not addressed in this teaching.

 

6.a. Leviticus 22:6-7 KJV, "6 The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even (Strong's H6153 ereb ערב), and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water. 7 And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food." These two verses show that even ereb ערב can mean sundown. Even ereb ערב has several other meanings that must be determined in context.

 

6.b. Even is a time marker. In verse 7 we have another time marker - “when the sun is down”. Without this second time marker, one (who knows the correct meaning of even) might be confused which even is being spoken of before he becomes clean again. But the use of when the sun is down shows us that the even being spoken of is the sunset even.

 

7.a. Judges 19:8 KJV, "And he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart; and the damsel's father said, Comfort thine heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon (Strong's H5186 natah כםה), and they did eat both of them." This is the only Scripture in the KJV that uses the word afternoon. The Masoretic text as translated in the Interlinear Bible and Young's Literal Translation show that afternoon is not the most accurate translation. The Hebrew word natah כםה does not mean afternoon. It has a multitude of meanings; however, the most applicable in this verse is “go down”. This is an obvious reference that they tarried until the time of the going down of the sun, which would mean that they tarried until noon or later which is in the evening ereb ערב (our modern day afternoon). Jay P. Green translates it as “turning of the day”, which means noon. The day turns when the sun stops waxing or rising and begins to wane or descend.

 

7.b. This meaning of natah כםה “go down” is in agreement with Gesenius' Lexicon's meaning for the word ereb (Strong's H6153 ereb ערב). Ereb ערב is shown to have a meaning of "the time when the sun begins to descend to be called the first evening ereb ערב (or little evening ereb ערב), which is noon, when it begins to draw towards evening ereb ערב; and the second evening ereb ערב to be the real sunset". 

 

7.c. Ask yourself, when does the sun stop rising in the sky? It stops rising at noon time. It stops rising at the point it starts to descend or go down; literally, when it begins to draw towards the second evening ereb ערב which is sunset. If the sun stops rising at noon, then when does the sun start to go down or descend or draw towards sunset? The answer is the same: It begins to descend at noon time, the same time it stops rising.

 

7.d. Ask yourself, how long does the sun go down? If it starts going down at noon, then it must continue to go down for the rest of the day, until it has set - which is sundown. This is why, in Biblical time keeping, evening ereb ערב begins at noon and continues for the rest of the day. This is why even/evening ereb ערב can mean one of four things:

 

(1) noon, 

 

(2) sundown, 

 

(3) any time between noon and sundown, or 

 

(4) the entire period between noon and sundown.

 

It must be determined from the context, which of the four meanings apply.

 

7.e. Natah כםה is also used in Jeremiah 6:4 (shown below) as “stretched out”. This usage is in conjunction with ereb ערב and the full sentence tells us that the evening ereb ערב (our modern day afternoon) is the time of day in which “the shadows of the evening ereb ערב are stretched out”. In other words, we could use the meaning of natah as “go down” or “stretched out” and it would give us the same conclusion. That conclusion is that we are addressing the time of day known as between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב, which is our modern day afternoon. 

 

8.a. Elijah had issued a challenge to the prophets of Baal. The prophets of Baal were to offer a sacrifice to their god without lighting a fire. They were to call upon their god to light the fire. Afterward, Elijah was to offer a sacrifice to Yahowah and call upon Him to light the fire. The god who could light his own sacrifice was to be declared the One True God.

 

8.b. We will pick this story up in 1 Kings 18:26-27,29 KJV, "26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded." Please notice that the priests of Baal were busy until past noon (the first even ereb ערב). Verse 29 states "they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice". This offering being discussed is the daily between beyn ביך the evenings ereb ערב sacrifice to Yahowah. This evening ereb ערב sacrifice is not talking about the noontime even ereb ערב or the sundown even ereb ערב, it is speaking to the period between these two evens ereb ערב, which is the time that the evening ereb ערב (afternoon in our time) sacrifice takes place, as shown above in Exodus 29. The KJV translators have inserted the word "evening" to clarify which sacrifice was being spoken of. The word "evening" is not in the Masoretic Text.

 

8.c. 1 Kings 18:36 KJV, "And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, [Yahowah] God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word." Please notice that the evening sacrifice was now taking place. This “evening" was not sundown, but was occurring in daylight between beyn ביך the two evenings ereb ערב.

 

8.d. How do we know that this sacrifice was not taking place at sundown? By reading the remaining Scriptures after verse 36 we will see that too many events occurred after the sacrifice that could not have occurred after sundown. Verse 40, 450 prophets of Baal were rounded up by Elijah's supporters and taken to the brook Kishon and executed. Verse 42, Ahab had a meal while Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel and prayed. Verse 43, Elijah sent his servant seven times to look out to sea for rain clouds to begin forming. Verses 45 and 46, Ahab rode to Jezreel while Elijah ran to Jezreel. Could all of these events have occurred in the twilight and dark after a sundown sacrifice? This is highly doubtful, especially since the rain clouds and heavy downpour would have blocked all light from an after sundown sky even if there was a full moon. Besides, do you think Elijah's servant was looking into the distance for rain clouds to begin forming, in a moonlit sky? Do you think that 450 prophets of Baal just huddled together like a bunch of cattle and allowed themselves to be herded down to the brook Kishon for execution? I would suspect that a lot of time consuming fighting and struggling took place. If you want to believe that the evening sacrifice took place at sundown and all of these events occurred after sundown, then you are going to have to stretch your imagination even more in Matthew 14.

 

8.e. 1 Kings 18 has revealed that the evening sacrifice occurred prior to sunset, most likely several hours prior.

 

9.a. Next we will look at Jeremiah 6:4 KJV, “Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening (Strong's H6153 ereb ערב) are stretched out (Strong's H5186 natah כםה).” Can you spot the four time markers in this Scripture? First, there is “noon”. Second, there is “the day goeth away”. Third, there is “the shadows of the evening are stretched out.” And, fourth, we have a time marker within a time marker, it is “evening”.

 

9.b. (1) “Noon” is straightforward. It means the same as our current day noon; when the sun has reached its apex in the sky and is no longer waxing, it will now begin to wane. 

 

(2) “The day goeth away” means that the sun is setting, and it sets beginning at noon and continues to set until sundown; in other words, the day is going away. 

 

(3) When do the “shadows of the evening stretch out”? They cannot stretch out when the sun has disappeared below the western horizon because the light source which causes shadows is gone. 

 

(4) Therefore, evening ereb ערב must mean between noon and sundown for this is the only time of day that shadows stretch out. A photographer and a painter understand this concept quite well. They are forever searching for the time of day that the shadows are cast perfectly for their picture. Try and tell one of these artists that the best shadows are after sundown (our modern day concept of evening) and they will laugh at you.

 

This Scripture makes it very clear that the use of evening ereb ערב means the entire time between noon and sundown.

 

10.a. Matthew 14:15-23 KJV, "15 And when it was evening (Strong's G3798 apsios οψιος), his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. 16 But [Yahoshua] said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. 17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18 He said, Bring them hither to me. 19 And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. 20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. 21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. 22 And straightway [Yahoshua] constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening (Strong's G3798 apsios οψιος) was come, he was there alone.

 

Verse 15 states that it was already evening, in other words, the first even of the day had passed, it was now between the evenings. This story is told in all four gospels: Mark 6:35-47, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:5-17. The lateness of the hour is expressed in three of the gospels: Matthew 14:15 "the time is now passed"; Mark 6:35 "And when the day was now far spent"; and Luke 9:12 "And when the day began to wear away". 

 

Not only was it evening (afternoon in our time), but it was late evening (afternoon in our time). The concern of the disciples seemed to be that many were going to miss the evening meal if action was not taken to send the people into the nearby villages to buy food before the shops closed.

 

10.b. The second evening occurs in verse 23. Since the time the disciples expressed concern about the lateness of the hour several time consuming events occurred. Five thousand men, not counting the women and children, were fed, and the disciplines then gathered up twelve basketfuls of leftovers. Then the disciplines got into a boat and sailed away, while Yahoshua dismissed the crowd of ten to fifteen thousand people. Then Yahoshua walked or climbed up a mountain and then He began to pray until evening came yet again. This would be the second evening, which is sundown. 

 

10.c. Would anyone care to venture a guess as to how many hours transpired between the disciples comments and sundown? The main point is that several hours must have transpired between the time the disciples expressed concern about the lateness of the evening (afternoon in our time) and the second even (sundown in our time).

 

If I were to guess the time of the evening when the disciples expressed concern of the lateness of the day, I would guess that it was at least half way to sundown. One can easily divide the sky in half. Then take the second half of the sky and eyeball it and cut it in half again. Now you can see, if the sun is halfway to the horizon, that there is about one quarter of a day left.

 

11. Mark 1:32 KJV, "And at even (Strong's G3798 apsios οψιος), when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils." The parallel passages are Matthew 8:16 and Luke 4:40. This verse begs the question: If even means sundown and nothing else, then why add the time marker "when the sun did set"? I believe this phrase is added so that the time of day spoken of was better identified. After all, it could have been the noontime even. But we are told that it is the sundown even being spoken of. This verse supports the idea that even can mean sundown, as shown earlier in this treatise. Even has several other meanings that must be determined in context.

 

12.a. Without a proper understanding of between the evenings and that a day has two evens in one day, then one is forever subject to errors when trying to figure out what some Scriptures say and properly mean. One cannot discern when the term even means sundown has occurred or when the term even means noontime has occurred. This is very important in determining when a day begins and when a day ends. It is very important when counting the days and nights between the crucifixion and the resurrection

 

12.b. This is why I have yet to find a scholar, pastor, or church that correctly understands the chronology of events of crucifixion week. There may be some out there who do understand, but I have not found them yet. I see nothing but wild speculations and dogmatic answers that are not Biblical. The two most common errors is that they claim the crucifixion occurred on Friday Passover when it did not, and that there were two sabbaths in the week with a non-sabbath day between them. Some go so far as to claim that two different calendars were employed with two separate dates for Passover in the same week. Without the proper understanding of between the evenings and that a Biblical day start is sunrise, plus a few other factors, it is impossible for these people to reach a proper conclusion of the matter.

 

13.a. In the Works of Josephus, 12th printing of August 1996, page 749, "The Wars of the Jews", book 6, chapter 9, section 3 (6.9.3), it states: "So these high priests, upon the coming of their feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour till the eleventh…".  If we estimate a 6 AM sunrise and a 6 PM sunset, the beginning of the ninth hour is 2 PM, between the evenings. In Hebrew society, at that time, the counting of the hours began at sunrise. The first even is noon (the beginning of the 7th hour) and the second even is sundown (the end of the 12th hour), and between the evenings is from 12 PM to 6 PM. Midway between the evenings is the beginning of the tenth hour or 3 PM, the midpoint between 12 PM (noon) and 6 PM (approximate time of sundown).

 

13.b. Even though the Works of Josephus is an extra-biblical source it does contain historical information. Josephus identifies that the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb occurs between, in our modern time frames, 2 PM and 4 PM. Between the evenings is a phrase used eleven times in two translations (TIB and YLT) as shown in the Masoretic Text. Nine of these eleven times it is referring to the sacrifice of an animal. Five of these nine times it is directly referring to the Passover sacrifice. Once again, this reinforces the definition of "between the evenings" to mean after the noontime even and prior to the sundown even. 

 

13.c. "Between the evenings" can be found in the following Scriptures: Exodus 12:6; 16:12; 29:39,41; 30:8; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:3,5,11; 28:4,8. You can find these eleven verses by going to BibleGateway.com (as of this writing) at http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=genesis+1:1. Search for "between the evenings" under the "keyword search" using Young's Literal Translation.

 

14. We welcome constructive input supported by Scriptures from the Bible. Please contact us by using the contact icon. Copyright ©2010 and ©2014 Richard Douglas Mauck and/or Sandra Faye Mauck. All rights reserved. This material is copyrighted to protect the integrity of this work. Permission is hereby granted to copy this treatise in its entirety as long as no editing is done, no charge is made to those with whom it is shared, and full credit is given to the authors.