One Day is Day One

God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1:5 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

It occurs to me that there are many foundational ideas present in Genesis, as there are even in this verse. I hate to use the word first, but it is probably best suited.

This is the first mention of the naming of the light period of the day as day, and the dark period of the day as night. The Hebrew word for the day is yom. It is used twice in the verse as is reflected in the English.

Two other words are introduced, erev and boker, the Hebrew words for evening and morning. These have another intriguing usage. Erev generally reflects the idea of mixing, when things become less discernible just as in twilight. Boker connotes the idea of dawn when things become more discernible. Boker also means a splitting of the day. In the Biblical reckoning, dawn is midday.

God is teaching us that these things combined make one day. That is what the Hebrew literally says, one day. It is misleading to think the Bible calls it the first day.

When we read Genesis, most of us are familiar with the idea that there is the first day of creation followed by a short series of more creation days. Consider the idea of reading this without any prior assumptions, like another day following. Also think that there was not a day before, either. What God has done is show us the defining characteristics of one day… Dark and light… Evening and morning. These are the first occurrences of each, and the pair makes one day.

The Hebrew word that is translated as first is echad. It is a cardinal number. It also can serve as an ordinal number. One and two are considered cardinal numbers. First and second are ordinal numbers. Interestingly, echad can be translated one and it can be translated first. It is a seeming peculiarity this one day is day one and the first day.

One day as day one, as there is no second day yet to make this a first day. It is just one day as day one. It is only when the second day comes that the word can mean first.

Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

As we venture forward, the idea introduced earlier is reinforced.

God draws the woman from the man. He takes a part of the man to fashion the helpmate. In this verse are also the first mentions of the words father and mother as well as spouse. The man and wife become one flesh.

There is that Hebrew word echad again. And it is used to again to unify a plurality. Just as evening and morning make one (day,) man and wife make one (flesh.)

And we will roll backward just a bit.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

This is fascinating. God introduces Himself. But underlying the proper English grammar here is Hebrew that doesn’t follow grammar.

The word translated to God is elohim in Hebrew. It is a plural word used as a singular. Hebrew plurals are different. There are two types of plural, the dual plural which uses a suffix of -ayim, and the more-than-two plural which uses the suffix -im.

The singular is eloha.

The dual-plural is elohayim.

The more-than-two plural is elohim.

There is already this idea of a plurality being one. We clearly see the usage of the word echad to convey a unity of parts.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God. The Lord is one!

Deuteronomy 6:4 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)

This is the Shema. It is the central affirmation of faith for Israelis. It is also a spoken affirmation of God.

This will show the blazing truth.

Note back to the Shema, let’s substitute some Hebrew words for the English.

Hear, O Israel: YHWH is our Elohim. YHWH is Echad!

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