1. Introduction

Nights in Scripture encompassed

  • evening or sunset
  • twilight
  • midnight
  • dawn

2. When do evenings begin?

`Ereb (H6513) is the Hebrew word for evening. It was the time when the sun begins to set until the time it set. It is a part of the night:

  • There was enough light to allow women  visibility to draw water from the wells (Genesis 24: 11)
  • Jeremiah spoke of the shadows of the evening (Jeremiah 6: 4).
  • Joshua killed 5 kings and hung them on trees until evening and removed them at the time of the going down of the sun. Evening was therefore the time of the sunset (Joshua 10: 26 & 27).
  • Evening in the New Testament also referred to the time when the sun was setting and after sunset (Mark 1: 32; Mark 15: 42; Luke 4: 40; Luke 23: 54)
  • `Ereb is also used for night (Genesis 49: 27; Leviticus 6: 20; Job 7: 4; Psalm 30: 5)
  • The Passover was eaten in the evening of Abib 14th (Leviticus 23: 5)

3. Twilight

Twilight occurred after sunset

  • Stars appeared (Job 3: 9)
  • Four leprous men rose up in the twilight and headed over to the Syrian camp. As they hobbled, God made their amplified the sound of their feet. The Syrians heard the sound a  great army, horses and  chariots and they fled in the twilight (2 Kings 7: 5-7)
  • After discovering the location of the Amalekites who had captured his and his warriors’ families, David fought against them from twilight to the evening of the next day (1 Samuel 30: 17).
  • Prostitutes came out in the twilight to lure men (Proverbs 7: 9).

4. Night and Midnight

According to the scriptures, the period after midnight is still night. For example, the Exodus from Egypt indicate that the same Hebrew word layil is used for both night and midnight:  Midnight was the midpoint between sunset of the previous day to sunrise of the following day.

  • “and Moses said, thus saith the Lord, about midnight (layil), will I go out into the midst of Egypt
  • …at midnight (layil) God smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 11:4; 12:29)
  • Pharaoh and his citizens arose in the night (layil) to discover the dead firstborn.
  • Pharaoh then called for Moses and Aaron in the night (layil). Keep in mind that it was now after midnight (Exodus 12: 30 & 31).
  • The Jews left Egypt during the night of  Abib/Nisan 14th. Although they left in a hurry, it would have taken maybe up to three hours to finally exit. 

5. Dawn

I found one unfortunate text which gave an indication about the timing of night and day. It was the scenario of the attempted rape of a man by the men of a city. He sent out his concubine to them and they raped her instead:

…they abused her all night until the morning (H1247/boqer/dawn) and when the day (H7837/ shachar/dawn) began to spring(5927/ `alah) they let her go

Then came the woman in the dawning (H6437/panah) of the day and fell down at the door of the …house until it was light (‘owr/H216/sunlight)” (Judges 19: 25 & 26)

The writer emphasized the horror of the woman’s situation by emphasizing the fact that she longed for day to dawn.  He did so by painfully using 5 different references to the dawn versus ONE solitary reference to the sunrise. The  picture which he carefully painted differentiated between night, dawning of the day and sunrise:

  • The men abused her all night until the morning (H1247/boqer). Although boqer was a word generally used for morning,  the writer defined the exact time at which the abuse ended by adding three qualifying phrases.
  • The men let her go when the day (H7837/ shachar/dawn) began to spring(5927/ `alah)
  • The woman painfully found her way back to the house at the dawning (H6437/panah) of the day (H1247/boqer/dawn)
  • She fell down on the steps until it was light or sunrise (‘owr/H216/sunlight).

Dawn was also referred to as the morning watch

Pharaoh and his army pursued after Moses and the Jews after their exodus from Egypt. Three days later, all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men approached on the Jews as they camped by the Red Sea. The Angel of God went between both parties in a pillar of cloud.

After the Red Sea miraculously parted, the Jews passed through its watery depths in the night. Pharaoh and his army pursued after them. During the “morning watch”, God “troubled the host of the Egyptians” so that the wheels of their chariots fell off.  Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and the  waters returned to their full vigor to drown the  Egyptians when the morning appeared (Exodus 14: 20 – 27).