Watches of the night

The Old Testament scriptures speak of  watches of the night (Psalm 63 :6; Psalm 90: 4; Psalm 119: 148).  The night watches were divided into:

  • The beginning of the night watch – Lamentation 2: 19
  • The middle watch – Saul  and his army slew their enemies from the middle watch until the heat of the day (Judges 7: 19)
  • The morning watch –  Exodus 15: 24 and  1 Sam 11:11

We may be able to deduce their timing from the contexts in which the words are used. For example, the Lord troubled the Egyptians in the morning (boqer) watch. Boqer (H1242) is the Hebew word used for morning in the text and it is qualified in scriptures by the additions of adjectives such “dawning” and “early”

For example:

  • Dawning of the day (boqer) – Judges 19: 26
  • Early (H 7925) morning referred to the dawning of the day (Joshua 6: 15).
  • Early morning in this verse was associated with the dawning of the day and the time when the sun reflected red rays unto the water (2 Kings 3: 22).

This tells us that the morning watch was the dawn of the day.  For example, the first morning watch in the table below would have begun at 5.33 am and ended at 6. 42 pm:


Times for: S. Paulo, Brazil
Time Zone: -3 | DST: no

Alot Hashachar (dawn) 5:33 am
Earliest Tallit and Tefillin 5:56 am
Netz Hachamah (sunrise) 6:42 am
Latest Shema 9:27 am
Zman Tefillah 10:22 am
Chatzot (midday) 12:12 pm
Minchah Gedolah (earliest Minchah) 12:39 pm
Minchah Ketanah 3:24 pm
Plag Haminchah 4:33 pm
Shkiah (sunset) 5:42 pm
Tzeit Hakochovim (nightfall) 6:11 pm
Chatzot (midnight) 12:12 am
Sha’ah Zemanit (proportional hour) 55 (2010)   Zmanim – Halachic Times on Thursday, July 29, 2010 (18 Av, 5770)  for Sao Paulo, Brazil