New Testament Jews used the proportional system was used to calculate the hours of the day

Jews in the New Testament used the proportional system to calculate the hours of the day.   I deduced this from Jesus’ response to the disciples’ question about his daring to return to Bethany in the face of death threats from the Jews .He said, “aren’t there twelve hours in the day?” (John 11: 9).

According to, the proportional hour is calculated by dividing total daylight time of  a particular day (from sunrise until sunset) into twelve equal parts.

For example, if the sun rises at 5 a.m. and sets at 7:30 p.m., one proportional hour  would be 72.5 minutes long.  The 3rd hour of the day would come to a close at 8:37:30 a.m. The timing of hours would therefore vary by the season and even by the length of daylight in the particular day.


Jesus had been arrested late Thursday night and tried and beaten in the Jewish and Roman courts all night long. In order to calculate the time of the events, we would have to know at what time the sun arose. In order to apply the example, let us assume that the sun had risen at 6am and set at 6pm on the day of His crucifixion:

  • Pilate sentenced Jesus to crucifixion at the 6th hour/ 11am – noon during the preparation of the Passover (Jn 19: 14)
  • The Lamb of God is crucified at the 3rd hour/8 am – 9am (Mk 15: 25)
  • Between the 6th – 9th hours/2pm – 3pm, darkness covered the whole land (Mark 15: 33)
  • Jesus cried with a loud voice about the 9th hour and gave up the ghost. The vail in the temple rent immediately from top to bottom; there was a great earthquake and resurrection of the dead saints (Mark 15: 34; John 27: 46 – 53).