In Genesis 1:5, it is written,

5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. NKJV, ©1982

ה וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים לָאוֹר יוֹם וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד

Why does the Bible use different words like עֶרֶב (erev) for evening and לַיְלָה (laila) for night when they both denote the same thing?

  • 6
    The same difference as in English
    – Perry Webb
    Commented May 4, 2019 at 13:34
  • Since a day begins at sunset, it begins with "night." However, God has called the darkness "night." So to say a day begins at "night" is technically incorrect since there is still some light. Calling this "evening" to start a new day avoids this issue. Commented Mar 11, 2020 at 20:25

2 Answers 2


They don't denote the same thing. Just as in English 'sunset' or 'twilight' is different than 'night.'

Evening (ערב) is associated with sunset. BDB first entry:

  1. a. evening, originally sunset, and hence perhaps ׳לְעֵת ע at the time of sunset

The opposite of "evening" is "morning" (בקר) "boker" - where the rising sun breaks through the darkness. BDB has:

a. end of night or b. implying the coming of dawn

Morning (בקר)is different than day (יום) 'Yom' or light (אור) 'or'


The Why

In the Hebrew Calendar system the beginning of the new day starts at sundown. The same could ask why English uses day and noon. Noon represents the specific time of the day. Likewise ereb in the Hebrew represents the specific time of night.

  • 1
    Please edit this to add some supporting evidence for what you're saying.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 1:53

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