1. Question:

If a "Jewish Calendar Day" is from Sunset to Sunset, and if the 10th is Yom Kippur, then does Leviticus 23 create a contradiction by excluding the daytime portion of the 10th?

If the traditional/Rabbinical reckoning is valid, then wouldn't "from evening to evening", from the 9th to the 10th, only include: 9th Evening, 9th Morning/Day, 10th Evening.

Wouldn't the day of the 10th would be completely omitted?

In order to ensure the Yom Kippur Sabbath be kept, shouldn't Leviticus 23 have included the 11th, rather than the 9th if the traditional sunset to sunset reckoning is valid?

Shouldn't Leviticus 23 read something like:

From the 10th at Evening, until the 11th at Evening.

Instead of:

From the 9th at Evening, until the 10th at Evening.

2. The Text :

In Lev. 23:28-32, God commands to observe the 10th day as the Sabbath:

NASB, Leviticus 23:27 - “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement;

Lev. 23:32, chabad.org It is a complete day of rest for you [שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן], and you shall afflict yourselves.

But in the rest of the verse, it says:

On the ninth of the month in the evening, from evening to evening, you shall observe your rest day.

A plain reading of the text appears that the purpose of including the Evening of the 9th was to act as a fence for the earliest parts of the tenth, in the morning.

But, if a "Jewish Calendar Day" begins in the evening, (as the Babylonians) - then that explanation no longer makes sense.

In what ways can the contradiction be resolved? How has it been addressed historically?

  • Can you provide any parallel construction where the initially mentioned evening is said to be allotted to the day following, and not the day preceding. One example to the contrary would be Esther 2:14(i.e. evening and morrow are separate). Also saying the day begins 'in the evening' of the previous day makes no sense; it begins 'with the evening' of the previous day(e.g. perhaps on the order of nanoseconds). Furthermore your comment about the morning isn't well defined(sunset vs sunrise).
    – user21676
    Mar 19, 2020 at 9:12
  • @user21676 - Well, I know of no place in Scripture where a calendar day is documented as beginning in the evening. (This seems to be only a Babylonian/Rabbinic doctrine.) Even in Genesis 1, there are three parts of the day, "God Working", "Evening", then "Morning"... That is why this question exists, because the Rabbinic calendar reckoning doesn't make sense in this context. Mar 19, 2020 at 23:32

1 Answer 1


The rabbinic interpretation of this verse is given in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashanah, Folio 9a.

Whence then does R. Ishmael derive the rule that an addition is to be made from the profane on to the holy? — From what has been taught: And ye shall afflict your souls on the ninth day: I might think [literally] on the ninth day. It therefore says, In the evening. if in the evening, I might think, after dark? It therefore says , ‘or, the ninth day’. What then am I to understand? That we begin fasting while it is yet day; which shows that we add from the profane on to the holy.

(Soncino translation)

In other words, the rabbis derived from here that though the holiday in actuality starts at the night following the ninth day, one must add on to the holiday with some of the ninth day.

  • Thanks Alex, this is exactly the kind of answer I am looking for. But here, it is argued to take from the common/profane day, (the 9th), and add it to the holy... But of the "holy" ends the tenth, at evening, then the day of the tenth, (which follows), would be taken away, right? Mar 18, 2020 at 10:39

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