I'm trying to explore the symbolic uses of time in the Fourth Gospel. My question is: "What is the significance of 4pm (the tenth hour) to first century, and older, Jews?
John 1:39 (KJV), He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.
John 1:39 (NRSV), He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
I note here that it says "almost the tenth hour." I figured the author may have been using this as a sort of anticipation building or indicating of a new beginning, or something that is about to happen. I googled this and found an article describing how the modern day state of Israel was established at exactly 4pm on May 14, 1948. That piqued my interest. Why did they wait for that exact moment? Couldn't find an answer.
But at the same time, 10th hour is a relative measure in these contexts. The NRSV transaltes it as 4'oclock, but that would only be true on one of the two equinox days of the year when the day is exactly 12 hours of daylight long. Otherwise, relative time defined the day with the sixth hour always at noon. The equinox day in 1948 was March 20th, not may 14, so this was not the tenth hour.
So the tenth hour is 2/3 of the way from apex sun (noon, 6th hour) to sunset (when the next day starts.
10 ("almost the tenth hour," John 1:39
I was able to find in Josephus
Josephus [Wars (vi.ix.§ 3)]: "...their feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour to the eleventh, etc." (roughly corresponding to 3 o'clock pm to 5 o'clock pm).
So is this an illusion to preparation of Jesus for sacrifice? Is there some other meaning? I can't imagine that that was the reason behind modern Israel defining it's new beginning at 4pm. This wikipedia page says they selected the meeting time at "16:00 (a time chosen so as not to breach the sabbath)."
There doesn't seem to be an indication of the time of year, in John 1. Does anyone have a deeper Jewish background (or can phone a rabbi friend), and can provide an answer on the significance of it being "almost the tenth hour?"