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Each day that God worked in Creation in Genesis chapter one concludes with the words, "And the evening and the morning were the [1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th] day."

Day as we know it, begins with the morning and ends with the evening. Why does the evening come before the morning at the end of each of the six days that God worked in Creation in Genesis chapter one? Could it be that God created evening (the end of day) before morning (the beginning of day) because He is unique in that He is the only being in existence who has no beginning?

This would explain why, with Him, the end comes before the beginning? When the end comes before the beginning... mathematically, the end has no beginning. The beginning has no end. And the middle has no beginning and no end because they are all transcendent.

                  (No beginning)An end/A beginning (No end) 

Does that make any sense? Can anyone help me with this puzzling question of why the evening (or the end of day) comes before the morning (or the beginning of day) at the end of each of the six days that God worked in Creation in Genesis chapter one?

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    Darkness existed before light. – Tony Chan Mar 8 at 17:53
  • The Jews obviously has interpreted it that a day starts about 6pm. An alternative interpretation might otherwise be: “And that was the end and the beginning of the x day”. – Constantthin Mar 10 at 22:53
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In all societies, there must be a convention about when the cycle of the day begins such as:

  • In most modern societies it is mid-night
  • In some farming communities the start and end of the day is sun-rise
  • In modern astronomical calculation it is mid-day

In ancient Jewish and Hebrew reckoning, the day began with sun-set. One can see this in several OT references:

  • Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31, "There was evening and and there was morning - the nth day"
  • Lev 23:23 - It will be a Sabbath of complete rest for you, and you shall humble yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to keep your Sabbath.”
  • Dan 8:14 - ... For 2,300 evenings and mornings [ie, days]; then the sanctuary will be justified

Note the comments of Ellicott in his remarks about Lev 23:23

In the ninth day of the month at even.—In accordance with the ancient mode of counting the day, the tenth of the month began with the evening of the ninth. (See Leviticus 16:29.)

Thus, the OT daily calendar regarded the day as beginning at sun-set. Modern Jewish religious observance preserves this.

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In Jewish society, a day begins at 6:00 PM rather than 12:00 AM, hence the "evening" is at the beginning of the day and the "morning" comes after. From what I can tell, this is the reason for "evening" being mentioned first.

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    More accurately, a day begins at sunset. – arp Mar 9 at 2:18
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    But isn't this answer 'backwards'. It is saying "a day begins at the evening and the morning comes after" is wy evening is mentioned first in Genesis (to answer the question.) But was it that way always, and thus the OT was written that way, or was the OT written that way and Judaism followed? I would think that Genesis was written based on the belief of God's creation, and Judaism followed, because first there was darkness.... – CGCampbell Mar 9 at 13:03
  • @CGCampbell Great point! My answer was that evening's mentioned first because of Jewish society's understanding, but it makes more sense to say Jewish society's understanding is because the evening's mentioned first in Genesis. – The Editor Mar 10 at 15:04
  • Right. and before someone complains that Judaism existed prior to the OT being 'written down', my point is that assuming Judaism believes in the fact of Genesis, it was a fact before Judaism started. So, the OT was written in support of what was known by it's writers as fact. Creation (what was recorded in Genesis) came first, then the religious adherents and beliefs, then the OT in spoken form, then written form. It simply had to be this way. (point of personal fact, I am an agnostic, so this is all as my understanding, not based on religious schooling.) – CGCampbell Mar 10 at 15:24
  • @CGCampbell You may be an agnostic, but I think the general point you're making is correct. If Genesis is true, then it appears the evening was first, which led to the Jews understanding the day as beginning in the evening, not vice versa. – The Editor Mar 10 at 16:15
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In Genesis 1:2, it's dark. In Genesis 1:3, there is light. This establishes the time ordering: darkness precedes light.

In Genesis 1:5, the darkness is called Night and the light is called Day. Then, still in the established ordering, the evening and the following morning is the first day.

You say "Day as we know it, begins with the morning and ends with the evening." But this is a convention and it is a convention deeply steeped in the demands of labor and sleep cycles (which have changed as a result of the industrial revolution). It seems a bit ambitious to project this ordering merely 2000 years, much moreso to project it to the Creation.

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    Excellent response and I thoroughly agree. +1 and welcome to this stack. – Nihil Sine Deo Mar 10 at 4:47
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    +1 for convention. If we're out for an evening with friends and midnight passes, it's fully idiomatic to speak of the subsequent morning as "tomorrow" ("I'll sleep in tomorrow morning", "I've got an early meeting tomorrow morning", etc.) even though it's the same day. If we're in a mode where waking corresponds more or less with daybreak, then psychologically that's the start of our "day". – CCTO Mar 10 at 14:45
  • @CCTO agree. I strongly think that 4am makes more sense as a “tomorrow” - midnight just makes things confusing. – Tim Mar 10 at 18:23
  • @Tim, yes, it's about 4 am when I'd say, "Dang, I've been up all night". Didn't TV Guide use to include slots up to about 6 am with the prior day's schedule? Back when stations signed off at 1 or 2 am, it was pretty easy to define "our broadcast day", but even with 24-hr broadcasting, it made no sense to start a new "day" in the middle of Letterman or SNL. (I have no idea if there are still printed TV Guides.) – CCTO Mar 10 at 18:57
  • @CCTO as an example, an all day bus ticket in my city runs from whenever you activate it until 4am the next day. So you can go out to a club (or used to be able to!) and get back when it closes on the same ticket. Makes a lot more sense. – Tim Mar 10 at 19:13
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The Editor above provides the most likely answer to this question, but I will offer one other, less likely possibility. The creation narrative of Genesis 1:1-2:3 appears to be a prologue to the book of Genesis, and appears to take the format of a Hymn. If this wording were awkward to the Hebrew reader (and it most likely is not for the reason given in The Editor's Answer, then it is likely because this phrasing better fits the structures and any rhyming that may be present in the Hymn/Prologue of Genesis, thus allowing the writer(s) to better follow their chosen format.

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”Day as we know it, begins with the morning and ends with the evening. Why does the evening come before the morning at the end of each of the six days that God worked in Creation in Genesis chapter one?”

The principle question is why must you assume the evening is the end of the day? Says who? Modern society? Sure that’s how we are forced to set our clocks if we want to partake in the marketplace.

If God says evening, going into the night comes first, then that’s the beginning of the day and morning going into the daytime, is the end of the day.

It’s backwards to say that since the Hebrew people considered the day started in the evening that this is why Genesis 1 reads as it does. Rather because God said the day starts with the evening that is why the Hebrew people started their day in the evening.

In light of this your subsequent question

”Could it be that God created evening (the end of day) before morning (the beginning of day) because He is unique in that He is the only being in existence who has no beginning?”

becomes moot as you are contrasting two entirely different paradigms and the axioms contained within them, are by nature going to conflict.

Possibly you meant to ask why does God consider the darkness to be the first part of the day, the beginning and the day to end with illumination, with daytime? How does this reflect on His character?

In order of events, He created darkness first

“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭45:7‬ ‭

Darkness was over the cosmos, heavens and earth, or over the waters.

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:2

Afterwards God brought forth the light and had to separate the light from the darkness.

And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭

Your question implies that darkness is uncreated. That doesn’t correspond to the text, even if it agrees with modern western thinking. Darkness cannot exist unless first there is somewhere for it to exist in. Prior to the beginning, prior to the creation of the cosmos there was nothing, meaning darkness itself did not exist either.

Conclusion

As such evening being first is an acknowledgment of chronology. The first day, which started in Genesis 1:1 at the beginning, at 00:00:00, corresponded to the evening time on subsequent days. When the sun went beyond the horizon around its circuit that was the end of one day and the beginning of the next. (And the sun was only placed in the heavens on day four, it didn’t exist prior to day four).

If we want to understand biblical prophecy and timing is of the essence then it pays to know when the day starts.

“But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭25:6‬ ‭

If you think with a modern mind you would think midnight is the end of the current day, when in fact it’s already hours into the next day or what we would call tomorrow.

This passage if it has any prophetic correlation, and you were to understand it thinking we are already at the seventh day, the calendar is going into the eight day already, something should have happened already, you’d be misled because midnight is in the eight day and the Calendar would be expected to flow over into the eight day (thousandth year).

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    Mute should be moot. – CGCampbell Mar 10 at 16:26
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All good things come from heaven. There was no day or sun or time before God started creating. The absence of light (God is light) we call night. In hell they call it eternity.

Bereshit describes this event. God established the order of eternity with this act. In the terms that God operates on, it was as if you or I would have thought of the word yes. Many words are used to convey this concept to our minds. 'Light Be' was said which made the universe and everything in it. It was Yeshua that came forth from His mouth.

The concept of evening was not truly understood until the 'day' came. As many will not understand how many of God's blessings they had, until they have been removed (in death). He sends sun and rain to the good and the wicked.

Eventually, for our way of understanding, he will separate these two types of existence, one to everlasting joy (the eternal co-existence in God's presence {and they will have no need of the sun, and they will not hunger -- in God's rest}) and the other to everlasting condemnation (the absence of God's presence {and the smoke of their torment ascendeth forever, in darkness and there is no rest -- for hell hath torment}).

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