And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:5b ASV)
The King James Version translates this verse as follows: “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” This reads so much differently than the above rendering, so let’s look at it in the Hebrew…
Gen 1:5b ויהיH1961 ערבH6153 ויהיH1961 בקרH1242 יוםH3117 אחד׃H259
H1961 “hayah” H6153 “ereb” H1961 “hayah” H1242 “boqer” H3117 “yom” H259 “echad”.
The Young’s Literal Translation translates this as: “and there is an evening, and there is a morning–day one.”
Sadly, the KJV gives the impression that the evening and the morning comprise the first Day in that order, causing great confusion for those reading it in English. So many have taken this statement to mean that God just took what was separated (light and darkness) and now has joined the two together to form another kind of “Day”…and…the Day begins in the evening.
But when we read the more literal rendering, we see this is just indicating that there is an evening, and there is a morning, and a “Day” is being enumerated.
The word translated as “evening” is “ereb” (H6153); its root word means: “to grow dark”. This word appears 134 times in the Old Testament (Tanakh) with its first mentions in Genesis 1. Here are some examples of it being used elsewhere:
And the two angels came to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth; and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn aside, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your way. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. (Genesis 19:1-2 ASV)
And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him. And he went in unto her. And Laban gave Zilpah his handmaid unto his daughter Leah for a handmaid. And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah. (Genesis 29:22-25a ASV)
And Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for I have surely hired thee with my son’s mandrakes. And he lay with her that night. (Genesis 30:16 ASV)
Benjamin is a wolf that raveneth: In the morning he shall devour the prey, And at even he shall divide the spoil. (Genesis 49:27 ASV)
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood about Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand about thee from morning unto even? And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God: when they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
And Moses’ father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for the thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee: be thou for the people to God-ward, and bring thou the causes unto God: and thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. (Exodus 18:13-20 ASV)
Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar: two lambs a year old day by day continually. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even: and with the one lamb a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil, and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink-offering. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meal-offering of the morning, and according to the drink-offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. It shall be a continual burnt-offering throughout your generations at the door of the tent of meeting before Jehovah, where I will meet with you, to speak there unto thee. (Exodus 29:38-42 ASV)
The word translated as “morning” is “boqer” (H1242); it means: “break of day” and its root word means: “to seek or inquire”. It appears 214 times in the Old Testament (Tanakh). Here are just some examples of it being used in Genesis:
And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before Jehovah: and he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the Plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace. (Genesis 19:27-28 ASV)
But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, because of the woman whom thou hast taken. For she is a man’s wife. Now Abimelech had not come near her. And he said, Lord, wilt thou slay even a righteous nation? Said he not himself unto me, She is my sister? And she, even she herself said, He is my brother. In the integrity of my heart and the innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in the dream, Yea, I know that in the integrity of thy heart thou has done this, and I also withheld thee from sinning against me. Therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man’s wife. For he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live. And if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine. And Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ear. And the men were sore afraid. (Genesis 20:3-8 ASV)
And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and gave her the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. (Genesis 21:14 ASV)
And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. And he clave the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. (Genesis 22:3 ASV)
And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night. And they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master. (Genesis 24:54 ASV)
With these examples of “evening/even” (“ereb”) and “morning” (“boqer) (in addition to all of the other mentions in Scripture), along with an understanding of their lingual roots, I think it is clear that “ereb” marks the latter part of Day when it grows dark, and then comes Night. Then, at the end of Night, “boqer” marks the beginning or break of Day. The former is a transition from light to darkness and the latter is a transition from darkness to light.
Given this, consider…
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was a transition from light to darkness [evening] and there was a transition from darkness to light [morning], one light [day]. (Gen 1:3-5)
“Day” does not cease to be the light that is separated from the darkness with the reading of verse 5b. Rather, we are seeing a transition taking place from one Day to the next (in the verses that follow).
God performs a work of creation on one Day. There is a transition from light to darkness…bringing on Night. Then another transition from darkness to light…bringing on a new Day. This takes place six times in Genesis 1.
Then in Genesis 2, we see that God has finished His work of creation, and He ceases from His work on the 7th Day.
And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3 ASV)
When evening comes, we know the end of Day is drawing near. Then, comes Night. And we look to the morning for the start of a new Day.