The Word – Yom (H3117)
There has been much discussion about the meaning of the word “yom” in scripture. Yom is defined as meaning:
I. to be hot; a day (as the warm hours).
a. whether literally (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next).
b. daylight, daily, every day, each day, today, 24 hours.
II. an age (as a period of time).
a. or figuratively (a space of time defined by an associated term).
b. in the day of, in the lifetime of, during the period of, during the season of.
The word “day”, in English, can be used the same way. We say midnight to midnight is one day. We say that 7am to 8pm is daytime . We also say “Monday is the day I go to the store, but back in my father’s day Friday was the day that he went to the store.”
The Words Describing The Numbers
In Genesis and many other scriptures, the word yom is often preceded by a number, or a modifier (called an ordinal number) such as first, second, and so on. Below are the Hebrew equivalents of these modifiers.
First – Echad (H259)
First, Only, One, Unique
First – Ri’shown (H7223)
First in Time, First in Order, Primary, Foremost
Second – Sheniy (H8145)
Second In Order, Second – the Ordinal Number
Third – Shĕliyshiy (H7992)
Third In Order, Third Time, Third – the Ordinal Number
Fourth – Rĕbiy`iy (H7243)
Fourth In Order, Fourth – the Ordinal Number
Fifth – Chamiyshiy (H2549)
The Ordinal Number – Fifth
Sixth – Shishshiy (H8345)
Sixth In Order, Sixth – the Ordinal Number
Seventh – Shĕbiy`iy (H7637)
The Ordinal Number – Seventh
The use of Echad and Ri’shown – One and First
One – Echad (H259)
Genesis 1:9 – “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto oneH259 place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.”
Numbers 6:1 – “And the priest shall offer the oneH259 for a sin offering, and theother one H259 for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day.”
Numbers 6:14 – “And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, oneH259 he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and oneH259 ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and oneH259 ram without blemish for peace offerings.”
Numbers 6:19 – “And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and oneH259 unleavened cake out of the basket, and oneH259 unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven.”
First– Ri’shown (H7223)
Genesis 25:25 – “And the firstH7223 came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.”
Genesis 38:28 – “And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out firstH7223.”
Exodus 12:2 – “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the firstH7223 month of the year to you.”
The use of Yom – One Day, A Twenty-four Hour Period
Given that the words “yom” and “day” can be used in so many different ways, the question becomes, “Are the days in Genesis literal twenty-four hour periods, or are they some other measure of time?” Let’s look at the comparisons and see just how “yom” is to be understood in Genesis.
First Day – Echad Yom (H259 – H3117)
Genesis 1:5 – “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the firstH259 day H3117.”
First Day– Ri’shown Yom (H7223 – H3117)
Numbers 7:12 – “And he that offered his offering the firstH7223 day H3117 was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah:”
Second Day – Sheniy Yom (H8145 – H3117)
Genesis 1:8 – “And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second H8145 day H3117.”
Numbers 7:18 – “On the second H8145 day H3117 Nethaneel the son of Zuar, prince of Issachar, offered:”
Joshua 6:14 – “And the second H8145 day H3117 they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.”
Third Day – Shĕliyshiy Yom (H7992 – H3117)
Genesis 1:13 – “And the evening and the morning were the third H7992 day H3117.”
Leviticus 19:6 – “It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third H7992 day H3117, it shall be burnt in the fire.”
Numbers 7:24 – “On the third H7992 day H3117 Eliab the son of Helon, prince of the children of Zebulun, offered:”
Numbers 29:20 – “And on the third H7992 day H3117 eleven bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs of the first year without blemish;”
Fourth Day – Rĕbiy`Iy Yom (H7243 – H3117)
Genesis 1:19 – “And the evening and the morning were the fourth H7243 day H3117.”
Numbers 7:30 – “On the fourth H7243 day H3117 Elizur the son of Shedeur, prince of the children of Reuben, offered:”
2 Chronicles 20:26 – “And on the fourth H7243 day H3117 they assembled themselves in the valley of Berachah.”
Fifth Day – Chamiyshiy Yom (H2549 – H3117)
Genesis 1:23 – “And the evening and the morning were the fifthH2549 day H3117.”
Numbers 7:36 – “On the fifthH2549 day H3117 Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, prince of the children of Simeon, offered:”
Judges 19:8 – “And he arose early in the morning on the fifthH2549 day H3117 to depart: and the damsel’s father said, Comfort your heart, I pray thee. And they tarried until afternoon, and they did eat both of them.”
Sixth Day – Shishshiy Yom (H8345 – H3117)
Genesis 1:31 – “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth H8345 day H3117 .”
Numbers 7:42 – “On the sixth H8345 day H3117 Eliasaph the son of Deuel, prince of the children of Gad, offered:”
Exodus 16:22 – “And it came to pass, that on the sixth H8345 day H3117 they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.”
Seventh Day – Shĕbiy`Iy Yom (H7637 – H3117)
Genesis 2:2 – “And on the seventhH7637 day H3117 God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”
Numbers 7:48 – “On the seventhH7637 day H3117 Elishama the son of Ammihud, the prince of Ephraim, offered . . .”
Deuteronomy 5:14 – “But the seventhH7637 day H3117 is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God.”
2 Samuel 12:18 – “And it came to pass on the seventhH7637 day H3117 that the child died.”
The word “yom” can be used in several different ways, just as can the word “day”. However, with the exception of echad in Genesis 1:5, all of the other uses of “yom” follow the same pattern as their uses in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Judges, Samuel, Chronicles, and Joshua.
All of those uses clearly indicate a twenty-four hour period. So, we can definitely state that the use of the word “yom” in Genesis indicates a twenty-four hour period, not an indeterminate period of time.
Prophecy continues to unfold as foretold by the Hebrew Prophets. The day is coming when Yahweh will show his strength on the mountains of Israel. What is prophesied will come to pass, what is foretold will be made known. Time is short – Yeshua Ha’Mashiach is coming soon – get busy reaching the lost.