The Days of Creation: A Semantic Approach Part II -- By: Jim Stambaugh

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 08:1 (Spring 2004)
Article: The Days of Creation: A Semantic Approach Part II
Author: Jim Stambaugh

The Days of Creation:
A Semantic Approach Part II

Jim Stambaugh

Library Director, Instructor
Michigan Theological Seminary
Plymouth, Michigan

Objections to a Twenty-four-Hour Day

Part I of this two-part article focused on presenting positive evidence demonstrating that the “days” of Genesis l were the same time period that humans normally associate with this word.1 This view, however, has been objected to for a variety of reasons, and for the sake of completeness a few of these objections need to be answered. There are six questions that will be answered in this section. First, is not the semantic range of “day” broad enough to indicate a long period of time? Second, why do some understand the appearance of יוֹם with a number to be some form of a rule of the Hebrew language? Third, could not the first three days be something other than a solar day? Fourth, does not the appearance of the definite article with “days” six and seven, and not with the first five “days,” indicate that the first five might be figurative? Fifth, is not the command in Exodus 20:8–11 really an analogy? Sixth, how could the sixth day really be a twenty-four-hour day since there was so much to fit into it?

Semantic Range of “Day”

It is often declared that the meaning of יוֹם in the singular can denote a long time. William Wilson has observed the following:

‘Day’ is also put forth for a particular season or time when any extraordinary event happens, whether it be prosperous and joyful, or adverse and calamitous; which day is denominated either from the Lord who appoints it, or from those who suffer in it.2

Fischer argues along the same lines when he says, “The ‘days’ of creation certainly do appear to be periods of extraordinary happenings which fit a ‘long time’ definition better than a 24-hour definition.”3

If one were to exclude Genesis 1 from consideration, it appears that there are 62 references using “day” in the singular and apart from any other “long time” word (קֶדֶם or וֹלָם) that may refer to some form of figurative time. It is interesting that of those 62 occurrences in 49 references, 54 o...

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