Intercontinental Church of God - Chicago Church
Affiliated with the Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association

 
 

Sunset to Sunset - What does that mean?

By: Jim Josephsen

 
 
Sunset to Sunset – an expression which explains when the Sabbath should be observed
Sunset to sunset as commonly understood by the Churches of God.
Sunset to Sunset as the Jews understand the term
What does the phrase take from the secular and apply to the sacred mean? 

Scriptures that aid in understanding why the Jews are correct to use the phrase sunset to sunset

Consider the Sun Rules the Day; the Moon and Stars Rule the Night
Knowing all this; What then does sunset to sunset really mean?
 
 
 

“Like the weekly Sabbath, each day is reckoned from sunset to sunset;” so it is taught by the Churches of God. Some COG organizations may specify the phrase sundown to sundown, but that is just a matter of nomenclature. The idea, the doctrine is the same; each day consists of the interval of time between two sunsets.

 

However, the Bible teaches that the day is reckoned from evening (erev) unto evening (erev); as Leviticus 23:32 specifies. We clearly understand, by reading the Word of God, both in the Old and New Testaments, each day ends at evening, the period of time at the end of the day, as the light of the day is diminishing, fading out, before the darkness of night commences (for a detailed explanation from the Bible, see When Does the Day End? in Part I of the Passover Study).

 

The Hebrew phrase bow shemesh (English – sunset or sundown) is not found in Leviticus 23:32; this verse does not state, from sunset unto sunset. The term sunset to sunset is never used in the Scriptures as it relates to a 24-hour day. Moses never wrote, nor did God ever teach, that the sunset or sundown (bow shemesh) ends the day.

 

The term evening (erev) is the operative word in Leviticus 23:32 and throughout the Scriptures, not sunset (bow shemesh). The Scriptures clearly teach that the evening ends the day, not the sunset.

 

Why then do the Churches of God teach; “a day is reckoned from sunset to sunset?”

 

Do the Churches of God have a complete understanding of the phrase from sunset to sunset?

 

Sunset to Sunset – an expression which explains when the Sabbath should be observed    to the top

 

The phrase sunset to sunset, as consistently taught by the Churches of God, is expressed to explain when the Sabbath Day and Holy Days should be kept. The Church of God teaches that the Sabbath begins on Friday at sunset and ends on Saturday at sunset. Considering this time element, it is logical then to teach that every day should be reckoned from sunset to sunset.

 

Interestingly and of importance to know, the phrase sunset to sunset or sundown to sundown did not originate with the Church of God; rather this phrase has been borrowed from the Jews. This phrase originated with the House of Israel/House of Judah.

 

 The Jews teach generally, the sunset to sunset, or sundown to sundown day.

 

Simply witness any wall calendar and you will see the reference to sundown whenever Jewish Holy Days are dated. For example, the text, “Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown,” or “Passover begins at sundown” are commonly seen in the day box on the average Gregorian wall or desk calendar; as well as Jewish calendars. The average “man on the street” could be familiar with this expression – “such and such begins at sundown.”

 

As the Jews teach, sunset to sunset or sundown to sundown or such and such begins at sundown, so it was logical for the Church of God to use the same phraseology, since the Churches of God, (without doubt since the inception of the Radio Church of God) keep the same Holy Days as do the Jews, with the exception of Pentecost.

 

Both the Jews and the Churches of God know the Sabbath begins at sunset of Friday and ends at sunset of Saturday.

 

This phrase, sunset to sunset is taught, even though the Scriptures specifically teach, evening unto evening is how to reckon the day and that the day ends at evening.

 

Should a sunset to sunset day then be taught?

 

Why do the Jews use the phrase sunset to sunset or sundown to sundown?

 

Why is sunset to sunset used by the Churches of God?

 

Do the Churches of God understand the phrase differently than do the Jews?

 

Do the Churches of God misunderstand the meaning of the phrase?

 

What should we know about the phrase from sunset to sunset?

 

Sunset to sunset as commonly understood by the Churches of God    to the top

 

If you were to ask the average Church of God member; “What do you understand the term sunset or sundown to mean,” you would get a response somewhat as follows. “The sunset is the time when the sun drops (falls) below the western horizon.”

 

The average Church of God member understands, as has been taught over time through sermons, articles and booklets, that sunset is fixed to a moment in time activity. Sunset is a precise time, an exact on the clock, time. Sunset or sundown is when the sun exactly drops below the western horizon.

 

If you asked a member to tell you “what time on Friday you should quit working, so as not to violate the 4th commandment,” or “what time one should be home before the start of the Sabbath” or “what time to start fasting (Day of Atonement implied),” the average member would look at the newspaper (perhaps the internet, now) or at a time of sunset listing and say, “Well, at 5:37 pm or at 7:46 pm.”

 

You would get the exact time of, the listed time of sunset, as your answer.

 

If a member’s teenager wants to know what time the Sabbath sunset is, that is when the Sabbath is over, in order to go out with the friends, the answer would be more often than not, “sunset is at 6:33 pm, or at 7:34 pm, etc.”

 

Again, a fixed, exact moment in time of the sun dropping below the western horizon would be the answer.

 

A fixed time would be given, regardless of the fact that there is still light in the sky, especially as it is during the summer months in the northern latitudes.

 

A member of the Church of God would look at the paper, then look at a clock or watch and when the clock strikes the time as listed in the newspaper or on the internet, the member would say, it is sunset or sundown and the Sabbath either begins or is over.

 

Once the sun is seen or understood (by times on a listing) to be below the western horizon, the Sabbath has either begun or it is over.  

 

To the average church member, sunset is a fixed moment in time that occurs at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day. This is how the majority of the members within the various Churches of God have been taught and how they understand the term, sunset to sunset. An exact moment in time of sunset is typically practiced.

 

But is this how the Jews, those from whom the phrase sunset to sunset was borrowed, understand this phrase?

 

Is this what the Scriptures teach?

 

Sunset to Sunset as the Jews understand the term    to the top

 

Since this phrase originated with the Jews, is there something we can and should learn beyond the general understanding which the Churches of God practice?

 

First, sunset should not be narrowly understood as an exact, precise, moment in time event, when the sun drops below the western horizon. The sunset is more than an exact moment in time of the sun dropping below the horizon.

 

Sunset encompasses a period of time (always occurring within the evening of the day) when the sun is setting, continuing with the twilight and lasts until the commencement of the night.

 

The Jewish understanding of sunset or sundown acknowledges that sunset (bow shemesh) is a process of or an action of the sun which occurs during the evening (erev) of the day – just as the Scriptures teach.

They understand that the evening sunset occurs as the day is coming to an end, but does not end the day.

 

The Jews further understand that observing the sunset to sunset principle requires an acknowledgement that sunset extends beyond (the narrow understanding of) an exact moment in time of the sun dropping below the western horizon, whether it be at the start or end of the day.

 

The Jews acknowledge that the evening ends the day, as explained in Leviticus 23:32, Exodus 12:18 and other Scriptures. It is from the laws within the Old Testament that the Jews obtained the “principles” to justify the phrase sunset to sunset as it applied to the Sabbath and the Holy Days; doing so in order to protect the sanctity of the day. The Jewish understanding of the sunset is different than what the Churches of God understand.

 

The Jews (after their return from the Babylonian captivity) felt it necessary to protect the Sabbaths and Holy Days, in order to properly keep the day holy, in order to honor the 4th commandment (and not get into trouble with God again as a result of breaking the Sabbath).

 

The repatriated House of Judah, went the “extra mile” so as not to make the same Sabbath-breaking mistakes which got them “into trouble” prior to their punishment and captivity.  The Jews, long ago, acknowledged one is to “take from the secular and apply to the sacred” in order to keep the Sabbaths.

 

What does the phrase take from the secular and apply to the sacred mean?      to the top

 

Let us first review the scriptures that provide the Jews the justification to observe a sunset to sunset day.

 

As the Scriptures teach, each day is reckoned “from evening until evening.” Each day is reckoned from the (evening), the end of the old day until the (evening), end of that current day.

 

Leviticus 23:32 (KJV) "It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even (ba erev), from even (erev) unto even (erev), shall ye celebrate your Sabbath."

 

By reading Leviticus 23:27 we learn that the 10th day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement. The 9th day of the seventh month is not the Day of Atonement, consequently the evening (ba erevat even) of the 9th day is not at the beginning of the day. 

 

Ba erev (at even) is at the end of the 9th day. Once the 9th day “at evening” has concluded, the night of the 10th day commences; the 10th day begins; now the Day of Atonement is to be kept.

 

It would be correct to say, generally, at even (ba erev) of the 9th day (and not the sunset (Hebrew: bow shemesh) because sunset is not used in this verse), as a reference, as a starting time, you start your fast.

 

It would be correct to say, specifically, once the evening of the 9th day is complete, once the evening sunlight, then twilight (which occurs in the evening) of the 9th day has concluded, and dark/night of the 10th day commences, then the 10th day begins, and the fast begins. After all, the fast is on the 10th day of the seventh month.

 

Another way to say this would be from even(ing) of the 9th day, the 10th day begins. As we read “in the ninth day at even”  “from the evening.”  The 10th day begins from evening of the 9th day, not with or through or at evening of the 9th day.

 

The term at evening” or at even (ba erev) always and only connotes the ending of the day, never the beginning of the day.

 

Notice also Leviticus 23:32 does not state: “from bow shemesh to bow shemesh.”

 

Leviticus 23:32 states: “from evening” because it is the evening of the 9th day which is being given consideration.

 

As the Scriptures teach, just as actual observation confirms, the actual sunset (in this case, the exact moment in time of the sun dropping below the horizon) and the twilight (the light of the sun diminishing in intensity as the sun is dropping further below the western horizon) are both part of the evening activity, both of which occur as the day is coming to an end.

 

Now as this verse also states: you shall afflict your soul in the ninth day of the month, at even … we see that the fast begins as the 9th day is ending. You take a portion of the previous day, the evening or ending of the previous day (the 9th day) and apply it to the 10th day.

 

Rather than beginning the Day of Atonement from the “at evening (be erev)” of the 9th day, as Leviticus 23:32 stipulates, the Jews incorporated the sunset (in this case the exact time of), as it occurs during the “at even” (ending) of the 9th day, as the time to begin this Holy Day.

 

In the keeping of the Day of Atonement, the Jews begin keeping (just as Israel was taught) the fast day at the time of the evening of the 9th day of the seventh month. And of course the evening of the 9th day includes the sunset of the 9th day. The evening of the 9th day is included in observing the Day of Atonement.

 

When it comes to the Sabbath day, the Jews begin keeping the Sabbath at the actual sunset (the sun actually hitting and dropping below the western horizon) of the sixth day of the week (Friday as we call it today), instead of from the evening of the sixth day of the week.

 

The Jews likewise begin keeping the Holy Day at the actual sunset (the sun actually hitting and dropping below the western horizon) of the previous day, instead of from the evening of the previous day.

 

When it comes to an ordinary (non-Sabbath or non-Holy Day) day, the Jews observe the beginning of the day from the evening of the previous day. It is only with the Sabbaths and Holy Days that the Jews consider the sunset (the sun actually dropping below the western horizon) of the previous day as the actual beginning of the Sabbath or Holy Days.

 

This is how the Scriptures explain taking from the secular and apply to the sacred. We will learn more as we continue.

 

It is necessary to understand and recognize that the sunset is an action of the sun occurring in the evening. By understanding this, we learn why the Jews use the term sunset to sunset even though the phrase sunset to sunset (bow shemesh to bow shemesh) is not found in the Scriptures.

 

Scriptures that aid in understanding why the Jews are correct to use the phrase sunset to sunset  to the top

 

Let us examine a couple scriptures which the House of Judah understands, giving reason as to why the sunset to sunset principle is correct to use.

 

Notice Nehemiah 13:19 (KJV). And it came to pass that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded the gates should be shut….

 

Notice Nehemiah 13:19 (Interlinear Bible (Masoretic text)): And it was when began to be shaded the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath that I ordered that should be shut the gates …

 

Notice what this scripture communicates to us, as we examine scriptural realities in the light of known scientific phenomenon. Logically, we understand that before the sun actually drops (sets) below the western horizon (when the sun is still visible in the sky), objects on the earth are illuminated by the light of the sun; objects are not getting dark.

 

It is only after the sun has set below the western horizon, a time of day called the evening twilight, as the light of the sun is diminishing, that objects are beginning to darken. During the twilight, objects on the earth begin to be less visible as the light of the sun decreases, as the darkness of the night approaches; consequently, objects begin to get (be) dark.

 

An object is or looks shaded by a lack of light projected on it. Shaded or shading is a degree of darkness produced by a diminishing of light.

 

Now consider Jeremiah 6:4 and Jeremiah’s reference to the evening shadows; for the day goeth away, the shadows of the evening are stretched out.

 

Just as we understand, Jeremiah understood: when the sun is visible in the western portion of the sky, above the western horizon, the light of the sun illuminates objects on the earth and those objects cast shadows, which lengthen or stretch out as the evening sun travels closer to the western horizon. When the sun is at the horizon, the shadows cast are well stretched out.

 

It is only after the sun drops (sets) below the western horizon that the objects on earth begin to grow dark, as the light of the sun diminishes in intensity, as the night approaches. Once the sun is below the western horizon, objects no longer cast shadows; they only begin to be (get) dark. During the twilight, the objects are beginning to grow dark; objects begin to be shaded because the light of that day’s sun is diminishing as the darkening of the night is approaching.

 

During the twilight, objects do not cast shadows; rather objects grow dark. After the twilight is complete and the night commences, objects are dark.

 

In Jeremiah 6:4, evening shadows cast by objects illuminated by the light of the sun were possible because the sun was (still in the sky) above the western horizon.

 

In Nehemiah 13:19 the twilight (of the sun below the western horizon) was evident, as the light was fading and objects (the gates of the temple) were growing dark.

 

We read that it was getting dark, (after the sun had set, in the twilight is clearly understood), and that period of time was before the Sabbath.

 

Let us notice the Hebrew word tselel (Strong’s 6751 a noun), which is derived from the Hebrew root word tsalal (Strong’s 6752 a verb or noun). Tselel is translated into the English as either dark or shaded and is used in Nehemiah 13:19. Let us notice the full extent and meaning of this word. To understand tselel it is necessary to understand its root word, tsalal.

 

"Tsalal – a prime root … to be shaded, dusky.” Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament

 

"Tsalal - a prime root … to shade, as twilight or an opaque object - begin to be dark, shadowing (as a covering)." Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

 

We see the translation of tselel in the context it is used in the Book of Nehemiah. Clearly, the translation and its root express a description of a period of time we call twilight. Of this fact, there can be no debate.

 

In this verse we read that it began to be dark (twilight time) before the Sabbath.

 

Implicit is the fact that when it was dark, it then was the Sabbath.

 

The lesson expressed here is that at the time of Nehemiah the Sabbath did not begin at the exact moment of sunset (an exact moment in time – look at your watch time or as written on a sunset time chart in your newspaper). After sundown there is still a period of time called the twilight and twilight (which is part of the evening) was before the Sabbath.

 

Consider Genesis 15:12-18.  Start at verse 12 - "And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram...”

 

Here we read that the sun was going down. The sun was in the process of setting. The sun was above the horizon and was going down. Simply a process: the sun was going down. The term bow shemesh is used.

 

Continuing the narrative, now read Genesis 15:17: "And it came to pass that when the sun went down and it was dark…"

 

Genesis 15:17 clearly states, "the sun went down (again bow shemesh is used) and it was dark."

 

Logically and by observation, we know these two events do not happen that quickly. Notice what happens between the sun went down and it was dark.

 

The sun went down, then the twilight. During the twilight, the sky is still light but growing dark. The land is growing dark as objects (like the gates in Jerusalem) are growing dark, because the light of the sun is fading away. The evening is evident as it is getting dark and closing in on the night. Once the night commences, it is dark.

 

As we read, we can logically see that the sun went down, the twilight was past, the evening was past and finally, it was dark, it was now night.

 

Reading verse 17 again: “and it came to pass that when the sun went down and it was dark …

 

Notice now Genesis 15:18In the same day the Eternal made a covenant with Abram...”

 

Here verses 17 and 18 state, it was dark and in the same day.

 

Consider this fact - we do not read any of the following:

 

- “the sun went down and in the same day;”

- “the sun went down and the next or new day,”

- “it was twilight and the same or next or new day;”

- “it was evening and the same or next or a new day.” 

 

We simply, and only read, “it was dark...and in the same day.” We do not even read it was dark and the next day. Again, these verses only state – “it was dark ...and … in the same day.”

 

We are told it was dark (night) and it was “in the same day” that a covenant was made. The sun went down, it was set (completely); the twilight was now over, the evening was past, it was now dark, it was night.

 

The dark definitely was part of a new day. During that new day, of which the night is distinguished, the covenant was made.

 

The dark (night) and in the same day logic is the same teaching we gain from the Genesis creation account which shows us that darkness begins a new day. (See Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31: What about the word evening as found in the Genesis creation account; what does that teach us? in  Part I of the Passover Study.)

 

Through Nehemiah, God shows us the Sabbath certainly did not begin right at the exact moment of sunset. The Sabbath began when it was dark.

 

Not only did Nehemiah and Ezra understand but also the House of Judah and the Elders of Judah understood that the evening, in which the last event to occur was the twilight (when things begin to get dark), was before the Sabbath begun.

 

Consider the Sun Rules the Day; the Moon and Stars Rule the Night     to the top

                                                          

Consider the following verses:

 

Genesis 1:16And God made two great lights; the greater light (the sun) to rule the day, and the lesser light (the moon) to rule the night, he made the stars also.”

 

Psalm 136:8-9The sun to rule by day: his mercy endures forever: The moon and stars to rule by night…

 

Jeremiah 31:35Thus saith The Eternal, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night….”

 

Psalm 148:3Praise ye him, sun and moon, all ye stars of light.

 

It is correct to say that the sun’s light controls (rules) the day. The sun’s light (which rules the day) is manifest during the day. There are (in general terms) 12 hours in the day (cf. John 11:9). There are also 12 hours in the night.

 

The following events or sequence of time is what we witness every day (bear in mind clouds do not block the view). We know the day is evident:

 

  • from the time of the sun's first illuminations in the morning, which occurs at dawn, before the sun has actually risen above the eastern horizon and continuing with sunrise and through the morning light,
  • then late morning into midday; noon,
  • continuing with the sun’s light, during the afternoon,
  • then late afternoon (the declining of the day),
  • then during the going down of the sun and at sunset, during the evening,
  • finally, concluding with the twilight, which is the sun’s diminishing light still illuminating the earth after the sun has dropped (set) below the western horizon.

 

Once the sun’s light is gone, no longer visible, then the dark and night commences.

 

As the Scriptures teach, the sun’s light rules the day, and the day comes to an end when the sun’s light (illuminating the portion of the earth on which the observer is standing), is no longer present, when the sun's light no longer controls (or rules) the day. The sun is the greater light and the greater light is evident during the day.

 

Once the sun's light is “all gone,” when it rules no longer, then the day has ended. And as we have read, the evening ends the day, as the evening occurs at the end of the day.

 

The action of the sunset occurs during the evening of the day. Once the evening is over because the (sun’s) light of that day is no longer evident, then the night of the new day commences.

 

A new day begins at the commencement of night, when the night light of the moon and/or the stars is evident and begins to rule.

 

Consider Psalm 104:20-23 as pertaining to the sequence of activity within the day (complete 24 hours).

 

Thou makest darkness and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.   The young lions roar after their prey and seek their meat from God, the sun ariseth, they gather themselves together and lay down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labor, until the evening.

 

Notice Nehemiah 4:21:

 

 "So we labored in the work: and half of them held their spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared."

 

Clearly we can understand the entire measure of the day (12 hours of  light – generally speaking – John 11:9) is from the rising of the morning (the dawn) until the stars appeared (no more sun light visible).

 

How did the Elders of Judah and the Jews today understand all these verses as well as Leviticus 23:32 which explicitly states, evening unto evening?

 

How did the House of Judah understand the evening (as the sun diminishes in intensity, as the dark of night approaches) as they all pertained to the day and specifically the Sabbath and Holy Days?

 

Notice:

 

"The day begins and ends at sunset, or more precisely, after dusk [twilight] when three stars of medium size appear. This rule applies to the theoretical beginning and ending of Sabbaths, feast days and the daily prayers."

 

THE COMPREHENSIVE HEBREW CALENDAR

PAGE 13

 

"DAY (Hebrew "Yom") In the Bible, the season of light (Gen. 1:5), lasting "from dawn [lit. "the rising of the morning"] to the coming forth of the stars" (Neh. 4:21). The term day is used also to denote a period of twenty-four hours (Ex. 21:21). The day is reckoned from evening to evening - i.e., night and day…"

 

DAY

THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA

PAGE 475

 

 The House of Judah clearly understood, just as the scriptures teach, the day is reckoned from evening to evening, as Leviticus 23:32 speaks.

 

 

"With nightfall, the day, the period of twenty-four hours, ends and a new one commences…. The transition from day to night, from light to darkness and visa versa, is gradual: in the one case it begins before sunset, and continues till after sunset; in the other, it begins before sunrise and continues until after sunrise. The two periods of transition are of undefined length and are called, in Hebrew "ereb" and "boker" (evening and morning-compare Ruth 3:14; Deu. 23:11; Num. 9:15). The period of transition is also called "neshef" (dawn and twilight; Pro. 7:9; I Sam. 30:17) and "dimdume hammah" (redness of the sun).... Nightfall, as the border-line between two consecutive days, is the moment when three stars of the second magnitude become visible ("zet ha kokabim"); and the length of the day as opposed to the night is, according to Neh. 4:21, "from the rising of the morning ("alot ha shahar" or "alot ammud ha shahar") "till the stars appeared." 

 

CALENDAR

THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA

PAGE 501

 

“As for the evening Neh. 4:21 was cited, where work went on “till the stars came out” and from that analogy it was shown that the appearance of the stars was the sign that the day had ended and the recital could begin. … and in the evening it was either sunset or the ensuing nightfall when the stars became visible, that provided the line of demarcation. (As the line between one day and the next, nightfall was later defined even more precisely as the moment when three stars of the second magnitude became visible.) 

 

HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL CHRONOLGY

JACK FINEGAN

PARA. 14, PAGE 10

 

 

Those to whom the oracles of God were given (Romans 3:2), who were God’s Lawgivers (Psalm 60:7 and 108:8) understood and understand what the Scriptures teach. The light of the sun rules the day and the day ends once the sun’s twilight is gone and the sun (light) no longer rules for that day.

 

The Jews know the exact moment of sunset or sundown is not the exact start or end of a day.

 

The Jews know, just as the Scriptures teach, that the day ends at the evening. It is from the evening that a new day begins and specifically, when it is dark enough for the light of the moon or stars to be evident, the new day begins.

 

Knowing all this; What then does sunset to sunset really mean?    to the top

 

Consider the following:

 

 

"Twilight on Friday is reckoned as Sabbath eve and consequently no work may be performed then. The Sabbath candles must be lit before twilight (Shab.2: 7). The twilight at the end of the Sabbath is calculated as still belonging to the Sabbath day, which concludes with the appearance of three stars in the sky. This rule applies also to the beginning and conclusion of the holidays. Before the beginning of the Day of Atonement, twilight is reckoned from approximately one hour before the stars would become visible."

 

TWILIGHT

ENCYCLOPEDIA JUDAICA; 1970

PAGE 1474

 

 

“ben ha shemashoth” (between the suns; i.e. between the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon or the appearance of the stars) denotes the evening twilight. The Rabbis consider it doubtful whether twilight belongs to the day or the night (Shab.34b); consequently they treat it as a safeguard against encroachment upon either – for example, the twilight of Friday is reckoned as Sabbath eve, and that of Saturday as Sabbath Day; and the same rule applies to the feast days. This practice is termed “adding from the secular to the holy.” … The limit of twilight is important since it separates one day from another…”

 

SUN, RISING AND SETTING OF THE:

THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA

PAGE 591

 

 

“At the end of the day there is a period of time called ben hashemashoth (twilight) which lasts from the time that the sun disappears below the horizon until there is complete darkness. The determination of the exact duration of the twilight period was extremely important, especially as the twilight of the Sabbath and holidays partook of the sanctity of the day itself.”

 

TIME, MEASURING OF,

THE UNIVERSAL JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA

VOL. 10 1948 ED,

PAGE 251

 

 

“Some Early authorities hold that there are two sunsets, even on the view that the sun passes below the earth at night (cf. Pes. ib.). The first is when the sun sets and disappears from sight but its light is still dominant, as it has not yet disappeared from the whole world, since one could see it from the mountain tops, this being the reason its light is dominant and does not redden the face of the west. The second is when it sets completely, passing under the world and its light disappears from the world. At that point the face of the west commences to cast a red glow by its radiance. For as long as the light is in the world, the glow is not visible. … One who does work during the two twilights, on the eve of, and at the end of, the Sabbath, is in any event liable of sin-offering. For if it is night, he is liable because of Sabbath eve, while if it is day, he is liable because of the end of the Sabbath (Shab. 35b), provided he did the work during the whole period of twilight … “

 

BETWEEN THE EVENINGS

ENCYCLOPEDIA TALMUDICA

PAGES 682, 688

 

 

What we have just read, provides ample understanding why the term sunset to sunset is used to define the limits of the Sabbath day, when the Sabbath day begins and when it ends.

 

Sunset to sunset is not an exact moment in time of two sunsets; one at the beginning and one at the end of a day. Rather sunset to sunset allows for an extended period of time lasting a little more that a normal 24-hour day, as it pertains to the Sabbath and the Holy Days.

 

An ordinary day, a non-Sabbath Day or non-Holy Day will begin from the evening of the previous day.

 

Ordinary days do not begin at sunset.

 

Only the Sabbath and Holy days begin at sunset.

 

The following time sequence makes up the sunset to sunset or sundown to sundown Sabbath or Holy Day.

 

-          At the time of the sunset (the sun hitting and falling below the western horizon – which is part of the evening activity) of Friday (for the Sabbath) or the previous day (for a Holy Day), the actual Sabbath or Holy Day begins.

 

-          After the sun has set, the evening twilight commences. That twilight (in that evening) is considered part of the Sabbath or Holy Days. That twilight is at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holy Days.

 

-          Then of course after the twilight of the sun is extinguished, the night commences.  That Sabbath or Holy Day continues progressing through the night, then morningmidday afternoon - eveningsunset and twilight of that Sabbath or Holy Day. There are actually two sunsets on the Sabbath and Holy Days. There are also two twilights on the Sabbath and Holy Days. The first twilight is at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holy Days and the second twilight is at the end of the Sabbath or Holy Days

 

-          At the end of the Sabbath or Holy Days are both the sunset (the sun dropping below the horizon) and the twilight. The last event at the end of the Sabbath or Holy Days is the twilight. That Sabbath or Holy Day is complete once the night of the first day of the week (in the case of the Sabbath) or the night of the next day (in the case of the Holy Day) commences.

 

Once the night of the first day of the week (in the case of the Sabbath) or the night of that next day (as follows the Holy Day) is evident then the Sabbath or Holy Day is over.

 

In terms of hours, the Sabbath or the Holy Days both contain more than the normal/general 24 hours in a day.

 

Depending on the time of year, and latitude, the Sabbath and Holy Days can easily be an hour and a half longer than a normal 24 hour day, some 25-1/2 hours.

 

That is what the Jews understand by the phrase sunset to sunset.

 

The Jews allowed "extra time" at the beginning of the Sabbath Day or a Holy Day, taking time away from the end of the preceding day, as a safeguard. They take from the secular and add to the holy.

 

They established the "extra time" principle (sunset to sunset) as a result of the teaching found in Leviticus 23:32 and Exodus 12:18. They understood from what God taught Moses, regarding when to begin the Day of Atonement and the First Day of Unleavened Bread. They borrow (take) from the evening (ending) of the previous day and apply it to the Sabbath or Feast day.

 

The 10th day begins from evening of the 9th day. The evening of the 9th day is at the end of the 9th day. Yet, as the Jews read of in Leviticus 23:32; you begin observing the Day of Atonement as the 9th day is coming to an end.

 

In order to protect the beginning of the Day of Atonement, you borrowed from the evening, the end of the 9th day. The 10th day begins at sunset of the 9th day, rather than from evening of the 9th day. “Extra time” is allotted at the beginning of the Day of Atonement.

 

That is how the term sunset to sunset is to be understood.

 

The Jews recognize that, as the Scriptures matter-of-factly state, a day is to be reckoned “from evening until evening” and not “sunset unto sunset.”

 

In truth, the Jews have taught that the Sabbath and the Holy Days should be kept from sunset to sunset or sundown to sundown in order to thoroughly protect the day.

 

The Jews do not practice looking at an exact moment in time of sunset; the Bible does not teach an exact moment in time of sunset when it comes to the end of a day.

 

The practice of looking at one's watch or reading in the newspaper for the “exact time” of sunset or watching the sky for the “exact moment in time when the sun drops below the western horizon” and thinking this is what the Scriptures teach, is incorrect.

 

The Churches of God teach that the day is reckoned from sunset to sunset and in so teaching need to understand what that phrase means.

 

Sunset is an action of the sun, which occurs during the evening of the day. When the evening is over for the old day, giving way to the darkness of night, then with the night, the new day begins.

 

As the Jews teach, the Sabbath and Holy Days (only) begins at the moment of sunset, the sun dropping below the horizon.

 

All other days begin at the night and end after the evening is completed. All other days are reckoned from evening until evening; that is from the commencement of the night until the completion of the evening.

 

To teach that every day is to be reckoned from sunset to sunset is incorrect.

 

Whether you begin the Sabbath or Holy Day at the exact moment of sunset or you wait until the stars appear, is a matter of choice, your own, personal conviction.

 

God does not sit in his heavenly armchair with a watch in hand, looking to see if you will begin and end His Sabbath at the exact moment the sun drops below the western horizon, in accord to your wristwatch or the newspaper listing.

 

God does observe, analyzing your attitude, the consistency of your character and your behavior as associated with Sabbath keeping. He is watching to see if you are properly prepared for and having the right frame of mind, are ready to enter into His Sabbaths and Holy Days. He is watching to see if you keep the entire day Holy.

 

When to begin the Sabbath Day is important. How you keep it is critical.

 

Sunset to sunset is important to understand if you know what this phrase means. If you spiritually put a hedge about the Sabbath Day and Holy Days; if you spiritually take from the secular and apply to the sacred then you are in compliance with Isaiah 58:13-14; then you have remembered the Sabbath Day to keep it Holy.
 
     
 
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