Dear Dr. Victoria,
It is my understanding that based upon the Jewish clock; the day begins at sundown. That said, I’m having a hard time reconciling two Scriptures dealing with Christ’s resurrection. It appears there is a scriptural discrepancy, and I would love to get your take on it.
In John 20:1 (TLV), we read that Miriam from Magdala goes to the tomb “Early in the morning on the first day of the week WHILE IT IS STILL DARK” (emphasis is mine). Implying sometime after 6:00 PM and well before sunrise the next day.
Conversely, we read in Mark 16: 1-2 (TLV), that Miriam came to the tomb “VERY EARLY on the first day of the week. Does this mean early in the evening as the 1st day begins at sunset?
My wife and I are debating this as we read Dr. Richard Booker’s book, Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts.Thank you in advance for any light you can shed on this question.
Danny, this is a great question!
You are right in Biblical and Hebraic time a 24-hour “day” starts at sunset.
We know for sure the resurrection happened after Shabbat was over, which would have been after the sun went down on Saturday night, sometime during the 1st day of the week.
We have several hints to determine the approximate time when Yeshua came out of the tomb. Yet the best clue is because of the word “still,” as written in John 20:1.
We know it was “still dark,” which implies that light is imminent—that sunrise was soon to come. While some level of darkness would have been prevalent, it is doubtful that anyone would use or emphasize the word “still” if it were early in the evening. In this Scripture, sometime before sunrise makes sense because of the word “still.”
When Mark says, it was “very early,” this tells us that it was early in the boker (morning in Hebrew).
The Bible tells us in Genesis, it was evening and morning, the first day.
As in English, it can be “early in the evening” or “early in the morning.” If it were early in the evening, then this would negate John’s description of while it was “still dark,” since darkness would not yet be prevalent “early in the evening.” So, if it’s early in the boker (morning), this would align with John’s interpretation, inferring it would be near the time of the morning light, perhaps as the sun was about to rise.
It’s also important to note what day it is. The Feast of First Fruits (Yom HaBikkurim) takes place the day after the Shabbat after Passover. This is the day the first fruits of the wheat sacrifice are waved at the morning sacrifice at 9:00 AM, after spending the evening in the Temple. This demonstration was a prophetic picture of putting before the Throne of God a sacrifice of man (as wheat represents) as an acceptable sacrifice.
Yeshua was the Son of Man, the 2nd Adam, and God represented in a body of flesh. The perfect and acceptable wheat sacrifice.
He told the women not to touch Him as He hadn’t gone before the Father yet (He was about to perform what is the official offering of Yom HaBikkurim in the Heavenly Temple). That is to present Himself as the first fruit offering of man from the ground. (He was the first to resurrect from the grave or ground, and we will do this later in the resurrection of the dead).
Presided over by the High Priest, this wave offering of wheat in the Temple happens at 9:00 in the morning. For Yeshua to present Himself to the Father at the same time, He would have had to appear to these women at the tomb before this morning Temple service.
Also, we read in Matthew 27:51-53 (KJV),
51 And, behold, the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
We know Jesus preached to the righteous dead in Abraham’s bosom. He led them out, and apparently, they rose with him. The bodies of “many” walking saints appeared “unto many.” Yeshua must have gathered and led them into Heaven sometime after that. All this happened after He spoke to the women at His tomb in the early morning.
With all that said, just before sunrise early in the morning on Sunday makes the most sense.
Dr. Victoria Sarvadi