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Bible Q

What does the Hebrew word ‘Yom’ mean?

According to Robert Young’s ‘Analytical Concordance to the Bible’ (First Published 1879) Yom is the Hebrew word for ‘day’.

Young’s index-lexicon to the Old Testament reveals that in the King James Version, Yom is predominantly translated as ‘day’ (1167 occurrences), followed by ‘time’ (65 occurrences). The word was also infrequently translated as ‘weather’, ‘daily’, ‘remain’ and ‘when’.

When found in its plural form the word is translated in numerous ways including; age, life, season and years.

Its first two occurrences are found in Genesis 1:5:

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Genesis 1:3-5

We find that Yom is the word used to describe the light that God created. Similarly, in the English language we use the word ‘day’ and ‘daytime’ to describe the light part of our day. The word Yom is also used in this verse to describe the period of time within which God created the light, this day is said to consist of “the evening and the morning” (See also Genesis 1:8, 13, 19, 23, 31). We also use the word ‘day’ to refer to a unit of time – consisting of 24 hours.

The last occurrence of the word Yom in the Old Testament is found in the prophecy of Malachi:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Malachi 4:5-6

Here the word Yom is used to signify a time when an event will take place. The ‘great and awesome day of the LORD’ is referring to the time to come when God will proclaim judgement on the Earth. Those who fear God will receive healing and evildoers will suffer destruction (Malachi 4:1-3, Joel 2 & 3). In English, we also use the word ‘day’ in expressions that refer to a personal or national event taking place, for example ‘wedding day’, ‘birthday’, ‘Australia Day’ or ‘Remembrance Day’.

In summary; the Hebrew word Yom is mainly translated ‘day’ – and it is used in a variety of different ways.

A Bible passage containing the word ‘day’ that is most valuable for us is:

“This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Each day we live is a gift from God – make the most of today and be happy.

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