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Sunrise to Sunrise Sabbath and Yahweh as First Light: A metaphysical

and historical approach to Genesis and its original interpretation

Samuel Wilkinson

Regarding the seventh day Sabbath and its first order of observation as described
in the book of Genesis, when examined by scholars coming from diverse schools,
across numerous countries, from different centuries, one of two conclusions are
reached 1) the Sabbath begins and ends with sunrise and 2) the same but at sunset;
these antithetical views usually belonging to a distinct solar or lunar calendar, each
presenting a distinct time reckoning from the perspective of ancient Israel and its
national Holyday observances. Because various treatments have dealt with the
minutiae of exegetical matters ranging from differences in linguistic interpretation of
the Hebrew to the compilation of verses about the luminaries and their courses, this
paper will first focus on Yahwehs spiritual state pre-creation, explaining how His
light existed before the created darkness, showing how such a reality supports a solar
day reckoning. Secondly, I will provide a historical treatment explaining how the
chaotic state of Israel during and post Patolmic high priest accession made
national Hellenization not only prerequisite to engagement in the temple cult, but
cemented the sunset day reckoning with its lunar calendar as the official calendar of
Seeing that the Genesis account remains incomplete and inadequately understood
without first contextualizing it through the schema of Yahwehs reality as a first and
primary principle to all successive realities, this means that contemporary views
regarding time and its natural courses have to be re-examined and realigned with
Gods actual nature, this in order to discover whether light precedes darkness. Psalm
104:2 seems to conceptualize the accurate order of events occurring pre and during
creation when the psalmist writes, 1
Yahweh coverest Himself with light as with a
garment and 2nd stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. In Yahwehs eternal state
before the creation of the material cosmos, He, according to the New Testament
epistles, existed as perfect light, in unapproachable light. Also, according to Jewish
thought, His Wisdom represented the radiance of everlasting light, it being an
unspotted mirror of His power, as with His majesty being surrounded with light to
make Him invisible to all beings.
Every physical description of Yahwehs Glory or
Shekina is associated with light, even while obscured within a cloud, (Exodus
40:34-38) and every visual manifestation of His Glory or Word as viewed through
visions, is accompanied by great displays of light, fire, and ion plasma, as described
by Ezekiel and the other major prophets. Based on these descriptions, metaphysically,

Singer, Isidore. "LIGHT." The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature,
and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest times to the Present Day. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906.
N. pag. Print.

the eternal and spiritual state of all things becomes by default associated with
Yahwehs light, all things beginning in and coming from His eternal light.
Because light and darkness are created things (Isa 45:7), it must be accepted that
the darkness of the material realm pre-creation, let this be called the empty space in
which the universe is now contained, was created by God and did not exist as a
byproduct of His non dwelling. Along with the creative works of Gen 1:2 where
darkness is first mentioned, the breath of Yahweh is said to move across the face
of the deep, and this is followed by a summoned subsequent and undisclosed light,
which as the first creative act in the recorded sequence of acts, seems to be the
revealing of Himself in material space; this action and the activities that follow create
an important pattern for the upcoming natural order to be based upon. Given the
linguistic allowances, one could infer that Gods Word/Glory or visual manifestation
while in the material realm shone brilliantly and could be the selfsame light called
forth and hitherto labeled undisclosed. And with Elohims work being completed after
an unspecified period of time, His manifestation and source of light would exit out
from the material realm causing a phase of darkening (evening) and total darkness
(night). The sun and other luminaries being created on the fourth day would codify
the basis of our contemporary distinctions of night and day, but this is even though
they failed to exist on days one though three (which are notably called actual days)
they being based on the original model.
In summary, (1) Yahweh dwells in/is pre-existing light (2) the realm of materiality,
and the universe is created in a void of created darkness (3) Gods visual
manifestation or Word/Glory enters into the material realm after a verbal command (4)
God calls forth an unspecified light creating temporary days and nights (which seems
to be the initial appearing of His manifest Word/Glory), (5) God creates the material
luminaries, and (6) God designates the system of contemporary days and nights as
we understand them based on His prior example. Consequently, from this creation
account we are given an outline where light precedes darkness, this with a pattern of
one portion of darkness/night being contained between two portions of day light. For
simplicities sake the creation narrative would look as such: Yahweh exists as eternal
light, darkness of the created universe is made, Yahwehs Word/Glory/manifestation
enters into the material realm upon His speaking, this manifest presence after working
leaves the material realm creating a gradual (evening) then total darkening (night),
this manifest presence returns to work, creating a new day beginning with light
(upon/due to His appearing).
Since the material world is subordinate and dependent upon the spiritual, it is
unwise for any to argue that the eternal spiritual state of light is totally detached from
the material, for without the spiritual there exists no material (Isa 43:13;44:24, Heb
1:3, Rom 1:20). In acknowledging that the light of God supersedes the created
darkness, and that Yahwehs Word/Glory/manifestation worked and was followed by,
or was an undisclosed secondary light, and that evening and night followed the work
of this Word/Glory/manifestation while in/as light, this supports the notion that days
begin and end with light (the full cessation of night being the beginning of a new day),

this providing support for an original Hebrew solar ephemeras (in regards to the
reckoning of days), with Genesis 1 existing as an original calendar prototype. Details
into why Elohim would call His manifest glory day in opposition to night are self
explanatory and will not be covered here.
The above analogy can be hyperbolized, and related to the final state of Yahwehs
elect while in paradise, where they exist with Him and the Lamb in the eternal light of
Heaven, as seen in Isaiah 48, recapitulated in Revelation 28. With this view in mind, it
can be accepted that the same patterns emerge, (1) all things began in Yahwehs
eternal goodness (light), (2) the darkness of mans rebellion enters the world, and God
works as light in the midst of darkness to return the elect unto Himself, and (3) a final
return to Yahwehs eternal goodness (light) commences.
A sect of ancient Judaism known as the Community of the renewed Covenant
held that their solar calendar was rooted in primordial Hebrew observance and belief,
this being supported by creation itself, they argued that the evening to evening
reckoning wasnt from God but was a pagan custom disingenuously foisted upon to
the people.
This form of accusation towards the leaders of second temple Hellenistic
Judaism takes us to the second argument in support of an original Hebrew sunrise to
sunrise reckoning.

Both Yosef Green in his paper When does the day begin? and S. Talmons
Reckoning the Sabbath in the First and the Early Second Temple Period - From the
Evening or the Morning? reach informed conclusions that provide strong support for
ancient Israels use of a solar calendar in the second Temple period, post Nehemia
reform. In lieu of their findings, historical evidences will be presented to further
buttress their assertions, showing that the Israelite calendar was changed to reflect the
Hellenistic, and that the Sabbath was altered from a sunrise to sunrise reckoning to
that contemporarily followed by modern Judaism.
When deciphering the switch from a solar observance to a lunar, a time of
religious upheaval takes focal position. Its widely understood that the influences of
Hellenism in Israel were pervasive, and to such an extent that cities were renamed to
Greek, Hellenistic customs, clothing, language and names were normalized this even
in the temple. According to the established historical accounts the expulsion of High
priest Onias 3 and his replacement with the Hellenized high priest Jason, who had
affected the temple elite (they being an aristocratic group who in time would populate
the political Sadducee party)
became openly sympathetic to pagan ways and customs.
Onias 3 was an Essene-sympathizer,
and if its true that the Essenes were
synonymous with the sect at Qumran as some scholars promote, this would at
minimum show that the temple pre-Ptolemaic instigation showed kindness towards a

Shemaryahu Talmon, "Reckoning the Sabbath in the First and Early Second Temple Period - From the Evening
or the Morning?" in Sabbath: Ideas, History, Reality, ed. G. Blindsteain, (Beer-sheva: Ben-Gurion University Press,
2004). 11-12.
Davies, W.D., and L. Finkelstein. The Cambridge History of Judaism: Volume 2, the Hellenistic Age. Cambridge
University Press, 1990. Print. 217, 226.
Saulnier, S. Calendrical Variations in Second Temple Judaism: New Perspectives on the Date of the Last Supper
Debate. Brill, 2012. Print. 172.

future Jewish sect that held to a solar calendar. If as suggested by others that the
Essenes did not hold to a solar calendar and were entirely separate from those at
Qumran, Onias 3 would continue to show a spirit of peace between those who in the
future would present tendencies of sectarianism, differentiating themselves from the
pagan influenced temple cult; both of the above examples are an indication that the
temple did itself at a time accept the legitimacy of a solar calendar, whether or not it
was held as superior to all other additional models.
Heger, Eshel and other scholars from their readings of the MMT conclude that the
Hasmonean high priest Jonathan was the person responsible for formally solidifying
dependence upon a sole lunar calendar within the temple cult, and after his
authoritative legitimizing of this particular calendar (it differing from what appears to
be already established), true sectarianism begins.

Yet this view isnt universally
held, S. Stern in his book Calendar and Community as well as a selection of his
other similar works presents a contrary view, yet one that seems to fail legitimizing
the historical force behind Greek political persuasion during this crucible period.

The takeover of the high priesthood by secularized men be they of the traditionally
held high priests lineage or not, echoes the non Davidic ruler ship of the kings in
Southern Israel post Solomon, or the unrelated but similar purchasing of the Roman
papacy by the Medici during the renaissance. After the Jerusalem temples defilement
by Antiochus Epiphanies and the forced dejudaization of the nation as described in the
Maccabean accounts, this coupled with the tumult and wars erected by the

Heger, P. Cult as the Catalyst for Division: Cult Disputes as the Motive for Schism in the Pre-70 Pluralistic
Environment. Brill, 2007. Print. 331.
Boccaccini, G. Enoch and Qumran Origins: New Light on a Forgotten Connection. Alban Books Limited, 2005.
Print. 109-110.
S. Stern argues that the 364 day solar calendar of S. Talmons Qumran findings do not specify a specific
differentiation causal of sectarianism against the normative Jerusalem temple cult, but may exist as an
idiosyncratic feature particular to the Qumran "sect". He argues that differences in calendar observance were never
cause for great discord in ancient Jewish religious practice. Using his own articles as supports he suggests that
Seleucid Israel kept to a Babylonian lunar calendar even during the extreme forces of Hellenization, and that this
calendar, despite future conflicts with regards to a lunar-solar, over solar ephemeris, was widely accepted by all
factions of Judaism, as though such a practice was an indistinguishable feature or normative practice for all. Yet at
the same time he by his own admission presents data that contradicts his assertions about a heterogeneous calendar.
Further, even if the solar calendar of the Qumran sect was not widely accepted, their exists contrary historical
evidence that the Hellenized priests pre and post Hazmonean dynasty were heavily influenced by the character of
Hellenism to the point where their adherence to a Greek calendar possibly beside the Jewish would provide
ample place for a new reckoning of days to supersede the old. This would also explain why the Qumran sect seems
to adhere to a solar calendar in rebellion against what they determine to be Hellenizations negative influences.
When two successive high priests exist as puppets for the Seleucid kingdom, and with the future Hazmoneans
accepting the garb of Grecian priests while being high priests of Israel, this coupled with a state of Israel that is
entirely changed from the effects of Hellenization, it is very easy to presume that the influences of a lunar
ephemeris would have taken strong hold. And since evidence exists suggesting a solar reckoning of days before
and after the time of Nehemiah, it would be in perfect agreement that the loss of this original solar reckoning
would have taken place in a time of spiritual reinterpretation and cultural deluge.


Hasmoneans, and the many years of change and adaptation following multiple
changes in questionable leadership, it becomes extremely likely that any tendency
towards a calendar in misalignment with the Greeks who were in control over the
temple explicitly or through affect would have lost its footing, being superseded by a
new lunar type,
at least within the circles of those in power as seems to be the
It wouldnt be unusual for Israel to adopt additions to their calendar, for this
behavior has been displayed historically as is prominently seen in the renaming of
months after Babylonian titles, so a shift from a solar reckoning to a lunar would have
much less religious significance as some now argue, especially given the lack of
biblical specifics on reckoning non high holy days.
The Hasmoneans were at first in
a large way anti-Hellenistic, but this family having been brought up in an Hellenized
Israel would have been by environment already influenced by its pervasive powers,
this making it impossible to know wither Matthias and his sons held to a solar or lunar
calendar type before the creation of their wars ambiguity is purposeful here. So, if it
is true that the first Maccabees were staunchly Orthodox, the negative effects of pagan
culture could have been naturally alluded to as correct, if they were brought up with
Hellenistic beliefs, which evidence suggests mostly all were.
With the Maccaabees succeeding climb to power, they being placed as high
priests though not of Zadokite origins, like all political endeavors their focus became
less on fighting for the integrity of religious dogma but peace and success under the
power of foreign rulers. As shown in 1 Maccabees 2:18 friends of the king were
those Israelites who shamelessly adapted to the Hellenistic world, becoming in a way
Jewish Greeks, this title of friend was said by Matthias to be a proclamation of
disdain, while four generations later the Hasmonean High priest now donning a Greek
name and accepting pagan garb proudly accepts the title friend of the king and with
great pride.
If such evidence fails to display how the once zealous Hasmoneans who
were supported by the proto Pharisee movement (which they would in the future
separate from) became as influenced by Hellenisms persuasive powers (as their first
enemies were), than there exists no example at all.
Furthermore, the influences of Hellenism didnt wane with time but were
compacted and exemplified in the future under the Herod kings, which only further
demonstrates the powers imposed upon the Jews which certainly (if using the book of
Jubilees and texts speaking about the perversions of a lunar calendar) shows that the
influence of Greek supremacy and its ways were the chief cause of changing temple
observance from a solar to lunar system, and not biblical injunctions at all: such
injunctions remaining to this day ambivalent by most scholars. For the Jews as a
nation to almost forget their God is not uncommon and is confirmed in the book of
Judges. In times of poor leadership the nation has portrayed a revolving tendency to

Shemaryahu Talmon, "Reckoning the Sabbath in the First and Early Second Temple Period - From the Evening
or the Morning?" in Sabbath: Ideas, History, Reality, ed. G. Blindsteain, (Beer-sheva: Ben-Gurion University Press,
2004). 17.
note Bartlett 2003: 20. "no evidence is given for any opposition to Jason's reforms from the Jewish people. The
more conservative people of the countryside may have grumbled in their beards about the 'new-fangled' goings on
in Jerusalem, but no overt opposition is mentioned."
Bartlett, J.R. Jews in the Hellenistic and Roman Cities. Taylor & Francis, 2002. Print. 125.

follow the indiscretions of their wayward rulers opposed to the strictnesss of sacred
law, this providing much room for the application of pagan ideas and customs,
specifically in regards to the aforementioned unspecific nature of the biblical
Regarding the 1
century views on this issue, there exists New Testament
evidence that shows the sect of Judaism lead by Yahshua of Galilee, this including
Yahshua Himself held to a solar reckoning for the beginning and ending of the weekly
There is also evidence from the epistle of Matthew that the Messiahs
followers waited until sunrise to visit His tomb when they could have done so after
sundown Saturday.
There is evidence that those less effected by the pagan ways of
popular Hellenism held true to the solar reckoning while in less cosmopolitan cities of
as with the Qumran sect and others as explained via their writings. Their
exists extra biblical evidence that seems to suggest a sunrise start to Sabbath
observance by Christians in the early second century,
and all such evidences point
to Yahshua Jesus as re-enforcing a sunrise to sunrise reckoning in accordance to the
beginning of the weekly Sabbath.
With Talmon and Greens in-depth work on this subject, as with the historical
proofs on the high probability of Hellenistic influence and governmental pressures as
being chief causes of calendar changes in Israel, as with the lack of firm rebuttal from
scholarly opposition apart from conjecture or interpretive explanations, it seems clear
that the sunrise to sunrise reckoning was the first method of observing days according
to the Hebrew scriptures, this being based on Genesis 1 as a primordial calendar type.
The results of these finding mean that since before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70
AD, many adherents to Judaism and then eventually Sabbatarian Christianity have
been lacking in their observance of the Sabbath day (in a complete sense). The results
of this error being a loss in sanctification and blessing as according to the promise of
Isaiah 58:13, this with a concomitant effect of punishment/lack of knowledge for
Sabbath defilement. Jesus as the promised Messiah was foretold to establish the law
according to His Fathers commandment,
and since evidence shows that He and His
disciples kept the Sabbath from sunrise to sunrise (as would be expected if such a
form where the original), than this means that all modern adherents to the Christian
and Jewish faiths need to return and practice the same.

Saulnier 2012:13
Clark, G.W. Notes on the Gospel of Matthew; Explanatory and Practical. Sheldon, 1870. Print. 400-401.
Morgenstern, Julian. "The Calendar of the Book of Jubilees, Its Origin and Its Character." Vetus Testamentum 5.
1955. Print. 63-64
Pliny, Letters 10.96-97
I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth;
and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not
hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). "And I
will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make
darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."
(Isaiah 42:16) "Who is blind, but my servant? ... who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD's
servant?" (42:19) "The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it
honourable." (42:21) "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he
that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21) "For I do not speak of myself, but from the
Father who sent me and commanded me what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that his
commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak." (John
12:49-50) Said scriptures show according to a Christian interpretation that Christs example is that of The Fathers.