[b-hebrew] Yom in Biblical and Rabbinic Texts

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Oct 27 18:24:43 EDT 2005

Dear James,

>I agree that Daniel's prophecy is definitely talking about years.
>But I hazard that while the original meaning of the word was seven,
>that many hearing this construct 'seventy sevens' out of context
>would have more readily understood 70 weeks.
>When talking about time 'seven' had the primary meaning of 'week'.
>A week being seven days and the seventh day being the 'shabath'
>etymologically linked to the number 7 which comes from the verb
>'to rest' as you already know.

HH: Peter's point takes some of the steam out of your argument, since 
you were claiming that a linguistic linkage of "seven" ("week") with 
"sabbath" made it more natural for people to think of "seven" in 
terms of days.

>An English example may be 'fortnight' which is shortened form of
>'fourteen nights' or more simpy put 'two weeks'. If I spoke about
>a 'fortnight of plagues' and historical sources showed that the
>period I was referring to was of 14 years, you would naturally conclude
>that I was talking about a 14 year period and making poetic use of
>the word 'fortnight' which fits the context poetically as 14 nights
>could be metaphorically indicative of 14 dark periods. However, under
>no circumstances would you ever propose that 'fortnight' actually meant
>'14 years' in a context other than a poetic usage.

HH: There are two problems with this remark:

1. A fortnight has a dictionary definition as a period of 14 days. 
Being defined in terms of days, it would not mean years. But the 
Hebrew word is evidently not defined in terms of days. It can refer 
to years and does so in more than one context.

2. The example I gave you from Genesis 29:27 is not a poetic context. 
So the word can refer to years outside of a poetic context.

					Harold Holmyard

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