Day from Sunrise to Sunset large

Panorama of a Day
by “Fir0002/Flagstaffotos” (GFDv1.2 more>>)

Old Earth Creationists (OECs) steadfastly contend the author of Genesis 1 did not use the Hebrew word “yom” (translated “day”) to refer to 6 consecutive 24-hour periods of time.  Rather, in their view, the author was using “yom“:  1) Literally — but referring to one of the other literal meanings of the Hebrew word “yom“, namely, a long, yet definite, period of time (see, e.g., the Day-Age View more>>); 2)Metaphorically (see, e.g., the Literary Framework View more>>); or, 3) Analogically (see, e.g., the Analogical Day View more>>).

Although Young Earth Creationists (YECs) agree the word “yom” can semantically refer to something other than a 24-hour day, they insist that in its normal usage “yom” refers to a 24-hour day and a plain reading of the Genesis 1 text evidences the author was referring to 24-hour days in recording the six days of creation.

This article explores the reasons OECs proffer for contending that the Hebrew word “yom” (translated “day”) in Genesis 1 means something other than a 24-hour day and further explores how YECs respond to such proffers.

Nine Proffers of Support for the Contention that
“Yom“ (Translated “Day“) Means Something Other than
a 24-Hour Day in the Genesis Creation Account

The following nine (9) arguments have been proffered in support of the proposition that each creation “yom (translated “day”) may refer to something other than a 24-hour period of time:

  1. One of the Literal Meanings of the Word “Yom is a Long, Yet Definite, Period of Time skip to>>
  2. On Several Occasions, the Bible Uses the Word “Yom to Refer to a Period of Time Other than a 24-Hour Period skip to>>
  3. Under the YEC View the Sun Wasn’t Created Until Day 4; therefore, Even Under a YEC View, Days 1-3 Could Not Have Been 24-Hour Days skip to>>
  4. In Genesis 2:4, the Author of Genesis Uses “Yom to refer to Multiple Generations, Not a 24-Hour Period skip to>>
  5. Since the 7th “Day” (Yom) is Continuing, it is Unfair to Insist that “Days” 1-6 be Limited to a 24-Hour Meaning skip to>>
  6. Too Many Things Occurred on the 6th “Yom for it to be Limited to a 24-Hour Period skip to>>
  7. Genesis 2:8-9 Indicates God Used a Natural Process of Growth in the Garden which Would Have Taken Longer than 24 Hours skip to>>
  8. If Day 6 Was Only 24-hours Long, there Wouldn’t Have Been a Need to Put Adam in the Garden for the Purpose of Tending the Garden as Stated in Genesis 2:15-17  skip to>>
  9. Psalm 90 Says God’s Days Are Not as Man’s Days skip to>>

Proffer No. 1 — One of the Literal Meanings of the Word “Yom is a Long, Yet Definite, Period of Time
As explained by Hugh Ross (a proponent of the Day-Age View of creation more>>), experts in biblical Hebrew agree the language had a very limited vocabulary which resulted in many words having several meanings. While the English language is composed of nearly 4 million words, biblical Hebrew only had several thousand words. As posited by Ross and supported by Gleason Archer (a professor of Semitic languages, one of fifty scholars selected to translate the NASB version of the Old Testament and a participant in the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy), the Hebrew word “yom (translated “day”) can literally “indicate any of four time periods: (a) some portion of the daylight (hours); (b) sunrise to sunset, (c) sunset to sunset, (d) a segment of time without any reference to solar days (from weeks to a year to several years to an age or epoch). “Yom’ cannot, however, be interpreted as indefinite (such as anytime or someday) or as infinite time.” [Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pg. 73 (2004) citing to Brown, Driver & Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, pgs. 398-401 (1997), Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, pgs. 341-342 (1979) and Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament1:370-371 (1980)] See also, William Wilson’s examination of the word “yom” in which he states that “yom is “frequently put for time in general, or for a long time, a whole period under consideration …. Day [yom] is also put for a particular season or time when any extraordinary event happens.” [Hugh RossCreation and Time, pg. 46 (1994) citing to William Wilson, Old Testament Word Studies, pg. 109 (1978)]

Robert C. Newman (a proponent of the Intermittent-Day View more>>) agrees the word “yom can be interpreted as a long but strictly bounded period of time and that there is no other more suitable word in Hebrew available to describe such a long period. Nevertheless, Newman says one of the reasons he chose to adopt the more common meaning of the word “yom (i.e., a 24-hour period) in constructing his model, was to avoid objections by YECs. [Robert C. Newman, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, pg. 155 (1999); Robert C. Newman & Herman Eckelmann, Genesis One and the Origin of Earthpg. 74 (1977)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — Although the Semantic Range of the Word “Yom” Includes a Long Period of Time, that is Not How the Word was Normally Used: Jonathan Sarfati distinguishes between the “semantic range” of words (i.e., all possible meanings a word can have in a given language) and the “sensical” meaning of a word which he defines as “the way a word is normally used.” [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 69 (2004)] Sarfati concedes the “semantic range” of the word “yom includes a long period of time. However, because the Old Testament uses the word “yom 2,300 times to denote a 24-hour period, he believes that in its normal sense “yomrefers to a 24-hour period and that is what the author of Genesis intended to convey. [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 68 (2004) citing to James Stambaugh, “The Days of Creation: A Semantic Approach” CEN Tech. J. 5(1):70-78 (1991) see also, Kenneth Gentry, “In the Space of Six Days” (2000)]

Additionally, although Sarfati agrees the context of a verse can justify something other than a literal sensical interpretation and that “in some contexts,” yom “can have a non-literal meaning, he argues “the meaning of a word must be determined by how it is used in the specific context, not by possible meanings in unrelated contexts.” [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pgs. 68-69 (2004)] Genesis 1:14 says the heavenly bodies were created “for signs and for seasons and for days and years” which Sarfati asserts must be a solar day, not a geologic period. [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 69 (2004)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — The Creation of the Universe was a One-Time Event so it Doesn’t Make Sense to Restrict the Translation of the Word “Yom to it’s “Normal Usage”: Since God only created the universe one time, it doesn’t make sense to limit the interpretation of the word “yom to its “normal usage” because there would be no normal usage of the word “yom in the context of a one time event such as creation. Accordingly, it is fair and reasonable to consider all literal meanings of the word “yom permitted by the language in which the Genesis text was written. [See, Oliver Buswell, “The Length of the Creative Days,” in P.P.T. Pun, Evolution: Nature and Scripture in Conflict?, pg. 269 (1982)]

OEC Reply No. 2 — Since Days 1-3 Couldn’t be 24-Hour Solar Days, It Is Unreasonable to Restrict the Meaning of Yom to a 24-Hour Day: Since under the YEC view the sun was not created until Day 4, it is impossible for Days 1-3 to have been 24-hour solar days even in the YEC view. Therefore, it is unreasonable to restrict the meaning of the word “yom to a 24-hour day especially since other meanings are permitted by the original Hebrew language. [NOTE:  See further discussion on this issue in Proffer No. 3 below]

Proffer No. 2 — On Several Occasions, the Bible Uses the Word “Yom to Refer to a Period of Time Other than a 24-Hour Period
In support of the proposition that the word “yom can literally refer to a period of time, other than a 24-hour period, Hugh Ross (a proponent of the Day-Age View more>>) references the following biblical passages in which he contends the word “yom is used to refer to something other than a 24-hour period:

  • The first time the word “yom is used in the Bible is in Genesis 1:5. That verse states that after God separated light from darkness, “He called the light ‘yom‘” (translated “day”). Accordingly, the first time “yom is used in the Bible it refers only to the daylight hours of a 24-hour day, not the entire 24-hour period. The same is true of Genesis 1:14.
  • Genesis 2:4 (ASV) states: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day [“yom] that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.” Ross asserts that “yom in Genesis 2:4 refers to the entire creation week which, even under a YEC view, would be six days (144 hours), not a single 24-hour day.
  • Genesis 4:3 uses the word “yom to refer to a process of time.
  • Genesis 30:14 uses the word “yom to refer to a harvest time.
  • Joshua 24:7 uses the word “yom to refer to a long season.
  • Proverbs 25:13 uses the word “yom to refer to a harvest time.
  • Isaiah 4:2 uses the word “yom to refer to a future era.

[See, Hugh RossCreation and Time, pg. 46 (1994); see, also Robert C. Newman & Perry PhillipsGenesis One and the Origin of Earth, 2nd Ed., pg. 56 (2007)] Robert C. Newman (a proponent of the Intermittent-Day view more>>) notes Zechariah 14:7 uses the word “yom to speak of a continuing period of time and Ecclesiastes 12:1-3 uses “yom to refer to a period of unspecified length. [Robert C. Newman & Herman Eckelmann, Genesis One and the Origin of Earthpg. 61 (1977); see also, Hugh RossA Matter of Dayspg. 75 (2004)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — Although “Yom in Genesis 2:4 Does Indicate a Meaning of “Day” Other Than 24-Hours, each Creation “Day” Was Still a Normal 24-Hour Day: Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor state that YECs “don’t argue against the fact that the Hebrew word for ‘day’ can refer to a period of time other than 24 hours” and that “Genesis 2:4 is one of those instances, as its context and the original language suggests.” However, this is not evidence for an old earth and the “days” of the Creation week require an understanding of normal days. [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 69 (1996)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 2 — Genesis 2:4 Should be Interpreted to Say “When” Instead of “In the Day”: Although the word “yom does appear in the original Hebrew text of Genesis 2:4Jonathan Sarfati contends the verse is correctly interpreted: “When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” instead of “in the day.” [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pgs. 70-71 (2004) citing to McCabe, “Defense of Literal Days in the Creation Week,” Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal 5:97-123, pgs. 117-118 (Fall, 2000)]

Proffer No. 3 — Under the YEC View the Sun Wasn’t Created Until Day 4; therefore, Even Under a YEC View, Days 1-3 Could NotHave Been 24-Hour Days
Earth days are 24 hours long because that is how long it takes the earth to rotate on it’s axis one time. Accordingly, OEC Hugh Ross and many others contend that Days 1-3 in the Genesis creation account could not possibly be 24-hour days because, according to the YECview, the sun was not created until Day 4.

In other words, without the sun, there would be no day/night cycle prior to Day 4; therefore, no 24-hour periods could have existed before Day 4. Since Days 1-3 were certainly not 24-hour solar days, it is reasonable to conclude that each “yom in Days 4-7 may also refer to something other than a 24-hour period.

YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — God Didn’t Need the Sun to Provide Light for Days 1-3: God can create light with or without a secondary source like the sunGenesis 1:3 does not specify the source of the light that God created at that time (Day 1). Rather, it simply says “God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.” Hence, the only thing we know is that God created light on Day 1, not the source of that light. Clearly, God is not dependent on the sun for light as evidenced by Revelation 21:23 which says the heavenly city “does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

Accordingly, in the YEC view, God created light on Day 1 without the sun; then, on Day 4, God created the sunmoon and stars which “took over the role as light dispensers to the earth.” [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 84 (2004) including a cite to J. Calvin, 1554, pgs. 76-77 (Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 1984); see also, Report of the Creation Study Committee of the Presbyterian Church in America, 2000, pg. 17.] As explained by Jonathan Sarfati, “[a]ll it takes to have a day-night cycle is a rotating earth and light coming from one direction.” Therefore, Sarfati maintains the earth was already rotating relative to the light that God created on Day 1, whatever that source was. [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 85 (2004)] Sarfati further suggests the “counter-intuitive order of creation (light before sun) actually adds a hallmark of authenticity” to the Bible because if it had been the product of purely human writers they would have made the creation story fit within their understanding, i.e., they would not have had a “‘day’ without the sun.” [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 85 (2004)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — God Could Have Provided Another Light Source but Nothing Indicates He Did: Many OECs concede that although the omnipotent God of the Bible (more>>) could have provided a non-solar light source on Days 1-3, there is nothing in the Genesis Creation Account to suggest God chose to do it that way. Consequently, they maintain YECs are merely speculating when they hypothesize God used a light source other than the sun to provide day/night 24-hour periods on Days 1-3.

OEC Reply No. 2 — A Supernatural Light Source for Days 1-3 is Contraindicated by the Assumption Inherent in Gen. 2:5that God Chose to Use Natural Processes: Genesis 2:5 says no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up “for the Lord God had not sent rain.” This verse indicates God’s providential operations in sustaining His creation were not of a supernatural variety but “that God ordered the sequence of creation acts so that the continuance and development of the earth and its creatures could proceed by natural means” (such as shrubs growing due to rain fall and earth experiencing light from the sun). Moreover, no explanation has been offered as to why God would have created a replacement cosmos to perform the very same functions already being performed perfectly well by the original system. [Meredith Kline, “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony” (1996)]

OEC Reply No. 3 — An Appeal to a Non-Solar Light Source on Days 1-3 Abandons the “Plain Meaning” Interpretation of Genesis which YECs Say they are Committed To:  As contended by Lee Irons (a proponent of the Literary Framework View more>>), although YECs claim to hold to a “plain meaning” interpretation of the word “day”, in order to explain how 24-hour days could have existed before the sun was created on Day 4, YECs abandon a plain reading of the text and appeal to the existence of an unknown and undisclosed light source.

OEC Reply No. 4 — The Suggestion that God Created Earth on Day 1 but Didn’t Create the Stars (Including the Sun) Until Day 4 Conflicts with Scientific Evidence and Job 38:4-7:  As explained by astrophysicist Hugh Ross (a proponent of the Day-Age View more>>), if God created the earth on Day 1 before He created the sunmoon and stars on Day 4, that would mean Earth existed as a solitary sphere in a spatial void on Days 1-3. In turn, that would mean the universe (which contains the sunmoonand stars created on Day 4) would be younger than the earth. However, not only does this conflict with scientific evidence, it also contradicts Job 38:4-7 which says the stars were singing (and, therefore, were already in existence) when God laid Earth’s foundation.

YEC Rebuttal No. 2 — Since Days 4-6 Were Certainly 24-Hour Days, there is No Reason Why Days 1-3 Were Not Also 24-Hour Days: As asserted by YEC Kenneth Gentry, because Genesis 1:14,18 says that on Day 4 God created the sun “expressly for marking off days”, the last three creation days were certainly normal 24-hour days. Since nothing in the text suggests “yom means something different in the last three days than it does in the first three days, there is no basis for contending Days 1-3 were not normal 24-hour days. [Kenneth Gentry, “In the Space of Six Days” (2000)]

Genesis 1:14-18 Doesn’t Say God Created the Sun Solely  for the Purpose of “Marking off Days”:  Genesis 1:14-18 (NIV) states as follows:

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so.  God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.”

YEC Rebuttal No. 3 — God May Have Chosen to Create the SunMoon and Stars on Day 4 to Demonstrate His Supremacy to Pagans Who Worshiped Heavenly Bodies: As suggested by YECs J. Ligon Duncan and David W. Hall, God may have chosen to wait to create the sunmoon and stars on Day 4 to specifically demonstrate His supremacy over astral objects which were historical objects of pagan worship.

OEC Reply — The Focal Point of God’s Creation was Man, Not the Sun: The explanation that God may have chosen to wait to create the sun on Day 4 to demonstrate His supremacy over astral objects makes the sun the focal point of God’s creation; but, the clear focal point of the Genesis creation account was God’s creation of man who God made in His image (Gen. 1:26-27), not the sun.

Proffer No. 4 — In Genesis 2:4, the Author of Genesis Uses “Yom to Refer to Multiple Generations, Not 24 Hours
The American Standard Version of the Bible, which is more of a word for word translation, translates Genesis 2:4 as follows: “These are the generations [“toledah] of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day [“yom] of their making.” The Interlinear Transliterated Bible translates Genesis 2:4 as follows: “These are the generations [“toledah] of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day (“yom) made that the LORD God the earth and the heavens.”

In his book, A Matter of DaysHugh Ross (a proponent of the Day-Age View more>>) notes Bible commentators differ as to whether the phrase “these are the generations” is a summary of the preceding text (i.e., Genesis 1) or whether the phrase is a preview of the text to follow. [NOTE: The chapter and verse delineations in the Bible were not in the original text but were added after 1200 A.D.] Ross reasons that “[i]n either case, the wording of the verse challenges the YEC assertion that the word “day” (yom) in the creation account can only refer to a period of 24 hours.” As noted by Ross, “generations” (toledah) is a term commonly used to refer to multiple generations. [Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pg. 76 (2004)] Ross asserts that by using the word “toledah,” the author of the text was indicating that multiple generations had passed, which is consistent with other verses in the Old Testament:

  1. Verses which compare the longevity of God with the age of the earth (e.g., Psalm 90:2-6Proverbs 8:22-31Ecclesiastes 1:4,7,10Micah 6:2);
  2. Verses which reference the longevity of the earth (e.g., Habakkuk 3:6 says the mountains are “ancient” and the hills are “age-old”) and
  3. Verses which state that God “remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham” (e.g., I Chronicles 16:15 and Psalm 105:80).
    [See, Hugh RossCreation and Time, pg. 52 (1994); Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pgs. 83-84 (2004)]

Some OECs further argue that an old earth creation view is more compatible with statements made by Jesus over 2,000 years ago in which he said that the kingdom of God was “near” (see, Matt. 4:17Matt. 10:7Luke 10:11Luke 21:31). Similarly, in 1 John 2:18, John tells the people he is writing to that they were in “the last hour.” If the earth is billions of years old, then even a 2,000 year period would still seem “near” or be a “last hour.” But if the earth is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old, then the passage of 2,000 years doesn’t seem to be as “near” or within a “last hour.” However, readers are cautioned to keep in mind that, to God, a day is like a thousand years (see, Psalm 90:42 Peter 3:8). [Robert C. Newman & Perry PhillipsGenesis One and the Origin of Earth, 2nd Ed., pg. 55 (2007); Robert C. Newman, Three Views on Creation and Evolution, pg. 110 (1999)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — Gen. 2:4 Is Not a Reference to Past Events But an Introduction to Events Occurring in Genesis 2 about the Creation and Fall of Man: Citing to the Theological Workbook of the Old TestamentMark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor maintain the reference to “generations” referred to Genesis 2:4 does not refer to the creation of the heavens and earth but to “the events that followed the establishment of heaven and earth.” Thus, they suggest the verse “is correctly placed as introducing the detailed account of the creation and fall of man.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 85 (1996)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — Wycliff’s Commentary States Gen. 2:4 May Refer to Gen. 1: Wycliffe’s Bible Commentary states the following: “The Hebrew word [toledot] comes from a verb meaning (to beget or bear children). It could be translated “begettings.” This statement may be a reference to Gen 1. The LXX translates: This is the Book of the Genesis. Some would translate it, “The history of the heavens and the earth. The offspring of heaven and earth were thus pictured.” (Emphasis added). [The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) by Moody Press (1962 )]

OEC Reply No. 2 — It Doesn’t Matter if “Toledah Refers to the Text Before or After Genesis 2:4: Whether “toledah refers to the text before or after Genesis 2:4 does not matter because in either case the text is referencing the passing of “generations”, not just several 24-hour periods of time. [See, Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pg. 76 (2004)]

Proffer No. 5 — Since the 7th “Day” (Yom) is Continuing, it is Unfair to Insist that “Days” 1-6 are Limited to a 24-Hour Meaning
Some OECs, such as Hugh Ross (a proponent of the Day-Age View more>>), maintain the 7th Day (God’s day of rest from His works of creation) is still continuing and that is the reason why the fossil record does not show any new animal species coming into existence after human beings appeared on earth. Since Ross believes the 7th “Yom is continuing and, therefore, must be longer than a 24-hour period, he contends it is unreasonable for YECs to insist that the word “yom be restricted to a 24-hour period in Days 1-6. In support of his assertion that the 7th Day is continuing, Ross makes the following four points:

  1. In John 5:16-18, Jesus defended His work of healing on the Sabbath on the basis that God was still working up to that “very day,” even though it was part of His Sabbath rest from His works of creation;
  2. The 7th Day does not include the phrase “and was evening and was morning — the 7th Day.” The fact that the evening/morning phrase was used in Days 1-6 but not in Day 7 is a direct indication that the 7th day was not completed and is continuing.
  3. Psalm 95:7-11 says God told the Israelites (who had hardened their hearts against Him in Meribah and Massah) that they would not enter his “rest” which means God’s rest must have been continuing at least up until the time when God said He was still resting;
  4. Hebrews 4:4-11 says that believers can still enter into God’s rest and, therefore, God’s rest must have continued up until the time the Book of Hebrews was written.

[Hugh RossCreation and Time, pgs. 48-49 (1994); Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pgs. 81-82 (2004); David SnokeA Biblical Case for an Old Earth, pgs. 99-104 (2006); Robert C. Newman & Perry PhillipsGenesis One and the Origin of Earth, 2nd Ed., pg. 60 (2007)]

As posited by Lee Irons (a proponent of the Literary Framework View more>>Hebrews 4:4-11 interprets Psalm 95:11 in light of Genesis 2:2. “Although the works were finished from the creation of the world, that is, although God’s own rest has been a reality ever since the conclusion of the sixth day of creation, yet it is incumbent on the covenant community that they not passively assume that their participation in God’s rest is a fait accompli. Rather, they must be diligent to enter that ‘rest….” [Lee Irons, “The Framework Interpretation: An Exegetical Summary’, pg. 34 (2000)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — The Use of the Word “Rested” in Day Seven Indicates Completed Action: Genesis 2:2-3 says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor assert the word “rested” in Genesis 2:2-3 indicates completed action and, therefore, they maintain there is no basis to assert that the 7th Day of rest continues. [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 70 (1996)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — God’s Rest from Creation is Only Partial and Won’t be Complete Until He Finishes Creating the New Heaven and New Earth: Robert Newman (a proponent of the Intermittent-Day view more>>), proposes God’s rest is partially completed but it will not be totally complete until after God creates the “new heavens” and “new earth” referenced in Revelation 21:1. He contends this perspective is supported by the fact that Day 7 does not include the evening and morning phrase included in Days 1-6 as well as passages in Hebrews 4:1-11 and John 5:16-17 which Newman contends stand for the proposition that God has not yet completed his work of creation. [Robert C. Newman & Herman Eckelman, Genesis One and the Origin of Earth, pg. 71 (1977)] According to Newman, God has rested “from creating new forms since the creation of humans.” All we observe in the universe today was in existence when Adam and Eve walked in the Garden. The creation of the new heavens and new earth will usher in rest for redeemed humanity and at that time, God will enter into total rest.

YEC Rebuttal No. 2 — Even Though God is Still Resting from Performing Works of Creation, that Doesn’t Mean the 7th Day is Continuing: Henry Morris argues that “even though God’s rest from His work of creation is still continuing, that does not mean Day 7 is still continuing. The fact that God rested on the seventh day in no way precludes Him from continuing to rest on the eighth day and all future days. God’s creation week, which consisted of six work days followed by a day of rest, was sufficient to set the pattern for all future weeks. [See, Henry Morris, “The Day-Age Theory Revisited” Impact (1978)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 3 — The Absence of the “And Was Evening and Was Morning Phrase from the 7th Day Does Not Mean the 7th Day is Continuing: Jonathan Sarfati argues that if OECs think the absence of the phrase “and was evening, and was morning” means that the 7th day is continuing, then it must also mean that it never began. Sarfati further contends the statement in Genesis 2:2that on “the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” is just as definite as the evening and morning phrase used with reference to the prior six days. Both signify an end of a 24-hour day. Therefore, the use of the “evening and morning” phrase was not necessary. [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 91 (2004) referencing Maniguet, The Theological Method of Hugh Ross: An Analysis and Critique (2002)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — The Evening and Morning Phrase May Have Only Indicated an End of a Period, Not a Beginning: “[B]y putting this construction as ‘evening and morning’ the author is drawing the reader’s attention to the nighttime, when a worker would normally rest from labor. This is why many Old Testament scholars think the sundown-to-sunrise formula is intended to act as a symbolic unit to mark the end of one creation stage before the dawn of the next, as opposed to functioning as an indication of the duration of the creations ‘days.’” [Krista BontragerThe Bigger Picture on Creationpgs. 63-64 (2008) citing to Old Testament scholar, C. John Collins, PhD] If the “evening and morning phrase” is a symbolic unit that marks the end of a creation stage, then the fact that no such phrase is attached to the 7th day lends support of Ross’ claim that the 7th Day was not completed in 24 hours and if the 7th Day wasn’t a 24 hour period, then there is no reason to insist that days 1-6 were 24-hour periods.

For further discussion on the meaning of the evening and morning phrases used in Genesis 1, see: Do the “… And Was Evening and Was Morning — X Day” Phrases in Genesis 1 Compel a YEC View?  here>>

YEC Rebuttal No. 4 — The Evening and Morning Phrase was Omitted from the 7th Day, Not Because the 7th Day Continues, but Because it was the Last Day: Some YECs suggest the “evening and morning” phrase was used as a connective between each of the first six days in the creation week and the reason the phrase does not occur in the 7th Day is because it was the last day. In other words, since the 7th Day was not going to be connected to an 8th Day, the “evening and morning” phrase was not necessary. [Report of the Creation Study Committee of the Presbyterian Church in America, 2000′ pg. 17] As stated by Jonathan Sarfati, the reason the evening and morning refrain was omitted from the 7th day was to “emphasize that God’s creation work was completed….” [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 83 (2004) referencing M. Maniguet, The Theological Method of Hugh Ross: An Analysis and Critique (2002)] J. Ligon Duncan and David Hall contend the “evening and morning” phrase was not appended to the seventh day “[b]ecause the whole of the Sabbath day is God’s rest from His creative labor for the sake of man, not just the restful nights between each of the days of creation!” [J. Ligon Duncan & David Hall, The Genesis Debate, Part One: “The 24 Hour View,” pg. 52 (2001)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 5 — The Evening and Morning Phrase May Have Been Omitted to Lay a Foundation that God’s Eternal Rest Is the Reality and the 24-hour Sabbath Day Is a Type of that Rest: The reason for the weekly 6:1 pattern of work and rest is based on God’s activity in creation which man is to imitate, i.e., working six 24-hour days and resting one 24-hour day. The fact that the author of Genesis 1 did not use the concluding evening and morning phrase with regard to Day 7 does not establish that Day 7 was not a 24-hour day.  Moses may have omitted the phrase to lay the foundation that God’s eternal rest is the reality and the 24-hour Sabbath day is a type of that rest. [Joseph Pipa, “From Chaos to Cosmos: A Critique of the Framework Hypothesis”, pg. 8 (1998) citing to Weeks, The Sufficiency of Scripture, 112-114 (1988)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 6 — Hebrews 4 Does Not Say the 7th Day is Continuing: With regard to Hugh Ross’ reference to Hebrews 4:1-11Jonathan Sarfati argues the passage in Hebrews “never says that the seventh day of creation is continuing to the present; it merely says that God’s rest is continuing.” Additionally, citing to an article written by A.S. Kulikovsky, Sarfati asserts the “rest” mentioned in Hebrews 4 is referring to the rest in the kingdom of God, not rest equated with the seventh day of creation. [See, Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 83 (2004); see also, Kulikovsky, “God’s rest in Hebrews 4:1-11,” TJ 13(2):61-62 (1999)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 7 — The “Rest” in Psalm 95:7-11 Refers to Rest in the Promised Land: In Psalm 95:7-11, “David did not state that the seventh day of Creation continued from the past into the present. David was clearly alluding to rest in the promised land, not Day Seven.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 71 (1996)]

Proffer No. 6 — Too Many Things Occurred on the 6th “Yom for it to be Limited to a 24-Hour Period
OECs propose Genesis 2 lists too many things occurring on the 6th “yom for it to be reasonably interpreted as a 24-hour period.:

  • Land animals were created (Gen. 1:24-25)
  • God formed Adam out of the earth and breathed life into him (Gen. 2:7)
  • God “planted a Garden” in Eden and put man in the garden to work it and take care of it (Gen. 2:8,15)
  • God “made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground” (Gen. 2:9)
  • God commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:16)
  • After creating Adam, God said, “I will make [future tense] a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18)
  • God brought all the cattle, beasts of the field and birds of the air to Adam for him to name (Gen. 2:19)
  • Adam named all the animals but did not find a suitable helper comparable to him (Gen. 2:20)
  • God put Adam to sleep and removed a rib from him (Gen. 2:21)
  • God made woman from the rib (Gen. 2:22)
  • God brought the woman to Adam (Gen. 2:22)
  • God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful, to multiply, to subdue the earth and rule over all the creatures of the earth(Gen. 1:28-29)
    [See, Hugh RossCreation and Time, pgs. 50-52 (1994); Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pgs. 79-81 (2004); see also, R. John Snow, “How Long Is the Sixth Day?”]

As many OECs point out, Genesis 2:23 says that when Adam first saw Eve, his response “happa’am which they assert is properly translated “now at length.” Accordingly, it is argued that Adam’s response indicates a period of time more than 24 hours, especially considering the fact that Adam would have been busy for more than 24-hours working the garden and naming the animals. [See, Hugh RossCreation and Time, pg. 51 (1994); see also, R. John Snow, “How Long Is the Sixth Day?”]

As noted by Paul Copan, “happa’am is the same phrase:

  • That was “used at Leah’s ‘vindication’ in childbearing” (see, Genesis 29:34-35),
  • That was used when Jacob finally left Laban after fourteen years (see, Genesis 30:20) and
  •  That was used to describe Jacob “finally departing this life having seen Joseph” (see, Genesis 46:30).
    [See, Paul Copan, “The Days of Genesis: An Old-Earth View” (2005)]

Other verses in which the word “happa’am is used include: Genesis 18:32Exodus 9:2710:17Judges 6:3915:316:1816:28. In each instance “the narrative relates a series of events that lasted longer than twenty-four hours” and in some cases, “a considerable period of time elapsed.” “That is why the term is better translated ‘now at last.’” [Perry Phillips, “Are the Days of Genesis Longer that 24 Hours? The Bible Says, ‘Yes’”, pg. 4 (1991)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — Adam Could Have Named All the Animals in Less Than 24-hours: In the view of some YECs, because Adam was perfect before the Fall, he would have been able to name the animals at superhuman speed, especially since Genesis 2:19states God brought the animals to Adam so he did not have to track them down.

Further, because the Bible only says Adam named livestock (behemah), birds of the air (oph hashamayim) and beasts of the field (chayyah hassadeh), “there was only a tiny fraction of all the kinds of animals” that Adam had to name. Since YECs, such as Jonathan Sarfati, assert that “kinds” are broader than species and that Adam only had to name a subset of the “kinds,” there were “probably only a few thousand animals involved at most.” In fact, Sarfati estimates it would only have taken four (4) hours for Adam to name 2,500 animals, assuming he took five seconds per animal and took a 5 minute break each hour. [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pgs. 89-90 (2004) citing to Kulikovsky, “How Could Adam Have Named All the Animals in a Single Day?” (2002)] YEC, Russell Grigg, calculates Adam could have named all the animals referenced in Genesis in less than one hour. [Russell Grigg, “Naming the Animals: All in a Day’s Work for Adam” (1996)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — There is No Basis for Suggesting Adam Worked at Superhuman Speed: There is no biblical basis for suggesting Adam functioned at superhuman speed before the Fall. Jesus was perfect and there is nothing to suggest He worked at superhuman speed. Additionally, the Bible never claims that intellect (as opposed to wisdom) is associated with sin in a person’s life. Therefore, there is no reasonable basis to assert that greater intellect would have dramatically impacted Adam’s ability to perform tasks in the garden. [Hugh RossCreation and Time, pg. 51 (1994)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 2 — Happa’am Is Properly Translated as “This is Now” or “This Now,” Not “Now at Length”: Citing to the KJV, NKJV, NIV and NASB, Jonathan Sarfati asserts happa’am is properly translated as “this is now”, not “now at length” as claimed by Ross. Sarfati points to Judges 6:39 and Genesis 18:32 where happa’am is translated as “once more,” “but this once” and “this once.” Accordingly, Sarfati concludes Ross has no basis for saying that the word happa’am “carries with it the idea of a long period of time in Genesis 2.” [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pgs. 90-91 (2004)]

Mark Van Bebber and Paul Taylor cite the following literal translation of Genesis 2:23: “This one, this time, is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” Van Bebber and Taylor conclude “[i]t is as if Adam is saying, this time I have found the one suitable to be my helper!” “‘This time’ acts to add emphasis and emotion to the climax of this account, but it does not indicate a great duration of time.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 73 (1996)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — Adam Had to Have Sufficient Interaction with Animals to Realize there was No Suitable Helper for Him: Hugh Ross notes that in the process of naming the animals, Adam discovered that, for him, there was no suitable helper and companion. Ross asserts that this at least “suggests that Adam had sufficient interaction with the plants and animals of the Garden to realize that something was missing from his life.” Ross also cites to the following texts for support of his interpretation of “happa’am as meaning “now at length.”

    • The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament translates Genesis 2:23 as “at last bone of my bones.”
    • The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon translates Genesis 2:23 as “now at length.”
      [See, Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pg. 80 (2004)]

YEC Response No. 1 — Adam Would Have Realized His Need for a Suitable Helper Within Hours: Mark Van Bebberand Paul Taylor agree that “[t]he main purpose seems to make Adam discover his unique aloneness, he was the only one without a mate.” However, they argue Adam would have realized his own need for a helper “in only a matter of hours.” [Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pg. 82 (1996)]

Proffer No. 7 — Genesis 2:8-9 Indicates God Used a Natural Process of Growth in the Garden Which Would Have Taken Longer than 24 Hours
Genesis 2:8 (NIV) does not say that God instantly created the Garden of Eden. Rather, Genesis 2:8 says God “planted a garden” and “made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground.” As maintained by Vern Poythress, the language used in Genesis 2:9 (that God “made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground”) indicates God permitted a process of growth to occur instead of instantaneously causing full grown trees to appear. [Vern PoythressThree Views on Creation and Evolution, pgs. 92-93 (1999); see also, Perry Phillips, “Are the Days of Genesis Longer that 24 Hours? The Bible Says, ‘Yes’”, pg. 3 (1991)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — God Could Have Made the Trees Grow Instantaneously: Genesis 2:9 only says “God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground.” Because God is just as capable of “making trees grow at the same rate as He turned water into wine and multiplied the loaves and fishes — instantaneously,” He could have also caused the trees to grow in an instant. Further, there is nothing to suggest the Hebrew text wasn’t simply relating that trees were created in the process of growing, as long as they were mature enough to produce seeds. [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pgs. 88-89 (2004)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — The Text Indicates God Did Not Choose to Make the Trees Grow Instantaneously: Genesis 2:5-6 says “no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground.” These verses indicate God chose to preserve plants by ordinarysources (i.e., rain and man’s work), not by fiat miracle.

As further noted by David Snoke, “if the land had emerged from the waters just three days earlier…, then it hardly makes sense that the land would be dry and unfertile….The sense of the text is that the land had been around a long time, so long that it had dried out. In this dry land, God creates a special garden, with water and a gardener.” [David SnokeA Biblical Case for an Old Earth, pg. 153 (2006)]

See also, Literary Framework View (here) whose proponents go into great detail why the believe Genesis 2:5-6 demonstrates God chose to invoke ordinary providence to maintain and sustain His creation.

YEC Response No. 1 — God May Have Used Ordinary and Extraordinary Providence: The extraordinary providence necessary for the land to dry out “would have been no different from what occurred when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. Just as extraordinary providence works alongside regular providence in history, we may assume God operated the same way during creation.” [Joseph Pipa, “From Chaos to Cosmos: A Critique of the Framework Hypothesis”, pg. 6 (1998)]

Proffer No. 8 — If Day 6 Was Only 24-hours Long, there Would Not Have Been a Need to Put Adam in the Garden to Tend to It
Genesis 1:15 says God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Even today, it is not necessary for a garden to be tended to on a daily basis and if Day 6 was only 24-hours long, it wouldn’t have been necessary to put man in the garden “to work it and take care of it.” In fact, as posed by Perry Phillips, “one wonders why the garden needed any work at all if the sixth day was only twenty-four hours.” As argued by Perry Phillips, “the narrative implies a time longer than a literal day….” [Perry Phillips, “Are the Days of Genesis Longer that 24 Hours? The Bible Says, ‘Yes’” (1991)]

Proffer No. 9 — Psalm 90 Says God’s Days Are Not as Man’s Days
Moses (who most scholars agree authored Genesis 1) also wrote Psalm 90:4 which states: “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day (yom) that has just gone by, or like a watch [four hours] in the night.” Accordingly, Hugh Ross (a proponent of the Day-Age View more>>) notes that “Moses seems to state that just as God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:9), God’s days are not our days.” [Hugh RossCreation and Time, pg. 45 (1994)]

YEC Rebuttal No. 1 — Verses Referring to God’s Days Not Being as Man’s Days Are Mere Similes: Jonathan Sarfati notes that verses which reference the fact that to God, a day “is like” a thousand years (Psalm 90:42 Peter 3:8) have nothing to do with the creation account.  Moreover, such verses do not define a “day” but, rather, by using the phrase “is like,” the verses use a simile to teach that “no matter how long a time interval is from man’s time-bound perspective, it is like a twinkling of an eye from God’s eternalperspective.”

As argued by Sarfati, it makes no sense for God to use words in the Bible to communicate with man if those words do not have the same meaning to both God and man. In other words, if a “day” really doesn’t mean a “day” as man understands that word (i.e., 24 hours) then how could any man come to an accurate understanding from the Bible about any of the things which concern time. For example, if “day” doesn’t mean a 24-hour period, then when the Bible says Jesus was in the grave for three days, how long was He really there? According to YECs, in the Genesis creation account, God meant “day” from the perspective of man (i.e., a 24-hour day). [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pgs. 86-87 (2004); see also, Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pgs. 66-67 (1996)]

OEC Reply No. 1 — The Main Point of Genesis 1 is that God Created the Universe, Not When He Created the Universe:  The most important thing Genesis 1 teaches is that God is the cause for the universe coming into existence, regardless of when He brought it into existence.

OEC Reply No. 2 — The Hebrew Word “Yom Wasn’t Used in the New Testament which was Written in GreekNew Testament passages which reference Jesus being in the grave for three days were not written in Hebrew but in Greek. Hence, the Hebrew word “yom” (which was used in Genesis 1) was not used in any of the New Testament verses referring to Jesus being in the grave for three days (“hermera in Greek). Because the Greek language is more precise than Old Testament Hebrew, there is no dispute that references in the New Testament to Jesus being in the grave for three days (“hermera) were referring to 24-hour solar days.

YEC Objections to Interpreting “Yom
as Anything Other than a 24-Hour Period

In addition to the YEC objections referenced in the preceding section (here>>), YECs offer the following objections to interpreting the word ‘yom” as anything other than a 24-hour period:

  1. When “Yom” is Used With a Cardinal or Ordinal, it Always Means an Ordinary Day skip to>>
  2. If the “Days” of Creation were Long Periods of Time, the Author of Genesis Would Have Used a Word Other than “Yom” skip to>>
  3. Exodus 20:11 Establishes Each “Yom” in Genesis 1 Refers to a 24-Hour Period skip to>>
  4. Genesis 1:5 Defines “Yom” as the Light Period of a Day, Not a Long Period of Time skip to>>
  5. Scripture Says God Created Instantaneously, Not Over Billions of Years skip to>>
  6. If the “Days” in Genesis Are Not 24-Hour Days, We Can’t Know What they Are skip to>>

YEC Objection No. 1 — When “Yom” is Used With a Cardinal or Ordinal, it Always Means an Ordinary Day: YECs argue that every time the word “yom is attached to a cardinal number (one, two, three, etc.) or an ordinal number (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.), “yom always means “a literal day of about 24 hours or the light portion of the day-night cycle.” [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pgs. 73-74 (2004)]

OEC Rebuttal — Hosea 6 & Isaiah 9 Demonstrate Hebrew Grammar Doesn’t Require “Yom” to Refer to an Ordinary Day When Used With a Cardinal or Ordinal: Hebrew grammar does not require “yom” to be interpreted as a 24-hour day when used with a cardinal number or ordinal number and there is no reason why an adjective such as 1st or 2nd would change the meaning of the word “yom.” For example, in Hosea 6:2 it is prophesied that “after two days (‘yom) [God] will revive [Israel]; on the 3rd day (‘yom) he will restore us.” Theologians agree the use of “yom in Hosea 6:2 does not refer to 24 hour periods but to long periods of time. [See, Norman GeislerBaker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, pg. 271 (1999); see also, Rodney Whitefield, “The Hebrew Word ‘Yom’ Used with a Number in Genesis 1 — What does ‘yom’ mean in Genesis 1” (2006)]

Robert Newman and Perry Phillips (proponents of the Intermittent-Day View more>>) also reference Isaiah 9:14. As contended by Newman and Phillips, it is clear Isaiah 9:14 (which contains the same phrase used in Genesis 1:5 translated as “day one” or “the first day”) does not refer to a 24-hour period. As further contended by Newman, in all the cases in which a cardinal/ordinal is used with the word “yom, it is clear from the text itself that a 24-hour day is intended. “The number is simply descriptive; it does not define ‘day.’” [Robert C. Newman & Perry PhillipsGenesis One and the Origin of Earth, 2nd Ed., pg. 57 (2007)]

YEC Reply — Hosea 6:2 Is a Figure of Speech Not Intended to Refer to Literal Numbers: Hosea 6:2 is a sort of poetic synonymous parallelism, i.e., a figure of speech not intended to give literal numbers but to communicate that Israel’s restoration would happen quickly and surely, not over a long period of time. [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pg. 75 (2004); see also, Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor,Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pgs. 74-76 (1996); Kenneth Gentry, “In the Space of Six Days”]

OEC Rebuttal — In All Instances that “Yom” is Used with a Cardinal or Ordinal, the Text is Referring to Human Activity, Not Activity of God as in the Case of Creation: All verses in which the author used “yom along with a specific number and which are clearly 24 hour periods, always describe human activity, not activity of God as was the case in the Genesis creation account. [Hugh RossCreation and Time, pg. 47 (1994); see also, Robert C. Newman & Herman Eckelmann, Genesis One and the Origin of Earth, pgs. 61-62 (1977)]

OEC Rebuttal — Creation is a One-Time Event so Usual Usages are Not Controlling: J. Oliver Buswell Jr. (past-president of Wheaton College) proposes that since Genesis 1 may be the only case in which the word “yom is used figuratively when preceded by a cardinal number or ordinal number and since Genesis 1 is the only case in Scripture in which indefinitely long periods are enumerated, Genesis 1 is a unique case. Consequently, Buswell objects to YECs who contend there is a grammatical rule that requires the word “yom to be interpreted as a 24-hour day whenever it is preceded by a number (cardinal or ordinal). [J. Oliver Buswell, “The Length of the Creative Days,” in P.P.T. Pun, Evolution: Nature and Scripture in Conflict?, pg. 269 (Zondervan, 1982)]

YEC Reply — The Argument that Usual Usages Do Not Apply Because Creation is a Unique Event, Begs the Questions:Buswell’s argument begs the question because Buswell assumes Genesis 1 was intended to describe sequential indefinite periods of time instead of 24-hour days. [Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise, pgs. 78-79 (2004)]

YEC Objection No. 2 — If the “Days” of Creation were Long Periods of Time, the Author of Genesis Would Have Used a Word Other than “Yom: Some YECs argue that if the author of Genesis had wanted to communicate that God created the universe millions of years ago or over six long periods of time, the author would not have used the word “yom but, instead, would have used other available words such as “Olam.”

Olam means ‘everlasting’ or ‘eternity’ and is translated ‘perpetual’, ‘of old’ or ‘forever’.” Olam with ‘days’ would “have meant ‘and it was from days of old’.” “[O]lam with the preposition le, plus ‘days’ or ‘evening and morning’ could have signified ‘perpetual”. The construction le olam va-ed would have meant “‘to the age and onward’ and is translated ‘for ever and ever’ in Exodus 15:18. [Russell Grigg, “How long were the days of Genesis 1? What did God intend us to understand from the words He used?” (1996)] Olam is used in the following verses: Deuteronomy 32:7 (“consider the days of old (olam)”); Job 22:15 (“will you keep to the old (olam) path…”; I Samuel 27:8 (“From ancient (olam) times these peoples had lived in the land….”); Isaiah 51:9 (“O arm of the LORD; awake, …. as in generations of old (olam)”); Isaiah 63:9,11 “… he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old (olam) …. Yet they rebelled ….So he turned and became their enemy….Then his people recalled the days of old (olam), ….” [Niessen, “Theistic Evolution and the Day-Age Theory,” Impact (March, 1980); see also, Mark Van Bebber & Paul Taylor, Creation and Time: A Report on the Progressive Creationist Book by Hugh Ross, pgs. 76-77 (1996)]

As asserted by Kenneth Gentryolam is often translated “forever,” but it also means a long period of time (e.g., Exodus 12:24 — “Obey these instructions as a lasting (olam) ordinance….”; Exodus 21:6 — “he will be his servant for life (olam); see also, Exodus 27:20Exodus 29:28 and Exodus 30:21)

OEC Rebuttal — In Biblical Hebrew, “Olam Did Not Mean a Long, Yet Definite, Period: In Biblical times, “‘olam meant ‘forever,’ ‘perpetual,’ ‘antiquity,’ ‘continuous existence,’ ‘lasting,’ ‘always,’ ‘of olden times,’ or ‘the remote past, future, or both.’” But the range of its usage did not include a set period of time. [Hugh RossMatter of Days, pgs. 75-76 (1994) citing to Brown, Driver & Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, pgs. 761-763, 1106 (1997); Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, pgs. 612-613 (1979) and Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament2:672-673(1980)]

Hugh Ross further notes ‘olam is used more than 300 times in the Old Testament “‘to indicate indefinite continuance into the very distant future’” and only in approximately 20 instances does it even “‘clearly refer to the past.’” Ross concludes the only word that could be used in biblical Hebrew to refer to a long time period with a definite start and end point was the word “yom.” [Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pgs. 75-76 (1994) citing to Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament2:672-2:673(1980); Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, pgs. 612-613 (1979)]

In addition to olamYEC Russell Grigg provides the following list of words which he maintains the author of Genesis could have used if he intended to indicate each Creation Day was a long period of time:

  • Yom rab: “[Y]om rab literally means ‘a long day’ (cf. ‘long season’ in Joshua 24:7, or ‘long time’ in the [NASB]). This construction could well have been used by God if He had meant us to understand that the ‘days’ were long periods of time.”
  • Yamim: Yamim is the plural of yom and either “alone or with ‘evening and morning’, would have meant ‘and it was days of evening and morning’.” This would have been the “simplest way” to say that the creation events took place a long time in the past.
  • Qedem: Qedem “is the one-word term for ‘ancient’ and is sometimes translated ‘of old.” “[Q]edem by itself or with ‘days’ would have meant “and it was from days of old.’”
  • Dor: [D]or means ‘a revolution of time’ or ‘an age’ and is sometimes translated ‘generations.’” If God had wanted to tell us that creation started in the past but continued into the future (e.g., as in the case of theistic evolution), He could have used dor “either alone or with ‘days’, ‘days’ and ‘nights’ or ‘evening and morning’” and such would have signified ‘and it was generations of days and nights.’”
  • Tamid: “[T]amid means ‘continually’ or ‘for ever.’” “[T]amid with ‘days’, ‘days’ and ‘nights’, or ‘evening’ and ‘morning’, could have signified ‘and it was the continuation of days.’”
  • Ad: “[A]d means ‘unlimited time’ or ‘for ever’.” “[A]d used either alone or with olam could have signified ‘and it was for ever.’”
  • Orek: “[O]rek when used with yom is translated ‘length of days.’”
  • Shanah: “[S]hanah means ‘a year’ or ‘revolution of time’ (from the change of seasons).” “[S]hanah (year) could have been used figuratively for ‘a long time’, especially in the plural.”
  • Netsach: “[N]etsach means ‘for ever’.”
    [Russell Grigg, “How long were the days of Genesis 1? What did God intend us to understand from the words He used?” (1996)]

YEC Objection No. 3 — Exodus 20:11 Establishes Each “Yom in Genesis 1 Refers to a 24-Hour Period: YECs assert that when “yom appears in it’s plural form, “yamim,” it always refers to a 24-hour day. Consequently, since Exodus 20:11 says that “in six days (“yamim) the Lord made heaven and earth…,” it is clear each “yom in the creation week was a 24-hour period. [John MorrisBiblical Cosmology and Modern Science,” pg. 59 (1970); see also, Kenneth Gentry, “In the Space of Six Days” (2000)]

OEC Rebuttal — Exodus 20 Merely Sets a 6:1 Pattern of Work and Rest: Exodus 20 does not define how long each “yom was; rather, Exodus 20 merely establishes a Sabbath pattern of 6 work periods followed by one rest period. For man’s labor, it is six 24-hour days followed by one 24-hour day of rest (Exodus 20:9-11). For land, it is working the land for 6 years and resting it the 7th year (Exodus 23:10-11Leviticus 25:3-7). [Hugh RossCreation and Time, pgs. 59-60 (1994); Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pgs. 91-92 (2004)]

As pointed out by Robert C. Newman and Perry Phillips, the Exodus 20 analogy is different than the days of creation because men’s work week is repeated again and again and, therefore, does not imply that “day” is to be understood in both passages the same way. Rather, Genesis 1 sets an example for men’s actions and to commemorate God’s actions, but they are not identical. [Robert Newman & Perry PhillipsGenesis One and the Origin of Earth, 2nd Ed., pgs. 58 (2007)]

As asserted by Paul Copan, the focus of Exodus 20 “is on a divine pattern being set for humans to follow, but this doesn’t mean that allcomparisons are equal.” For example, in 1 John 3:16 says that Christ’s laying down of His life sets a pattern for us to lay down our lives for our brethren, but the laying down of our lives is not the same as when Christ laid down His sinless life as an atonement for our sin. Although different, a pattern was still established which we are to follow. Moreover, the command set forth in Exodus 20 is repeated in Exodus 31:12-17 and that passage says that when God rested on the 7th Day, He was refreshed, which is not taken literally (see Isaiah 40:28), yet, was sufficient to set a pattern for mans work and rest. [Paul Copan, “The Days of Genesis: An Old-Earth View” (2005)] God’s eternal rest began on Day 7 and man is called to enter that rest “as signified by the weekly observance of the Sabbath after the divine pattern.” [Lee Irons, “The Framework Interpretation: An Exegetical Summary” pg. 3 (2000)]

YEC Reply — God’s Work Days Referenced in Exodus 20 Were Not Analogical: Exodus 20:9-11 “specifically patterns man’s work week after God’s own original creation week” and “not for purposes of analogy, but imitation.” “Besides, to what could the creation days be analogous? God dwells in timeless eternity (Isa. 57:15)….” Some argue God hasn’t revealed what the days are analogous to; but, if God has not revealed what the creation days are analogous to, then the analogy is useless. [Kenneth Gentry, “In the Space of Six Days” (2000)]

OEC Response — The Work-Rest Pattern Set in Exodus 20 Was Symbolic: In Exodus 20, the 6:1 pattern of work and rest is not a matter of “one-to-one equivalence.” It is a likeness but not exactly the same. “The Sabbath was designed for symbolic purposes within the covenant community, as a sign calling to consecration and the imitation of God and as a seal promising consummation of the kingdom to the covenant keepers.” [Meredith Kline, “Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony” (1996)] YECs reliance on the fourth commandment as proof that the creation days were literally 24-hours long “presses the relationship between God’s work-rest pattern and man’s too far, as if the two are identical rather than analogical.” The weekly cycle of work and rest appointed for man may still be modeled based on God’s work week even if the Days are not literal 24-hour days. [Lee Irons, “The Framework Interpretation: An Exegetical Summary” pg. 4 (2000)]

YEC Objection No. 4 — Genesis 1:5 Defines “Yom as the Light Period of a Day, Not a Long Period of Time: The meaning of the word “yom is defined in Genesis 1:5 which states that “God called the light “yom (day) and the darkness he called night.” As argued by John Morris, “[y]om is defined here as the light period in the regular succession of light and darkness, which as the earth rotates on its axis, has continued ever since. According to Morris, this definition precludes any possible interpretation of the word “yom as a long period of time. [John MorrisScientific Creationism, pg. 224 (1974)]

OEC Rebuttal — Even Genesis 1:5 Defines “Yom as Something Other Than a 24-Hour Day (i.e., a Portion of a Day): If in Genesis 1:5 “yom only refers to the light portion of a day as Morris suggests, then it is clear that, in Genesis 1, “yom can refer to something other than a 24-hour day, i.e., in the case of Genesis 1:5, a portion of a 24-hour day. Therefore, the word “yom is not limited to a 24-hour period and does not preclude the possibility that, in Genesis 1, the word “yom was meant to refer to a long, yet finite, period of time which is another literal meaning of the word “yom” in biblical Hebrew [Hugh RossCreation and Time, pgs. 46-47 (1994); Hugh RossA Matter of Days, pg. 73 (2004) citing to Brown, Driver & Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, pgs. 398-401 (1997), Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, pgs. 341-342 (1979) and Harris, Archer & Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament1:370-371 (1980)]

YEC Objection No. 5 — Scripture Says God Created Instantaneously, Not Over Billions of Years:YECs such as John Whitcombassert that Scripture clearly teaches God did not create the universe over billions of years. Whitcomb points to Psalm 33:6-9 which states: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” John Whitcomb argues this passage establishes God created the universe “instantly” and makes any theory of creation in which the universe developed over a long period of time “impossible.” Although God is responsible for bringing all energy, space and time into existence, the galaxies, stars and planets did not form gradually over billions of years from a “tiny speck of energy.” Instead, God spoke it and the entire universe came into existence instantaneously. [John Whitcomb, “Progressive Creationism, Impact (2003)]

OEC Rebuttal — Even Under the YEC View, God Did Not Create Instantaneously: Even under the YEC view, God did not create instantaneously, but chose to take six days (i.e.,144 hours) to complete His acts of creation.

OEC Rebuttal — Big Bang Cosmology is Consistent with Psalm 33 which Says God Spoke Things into Existence: OECs such as Hugh Ross and Robert Newman who believe in a Big Bang creation event maintain that Psalm 33:6 & 9 (which says God spoke “and it came to be”) is very consistent with Big Bang cosmology in which all energy, space, time and matter were instantly (in less than 1 second) brought into existence by a transcendent cause — consistent with the transcendent Creator described in the Bible more>>. Ross argues Big Bang cosmology was described in the Bible more than 2,000 years before scientists began thinking about a Big Bangmodel; and, that one of the main reasons secular scientists resisted the Big Bang for so long was because of its theological implications (namely, a universe that begins to exist requires a cause for its coming into existence). [See article: “Does the Big BangEliminate the Need of a Creator or Is it Evidence of a Transcendent Creator? here>>]

YEC Objection No. 6 — If the “Days” in Genesis Are Not 24-Hour Days, We Can’t Know What they Are: As argued by YECs, J. Ligon Duncan and David Hall, “some may reasonably argue that if the Genesis days are not normal days, then we do not know what they are. Thus, we are down to two and only two views of the creation days: (1) normal days or (2) days unknown to us.” [J. Ligon Duncan & David Hall, The Genesis Debate, “The 24 Hour View,” pg. 31 (2001)]

OEC Rebuttal — The Reader Can Know Each “Yom was a Long, Yet Definite, Period: It is true that if “yom does not refer to a 24-hour period, the reader cannot know exactly how long each “yom was. However, under the Day-Age View (more>>) and the Intermittent-Day View (more>>), the reader would know each “yom was a long yet definite period of time. Regardless, the exact length of each creation “yom is not important.

Conclusion

For the above reasons, Old Earth Creationists (OECs) steadfastly contend the author of Genesis 1 did not use the Hebrew word “yom” (translated “day”) to refer to 6 consecutive 24-hour periods of time. Rather, in their view, the author was using “yom“: 1) Literally — but, referring to one of the other literal meanings of the Hebrew word “yom“, namely, a long, yet definite, period of time (see, e.g., the Day-Age View more>>); 2) Metaphorically (see, e.g., the Literary Framework View more>>); or, 3) Analogically (see, e.g., the Analogical Day View more>>).

Although Young Earth Creationists (YECs) agree the word “yom” can semantically refer to something other than a 24-hour day, they insist that in its normal usage “yom” refers to a 24-hour day and a plain reading of the Genesis 1 text evidences the author was referring to 24-hour days in recording the six days of creation.

© 2014 by Andrina G. Hanson

Published:  March 16, 2014

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QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE

Krista Kay Bontrager, The Bigger Picture on Creation: A Bible Study Guide for Individuals and Small Groups (Reasons to Believe, 2008)

J. Ligon Duncan III (author), David W. Hall (author), Hugh Ross (author), Gleason L. Archer (author), Lee Irons (author), Meredith G. Kline (author), David G. Hagopian (editor), The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation (Crux Press, 2000)

J.P. MorelandJohn Mark Reynolds, John J. Davis, Howard J. Van Till, Paul Nelson and Robert C. Newman, Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Zondervan, 1999)

Robert C. Newman and Perry G. Phillips, Genesis One and the Origin of Earth, 2nd Ed. (2007) free download available at: www.newmanlib.ibri.org/NewmanPhillips_Gen1OrigEar/GN1OE-pics-071109-small.pdf

Hugh RossA Matter of Days: Resolving a Creation Controversy(NavPress Publishing Group; 1st edition, 2004)

Hugh RossCreation and Time: A Biblical and Scientific Perspective on the Creation-Date Controversy(Navpress Publishing Group, March 1994)

Jonathan SarfatiRefuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of “Progressive Creationism” (Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross (Creation Book Publishers, 2011)

David SnokeBiblical Case for an Old Earth, A (Baker Books, 2006)

Mark A. Van Bebber and Paul S. Taylor, Creation and time: A report on the progressive creationist book by Hugh Ross (Eden Communications, 1996)

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