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Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

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    Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

    Whenever the three days and three nights of Matthew 12:40 is brought up in a "discussion" with 6th day of the week crucifixion folks, they frequently assert that it is using common Jewish idiomatic language. I wonder if anyone knows of any writing that shows an example from the first century or before regarding a period of time that is said to consist of a specific number of days and/or a specific number of nights where the period of time absolutely couldn't have included at least a part of each one of the specific number of days and at least a part of each one of the specific number of nights? If it is using common idiomatic language, there ought to be examples of that usage in order to be able to make that assertion.

    #2
    I believe, Jesus was crucified Wednesday evening an entombed that night. Jesus was rose Saturday night, but not discovered until Sunday morning. That's three full days and nights.

    The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus was crucified before a high day (John 19:31). The high days are not 7th-day sabbaths, but are the 7 special sabbaths identified in Leviticus 20. It was the eve of Thursday Passover sabbath (Luke 22:7) when Jesus was crucified.
    Comment>

      #3
      Cornelius,
      re: "I believe, Jesus was crucified Wednesday evening an entombed that night. Jesus was rose Saturday night..."


      Since you're not a 6th day of the week crucifixion advocate, you probably won't know of any writing.

      BTW, are you using "evening" to refer to the afternoon of the 4th calendar day of the week? Also, are you saying that the resurrection occurred during the first half (the night time portion) of the seventh calendar day of the week?
      Comment>

        #4
        Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
        (John 19:41-42 ESV)

        Jews consider sunset to be the beginning of a new day. They used Joseph's tomb as a temporary burial place so they could bury him before the day ended, so the burial must have taken place at sunset on the day of the crucifixion. If the crucifixion was on Wednesday three days and three days would end at sunset on Saturday. He rose from the dead just as Saturday was ending and Sunday was beginning.
        Clyde Herrin's Blog
        Comment>

          #5
          Originally posted by rstrats View Post
          Since you're not a 6th day of the week crucifixion advocate, you probably won't know of any writing.
          Idioms are dead metaphors. By their nature, they don't look applicable to the context they're being used. Three days and three nights looks applicable to how long Jesus was going to stay dead, therefor it's not an idiom. We're told in sober terms several times that it would be three days and three nights. That's not the context one would expect to find an idiom, especially one repeated without exception several times. If there were evidence of three days and three nights being an idiom, I'm sure you and I would have already heard of it. So, no, it's not an idiom.

          Originally posted by rstrats View Post
          I wonder if anyone knows of any writing that shows an example from the first century or before regarding a period of time that is said to consist of a specific number of days and/or a specific number of nights where the period of time absolutely couldn't have included at least a part of each one of the specific number of days and at least a part of each one of the specific number of nights?
          You're not going to find any such writing. And, counting part of a day or night as a full day or night still doesn't save Good Friday.
          Last edited by Cornelius; 09-27-2015, 10:17 PM.
          Comment>

            #6

            Cornelius,
            re: "You're not going to find any such writing."


            So far that has been the case. But there are a number of folks who think that the crucifixion took place on the sixth day of the week who say that it is in fact a common idiom. I'm simply asking them for their examples of such use to support their assertion.
            Comment>

              #7
              Originally posted by rstrats View Post

              So far that has been the case. But there are a number of folks who think that the crucifixion took place on the sixth day of the week who say that it is in fact a common idiom. I'm simply asking them for their examples of such use to support their assertion.
              The sixth day is the most popular opinion. Probably mainly due to tradition. But, notice Mark 16:1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week...

              Did the women buy spices before or about sunrise, Sunday morning? Are the spice peddlers open for business that early? Or, did the women buy spices on Friday, after a Thursday sabbath, and then went to the tomb at sunrise on Sunday, after the Saturday sabbath? If the women bought the spices the same morning as they went to the tomb, why does Mark imply that she didn't buy spices on the first day of the week, by Mark saying the women bought spices before he goes on to start telling of events of "the first day of the week"?

              Defenders of Good Friday say Saturday was a double-sabbath, with the Passover sabbath (which isn't tied to Saturday) just happening to fall on Saturday, thus making it a "high day." But, as no work, such as entombing Jesus, is done on any sabbath (by definition), it's pointless for John to qualify his mention of the sabbath by explaining it was a High Day sabbath, unless that day isn't Saturday.

              Wednesday just fits the Biblical narrative. Friday doesn't.

              I'm still confident you'll find no support for a figure of speech allowing Friday evening to Sunday morning to be equated with three days and three nights. Friday advocates lean hard on "on the third day". But, the word "on" isn't in the Greek. But, in the phrase "after three days". And, "after" really is in the Greek text.


              What's more reasonable?

              Wednesday evening to Thursday evening, the first day.
              Thursday evening to Friday evening, the second day.
              Friday evening to Saturday evening, the third day, and essentially after three days, and three days and three nights.
              Saturday evening to Sunday evening, the fourth day.... too long.

              Verses:

              Friday evening to Saturday evening, the first day.
              Saturday evening to Sunday morning.,.. not long enough.
              Saturday evening to Sunday Evening, the second day.
              Sunday evening to Monday evening, the third day.

              Or:

              Friday evening, the first day.
              Saturday, the second day.
              Sunday morning, the third day, and is after three days, and is three days and three nights... not quite.
              Should we count Friday when the day was essentially over? Should we count Sunday when we really don't know if Jesus was still in the tomb on Sunday? We only know that by Sunday morning, the tomb was already empty.






              Comment>

                #8
                Cornelius,
                re: "Did the women buy spices before or about sunrise, Sunday morning? Are the spice peddlers open for business that early?"

                It's possible. They may have opened right after the weekly Sabbath ended, at least for a period of time.





                Comment>

                  #9
                  Originally posted by rstrats View Post
                  Cornelius,
                  re: "Did the women buy spices before or about sunrise, Sunday morning? Are the spice peddlers open for business that early?"

                  It's possible. They may have opened right after the weekly Sabbath ended, at least for a period of time.
                  I suppose it is possible for the peddlers to open after sunset, but that seems too unlikely. Merchants couldn't even prepare to go to work until after after the sun sets. They had no electric lights to make night business feasible. And, who would their customers be? How many people would go out after bedtime to buy something they could buy in the morning (don't confuse our society with theirs)? I don't even think society would have tolerated merchants opening after sunset. It would be deemed disrespectful to crowd the Sabbath with work.
                  Comment>

                    #10
                    Cornelius,
                    re: "I suppose it is possible..."


                    That's all I'm saying. Consequently, Mark 16:1 and Luke 23:56 can't really be used as a slam dunk defense for the two Sabbath idea.
                    Comment>

                      #11
                      3 days and 3 nights is an idiom known as a synedoche - the whole stands for a part and a part stands for the whole.
                      [SIZE=14px][FONT=Basic][FONT=trebuchet ms]"Three days and three nights" is a Hebrew idiom that the Greek of Matthew 12:40 follows. Concerning this idiom, a near contemporary of Jesus, Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (circa A.D. 100), said,[/FONT][/FONT]
                      [FONT=Basic][FONT=trebuchet ms]"A day and a night make an [/FONT]’onah[FONT=trebuchet ms] [a twenty-four hour period], and the portion of an [/FONT]’onah[FONT=trebuchet ms] is reckoned as a complete [/FONT]’onah[FONT=trebuchet ms]."[/FONT][7][FONT=trebuchet ms] I[/FONT][/FONT]


                      [FONT=Basic][FONT=trebuchet ms]C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch write concerning Jonah 1:17 in their [/FONT]Commentary on the Old Testament[FONT=trebuchet ms]: "The three days and three nights are not to be regarded as fully three times twenty-four hours, but are to be interpreted according to Hebrew usage, as signifying that Jonah was vomited up again on the third day after he had been swallowed."[/FONT][10][FONT=trebuchet ms] George L. Robinson writes, "The statement that Jonah was in the belly of the fish ’three days and three nights,’ is an oriental way of expressing the fact that he was in the fish so long that apart from God’s sustaining power, he was dead and beyond the possibility of human resuscitation."[/FONT][11][/FONT][/SIZE]
                      [FONT=Basic][SIZE=14px]He goes to discuss an Old Testament example of 3 days and 3 nights not meaning a literal full 72 hours, but, as I have shared above, a synedoche, where the whole stands for a part:[/SIZE][/FONT]
                      [SIZE=14px][FONT=trebuchet ms]Esther 4:15-16 reads,[/FONT]
                      [FONT=trebuchet ms]"Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."[/FONT]

                      [FONT=trebuchet ms]Esther says she and her maids are not going to eat or drink for "three days, night or day." Only when she is finished fasting will she go in unto the king. This is made a little clearer in the Revised Standard Version (and many other translations), which says, “I and my maids will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king….” In other words, Esther is saying that she is going to fast, and then—after the fast—she will go to the king. If "three days, night or day" is to be taken literally, it would mean 72 hours. Esther’s fast would last 72 hours, and she would not be able to go to the king until after 72 hours. This would be the fourth day at the earliest. Is this what the Bible says? No.[/FONT]

                      [FONT=trebuchet ms]Esther 5:1 states:[/FONT]
                      [FONT=trebuchet ms]"Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house."[/FONT]

                      [FONT=trebuchet ms]Esther did not wait until the fourth day to go to the king. She went on the third day. The fast that was to last for "three days, night or day" was, by the third day, already completed.[/FONT][/SIZE]
                      [SIZE=14px][FONT=trebuchet ms]404 Not Found[/FONT][/SIZE]


                      [FONT=Basic][SIZE=14px]This is the same as christians have understood the words three days and three nights in regards to the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, the scriptures themselves tell us that Jesus was not raised AFTER the 3 days totalling 72 hours had been completed - which would have then been the FOURTH day, but rather that Jesus was raised on the THIRD DAY, just as we see Esther going to the King on the THIRD DAY:[/SIZE][/FONT]
                      [FONT=Basic][SIZE=14px][FONT=Verdana]1 Corinthians 15: [/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]

                      [FONT=Basic][SIZE=14px][FONT=Arial][SIZE=11px]3[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Trebuchet]For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,[/FONT][FONT=Arial][SIZE=11px]4[/SIZE][/FONT][FONT=Trebuchet]and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,[/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]

                      [FONT=Basic][SIZE=14px][FONT=Trebuchet]This has been the profession of faith for christians since the beginning of the Church. [/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]

                      [FONT=Basic][SIZE=14px][FONT=Trebuchet]A full 24 hours had not been completed on the 3rd day when Jesus was raised. This by itself demonstrates we are dealing with this Hebrew idiom, a synedoche, a figure of speech, where part of the day stands for the whole. Since part of the 3rd day stood for the whole in regards to Jesus' resurrection, there is no reason to believe it could and did not stand for part of the whole on the first day as well, when he died and was buried. The scriptures, when understood as a whole, give us no reason to question Our Lord's crucifixion on Friday and Resurrection on Sunday. [/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]


                      [FONT=Basic][SIZE=14px][FONT=Trebuchet]As far as how common the idiom is, I think that's an interesting question, but in this particular instance I don't see the relevancy of that condition given Paul tells us very clearly Jesus rose on the 3rd day, and so before the 3rd day and night could be completed, thus demonstrating indeed this idiom was used in the gospels.[/FONT][/SIZE][/FONT]
                      Comment>

                        #12
                        Originally posted by thereselittleflower View Post
                        Esther did not wait until the fourth day to go to the king. She went on the third day. The fast that was to last for "three days, night or day" was, by the third day, already completed.

                        Esther’s group fast would have started at sunset, and ended after three full nights and nearly, or fully, three full days. If Esther waited for the fourth day to ask the king for a feast, that would be four full nights and nearly four full days.

                        “Three days and three nights” is not used idiomatically anywhere, as shown by those who claim it is an idiom but can’t present even one clear example. Idioms are typically expressions that can’t be applied literally, which rules out this alleged idiom. Even if it were an idiom, what would a shorter period of time be called? And, what would someone who really meant three days and tree nights say? Oh what a mess we create when we practice to contrive. Even if it were an idiom, Friday-Sunday still doesn’t fit the details given in the gospels. And, the idea that the Jesus uses an idiom for something as major as "the only sign given an adulterous generation” is incredible.

                        IT’S NOT AN IDIOM.

                        I’ve already presented a good, practically unchallenged, case for Jesus being in the tomb about Wednesday sunset to Saturday sunset, literally three days and three nights. The case for the Friday to Sunday tradition is fatally problematic.
                        Comment>

                          #13
                          Cornelius, I understand you disagree with my conclusions, but I think I've provided some pretty solid evidence to back up mine. To say it is not an idiom is to ignore what Jewish rabbis have said concerning this figure of speech.

                          Idioms, such synedoche and hyperbole, are very common in middle eastern cultures - ancient ones and today as well. They are used often in everyday speech. This is not a new or innovative idea.

                          Regarding the third day of Ester's fast, we are told she fasted for 3 days. It says "day or night" not "day and night" which strengthens the idea of the syndedoche, where a part stands for the whole.

                          Scriptures are also very clear that she went to the king on the 3rd day of the fast, so during the 3rd day before the 3rd day was completed. Again, this strengthens the idea of the syndedoche where a part stands for the whole.

                          If she began her fast at the exact moment the sun set, then we would have
                          1. 1st night followed by the 1st day (a full 24 hours), followed by the
                          2. 2nd night followed by the 2nd day (a second full 24 hours), followed by the
                          3. 3rd night and we are led to understand PART OF the 3rd day for ON the 3rd day, before it was finished, she went before the King.
                          So the 3rd day is not a complete 24 hours and so only part of the 3rd day occurred and the synedoche is strengthened further - the part of the 3rd day stood for the whole of the 3rd day.

                          She did not fast 3 complete 24 hours; she did not fast 3 complete days.

                          It is more likely she started her fast during the day which ended at sundown - which is then the first day represented by the part of the 1st day she spent fasting - the part of the day represents the whole of the day, then continued it for the second day - which would be a full 24 hours, then continued until some point on the 3rd day, before the 3rd day was completed, and ended the fast by going to the King ON the 3rd day.

                          In Hebrew, "on the third day" translates
                          • [FONT=blbHebrew]שְׁלִישִׁי[/FONT][FONT=arial]shᵉlîyshîy,[/FONT][FONT=arial] shel-ee-shee'; ordinal from [/FONT]H7969[FONT=arial]; third; feminine a third (part); by extension, a third (day, year or time); specifically, a third-story cell):—third (part, rank, time), three (years old).[/FONT]
                          • [FONT=arial]third, one third, third part, third time[/FONT]
                          So the 3 days were of course divided into 3 and on the third part of those 3 days she went to the king, not after the 3rd part was completed but during the 3rd part.


                          I can't find anything supporting your claims. All the facts point to the use of a synedoche where a part represents the whole.



                          Comment>

                            #14
                            Originally posted by thereselittleflower View Post
                            Cornelius, I understand you disagree with my conclusions, but I think I've provided some pretty solid evidence to back up mine. To say it is not an idiom is to ignore what Jewish rabbis have said concerning this figure of speech.
                            The article doesn't provide any actual examples of clear idiomatic usage. The article, citing commentaries, shows that there are people who claim it's an idiom, but that's short of being actual evidence that "three days and three nights" is an idiom. How about a quote from the 100 AD rabbi?

                            Esther's fast wasn't three days or nights. Her fast was three days and three nights. The "or" means she won't eat in the day or the night, emphasizing three days and three nights. "I'm going to fast for three days, not eating day or night." That's all it can mean.

                            It's not likely she started her fast during the day, before sunset. It was a large group fast, so they would have needed a specific starting time, a time that comes after they can spread the word to fast. That would be sunset. It's also easier to start a fast at sunset. But, it really makes no difference. If she started at noon, should could have still fasted three full days and three full nights (two full daylight periods plus two half daylight periods). On the third day, before the fast ended, she would have started preparations for he end of the fast after three full days and nights. So, again, the evidence that "three days and three nights" is a figure of speech still doesn't exist.

                            Even if we suppose any part of a day counts as a whole day, the Friday to Sunday tradition doesn't give Jesus part of three days, only one day and a very small part of a second day. And, only one night and some part of a second night. Friday-Saturday-Sunday are parts of three 24-hour days, but are not part of three days (where day means daylight, not night). There's also no evidence that Jesus spent even a minute of Sunday in the tomb, so we're down to parts of only two 24-hour days.

                            You can count 70 hours and three days, but not 27 hours. Rounding off is one thing, but arguing any small portion of a day counts as a whole day not only lacks evidence as an idiom, it would be an absurd and unworkable idiom for a people to actually use.
                            Comment>

                              #15
                              That is, however, what a synecdoche is - the use of synedcoche allows for part of Friday to be the whole day, then the whole day of Saturday in the middle, then part of Sunday as the whole day.

                              People in the middle east use synecdoches all the time, just a they use hyperboles all the time.

                              It is ingrained into the culture, in the manner of speech in common everyday use.


                              Examples of synecdoche and its types as an idiom used in scripture:
                              Synecdoche

                              Definition: A figure of speech in which the part stands for the whole or the whole for the part.
                              He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
                              who does not lift up his soul to an idol
                              or swear by what is false. (Psalm 24:4)
                              "Clean hands and a pure heart" stands for the whole person.
                              Let me know that it is your hand,
                              that you, O LORD, have done it. (Psalm 109:27)
                              Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven. (Matt 16:17)

                              Eponymy is a sub-division of synecdoche in which an individual stands for the whole nation.
                              Such is the generation of those who seek him,
                              who seek your face, O God of Jacob. (Psalm 24:6)
                              Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
                              the house of Israel with deceit.
                              And Judah is unruly against God,
                              even against the faithful Holy One. (Hosea 11:12)

                              Merismus is a combination of parts of the whole to express totality.
                              At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat upon the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. (Exod. 12:29)
                              He will rule from sea to sea
                              and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Psalm 72:8)
                              My help comes from the LORD,
                              the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:2)

                              BiblicalStudies.org.uk: Figures of Speech in the Bible by Robert I Bradshaw


                              And
                              Scriptural Feet

                              "My Feet Have Followed His Steps Closely”(Job 23:11)
                              Many of the figurative uses of the foot noted above are also found in the Scriptures. Thus as the children of Israel were camped before Mount Sinai, Moses “built an altar at the foot of the mountain” (Ex. 24:4).13 A portion of the southern boundary line for the tribe of Benjamin “descended to the edge (lit., foot) of the hill country near the Valley of Ben Hinnom, located in the Valley of the Rephaites to the north” (Josh. 18:16). Pharaoh used the expression “hand or foot” in emphasizing Joseph’s total authority over “all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 41:43-44). By foot a narrator can intend the whole person.For example, the prophet Ahijah tells Jeroboam’s wife, “As for you, go back home. When you set foot in the city, the boy will die” (1 Kings 14:12). Obviously more than the foot of Jeroboam’s wife would enter the city!
                              The use of a part of something when the whole is intended (or vice versa) is called technically a synecdoche. The use of two contrasting parts to express totality or a whole is a type of synecdoche known as a merism. The previous example of “hand or foot” is just such a case (cf. Ps. 139:2): “You know when I sit down and when I get up.”

                              2. “The Earth Is My Footstool”: God’s Feet and Our Walk | Bible.org



                              So you see, synecdoches are found throughout the scriptures.


                              There is nothing that mandates we understand that three days and three nights is indeed anything other than an idiom; in fact a synecdoche.
                              Comment>
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