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Is Matthew 12:40 using common idiomatic language?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

 

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.

Edited by Cornelius

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

"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,

"A day and a night make an
’onah
[a twenty-four hour period], and the portion of an
’onah
is reckoned as a complete
’onah
."
I

 

 

C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch write concerning Jonah 1:17 in their
Commentary on the Old Testament
: "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."
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."

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:

Esther 4:15-16 reads,

"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."

 

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.

 

Esther 5:1 states:

"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."

 

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.

http://www.wordofhisgrace.org/3days.htm

 

 

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:

1 Corinthians 15:

For I delivered to you as
of first importance
what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He was
raised
on
the third day
according to the Scriptures,

 

This has been the profession of faith for christians since the beginning of the Church.

 

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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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

  • שְׁלִישִׁיshᵉlîyshîy, shel-ee-shee'; ordinal from H7969; 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).
  • third, one third, third part, third time

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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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)

 

 

 

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).
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.”

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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thereselittleflower,

re: "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..."

 

It's the epitome of relevance in this particular instance. The Messiah said that 3 night times would be involved. A 6th day crucifixion/1st day resurrection doesn't allow for a 3rd night time. If it was common to say that a night time was involved with an event when no part of a night time actually occurred, there would have to be examples in order to say that it was common.

 

 

re: "...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."

 

And Mark 8:31 has the Messiah teaching that it would be after 3 days. So Paul has to be referring to the 3rd day after the crucifixion.

 

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My point is, whether or not it is a commonly used one, (and synedoche is a commonly used idiom in ancient Hebrew), it is still an idiom. Whether it is common or not does not determine whether or not it is an idiom.

 

On the third day would refer to the third day (or part of a day) he was in the tomb.

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thereselittleflower,

re: "My point is, whether or not it is a commonly used one..."

 

 

Which is the reason for starting this topic. Some 6th day of the week crucifixion advocates say that it was common to say that a daytime or night time was included in an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have taken place. So far no one has provided any writing from the first century or before that shows that it was common usage. If it was, there ought to be examples of such usage in order for them to ligitimately make the assertion.

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Well I have already shown examples of various usages of the idiom of the synecdoche in scripture, which actually demonstrates it to be a very common idiom.

 

In another conversation going on in another thread I believe I have demonstrated the 3 days and 3 nights is indeed a synecdoche.

 

After looking at the ECF's and what they had to say about the timing of the crucifixion and the resurrection, some of which say very clearly Jesus was crucified on Friday, and rose on Sunday - one of whom is Justin Martyr from the very beginning of the 2nd century, who had the teachings of the Apostles from those who actually knew the Apostles still ringing in his ears, claiming that Jesus died on Friday, was in the ground on Saturday, and rose early on Sunday, while others strongly allude to this, it's very clear from the ECF's there is no support for a Wed crucifixion. So this leaves us Thursday and Friday.

 

So let's look at the possibility of a Thursday crucifixion:

 

If Jesus died on a Thursday, then that means he wasn't buried until very late in the day, shortly before sundown. So then:

 

Sundown on Friday would be the 1st day

Sundown on Saturday would be the 2nd day

Sundown on Sunday would be the 3rd day.

 

Yet Jesus was not in the grave until sundown on Sunday. He was not in the grave until even close to sundown on Sunday. He rose from the grave and the grave was empty at dawn on Sunday.

 

So even with a Thursday crucifixion, you don't have a full 3 days and 3 nights. You have a part of the day on Sunday standing in for the whole day. A Synecdoche. An idiom. A figure of speech.

 

Since it becomes evident by this that a synecdoche is being employed here for Sunday, then it becomes apparent it is also logical it could be applied to the first day in the tomb, which then would be Friday. Such an application would be completely consistent, and in harmony, with the testimony from the Early Church Fathers on the crucifixion of Our Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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thereselittleflower,

re: "Well I have already shown examples of various usages of the idiom of the synecdoche in scripture, which actually demonstrates it to be a very common idiom."

 

I wonder if you might identify the number of the post in which you show where a daytime or a night time was said to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have taken place?

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thereselittleflower,

re: "Well I have already shown examples of various usages of the idiom of the synecdoche in scripture, which actually demonstrates it to be a very common idiom."

 

I wonder if you might identify the number of the post in which you show where a daytime or a night time was said to be involved with an event when no part of the daytime or no part of the night time could have taken place?

 

 

Given the multiple uses of synecdoche in the Old Testament scripture, I can find no logical reason to mandate Jonah was in the belly of a great fish for a full 72 hours and only a full 72 hours.

 

I don't think the burden of proof falls on me to prove this, given I have demonstrated several uses of synecdoche in Old Testament scripture. I think the burden of proof falls on you to prove that in the presence of other synecdoche's in the Old Testament, the 3 days and 3 nights for Jonah must be understood to be a literal 72 hours.

 

Despite this, in ancient Jewish usage, we find this:

Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (circa A.D. 100), said, "A day and a night make an ’onah [a twenty-four hour period], and
the portion of an ’onah is reckoned as a complete ’onah.
"

 

H. L. Ellison in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985), p. 375. Ellison credits the quote to j Shabbath 9.12a.

I posted about this in post #11

 

https://www.christforums.org/forum/christian-community/bible-study/6753-is-matthew-12-40-using-common-idiomatic-language?p=6987#post6987

 

 

 

Edited by thereselittleflower

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thereselittleflower,

re: "... I can find no logical reason to mandate Jonah was in the belly of a great fish for a full 72 hours and only a full 72 hours.

 

Where does my question say anything about 72 hours?

 

 

 

re: "I don't think the burden of proof falls on me to prove this..."

 

Where have I asked you to prove 72 hours?

 

 

 

re: "...in ancient Jewish usage, we find this:Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (circa A.D. 100), said, 'A day and a night make an ’onah [a twenty-four hour period], and the portion of an ’onah is reckoned as a complete ’onah.'"

 

Azariah's interpretation of the meaning of the phrase, "A day and a night make an Onah, and a part of an Onah is as the whole" doesn't seem to make any sense. On the one hand he is saying that a day AND a night define an Onah and then he turns right around and suggests that a day OR a night define an Onah. What makes more sense is that the rabbi is saying that a day is an Onah and a night is an Onah but that any part of a day can be counted as a whole day and any part of a night can be counted as a whole night. And that interpretation is supported by Rabbi Ismael, Rabbi Jochanan, and Rabbi Akiba, contemporaries of Azariah, who all agree that an onah was 12 hours long, either a day OR a night. "Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica". Also, a definition of Onah from "The Jerusalem Center for Advanced Torah Study" says: "The word onah literally means 'time period.' In the context of the laws of niddah, it usually refers to a day or a night. Each 24-hour day thus consists of two onot. The daytime onah begins at sunrise (henetz hachamah, commonly called netz) and ends at sunset (shekiat hachamah or shekiah). The night-time onah lasts from sunset until sunrise."

 

So if you are saying that Matthew 12:40 is using common Jewish idiomatic language, where a night time can be said to be involved with an event when no part of the night time could have actually occurred, then you must know of some examples in order for you to make the assertion that it was common usage. For the purpose of this topic I am merely asking to see those examples.

 

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If you're not asking for proof of a full 72 hours, then where is the argument against 3 days and 3 nights not being an idiom, a synecdoche?

 

I don't find Azariah saying both "a day and a night is an onah" and then "a day or a night is an onah" He only says the first, not the second in the quote I gave. He only says "a day AND a night is AN onah) (1 onah, not two). Azariah is demonstrating that actual use of the Hebrew language is not as exact as you wish it to be, that the use of the same word has various applications and interpretations. I don't understand why that would seem so strange to you. For instance, in English when we say forever, we rarely mean eternity:

"I waited forever for my meal"

 

I think the example you are asking for is actually a red herring.

 

I think making an issue over whether or not 3 days and 3 nights is a common idiom is also a red herring. The real question is, is it an idiom or not, not how common it is.

 

 

From the source you offered, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, speaking on Matthew 12:40 it says this:

40. For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

[The Son of man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.]
1.
The Jewish writers extend that memorable station of the unmoving sun at Joshua's prayer to six-and-thirty hours; for so Kimchi upon that place: "According to more exact interpretation, the sun and moon stood still for six-and-thirty hours: for when the fight was on the eve of the sabbath, Joshua feared lest the Israelites might break the sabbath: therefore he spread abroad his hands, that the sun might stand still on the sixth day, according to the measure of the day of the sabbath, and the moon, according to the measure of the night of the sabbath, and of the going-out of the sabbath; which amounts to six-and-thirty hours."

II
.
If you number the hours that passed from our Saviour's giving up the ghost upon the cross to his resurrection, you shall find almost the same number of hours; and yet that space is called by him "three days and three nights,"
when as two nights only came between, and only one complete day. Nevertheless, while he speaks these words, he is not without the consent both of the Jewish schools, and their computation. Weigh well that which is disputed in the tract Schabbath, concerning the uncleanness of a woman for three days; where many things are discussed by the Gemarists concerning the computation of this space of three days. Among other things these words occur; "R. Ismael saith, Sometimes it contains four Onoth sometimes five, sometimes six. But how much is the space of an Onah? R. Jochanan saith either a day or a night." And so also the Jerusalem Talmud; "R. Akiba fixed a day for an Onah, and a night for an Onah: but the tradition is, that R. Eliezar Ben Azariah said, A day and a night make an Onah, and a part of an Onah is as the whole."
And a little after, R. Ismael computeth a part of the Onah for the whole.

It is not easy to translate the word Onah into good Latin: for to some it is the same with the half of a natural day; to some it is all one with a whole natural day. According to the first sense we may observe,
from the words of R. Ismael, that sometimes four Onoth, or halves of a natural day, may be accounted for three days
:
and that they also are so numbered that one part or the other of those halves may be accounted for a whole
. Compare the latter sense with the words of our Saviour, which are now before us: "A day and a night (saith the tradition) make an Onah, and a part of an Onah is as the whole."
Therefore Christ may truly be said to have been in his grave three Onoth, or three natural days (when yet the greatest part of the first day was wanting, and the night altogether, and the greatest part by far of the third day also)
, the consent of the schools and dialect of the nation agreeing thereunto. For,
"the least part of the Onah concluded the whole."
So that
according to this idiom
, that diminutive part of the third day upon which Christ arose may be computed for the whole day, and the night following it.

 

So we see that what was actually said in your source went further than your post suggests and actually is in line better with the idea I am presenting.

:

 

 

 

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re: "...in ancient Jewish usage, we find this:Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah (circa A.D. 100), said, 'A day and a night make an ’onah [a twenty-four hour period], and the portion of an ’onah is reckoned as a complete ’onah.'"

 

Azariah's interpretation of the meaning of the phrase, "A day and a night make an Onah, and a part of an Onah is as the whole" doesn't seem to make any sense.

 

Right,it doesn't make any sense to say a day and a night make an onah, and any portion of an onah is reckoned complete onah. Another reason it doesn't make any sense is because such loose speech would make communication impossible. If you asked how far away I live and I replied "I live a day away" (they didn't use "miles" back then), how useless would my reply be if I meant it took me any portion of the a day? Realistically, I could only mean it took me 24 hours, give or take several hours.

 

I don't know what this Rabbi really said, or why he said this, if he did, but false statements can be found in any time in history. But, IT IS NOT AN IDIOM to say one length of time and mean something significantly different. The only exception would be if the length if time is impossible, such as if I said "I live a million days away", then I'd be giving just a vague answer of a long way away. See, that's the nature of idioms, they can't be applied literally.

 

And, still, I've seen not one example of an idiom relevant to this topic. Esther didn't use an idiom. She said she (and her group) wouldn't eat for "three days" and then emphasized that by adding

"day or night". Who emphasis idioms? And, then on the third day she talk to the king about dinner. It's really weak pleading for someone to say that because she arranged dinner on the third day that her fast was less than thee full days. As with Passover, they would have eaten at Sunset. The meal is prepared the day before. The day before means before sunset. The new day starts and sunset and then the meal is eaten. Esther necessarily would have had to make preparations to end the group three-day fast on the third day, else the fast would be well into the fourth day (a full fourth night).

 

Then, there's the fact that Jesus was taken down so he wouldn't be on the cross on the Sabbath (singular) and then Mary went to the tomb after the Sabbaths (plural). If the two Sabbaths (Passover and Saturday) were on the same day, then Jesus would have been taken down for the Sabbaths (plural). Mary didn't go to the tomb after just one Sabbath, but she waited for both Sabbaths to pass. If the two Sabbaths were on the same day, it would have been pointless for John to explain that Jesus was taken down for a high day Sabbath.

 

We're told three days over and over. "Three days and thee nights." "After three days." And, "the third day." From four authors (not counting the old Testament reference to Jonah's three days and three nights), and yet there's not one non-idiomatic reference on this most important sign? That is not credible. "Jesus will be in the tomb two nights and a day."

 

Wednesday sunset to Saturday sunset fits all the facts in the Bible. Friday to Sunday does not, not even close.

 

In summary:

1) It's not credible that every author and every of many references to this most important sign would all be idiomatic.

2) There's no example of "three days and three nights" ever being used as an idiom for a significantly shorter period of time.

3) Inherently, three days and thee nights wouldn't be an idiom for half that time. That's not the nature of an idiom.

4) Jesus was taken down for a Passover single Sabbath.

5) Mary went to the tomb after the Sabbaths (plural).

 

Not counting quotes from people outside the Bible (none of which demonstrated idiomatic language, anyway), I found a website that argues for less than three days from the Bible:

 

Less than three days and three nights

(Matt. 28:1)--"Now after the Sabbath [sABBATHS -PLURAL], as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave."

(Mark 16:2)--"And very early on the first day of the week, they *came to the tomb when the sun had risen."

(Luke 24:1)--"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared."

(John 20:1)--"Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb."

...

The solution is simple when we learn that according to Jewish custom any part of a day, however small, is included as part of a full day. [-citing a commentary, see below]

 

I was a bit baffled why Thereselittleflower was providing quotes from people simply affirming the Sunday empty tomb. Now, I realize that to many people addressing the issue, it's simply an unquestionable fact that Jesus was crucified on Friday. So, they think they're proving that "three days" means less than three days when they quote an affirmation of the tomb being discovered empty Sunday morning.

 

Here's one commentary's evidence that any portion of a day counting as full day and night:

 

The period during which He was to lie in the grave is here expressed in round numbers, according to the Jewish way of speaking, which was to regard any part of a day, however small, included within a period of days, as a full day. (See 1 Samuel 30:12 1 Samuel 30:13 , Esther 4:16 , 5:1 , Matthew 27:63 Matthew 27:64 , &c.).

 

I've already addressed the Esther reference. All those references go a lot further proving "three days and nights" really means "three days and nights" not "two nights and a day."

 

 

 

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Cornelius, as we agreed in the other thread, there is no support for a Wed crucifixion in the writings of the Early Church Fathers. There is also no great contention or contradiction by the Early Church Fathers that show that a Friday crucifixion was incorrect or in contention. The question then is was Jesus crucified on a Thursday or a Friday.

 

If he was crucified on a Thursday, we run into a problem if we don't acknowledge "3 days and 3 nights" is an idiom, for while a Thursday crucifixion would give three full nights in the ground, it would not give 3 full days, in fact it would hardly give us any part of a day for the third required day.

 

Again:

 

If Jesus was crucified on a Thursday then:

  • The very end of Thursday before sundown he is buried.
  • Then he is in the ground the full night of Friday night starting at sundown.
  • Then he is in the ground the full day of Friday to sundown -

This means excluding the short time on Thursday before sundown, Jesus is now in the ground 1 full day and night from sundown to sundown.

  • Then he is in the ground the full night of Saturday starting at sundown.
  • Then he is in the ground the full day of Saturday starting at sundown.

This means Jesus in now in the ground for a 2nd full dayand night from sundown to sundown.

  • Then he is in the ground the full night of Sunday starting at sundown.
  • The grave is empty at dawn on Sunday.

If Jesus spent any time in the grave on Sunday daytime it was mere minutes or seconds it seem.

 

There is one more full night, but there is no 3rd full day either at the start or end of this time period.

 

So at best you are left with

  • a very short time on Thursday before sundown
  • 3 full nights
  • 2 full days
  • an extremely short time on Sunday at sunrise.

So, logically speaking, even with this we do not have 3 days and 3 nights UNLESS this is indeed an idiom where the part stands for the whole.

 

Logically speaking, if it is not an idiom, then Jesus' prophecy failed. If Jesus' prophecy failed, then christianity is undone, and if christianity is undone, we are all undone as well.

 

Logically speaking, the only way to understand this is to understand this phrase, given the entire totality of scripture and the testimony of the ECF's is as an idiom. Anything else ends up doing violence to the scriptures and the christian faith by causing the facts to negate the words of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

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