In previous confessions I have attempted to explain why I feel the Creation days were actual, 24 hour days. I have shown that the Bible makes clear that Jesus in the New Testament and God the father in the Old Testament both agree with the Genesis 1 narrative- that Creation was a week long around 6,000 years ago. But if you have read anything about this debate from the people who consider me a dirty, unwashed, uneducated, unscientific backwoods hick, you know that they will try and argue that Genesis 1 uses a word for ‘day’ (Yom in the Hebrew) which, just like the English word ‘day’ can mean more than merely a single 24 hour calendar day. And they are correct. It can mean more than that.
This is where the Old Earth Creationist cries “BWAHAHA! (Literally: “Fo’Shizzle!”)
Then you admit that the word translated as DAY in Genesis 1 can mean something OTHER than a normal, 24 hour calendar day!”
And I say, “Yup.” (Literally, “FoSho.’”)
And then they say “Then you admit that the days of Genesis 1 could be LONGER than a single day!”
And I say, “Mmmmm..Nope.”
I don’t know what they say to this, because no one ever seems to carry on past this point. They just wander off and get distracted by other things I suppose.
If I can rabbit trail for just a moment, this is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves of this and many other debates. People do not CONTEND with the full position of the other side! I hear people saying ALL OF THE TIME that Yom can mean a single, 24 hour calendar day, but it can ALSO mean an undefined period of time (Like, “Back in MY day, we wore our pants OFF the ground!”) or just the daylight portion of the day (Like, “I wouldn’t eat that. It’s been laying out on the lawn ALL DAY.”) depending on the context. But they NEVER ADDRESS THE CONTEXT! Seriously this is not the science of rockets! If you have enough education to say, “Yom Might mean something other than a normal day, depending on the context,” then you OUGHT to have enough sense to see what the context of Genesis 1 says without Ken Ham having to tell you. BUT THESE GUYS NEVER DO!
They all just say, “Yom can mean more than one thing, so MAYBE each day in Genesis 1 is a few BILLION YEARS long.” What they really should be saying next is, “Let’s look at the context of Genesis 1 and see what it tells us about the proper way to define Yom in that context.” Their poor high school English teachers must cry themselves to sleep every night.
Let’s look at the context of Genesis 1
The paragraph below* is part of a much more detailed chapter on this topic by our good friend Ken Ham. He addresses more of the details and objections than I do, and he sites his sources, so if you want to write a proper report on this which will NOT make your English teacher cry herself to sleep, Check out Ken Ham’s Article HERE.
To understand the meaning of “day” in Genesis 1, we need to determine how the Hebrew word for “day,” yom, is used in the context of Scripture. Consider the following:
A number and the phrase “evening and morning” are used with each of the six days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
Outside Genesis 1, yom is used with the word “evening” or “morning”11 23 times. “Evening” and “morning” appear in association, but without yom, 38 times. All 61 times the text refers to an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception?12
In Genesis 1:5, yom occurs in context with the word “night.” Outside of Genesis 1, “night” is used with yom 53 times, and each time it means an ordinary day. Why would Genesis 1 be the exception? Even the usage of the word “light” with yom in this passage determines the meaning as ordinary day.13
The plural of yom, which does not appear in Genesis 1, can be used to communicate a longer time period, such as “in those days.”14 Adding a number here would be nonsensical. Clearly, in Exodus 20:11, where a number is used with “days,” it unambiguously refers to six earth-rotation days.
There are words in biblical Hebrew (such as olam or qedem) that are very suitable for communicating long periods of time, or indefinite time, but none of these words are used in Genesis 1.15 Alternatively, the days or years could have been compared with grains of sand if long periods were meant.
Thank you Ken Ham and all of the fine men and women of AiG.
In short, the language of Genesis 1 is the same language used everywhere else in the Old Testament to indicate a single, 24 hour calendar day, and other words exist in Hebrew which DO convey a long period of time, but were NOT used in the Creation narrative. In fact, I have never even heard anyone suggest a way in which the author here (Moses) could have made this clearer. No Old Earth creationist I have ever heard or read has ever said, “If Moses had REALLY wanted to convey a single 24 hour day in Hebrew, what he could have said was…” They just assume that because Yom could mean something else in a particular context, that it can mean anything in ANY context. Their poor, poor English teachers. How they must weep. All issues like this need is a little attention to context. Fo’Shizzle.
*(Edited for brevity and emphasis added)