Question: Regarding Exodus 12:6, KJV: "twilight", Hebrew: "between the two evenings": The Reina Valera version of the Bible (In Spanish) under Exodus 12, mentions the time that the Passover lamb should be killed. It says that it should be done between the two afternoons, "entre las dos tardes." The King James Version says that it should be killed at twilight. I do have a problem. I believe that the Spanish version is telling us that the lamb should be killed between the first afternoon, "la primera tarde", that period of time between 12 noon and mid-afternoon or 3:00 p.m. Then the second afternoon is that period of time between mid-afternoon or 3:00 p.m. and sunset or about 6:00 p.m. depending the season of the year. So the Spanish translation is telling us that God's instructions to the nation of Israel was to kill the lamb at a specific time, not a period of time but an exact time. That time between the two afternoons is exactly 3:00 p.m.

Reply:
The Hebrew word "evening" has a wide meaning. It can mean "sunset". It can also mean any time after midday. Different commentators think the "two evenings" are (a) noon and sunset, or (b) the middle of the afternoon and sunset, or (c) the evening at the start of Nisan 14 and the evening at the end of Nisan 14, or (d) sunset and dark, so "between" = twilight. You may find still more choices. Translators are forced to choose one of these many possible meanings.

A further problem is that the Bible does not exactly define when the new day begins, i.e., the precise moment when "evening" starts. Modern Jews say it is when three stars of the second magnitude become visible. It seems to be when work is no longer possible and a candle is required, which we would call "at dark" rather than "at sunset". At the equator these are almost the same, near the north or south poles these can be hours apart.

In Christ's time, thousands of Passover lambs were sacrificed in the Temple each year. According to Josephus (Wars, IV, 9, 3) this took from 3 p.m to 5 p.m. However, if his numbers are correct, modern meat-packers suggest that it would have taken morning and afternoon to do it. Some suggest that the most important lamb, that for the High Priest's family, was sacrificed at 3:00 p.m. It is clear that Christ died when the sacrificial ritual was at its busiest.

According to George Wolf, "Lexical and Historical Contributions on the Biblical and Rabbinical Passover. New York: Moriah Offset, 1991. p.24-25:
Lev. 23:5 On Nisan 14 is the Lord's Passover sacrifice.
Deut. 16:4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh [i.e., the passover lamb], which thou sacrificedst the first day [of Unleavened Bread, Nisan 15] at even, remain all night until the morning.
Deut 16:6 You shall sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun.
Thus the original Passover was to be sacrificed at sunset at the end of Nisan 14, just as the evening began of Nisan 15, the first Day of Unleavened Bread.

According to J.B. Segal, The Hebrew Passover, London: Oxford UP, 1963, p. 131,
"From Exodus 30:8 it is evident that the time 'between two evenings' was just before nightfall, when it was necessary to kindle the lights in the Tabernacle.

Exodus 30:8 "And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even [Heb. between the two evenings], he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations."

The phrase is found in the Bible only in Ex. 16:12, 29:39,41, 30:8, Num. 28:4,8 apart from refences to the Pesah (Passover, Ex. 12:6, Lev. 23:5, Num 9:3,5,11). It is used of the evening that is reckoned to the day just ending, and it is freqently opposed to an event in the morning of the same day [e.g., Num. 28:4]. The term 'between the two evenings' is used only of the evening at the end of a specified day which also begins the following day - here then, the evening at the end of the fourteen day."
Numbers 28:4: (Two lambs day by day,) "The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning, and the other lamb thou shalt offer between the two evenings;" (Darby's New Translation).


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