Days of the Week

The First Seven Days of Creation

To understand calendar days of the week let us begin with a look at Genesis 1:1-5 which says:

(Gen 1:1)  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
(Gen 1:2)  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
(Gen 1:3)  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
(Gen 1:4)  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
(Gen 1:5)  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

These verses show that darkness existed before light.  This explains why a 24-hour day begins at sunset rather than sunrise in calendar day of week terms.

In Genesis 1:5 we have six key terms of interest here:  light, darkness, Day, Night, evening and morning.  Here let us observe a contrast between light and darkness, between Day and Night, between evening and morning.  Let us also observe a parallelism between light and day and morning to some degree; and between darkness and Night, and evening to some degree.

Let us also observe these are all divisions of time into both starting points and periods of time fragments along the continuum of time.

But moreover, let us observe that in Genesis 1:5 the word Day/day (Hebrew yom, H3117) is used in two different ways which is why in the KJV it is capitalized in one instance and not so in another instance.  The non-capitalized instance denotes a 24-hour period beginning with darkness and ending at the end of light or beginning of darkness again; in other words from sunset to sunset.  The capitalized instance denotes the light part of that 24-hour period.

In Gen 1 the word evening denotes the start of darkness, that is sunset; and the period of darkness, that is night; up to light, that is, sunrise.

The word morning similarly denotes the start of light, that is sunrise; and the period of light, that is Day; up to sunset.  This means morning is used in an expanded way different than we normally use it today.  We use it to refer to that period between sunrise and noon.  But it cannot be used that way in Genesis 1 less the uncapitalized word day in Gen 1:5 does not denote a 24-hour period which we must conclude it does for the 6 days and seventh day concept to make any sense in Gen 1 and Gen 2.

Naming of Days of the Week

In the Bible days of the week are named using numbers. We see this in Genesis 1 where we have the first day, second day, third day, fourth day, fifth day, sixth day, and seventh day. Of course, we sometimes shortened these to their numerically form such as 1, or 1st for the first day.

We could calendar wise view the Week as: Day-1 Day-2 Day-3 Day-4 Day-5 Day-6 Day-7.

For that is all the individual can be certain of with regards to his/her faith with respect to following the Bible and the Bible only to determine truth for one cannot depend on documents and speculation outside of the Bible for faith and conscience.

In modern calendars we use names said to be taken from the Roman Empire. These names are said to be based on a system in astronomy using planetary hours. Such a system does not seem to be identified in the Bible.

It is said that this system of planetary hours uses the sun, moon, and five planets that are at times visible to the naked eye for a total of seven heavenly bodies. In order from brightest to dimmest, these are the Sun, Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Saturn.

From these the Romans devised a calendar day naming system of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. In this system Sunday is named after the Sun, and Monday after the Moon. The other five are said to derive their names from a Roman god or goddess. That includes Saturday which is said to derive its name from the Roman god of Saturn. Note that the word Saturday does not mean seven or sabbath and is not derived from any word in the Bible.

As shall be discussed later, in America the labels used are Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday such that Sunday is Day-1 and Saturday is Day-7.

However, as shall also be discussed later, there are nations such as Great Britain that have the sequence: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday such that Monday is Day-1 and Sunday is Day-7.

The names Sunday and Saturday do not appear in the Bible neither do they seem to be rooted in the Bible.

Role of the Sun and Moon in Determining Days of the Week

Let us consider Genesis 1:16 which says:

(Gen 1:16)  And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

There we see God appointed the sun to rule over the daylight portion of the day and the moon to rule over the night portion of the day.  So then this suggests that the sun and moon work together to determine the start and ending of a day. Yet, the sun being the greater force (Gen 1:16) seems to be the greater determiner of the beginning and ending of a day.  It is as if the sun says I am going down now so Mr. Moon let a new day begin.

Now since God had already numbered the days before the creation of he sun and moon it follows that neither the sun or the moon numbers the days bur rather God numbers the days.  This is especially shown in Exodus 12 where God essentially at least according to the biblical record resets time when he says the month of Nisan shall be the beginning of months for the Israelites based on the occurrence of the New Moon given that the Hebrew word for month and New Moon is the same word.  It is obvious that he reset the first month of the year to the number 1. It is obvious that he reset the first day of the month to the number 1.  It is controversial as to whether he reset the first day of the first week of the year and therefore the month to align with the first day of that first month. Moreover, it is controversial as if that is the case as to whether that applies to every subsequent month or only that first month, if it so applies to the first month.

Questions Concerning Alignment of Sabbath with First Seventh Day

One problem is how does one determine which calendar day aligns with (1) the seventh day after the six days of creation (Gen 2:1-3) and/or (2) the sabbath day as first mentioned in Exodus 16:23 and every Sabbath Day thereafter under Moses and Joshua. But then this might be an inapplicable question.  Complicating the matter is that God effectively reset time in Exodus 12 in telling the Israelites that a particular month in spring would be the beginning of the year for them.  Of course, God knew when the first seventh day was and so he could have reset time in alignment with that first seventh day of Gen 2:1-3.  But the scripture does not say he did and so of that we cannot be certain that he did.

It is unreasonable to conclude that the seventh day on any calendar aligns with the first seventh day of Genesis 2:1 though it is possible.  The Bible contains no precise record of a calendaring system except for following the New Moon pattern which modern calendars do not do.

So the question becomes is an individual or group of people for religious reasons free to create his/her/its own calendar regardless of the prevailing calendar a nation establishes as official.  Well the Jews in every nation outside of the land of Israel do that.  Jews say the day starts in the evening rather than at midnight.  Therefore, it follows that non-Jews are free to also create a calendaring system for religious reasons if Jews are so free to do.

It is clear that in principle/precept the word Sabbath refers to that seventh (not first) day the 4th commandment speaks of in Exodus 20:8-11. Here principle refers to spirit but not necessarily letter of the Sabbath law (2 Cor 3:6; Rom 2:9; Rom 7:6).

It is clear in Exodus 20:11 that the principle of the Sabbath is modeled after Day 1 – 7 of creation. For Exodus 20:11 says in speaking of the weekly Sabbath:

(Exodus 20:11)  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

So then even though we might not know whether our calendars align with the original seven days physically timewise we do know our modern day calendars aligns with the concept of a seven day week where each day is numbered one through seven regardless of the labels attached to each day.

For that is all the individual can be certain of with regards to his/her faith with respect to following the Bible and the Bible only to determine truth. For one cannot depend on documents and speculation outside of the Bible for faith and conscience.

(Note that the core 66 books of the KJV Bible do not give the number of days in each month. However, another book called Jubilee does mention the number of days in each month though they do not align with the number of days in each month for our calendar; also its authenticity is questionable. Hence some say the month is based on the new moon and some say it is not.  Some say the sabbath is based on the new moon and some say it is not.)

First Calendar Day of Week: What Does the Bible Say and Not Say?

In Matthew 28: we have the following:   In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre ((Matthew 28:1).

Therefore, in the Bible i tis reasonable to conclude that the phrase first day of the week refers to the first calendar day of the week.

Accordingly, it is reasonable to conclude that in the Bible the word sabbath refers to the seventh calendar day of the week for it is that day that immediately preceded the first day of the week.

Yet, neither the word Sunday or Saturday but only the numbers 1 and 7 can be shown to biblically correspond to the first and seventh day of the week.

First Calendar Day of Week: Sunday or Monday According to Humankind?

The claim for naming the first day Sunday is that the sun begins the first day.  Yet, biblically days one, two, and three existed before either the sun and moon and stars were created for these were created on the fourth day.  Yet, it does seem that once the sun and moon were created God assigned or appointed the sun and the moon to determine the beginning and ending of the 24-hour day based on the biblical principle of the 24-hour day beginning at sunset.

It is said that prior to 1988 much if not all of the world considered Sunday to be the name of the first day of the calendar week and Saturday to be the name of the seventh day of the calendar week such that Sabbath occurred on Saturday, the seventh calendar day.

It is said that in 1988 the International Standards Organization (ISO) made Monday the first day of the calendar week.

The process of naming Monday as the first day of the week began around 1926 when Henry Ford introduced the five day work week such that Saturday and Sunday were now labeled the weekend.  Naturally that meant Monday was the start of the work week. So the ISO calendar is based on the first day of the week being the first work day of the week. 

This idea of the calendar starting with the first work day of the week is consistent with the creation account of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2:1-3 such that God worked before he rested. It is also consistent with Exodus 20 where it says we are to work six days and then rest on the seventh day. In other words, rest does not preceded work but work precedes rest along the time continuum.

Most European countries changed their calendars to show Monday as the first day of the week.  This includes Great Britain, France, and Germany.  However, countries like USA, Canada, and Israel still show Sunday as the first day on their calendar week.

So then in America, the seventh day of the calendar week is Saturday. Yet, for most people the work week starts on Monday; hence, Saturday and Sunday are  traditionally considered the weekend or end of the work week especially before the 24/7 work period. Therefore, although Sunday is the first day of the calendar week, it is the last day, seventh day, after the start of the work week. Hence Sunday can be viewed as the Sabbath (day of rest).

Also, in some other countries such as Great Britain the first day of the week is Monday and the seventh day is Sunday, calendar wise. This means Sunday is actually the seventh calendar day of the week. This is true even though the dates of the month align with those like the USA with Sunday as the first calendar day of the week instead of Monday.   

Other countries may use other days as their first day of the week.  It seems to be all in how one draws the calendar. 

Moreover, some say the Jewish Sabbath actually begins around sunset Friday and continues until around sunset Saturday. Thus, for convenience it is customary to refer to Saturday as the Jewish Sabbath since more of Saturday is involved than Friday.

So then the question of which day is the seventh day depends on where you live and what calendar one uses.   In Great Britain Sunday is the seventh calendar day of the week whereas in America Saturday is the seventh calendar day of the week.

Both the ISO and non-ISO models seem to be consistent with the Bible in that both follow the numerical sequence of 1 through seven even though they give different labels to the corresponding numbered day.

However, in the case of the USA, the first calendar day is not traditionally the first workday. Instead the calendar begins with a rest day of Sunday and the first workday traditionally being Monday.

So then a question that arises is : does God forbid a nation from setting the second calendar day as the first work day as American has traditional done in setting Monday as the first workday even though Sunday is the first calendar day.

Of course, American and others did this because of religiously considering Sunday to be the Lord’s Day with Saturday remaining what I will call the Judaism (Jews religion) Sabbath Day. This reasoning is based on the doctrine that under Christ we are not bound to keep the Sabbath but should keep some of the Sabbath precepts considering worship and rest. Yet, it is better to keep those precepts on the first day of the week in honor of Christ resurrection being announced on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1-7).

The Sabbath: Is it about Work Days or Calendar Days or Both in the Old Testament (OT)?

Exodus 20 speaks of six work days followed by a seventh day of rest; Leviticus 23:3 speaks likewise.

The OT biblical record seems to emphasize work days over calendar days. Indeed, the biblical record in the Old Testament is sparse with respect to calendar days.

The OT biblical record seems to speak with great clarity as to when the month begins as the month is based on the new moon (Exodus 12:1-2) such that the same Hebrew word is used for month and new moon.  But as to when the week begins in terms of what we call the seven calendar days the scripture is not clear.  For example did the calendar week continue as it was when God reset time or did the week begin anew at that point.  Not only that but since each month is based on the new moon and the new moon does not begin with the same number of days between new moons, does the week begin anew with each month?   This would seem unreasonable but one must keep in mine there are circumstances where the work six days and off  one day cycle is breakable such as in times of war (e. g., Joshua 6:1-5).  And with the extensive communications and command and control system that existed among Moses and the elders communicating the start of the new month and start of the new week would be doable inside of the land of Israel. 

Seventh Day of the Week and the Sabbath

I find it interesting that the word sabbath does not exist in Genesis and the first 15 chapters of Exodus, which are the first two books of the Bible. It only came to be in Exodus 16 where it is first mentioned in Exodus 16:23. So that suggests the seventh day has not always been a Sabbath. Leviticus 23:26-32 dealing with the feast of atonement shows that the Sabbath is not always the seventh day even though the day of atonement occurred in the seventh month and thus involved some aspect of the number seven; this shows the significance of the number seven which is said to represent completeness and rest.

In America the labels used are Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday such that Sunday is Day-1 and Saturday is Day-7.

So then in America biblically speaking calendar wise Saturday aligns with the biblical principle of weekly Sabbath if one assumes the workweek starts on Sunday. 

But in America, the workweek traditionally starts on Monday so then the six days of work starts on Monday not Sunday and therefore Sunday would be the seventh day after working six days and therefore the Sabbath.

Similarly, in Great Britain, Sunday aligns with the biblical principle of the weekly Sabbath since on their calendar in these days (no matter when it began) the seventh day  is Sunday and nothing in the bible shows that their Sunday is not the seventh day of the biblical week.  Again the bible only deals with days 1 through seven so on their calendar the seventh day is Sunday.

This is a reasonable formula that provides for a unified community opportunity for a community work schedule and community holy convocation (Lev 23:3) in contrast to an individualized household work schedule and household holy convocation.

First Day of Week and the Christian Sabbath

Some Christians in my nation of United States of America choose to have the first CALENDAR day of the week (Sunday) as the primary day of community worship (holy convocation) and physical rest.  This is in contrast to the biblical weekly Sabbath which was the seventh day of the week designated for weekly holy convocation and physical rest.

This first day of the week in Catholic and most Protestant modern day churches is called the Lord’s Day rather than the Sabbath.  However for me the Lord’s Day is functionally the weekly Sabbath extended to recognize Jesus not only as Lord but also as the sacrificial crucified but resurrected Messiah. Therefore, I call it the Christian Sabbath to distinguish between it and the Sabbath under Moses.

One should note that in Exodus the six days begin with work days and ends in the seventh day being a rest day.  One should note the difference between calendar week and workweek to include the consideration of the concept of weekend.

Therefore, I hold that for me Monday is the first day of the workweek as it has been for all my work life.  Therefore, Sunday is the seventh day after six days of work (Exodus 20:9) of the week for religious purposes including Sabbath holy convocation and rest.  This is consistent with Col 2:16 where liberty considering sabbaths and feasts is declared.

References on Naming of Weeks, etc:

First Day of Week (Sunday or Monday)

Planetary hours – Wikipedia

Days of week on Hebrew calendar – Wikipedia

Hebrew calendar – Wikipedia

Christianity Christian Sabbath/Holidays

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