- Published: 14 April 2011
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I think this study is fascinating. However, I would like to point out that Jesus was not in hell for 3 days and 3 nights. He died on Friday afternoon and rose on Sunday morning at sunrise when the priest was collecting the firstfruits of the harvest. Three days, maybe, but only two nights!
God Bless your beautiful heart and thank you for writing.
But, when the number of "nights" is stated as well as the number of "days", then the expression ceases to be an idiom, and becomes a literal statement of fact.
Moreover, as the Hebrew day began at sunset the day was reckoned from one sunset to another, the "twelve hours in the day" (John 11:9) being reckoned from sunrise, and the twelve hours of the night from sunset. An evening-morning was thus used for a whole day of twenty-four hours, as in the first chapter of Genesis. Hence the expression "a night and a day" in 2Cor. 11:25 denotes a complete day (Gr. nuchthemeron).
When Esther says (Est. 4:16) "fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days", she defines her meaning as being three complete days, because she adds (being a Jewess) "night or day". And when it is written that the fast ended on "the third day" (5:1), "the third day" must have succeeded and included the third night.
In like manner the sacred record states that the young man (in 1Sam. 30:12) "had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights". Hence, when the young man explains the reason, he says, "because three days agone I fell sick". He means therefore three complete days and nights, because, being an Egyptian (vv. 11, 13) he naturally reckoned his day as beginning at sunrise according to the Egyptian manner (see Encycl. Brit., 11th (Cambridge) ed., vol. xi. p. 77). His "three days agone" refers to the beginning of his sickness and includes the whole period, giving the reason for his having gone without food during the whole period stated.
Hence, when it says that "Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights" (Jonah 1:17) it means exactly what it says, and that this can be the only meaning of the expression in Matt. 12:40; 16:4.
(Our Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset.)
THE FIRST NIGHT AND FIRST DAY IN THE TOMB.
THE SECOND DAY OF THE FEAST - THE 16TH DAY OF NISAN.
(Our Thursday sunset to Friday sunset.)
THE SECOND NIGHT AND SECOND DAY IN THE TOMB.
THE THIRD DAY OF THE FEAST - "THE (WEEKLY) SABBATH" - THE 17TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.)
THE THIRD NIGHT AND THIRD DAY IN THE TOMB.
"THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK" - THE 18TH DAY OF NISAN
(Our Saturday sunset : "the third day" of Matt. 16:21, &c.; not the third day of the Feast.)
Each day is marked by a return to Bethany during the last week (up to the Preparation Day); and each day is filled with the recorded events.
It follows, therefore, that the Lord was crucified on our Wednesday; was buried on that day before sunset; and remained "three days and three nights" in the tomb, as foretold by Him in Matt. 12:40; rising from the dead on "the third day", "the first day of the week".
The fixed days and dates, at either end, hold the whole period as in a vice, and place the whole subject on a sure foundation.
All God's Blessings,