HOUSMAIL HM#085 - HOW LONG IS A "YOM"?                          (Revised)  8 November 2001

There is often great confusion about what is meant by the word "DAY" in Genesis Chapters 1 & 2. Part of this confusion arises from geologists who interpret the "geological evidence" which they claim to find in the rocks, as "proof" of great age for the earth. Often this can be as much as 4500 MILLION years!

However, we should also be aware that today there is a very great volume of published literature from "young earth" geologists who present very logical sounding arguments as to why the speculations of the "Long Age experts" about the "evidence", may be completely wrong! For unskilled laymen, the scientific discussions about the geology may often be quite unintelligible -- but the Creation story, as told in the first few chapters of Genesis, is written in very simple language. We are being told that the work was accomplished in six literal "earth-days", each with an evening and a morning! And it is easy to see that this "young earth" interpretation fits the language of Genesis far better than the "long age" version.

The situation is not made any easier by "Bible Students" who seem to have been influenced by the "long age" geologists to conclude that the earth must be far older than 6000 years. As a result, the race is on to re-interpret Genesis (or should that be compromise the integrity of Genesis?) to accommodate the long ages foisted on us by the "experts"!

The attempt to accommodate the Scriptures to fit "long age speculations" tends to revolve around the meaning of the Hebrew word "YOM". (usually translated "day", meaning a literal earth day -- but occasionally with other meanings such as "time", "daily", "year", etc.)

You don't need to be a Hebrew Scholar to use a Strong's or Young's Concordance, to study the use of the word. But there are serious problems when amateurs insist that they have thereby conclusively proved from Scripture, that the Genesis days are NOT literal "Earth-day" 24 hour periods, but much longer times. Depending on who you hear it from, speculation about that ranges from "1000-year days" to "long-age days" of millions, or even billions of years.

Of course, it is certainly true that there are places in the Bible where the word "YOM" clearly does not mean a literal "earth-day" of 24 hours. That is no different to our own language. English also sometimes uses "day" that way. There is even one place where that is true in Genesis Ch 2. (See Gen 2:4) But that does NOT mean that we may then make the huge jump required to conclude that ALL the other "days" of Genesis are NOT "Earth-days"! That is a very improper use of the art of linguistics!

For simpler souls, the context in the Genesis creation story seems to point us clearly to literal "earth-days"! ("The evening and the morning were the first day" ..... etc.) And there are things described there that become very confusing if the days are not "earth-days". e.g. How did the trees, shrubs, grass, and flowers, pollinate and reproduce for all those millions of years, without the sun until the "long age fourth day"; or without the bees and birds who transfer the pollen, until the fifth "day"; or without the animals through whose digestive systems some seeds must pass in order to germinate, until the sixth "day"? (Were you there?)

"YOM" IN EXODUS 20:8-11 and 31:12-17.
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. ..... Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates."

Clearly these days in Exodus are "earth-days" of 24 hours each! In the context, NOTHING else will do!

Shall we then presume to change the meaning of the identical word in Exodus 20:11 & 30:17, to "long age" terms? i.e. "For In 6000 years (or 6 million, or 6 billion?) God made the earth and all that is in it -- and for the next 1000 years (or million, or billion) God rested"!

It doesn't fit at all -- does it? May I suggest that to reason that way about the meaning of a "day", would be confused "logic" of the worst sort! (And before you rush to answer -- Were you there?)

For those without geological or scientific training there is great danger in forming dogmatic conclusions based on inadequate information. Hey! -- even the geologists fight amongst themselves about some of the things which lead some of them to conclude that the earth is billions of years old!

So here is a bit more information for those unskilled in Hebrew! Only a very tiny minority of professional linguists agree with the amateurs who try to shoehorn "long YOMs" into Genesis! But what chance does the layman have of deciding between them and the vast majority of other linguists who reject their conclusions? Or of proving them wrong? (Were you there?)

The one thing we can be certain of is that the information currently in the hands of the scientists is incomplete and inadequate. It has changed remarkably in recent decades. But, we don't have it all yet, by a long way! What we do know is that in the face of regular new discoveries and theories (yes theories !) "interpretations" of the information seem to change as rapidly as the information itself! Yesterday's text books are soon "out of date", and discarded!

But one thing we can be certain of -- when the evidence is all in, God will be vindicated, and Genesis will be shown clearly as an accurate record of what actually happened at Creation! And I suspect that some of God's answers to our questions, may surprise us all! -- "young earth" and "long age" alike!

Does the earth indeed have the appearance of great age? Does it look older that 6000 years? Tell me -- you who have lived for such a comparatively short time, -- and whose experience is limited to your own fallible education and tiny "earth view" -- by what standard do you judge that?