Agape Bible Study

JEWISH TIME DIVISIONS IN THE 1ST CENTURY AD

Jesus replied, 'Are there not 12 hours in a day?'
John 11:9

Twelve-Hour Daylight Division:
The Hours of Prayer for the Old Covenant Church

The sacrificial system was at the heart of the Temple ritual. Public and private offerings were made daily. A public sacrifice was brought each morning and afternoon...
The Jewish Book of Why, volume I, page 148

The Jewish daytime hours began with dawn and ended with sundown, which began the next day. The hours are seasonal, so the length of the daylight hours varied with the season of the year. The Romans began their day at midnight and counted 12 hours to high 12 noon and then 12 more hours from noon to the next midnight. We keep Roman time.

SCHEDULE OF THE HOURS OF PRAYER AND THE TEMPLE LITURGICAL SERVICE

JEWISH TIME ROMAN TIME
FIRST HOUR
After a the priests prepare the altar (Lev 1:7; 6:1-6/8-13; Mishnah: Tamid 1:2), the first male lamb of the Tamid sacrifice is brought out and tied to the altar at dawn (Mishnah: Tamid 3:2-3:3)
DAWN -8AM
The twice daily communal sacrifice of the Tamid is the focus of religious life for the covenant people (Ex 29:38-42; Num 28:4-8). It is the only sacrifice other than the Feast of Fristfruits or the Sabbath that requires a single male lamb for the liturgical service. The Sabbath requires a male lamb in addition to the Tamid lamb for each of the two Sabbath services (Num 28:9-10)
SECOND HOUR 8-9AM
THIRD HOUR
The incense is offered in the Sanctuary and the first Tamid lamb is sacrificed as the Temple gates open [Mishnah: Tamid 3:7; Edersheim, The Temple, chapter 7, p. 108]
9-10AM
It is the time for the communal "Shacharit" (morning) prayer service (Acts 2:15) at the start of the 3rd hour. Individual morning prayer may be recited until noon (Mishnah: Berakhot 4:1A; Acts 10:9)
FOURTH HOUR 10-11AM
FIFTH HOUR 11-12PM
SIXTH HOUR
The second lamb is brought out and tied to the altar at high noon. [Mishnah: Tamid 4:1]
NOON -1PM
The second Tamid lamb is given a drink from a gold cup and remains near the altar until the time of sacrifice (Ex 29:41; Mishnah: Tamid 3:4; 4:1G; Josephus, Against Apion, 2.8[105]).
Individual afternoon prayer lasts from the sixth hour (noon) to about the eleventh hour (5 PM), the length of the time from when the second lamb is tied near the altar to the conclusion of the afternoon service (Mishnah: Berakhot, 4:1C; Acts 10:9).
SEVENTH HOUR 1-2PM
EIGHTH HOUR 2-3PM
NINTH HOUR
The second Tamid lamb is sacrificed [Antiquities of the Jews 14.4.3 (14:65); Philo Special Laws I, XXXV (169)]
3-4PM
3 PM is the second hour of prayer [Acts 3:1; 10:9] "Minchah" (gift-offering); also called the hour of confession.
TENTH HOUR 4-5PM
ELEVENTH HOUR
The afternoon liturgical service is concluded with the burning of the incense (sacrifices of the two lambs is embraced by the burning of the incense, making it a single sacrifice) and the priestly benediction (Mishnah: Tamid, 6:3-7:2; Num 6:24-26).
5-6PM
TWELVETH HOUR 6PM-SUNDOWN
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1991 revised 2012 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Notice that according to St. Mark, Jesus went to the cross at the third hour, which in Jewish time corresponds to our 9AM [Mark 15:25], and according to the Gospel accounts He gave up His life at the ninth hour, our 3PM.

The Jewish day began at sundown. The daytime was divided into 12 seasonal hours, but the day division of hours was focused on the schedule of the Tamid sacrifice.

Ma'ariv or evening prayer began at sundown [hours of prayer see Mishnah Berakhot]. According to the Jewish Book of Why, volume I the Ma'ariv is a later addition, instituted after the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. The Jewish Talmud records the late addition of the Ma'ariv service which is not connected with the sacrificial system. [Jewish Book of Why, volume I, page 148].

Twelve-hour night time division
(Roman night watch division was adopted after Roman occupation began in 63 BC)

The end of each watch was signaled by a trumpet signal as Jesus noted in Mark 13:35:
So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming: evening, midnight, cockcrow or dawn.

THE NIGHT WATCH IN THE 1ST CENTURY AD

Sundown to 9PM First watch
9PM to midnight Second watch
Midnight to 3AM Third watch *
3AM to sun rise Fourth watch



*  A trumpet call, known as the cockcrow signaled the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th watch.
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