How Long Were the Days in Genesis 1 and 2?


Genesis 1:2-2:3 describe the re-creation of the surface of the earth, after a catastrophe caused the earth to become void and empty. God brought order into the chaos in six days, followed by the creation of the seventh day—the Sabbath. During the six days, God created those kinds of animals which are still in existence today; and He created man.  (For a full explanation of these events, please read our free booklets, The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults? and Heavens and Earth… Before and After the First Man.”)

Some have proposed that the days mentioned in the above-quoted Scriptures were indefinite time periods of perhaps millions or billions of years. The underlying rationale might be that this would explain the existence of planet earth for a much longer time than just 6,000 years. However, this interpretation would be unnecessary, as the earth was created in the beginning (Genesis 1:1)… and the Bible does not tell us when that beginning was. It is only the re-recreation of the surface of the earth which occurred approximately 6,000 years ago.

The concept of the seven days in Genesis describing billions of years is commonly known as the “Day-Age-Theory.” It was not mentioned until the 1800’s, when the idea of evolution became popular.  But as the evolution theory is wrong, so is the Day-Age Theory.

The Hebrew word for “day” is “yom”. It is true that this word is used in a variety of ways. It is used in the prophetic term, “day of the Lord,” which describes a time span of approximately one year; and it is also used in Genesis 2:4 when the entire creation or better restoration of the heavens and the earth is referred to as “in the day.” (Compare, Heavens and Earth…Before and after the First Man!,” page 26).

But in the vast majority of passages, the word “yom” describes a twenty-four hour day. Researchers tell us that the word is used about 2000 times, and in 95% of all Old Testament Scriptures, it refers to a twenty-four hour day with a daylight portion of approximately 12 hours, followed by the dark portion of 12 hours (compare John 11:9-10). In addition, when the word “day” (“yom”) is combined with a number (first day, second day, seventh day), it always describes a twenty-four hour time period. Again, researchers tell us that this is the case in about 200 Old Testament Scriptures.

We should also note that when the words “evening” and “morning” are used together, they describe portions of a twenty-four hour day (compare Exodus 16:8). We read in Genesis 1:5: “So the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Compare also Genesis 1:8, 13, 19, 23, 31). According to the Hebrew calendar, days begin and end with sunset (evening). That is why we read here that “evening and morning were the first day”; and not, that “morning and evening” were the first day. Literally, the passage should be translated as, “And evening was, and morning was, day one.” Of course, the Bible uses the term, “from morning to evening,” again clearly identifying the time period as not exceeding 24 hours (compare Exodus 18:13-14).

We also read in Genesis 1:4-5 that God divided the light from the darkness, calling the light “Day” and the darkness “Night,” and that evening and morning became the first day. We see that the expressions darkness, night and evening are used interchangeably, as are the terms light, day and morning. They all describe portions of a normal twenty-four hour day.

A compelling reason why the days in Genesis 1 could not possibly describe time periods longer than 24 hours can be seen in the phenomenon of symbiosis, which can be defined as “a close connection between different types of organisms in which they live together and benefit from each other.” This interdependency can be seen in the relationship between plants, birds and insects. Fruit-bearing plants were created on the third day but insects (like bees) to pollinate such plants (so that the plants could reproduce) were apparently created on the fifth or the sixth day (when “birds” and “creeping things” were created.) Plants could not have survived if the days were to be understood as epochs of millions or billions of years.

We read that the yucca plant is totally dependent on the yucca moth for pollination and reproduction. An interesting example was reported about the Calvaria tree on the Mauritius islands. It was dependent on the dodo bird for survival. The dodo bird ingested the tree’s seed, scarified its hard coating, and excreted the seed before germination. The dodo bird became extinct in 1681. No reproduction of the tree has occurred since then.

The idea that the days in Genesis 1 and the first three verses in Genesis 2 could refer to time periods lasting for millions or billions of years is contradicted by the fact that the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3) is the weekly Sabbath day. God rested on that day, to give us an example to do likewise. But the Sabbath day is clearly a time period of 24 hours. Leviticus 23:32 speaks of the annual Sabbath of the Day of Atonement as the time lasting from evening to evening. It is not an epoch, lasting billions of years. God rested only on that very first Sabbath, which He created for man. He has not been resting for billions of years since that time (John 5:17).

One objection has been raised in connection with Genesis 2:19-20 where we read that Adam named the animals which were brought to him. It has been claimed that Adam could not possibly have named the animals in just one day. But reading the passage carefully, we find that God brought to him only the cattle, the birds and the beasts of the field, to show him that they would not qualify as “helpers compatible to him.” This could have been easily accomplished in one day.

In conclusion, the evidence is overwhelming that the days in Genesis 1:2-31 and in Genesis 2:1-3 were literal twenty-four hour days, and not indefinite epochs of millions or billions of years.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

©2024 Church of the Eternal God