The `rule' about yom and an ordinal appears to have been deliberately
invented on flimsy evidence. I think that the Biblical evidence would also
show that yom is the only word for an indefinite time period that is ever
used in the OT with an ordinal. The reason we don't see it outside of
Genesis 1 and 2 is that there are, as far as I know, no other instances of
ordering of indefinite time periods.
I don't have the reference with me now, but there is a use of yom
somewhere in Isaiah in a phrase that literally means last day and is
translated in various versions as time to come or the future. The word
last may not be a true numerical ordinal, but it signifies ordering (first
from the end), and you would think that if some language had such a
bizarre rule about the ordinals first, second, etc., it would also apply
to the word last.
Incidentally, the phrase in Genesis 1:5 that is often translated as first
day actually means one day. The cardinal number is used there in the
Hebrew rather than the ordinal.
Department of Mathematics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0395
On Wed, 17 Mar 1999, Blaine D. McArthur wrote:
> I have no problem accepting an ancient earth and universe. I believe
> the geologic, and astronomic evidence is credible; the YEC literature I
> have read has not convinced me that it is wrong. I do, however,
> continue to have a problem with just one area and that is in regards to
> this current discussion on the interpretation of the word yom.
> YEC's claim that yom in connection with an ordinal number always refers
> to a 24 hour period. I have discussed this with my pastor, who IS NOT a
> YEC advocate, and is not merely a seminary graduate, but has a PhD in
> theology. He has told me that his own studies of the word indicate that
> the YECs may be right in this case - yom used in conjunction with an
> ordinal number is a 24 hour period. I have read a few responses to
> this claim, but none of them seems to me to be watertight. I guess I
> have not yet heard a credible refutation of this claim.
> Can anyone on the list address this issue? Is there an instance
> anywhere of yom and an ordinal not referring to a 24 hour period? How
> times does the bible use yom and an ordinal together? Can we look at
> extrabiblical Hebrew literature and get a reliable answer to this