Why “unclean until the even?”

WHY “UNCLEAN UNTIL THE EVEN?” WHAT MAKES “EVEN” SO SPECIAL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

On some 30 occasions, JEHOVAH God in the Mosaic Law made it a special point to say ceremonially-defiled individuals were “unclean until (the) even.” What was so exceptional about the “even” (evening)? Why at the end of the day would God consider someone cleansed? This seems awkward. We would expect this cleansing to be rather at the day’s beginning—namely, morning. What about the morning? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

Notice this sampling of verses:

  • Leviticus 11:27: “And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 22:6: “The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.”
  • Numbers 19:10: “And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.”
  • Numbers 19:21: “And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even.”

So, why is the emphasis placed on the “even” (evening) instead of the “morn” (morning)? If we study the Scriptures carefully, we will find the answer.

The Bible’s first chapter, Genesis chapter 1, shows us how God defines a day. “And the evening and the morning were the first day” (verse 5). “And the evening and the morning were the second day” (verse 8). “And the evening and the morning were the third day” (verse 13). “And the evening and the morning were the fourth day” (verse 19). “And the evening and the morning were the fifth day” (verse 23). “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (verse 31). Did you catch the pattern?

“And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Since God in the Hebrew Bible organizes daily time in this fashion, the Jews follow His arrangement. In contradistinction, we as Gentiles would say, “And the morning and the evening were the first day.” Whereas we Gentiles begin a day at midnight (and conclude it on the next midnight), the Jews start that same day in the evening (and run it to the following evening). Here is a little side-note worth mentioning. The restrictive language here shows us that the “Creation Days” of the opening chapters of Genesis were literal 24-hour days as we understand them. They were not, as commonly taught, extended periods of time (thousands, millions, or billions of years—“days” being read as “ages”). One evening and one morning can be nothing other than a 24-hour period!

Going back to “evening and morning.” We Gentiles consider Friday ending at midnight (with Saturday starting right after). However, the Jews end Friday at 6 P.M.—the Jewish Saturday starts before the Gentile Saturday. The days are the same length (24 hours); they are just offset by six hours. Let me state it another way. If Saturday for Gentiles starts the midnight following Friday, the Saturday for the Jews started six hours prior (the Gentile’s Friday at 6 P.M.). It can get a little complicated, so, that being said, perhaps it is easier to remember this rule of thumb: Jews reckon the start of a day six hours before Gentiles. (Once you see the logic behind the system, this little rule is quite useful in explaining the timetable to others.)

Leviticus 23:26-32 shows us how God wanted the Jews to reckon time: “[26] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [27] Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. [28] And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. [29] For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. [30] And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. [31] Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. [32] It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

The annual Day of Atonement (see Leviticus chapter 16) was in the seventh month (Tishri or Ethanim—roughly September/October). It was on the tenth day of the month (verse 27). Verse 32 calls it a special “sabbath of rest” (not to be confused with the regular or weekly Sabbath, Saturday). This “sabbath,” the Day of Atonement, ran from “the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even (verse 32). The ninth day at even began the tenth day, and that tenth day continued until the next even. This is the final line of evidence needed to establish our earlier claims. “Even” begins the new day.

As previously stated, God in the Mosaic Law made it a special point to say individuals would be “unclean until (the) even.” In His mind, in the Jew’s mind, the morning was not the beginning of the new day—it was the end. Evening began the new day. While we have Gentile minds and Gentile customs, we must think about the Bible’s calendar the way God does. Consider it from the Jewish perspective, from the Divine perspective. These corrupted people would be unclean until even because even began the next day. That fact is obscured because we overwhelmingly use a Gentile time schedule—beginning new days in the morning (midnight). If you begin the day of these verses in the evening, there is no difficulty.

In closing, you can read all those “until even” verses:

  • Leviticus 11:24: “And for these ye shall be unclean: whosoever toucheth the carcase of them shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 11:25: “And whosoever beareth ought of the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 11:27: “And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 11:28: “And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they are unclean unto you.”
  • Leviticus 11:31: “These are unclean to you among all that creep: whosoever doth touch them, when they be dead, shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 11:32: “And upon whatsoever any of them, when they are dead, doth fall, it shall be unclean; whether it be any vessel of wood, or raiment, or skin, or sack, whatsoever vessel it be, wherein any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the even; so it shall be cleansed.”
  • Leviticus 11:39: “And if any beast, of which ye may eat, die; he that toucheth the carcase thereof shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 11:40: “And he that eateth of the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: he also that beareth the carcase of it shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 14:46: “Moreover he that goeth into the house all the while that it is shut up shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:5: “And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:6: “And he that sitteth on any thing whereon he sat that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:7: “And he that toucheth the flesh of him that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:8: “And if he that hath the issue spit upon him that is clean; then he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:10: “And whosoever toucheth any thing that was under him shall be unclean until the even: and he that beareth any of those things shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:11: “And whomsoever he toucheth that hath the issue, and hath not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:16: “And if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:17: “And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:18: “The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:19: “And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:21: “And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:22: “And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:23: “And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 15:27: “And whosoever toucheth those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.”
  • Leviticus 17:15: “And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.”
  • Leviticus 22:6: “The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.”
  • Numbers 19:7: “Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Numbers 19:8: “And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even.”
  • Numbers 19:10: “And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.”
  • Numbers 19:21: “And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even.”
  • Numbers 19:22: “And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even.”

Also see:
» Why did Israel have to keep so many strange laws?
» Why did God demand blood sacrifices?
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?

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