In the next three days, we’ll introduce common time expressions. Because these words are simple, and to make this series more effective, we’ll present 2-3 words per day instead of the regular pace of one a day. You’ll need a little more time for practice but you’ll build up your useful vocabulary much sooner. If you are in contact with Hebrew speakers, why not start today and surprise them with a small representation from their own tongue?
Today’s first word, sha•vu•a, a week, comes from the word ‘sheva,’ which means seven. The connection is very clear. However, whereas the word ‘year,’ ‘shana,’ that we introduced yesterday, appears in the Bible over 500 times, the word ‘week,’ ‘shavua,’ is very rare in its singular form, and we can find only twice (in the same verse) in the Book of Daniel, which is late in historical terms. In its plural form, it is very rare and is only mentioned in reference to the ‘Feast of Shavuot’ (Feast of Weeks or Pentecost). Surprisingly, we can see that the use of the seven-day time unit, week, sha•vu•a, was not common during the biblical era, as it is the fundamental time increment nowadays. It is particularly surprising in light of the holiness of the Sabbath, which was supposed to introduce this division as a natural setting in ancient Israel. Also, the importance of the number seven should have been an additional contributor. The seven-day time increment was not given a name in the Bible up to the day of the prophet Daniel, as we mentioned.
“And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week; and for half of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease”
There is, however, ample mentioning of the seven-day time unit in the Bible (93 times), but without the name ‘week.’ The words that are used are the simplistic phrase ‘shivat yamim,’ ‘seven days.’
Today’s second word, yom, day, is not subject to interpretation. It was named as such by God himself on the first day of creation:
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day”
An expression made from yom.
When you repeat the word ‘yom’ twice, it gets a new meaning – ‘every day,’ or ‘daily’:
“Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God”