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Reference: Hours


The word hour, in Scripture, signifies one of the twelve equal parts into which each day, from sunrise to sunset, was divided, and which of course were of different lengths at different seasons of ht year, Mt 20:3-6; Joh 11:9. This mode of dividing the day prevailed among the Jews at least after the exile, and perhaps earlier, Da 3:6; 4:19. The third, sixth, and ninth hours were the appointed seasons for prayer, Ac 2:15; 3:1; 10:9. Anciently, however, the usual division of the day was into four parts, namely, the morning-the heat of the day, commencing about the middle of the forenoon-midday, and evening. In a similar manner, the Greeks appear at first to have divided the night also into three parts or watches, namely, the first watch, La 2:19; the middle, or second watch, Jg 7:19; and the morning, or third watch, Ex 14:24. But after the Jews became subject to the Romans, they adopted the Roman manner of dividing the night into four watches, namely, the evening, or first quarter, after sunset; the midnight; cock-crowing, or third quarter, from midnight on; and the morning, or fourth quarter, including the dawn, Mt 14:25; Mr 6:48; 13:35; Lu 12:48. A watch in the night seems but an instant to one who spends it in slumber, Ps 90:4; equally short does the life of man appear in view of eternity.

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