the periods into which the time between sunset and sunrise was divided. They are so called because watchmen relieved each other at each of these periods. There are frequent references in Scripture to the duties of watchmen who were appointed to give notice of the approach of an enemy (2Sa 18:24-27; 2Ki 9:17-20; Isa 21:5-9). They were sometimes placed for this purpose on watch-towers (2Ki 17:9; 18:8). Ministers or teachers are also spoken of under this title (Jer 6:17; Eze 33:2-9; Heb 13:17).
The watches of the night were originally three in number, (1) "the beginning of the watches" (La 2:19); (2) "the middle watch" (Jg 7:19); and (3) "the morning watch" (Ex 14:24; 1Sa 11:11), which extended from two o'clock to sunrise. But in the New Testament we read of four watches, a division probably introduced by the Romans (Mt 14:25; Mr 6:48; Lu 12:38). (See Day.)
And it came to pass in the morning watch, that Jehovah looked upon the camp of the Egyptians, in the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and embarrassed the camp of the Egyptians.
So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch; and they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands.
And David sat between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate, on to the wall, and lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running alone. And the watchman cried, and told the king. And the king said, If he be alone, there is news in his mouth. And he came on and drew near. read more. And the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the porter and said, Behold a man running alone. And the king said, He also is a bearer of news. And the watchman said, I see the running of the foremost like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok. And the king said, He is a good man; and comes with good news.
And the children of Israel did secretly against Jehovah their God things that were not right; and they built them high places in all their cities, from the watchmen's tower to the fortified city.
He smote the Philistines unto Gazah and its borders, from the watchmen's tower to the fortified city.
Prepare the table, appoint the watch; eat, drink: arise, ye princes, anoint the shield. For thus hath the Lord said unto me: Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. read more. And he saw chariots, horsemen by pairs, a chariot with asses, a chariot with camels; and he hearkened diligently with much heed. And he cried as a lion, Lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights. And behold, there cometh a chariot of men; horsemen by pairs. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground.
Also I have set watchmen over you: Hearken ye to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.
Arise, cry out in the night, in the beginning of the watches; pour out thy heart like water before the face of the Lord: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, who faint from hunger at the top of all the streets.
Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them all, and set him for their watchman: if he see the sword coming upon the land, and blow the trumpet, and warn the people; read more. then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning, if the sword come and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood is upon him: whereas had he taken warning, he would have delivered his soul. But if the watchman see the sword coming, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned, if the sword come and take a person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; and thou shalt hear the word from my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, Wicked man, thou shalt certainly die; and thou speakest not to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. But if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, and he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.
But in the fourth watch of the night he went off to them, walking on the sea.
And seeing them labouring in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them, about the fourth watch of the night he comes to them walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.
And if he come in the second watch, and come in the third watch, and find them thus, blessed are those bondmen.
Obey your leaders, and be submissive; for they watch over your souls as those that shall give account; that they may do this with joy, and not groaning, for this would be unprofitable for you.