הַשַּׁבָּת

At What Time of the Day Does the Sabbath Start?

At what time must we start the Sabbath Day? 06/27/2022

If a biblical day starts from 'an evening to a morning', starting the Sabbath day at sunset is wrong because a day is not from 'sunset to a sunset'. A biblical day falls between two evenings, that is, it covers two days: Friday evening (not sunset which begins night time or darkness) through Saturday evening (not sunset which begins night time or darkness).

There are 12 hours in a day, said Jesus around the time of Passover (John 11:55). We may not increase or decrease the division of the day to accommodate our geographic location. We must follow the keeping of the division of Jewish or biblical time in the day according to the declaration of Jesus and the unit day of Genesis. 

At what clock time does the Sabbath day start?

In Israel, it is from evening to evening beginning at around 4 PM on Friday and ending at the same time on Saturday. 

Why 4 PM?

The time 4 PM is derived from declarations about time during the Crucifixion day. A tabulation of the time given by Apostle John is compared to the timing declarations of Apostle Mark. Accordingly, the tabulation of the '6th hour' Roman time of John 19:14 and the '3rd hour' Jewish time of the other Gospels reveals the reckoning of time in Israel (See the corresponding table below).

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. John 11:9 ASV

And it was the Preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, Behold, your King! John 19:14 LITV

And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. Mark 15:25 LITV


In ancient Israel, Josephus left us testimony on the time when the Jews started preparing for the Sabbath: 'AFTER THE 9TH HOUR' before the 12th when the Jewish day ends. Here is the passage from Josephus, a quote that is dated around 8 BC, as referenced by the name of the Consul.

The relation of the '6th hour' of the Gospel of John for the preparation of the Sabbath of John 19:14 cannot be in conjunction with the '9th hour' of Josephus. John indicated what day the Passion of Jesus took place and the Roman time when Pilate spoke to the crowd. Remember again that Mark says that there was darkness in Jerusalem from the 6th to the 9th hour (Mark 15:33) and that Jesus was crucified on the 3rd hour (Mark 15:25).

"Caesar Augustus, high priest and tribune of the people, ordains thus: Since the nation of the Jews hath been found grateful to the Roman people, not only at this time, but in time past also, and chiefly Hyrcanus the high priest, under my father Caesar the emperor, it seemed good to me and my counselors, according to the sentence and oath of the people of Rome, that the Jews have liberty to make use of their own customs, according to the law of their forefathers, as they made use of them under Hyrcanus the high priest of the Almighty God; and that their sacred money be not touched, but be sent to Jerusalem, and that it be committed to the care of the receivers at Jerusalem; and that they be not obliged to go before any judge on the sabbath day, nor on the day of the preparation to it, after the ninth hour. But if any one be caught stealing their holy books, or their sacred money, whether it be out of the synagogue or public school, he shall be deemed a sacrilegious person, and his goods shall be brought into the public treasury of the Romans. And I give order that the testimonial which they have given me, on account of my regard to that piety which I exercise toward all mankind, and out of regard to Caius Marcus Censorinus, together with the present decree, be proposed in that most eminent place which hath been consecrated to me by the community of Asia at Ancyra. And if any one transgress any part of what is above decreed, he shall be severely punished."
(Retrieved from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.ii.xvii.vi.html)



Notice the time when the Jews started preparing for the Sabbath. It was after the 9th hour, Jewish time. The Jewish day is divided into 12-hour day (John 11:9). At the 9th hour, the day is ending in 3 hours (9th-10th, 10th-11th, 11th-12th).

Therefore, per Josephus, the Jews took 3 hours to prepare for arrival of the Sabbath, at the first evening (NOT NIGHT) daylight hour when the new biblical day starts.

I have calculated the Roman time, our time, when the day starts during the Passover time in Jerusalem, based on the Jewish time mentioned in the Gospels.

Understand that when we read in the New Testament about the 'preparation day' in the Gospel of John, we know that it started after the ninth hour, Jerusalem time, from the testimony of the Historian Josephus.

Jewish time and Roman time are two different times, as we can infer from Mark 15:25-34 and John 19:14, because the Jewish day starts in the evening (broad daylight not at sunset) with daylight, unlike Roman time.

Keep in mind also that the expression 'at the going down of the sun' does not mean sunset because from our perspective on earth, the sun reaches a maximum height in the sky and from there it starts going doing until it disappears in our respective horizon.

(Mark 15:25 LITV)
And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him.

(Mark 15:33 LITV)
And it being the sixth hour, darkness came over all the land until the ninth hour.

(John 19:14 LITV)
And it was the Preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, Behold, your King!

(Mark 15:34 LITV)
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? (Which being translated is, "My God, My God, why did You forsake Me?") Psa. 22:1


The 'third hour' Crucifixion time in Mark 15 corresponds to about the 'sixth hour' Roman time in John 19:14 because at the sixth hour the Gospel of John still has Jesus being interrogated by Pilate and because his account in John 18:28 states that Jesus was led to Pilate very early in the morning.

"They lead Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium: and it was early; and they themselves entered not into the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover." Joh 18:28



At the sixth hour of John, Jesus was already on the cross (tree) according to the narrative of Mark 15:25, 33-34.

Another point of view concerning the timing of Mark

Mark timed the events in the third, sixth, and ninth hour.  Apostle John also timed the event around 9th hour. Those hours that are mentioned in the New Testament cannot be 3 AM nor 3 PM, neither 6 AM nor 6 PM, nor 9 AM nor 9 PM, if Jesus would have died at 4 PM in our Roman time as it is believed today in certain religious circles. Jesus would have died either at 9 AM or 9 PM according to Mark 15:33.

Remember that the consensus to take Jesus to Pilate was made in the morning which is at least after the 'third hour' Jewish time (not Roman time) as it is mentioned in the narrative, a '3rd hour' time which, again, cannot correspond to 3 AM Roman time nor 3 PM because we also read that there was darkness from the 6th hour (6 AM? 6PM?) until the 9th hour (9 AM? 9 PM?) according to Mark 15:33.

REPETITION: If the time of death mentioned in the Gospel were Roman time (Mark 15:34, 37), Jesus would have died either at 9 AM or 9 PM according to our Roman time and that cannot be.

Consequently, the times recorded in the gospels cannot be the same as Roman Time or our Time.

Yet, we can derive the correct time from John 19:14.

Mark 15:1 KJV
(1) And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

Luke 22:66 KJV
(66) And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,

Matthew 27:1-2 KJV
(1) When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
(2) And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor."



Now, we find John at the Crucifixion scene where Jesus gave him charge of His mother (John 19:25-27), right before He expired, at the ninth hour, Jewish time. Hence, there is no way that John could have mixed up the timing of that moment in his narrative.

"John 19:25-27 KJV
(25) Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
(26) When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
(27) Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."



The narrative implies that there is a three-hour difference in time reckoning between the Jews and the Romans. The Jews are three hours behind in telling their time, as mentioned earlier, because their day start in the evening while it is still daylight. Tabulating the time mentioned in Mark and John shows that the Jewish day starts at around 4 AM Roman time.

Therefore, the Sabbath day starts and ends at around 4 o'clock (or 5 o'clock for daylight savings time).
We find John at the Crucifixion scene where Jesus gave him charge of His mother (John 19:25-27), right before He expired, at the ninth hour, Jewish time. He could not have mixed up the timing of that moment in the narrative.

Note: TIME in bracket in the table is for showing that the Jewish day did not start with sunrise.

ROMAN VERSUS JERUSALEM TIME TABULATION around PASSOVER, CRUCIFIXION FROM THE CONCORDANCE OF JOHN 19:14.

ROMAN TIME JEWISH TIME MODERN TIME
4th hour 1st hour 4 AM Astronomical twilight April
5th hour 2nd hour 5 AM [if day is from SUNRISE 1st /10th]
6th hour of John 19:14 3rd hour in other gospels 6 AM [2nd / 11th] 
7th hour 4th hour 7 AM [3rd /12th]
8th hour 5th hour 8 AM [4th /1st] could not have started Jewish day
9th hour 6th hour [darkness reported] 9 AM [Roman / Jewish day is 12 hour]
10th hour 7th hour [darkness still] 10 AM [6th / 3rd]
11th hour 8th [darkness still] 11 AM [7th / 4th]
12th hour 9th [darkness and Death] 12 PM [8th / 5th] death [Mark 15:42, Mat 27:50, Luke 23:46, John 19:30]
13th hour 10th hour 1 PM [9th / 6th night]
14th hour 11th hour 2 PM [10th / 7th night]
15th hour 12th hour 3 PM [11th / 8th night]
16th hour 1st hour [New day begins] 4 PM [12th / 9th]
17th hour 2nd hour 5 PM [1st / 10th night]
18th hour 3rd hour 6 PM (Sunset in Jerusalem) [2nd / 11th]
19th hour 4th hour 7 PM [3rd / 12th or End of Jewish day? No]
20th hour 5th hour 8 PM [5th / 2nd]
21st hour 6th hour 9 PM [6th / 3rd]
22nd hour 7th hour 10 PM 3rd watch?  [7th / 4th
23rd hour 8th hour 11 PM [8th / 5th]
Midnight hour 9th hour 12 AM [9th / 6th]
1st hour 10th hour 1 AM  [10th / 7th]
2nd hour 11th hour 2 AM  [11th / 8th]
3dr hour 12th hour 3 AM [12th / 9th]