When was Yeshua Buried? Insights from the Hebrew and Aramaic
Luke 23:54 says in the Aramaic of the Old Syriac version: “And it was the day of preparation and the Sabbath was dawning [NOGAH] (Strong’s Aramaic #5053)” However the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark say “When it was evening” (Matt. 27:57; Mark 15:42) “the day before the Sabbath (Mk. 14:42)
Lets look at this Aramaic word NOGAH. According to Charles Cutler Torrey in his monumental work “Our Translated Gospels” this word can mean either “as it dawned” or “and before the dawn” (p. 21)
[NOGAH] designates ordinarily the time between the close (sunset) of one day and the dawn of the next day, and may apply either to the entire time or to any part of it…. the time intended could equally well be midnight, or any hour before or after it. The same idiom precisely, using the same word… is found in classical Syriac. In the Chronicle of Joshua the Stylite, ed. Wright, p. 22, line 9, it designates the whole “night between Friday and Saturday.” In Bedjan’s Acta Mart. et Sanct., IV, 579 f., the time is “at midnight”; ibid., 629, “at the eleventh hour of the night.”
(Our Translated Gospels by Charles Cutler Torrey; 1936; p. 25)
In fact NOGAH is also the word for our planet Venus, known as both the Evening Star and the Morning Star, as it is visible only in the evening (early night) or morning (the end of night) due to it’s being closer to the Sun than the Earth.
Professor Marcus Jastrow in his Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Babli, Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature (p. 873) gives one of the definitions of NOGAH as “to get dark, to be belated.” He gives these examples of this usage of NOGAH in the Aramaic of the Talmud:
“night set in (NOGAH), and no food was brought to them.”
“the reason why I am late (NOGAH)”
So while the word NOGAH is commonly translated as “dawn” it can also refer to anytime after it gets dark in the evening and up to dawn as well.
In context this was clearly the day before the annual Sabbath at the beginning of Passover. This is clear from the Hebrew (Du/tillet and Munster) text of Matthew 27:62 which says “Now on the next day, which was following the search for leaven.”
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