What does the first watch mean? What is the “third hour”? The Jewish day ran from sunset to sunset and was divided in 8 equal parts called watches and hours. Here’s what they mean.
- First watch – sunset to 9pm
- Second watch – 9pm to midnight; Luke 12:38.
- Third watch – Midnight to 3am; Luke 12:38.
- Fourth watch – 3am to sunrise; Matt 14:25; Mark 6:48.
The 1st Century Jewish Day
|Jewish Time||Roman Time||Event||Mentioned in Scripture|
|1st hour||dawn to 8:00 am||The first male lamb of the Tamid |
sacrifice was tied to the altar at dawn.
|2nd hour||8:00 to 9:00 am|
|3rd hour||9:00 to 10:00 am||Morning prayer service; |
The incense is offered in the Sanctuary.
The first male lamb is sacrificed
as the temple gates open.
Jesus went to the cross at the 3rd hour.
|Matt 20:3; |
|4th hour||10:00 to|
|5th hour||11:00 am to Noon|
|6th hour||Noon to 1:00 pm||The second lamb is tied |
to the altar at noon
|Matt 20:5; |
|7th hour||1:00 to 2:00 pm||John 4:52|
|8th hour||2:00 to 3:00 pm|
|9th hour||3:00 to 400 pm||The second Tamid lamb is sacrificed. |
The second hour of prayer,
also called the hour of confession.
Jesus gave up his life at the 9th hour.
|Matt 20:5; |
|10th hour||4:00 to 5:00 pm|
|11th hour||5:00 to|
|The afternoon service concludes |
with the burning of the
incense and priestly benediction.
|12th hour||6:00 pm to sunset||Matt 20:9|
The Jewish day begins at sunset. With the exception of the Sabbath, the weekdays had no names, only numbers.
- 1st day – sunset Saturday to sunset Sunday
- 2nd day – sunset Sunday to sunset Monday
- 3rd day – sunset Monday to sunset Tuesday
- 4th day – sunset Tuesday to sunset Wednesday
- 5th day – sunset Wednesday to sunset Thursday
- 6th day – sunset Thursday to sunset Friday
- 7th day – Sabbath; sunset Friday to sunset Saturday