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Is Matthew 12:40 using idiomatic language?

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A slight rewording of the OP may make it a bit more clear: Whenever the three days and three nights of Matthew 12:40 is brought up in a "discussion" with 6th day of the week crucifixion folks, they frequently assert that it is using common Jewish idiomatic language. I wonder if anyone knows of any writing that shows an example from the first century or before regarding a period of time that is said to consist of a specific number of days and/or a specific number of nights where the period of time absolutely couldn't have included at least a part of each one of the specific number of days and at least a part of each one of the specific number of nights? If it is using common idiomatic language, there ought to be examples of that usage in order to be able to make that assertion.

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rstrats said in post 1:

 

Is Matthew 12:40 using idiomatic language?

 

Matthew 12:40b can be literal, and can give the time period for something which occurred after Jesus' resurrection.  For Jesus' soul didn't go down into hell when he died, but up into heaven, into the hands of God the Father (Luke 23:46). The same day he died, Jesus' soul went into paradise (Luke 23:43), which is in the 3rd heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), and which is where the tree of life is (Revelation 2:7), in the literal city of New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:2), in heaven (Hebrews 12:22).

 

But 1 Peter 4:6, 1 Peter 3:18c-19, and Ephesians 4:9 show there was a post-resurrection descent of Jesus into Hades to preach the fulfillment of the gospel (of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) to the souls of the dead in Hades, after which preaching, Jesus ascended into heaven with all the souls of those in Hades who had died in faith (Ephesians 4:8-9, Hebrews 11:13-16, Hebrews 12:22-24).

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The word "common" should be added after the word "using" in the title line.

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A slight rewording of the OP may make it a bit more clear: Whenever the three days and three nights of Matthew 12:40 is brought up in a "discussion" with 6th day of the week crucifixion folks, they frequently assert that it is using common Jewish idiomatic language. I wonder if anyone knows of any writing that shows an example from the first century or before regarding a period of time that is said to consist of a specific number of days and/or a specific number of nights where the period of time absolutely couldn't have included at least a part of each one of the specific number of days and at least a part of each one of the specific number of nights? If it is using common idiomatic language, there ought to be examples of that usage in order to be able to make that assertion.

 

This was a couple months ago, but maybe this might help.    Middle eastern cultures use figures of speech quite often, hyperbole being very common.  One type, known as a Synedoche - where a part stands for the whole or the other way around, is in use here.

 

Here are several instances of the use of synedoches in the bible:

 

http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/the-figure-of-speech-synecdoche-as-used-in-the-bible

 

Burlinger covers the use of synedoche in the bible in detail, demonstrating catagories of use, one of which is " Synecdoché of the PART." which includes  "iv. A part of a time for the whole time."     You can find his examples towards the very end of the entries here:

 

http://www.studylight.org/lexicons/fos/view.cgi?n=193

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3 days and 3 nights was 72 hours.  the Jews had no trouble understanding the 3 days and 3 nights that Jonah was in the belly of a fish as 72 hours.  the feasts, and all that week of yahshua's crucifixion, perfectly reflects 72 hours in the grave.   most gentiles never discover this because of a long history and traditions that are wrong.  it won't be resolved here, either, even in one hundred pages of posts.  look it up online, it will require loving the truth and asking yahweh for his revelation.

 

 

Jeff, would you say then that when God tells the ancient Hebrews that if a servant decided to stay with their master instead of being set free at the prescribed time, that the servant will be their servant forever - for an "olam" - that this literally means forever as in unending?

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Jeff, would you say then that when God tells the ancient Hebrews that if a servant decided to stay with their master instead of being set free at the prescribed time, that the servant will be their servant forever - for an "olam" - that this literally means forever as in unending?

 

olam does not, necessarily mean forever

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therese.... can you restate/ reword the question in a way that fits with the op of this thread,  or with my post ....   i just don't see it... 

 

except that english , yes, is horrible regarding 'forever' and 'eternal' , just as it is when people have

 

twisted 3 days and 3 nights to fit the religious pattern ......  we all live in a dangerous world !

 

Well, what I'm trying to get at is that in middle eastern cultures, language is often used in idiomatic ways - figures of speech figure prominently, especially hyperbole.

 

If we approach reading the scriptures as if everything is absolutely literal, then we can really miss what is being said.  For instance, when Jesus tells the disciples to pluck out their eyes or cut off their hand or their foot if they cause them to sin, do you believe Jesus is speaking literally here?    When we understand how middle eastern culture relies heavily on figures of speech, such as hyperbole, it becomes apparent that Jesus is employing such a figure of speech here  - hyperbole, which is an over exaggeration to make a point.  He doesn't literally mean we should cut off our foot or hand or pluck out our eye.

 

The question regarding Olam is similar, though it's a matter of how a word is used and understood, and how a translation of the original language removed from us by thousands of years in time, place, culture and language, can lead us to think one thing, when the original language and grammar doesn't actually support it.  I've seen this often when it comes to the use of Olam, which literally means, "for an age" but is usually translated "forever."   In the english langauge "forever" often does not mean forever - it's used in hyperbole to over exaggerate to make a point.   "It's taking FOREVER for our food to come out!"

 

A similar thing is happening here.    The phrase used here of 3 days and nights is a figure of speech known as a synedoche, where a part refers to the whole or the whole refers to the part. The Jews, just as all middle eastern culures do, love to use figures of speech.

Edited by thereselittleflower

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 3 days and 3 nights means 72 hours.   this upsets some religions, but so what.

it won't change.

 

It can mean 72 hours.

 

Let's say it's 4pm and someone asks you to get them something from the store, and you say "OK, I get it today for you."   Do you mean you have a 24 hours to get what they asked you for?   Or the 8 hours remaining in the day that you called "today" ?

 

Or let me give you another example - you're planning a trip.   You say you are going to be there today, tomorrow and Monday, then you will be back home.    Do you mean you are going to be gone for a full 72 hours?  Would you take off at exactly 12am midnight and return at exactly midnight on Monday?  I would doubt that your timing would be so exact.  It would probably look more like arriving sometime during the day today, staying through Sunday, and being back sometime on Monday.  Not a literal 72 hours.

Edited by thereselittleflower

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A number of sixth day of the week crucifixion/first day of the week resurrection advocates try to explain the three nights of Matthew 12:40 in several different ways. Three of the most popular are:

1. They count the three hours that the sun was darkened as one of the nights.

2. They count the night when the Messiah was taken in the garden as one of the nights.

3. They say that Matthew 12:40 is using common idiomatic language where the Messiah actually meant two nights even though He said three nights.

For the purpose of this topic it is the 3rd one which is of interesst. And note that the purpose is not regarding whether or not it is an idiom, but whether of not it is a common idiom.

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