First found in Daniel 3:6 ; Daniel 4:19 Daniel 4:33 Daniel 5:5 . It is the rendering of the Chaldee shaah, meaning a "moment," a "look." It is used in the New Testament frequently to denote some determinate season ( Matthew 8:13 ; Luke 12:39 ).
With the ancient Hebrews the divisions of the day were "morning, evening, and noon-day" ( Psalms 55:17 , etc.). The Greeks, following the Babylonians, divided the day into twelve hours. The Jews, during the Captivity, learned also from the Babylonians this method of dividing time. When Judea became subject to the Romans, the Jews adopted the Roman mode of reckoning time. The night was divided into four watches ( Luke 12:38 ; Matthew 14:25 ; 13:25 ). Frequent allusion is also made to hours ( Matthew 25:13 ; 26:40 , etc.). (See DAY .)
An hour was the twelfth part of the day, reckoning from sunrise to sunset, and consequently it perpetually varied in length.
The ancient Hebrews were probably unacquainted with the division of the natural day into twenty-four parts; but they afterwards parcelled out the period between sunrise and sunset into a series of divisions distinguished by the suns course. The early Jews appear to have divided the day into four parts, ( Nehemiah 9:3 ) and the night into three watches, ( Judges 7:19 ) and even in the New Testament we find a trace of this division in ( Matthew 20:1-5 ) At what period the Jews first became acquainted with the division of the day into twelve hours is unknown, but it is generally supposed they learned it from the Babylonians during the captivity. It was known to the Egyptians at a very early period. They had twelve hours of the day and of the night. There are two kinds of hours, viz. (1) the astronomical or equinoctial hour, i.e. the 24th part of a civil day, and (2) the natural hour, i.e. the 12th part of the natural day, or of the time between sunrise and sunset. These are the hours meant in the New Testament, ( John 11:9 ) etc., and it must be remembered that they perpetually vary in length, so as to be very different at different times of he year. For the purpose of prayer the old division of the day into four portions was continued in the temple service. as we see from ( Acts 2:15 ; 3:1 ; 10:9 ) [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
our (sha`atha', she`a'; hora):
Hour as a division of the day does not occur in the Old Testament; the term she`a' (sha`atha') found in Dnl, is Aramaic, and as used there denotes a short period or point of time of no definite length (Daniel 3:6,15; 4:33 (Hebrew 30); 5:5). The Greek hora is commonly used in the New Testament in the same way, as "that same hour," "from that hour," etc., but it also occurs as a division of the day, as, "the third hour," "the ninth hour," etc. The Hebrews would seem to have become acquainted with this division of time through the Babylonians, but whether before the captivity we are not certain. The mention of the sun dial of Ahaz would seem to indicate some such reckoning of time during the monarchy.
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