The Bible is written using a standard set of prophetic time ratios. Knowing those ratios is important because it allows readers to unpack the prophetic meaning of various passages in the bible. This article summarizes the ratios and provides links to supporting articles that define the various ratios.
Prophetic ratios are built up using the definitions of various time intervals that are then set as equivalent values for various prophetic purposes. Because of this a complete understanding of prophetic time requires the reader to understand the definitions of time in the Bible and also to understand the common ratios between these various definitions.
The finest unit of measure given in the pages of the Bible is hour. There are 12 hours in the daylight part of a day.
1In a beginning god created the skies and the land.
In this verse Jesus states the number of hours in the daylight part of a day. These hours are stilled used by people today, though there are several points worth noting.
Modern clocks are set to measure time with 12 hours being the 12 hours of daylight from 6:00 AM through 6:00 PM. (Military: 6:00 through 18:00.)
Of course only two days of the year actually have this many hours of daylight, these are the spring and fall equinox. All the other days in the year have a slightly different amount of time for the daylight hours based on the location of the observer on the planet. Nowhere in scripture is a time measure smaller than an hour used by the text, though there are many places where precision under an hour is quite possibly deduced. More in the section below on ratios.
The likely time point where all time measurements should be taken is Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The reason is this is the location where God directed the ancient Isrealites to host the temple.
As a matter of historical curiosity, the location of the zeroth meridian, through Grenwich, England, was chosen by leaders of Great Britain as a memorial to their empire. Two other candidates were seriously discussed, the Great Pyramid at Giza, and Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The choice of Giza was supported by the fact that most major pre-historic monuments around the globe are located on even meridians from Giza. This suggests Giza was at the center, or at least aligned with, an ancient meridian system. If this had been chosen it would have been a restoration of that ancient, but unknown, system.
Temple Mount was also considered as the zeroth meridian because it is the center of Biblical Christianity. Though was was not ultimately selected, it does provide the only logical place to base the center of Biblical time keeping because it was the location of Solomon’s Temple.
The Levites were the time keepers for the Temple. The book of Leviticus includes time references not found in an otherwise copy of the material in the Book of Deuteronomy. (See Leviticus 26 and compare to Deuteronomy 28.) Leviticus was written to the Levites for Temple service while Deuteronomy was written to the overall People of Israel. Precise time keeping is only focused on the Temple in Jerusalem, Temple Mount of today.
For the purposes of anyone interested in precise time measures relative to Bible Prophecy, Temple Mount is therefore the only serious candidate.
For completeness, it is also important to note that hours in the day are counted quite differently than we do now. This is not just a matter of up-ending a modern clock to 6:00 is at the top instead of the bottom, as many Bible translator footnotes foolishly suggest. The problem is that counting itself was different in the Biblical Era and the measurement of hours is based on Biblical counting.
To understand this further, consider a regular 12 hour clock (ie: a North American style clock, not a European 24 hour clock nor a military 24 clock.) The hour hand of a modern North American 12 hour clock is a mechanical approximation of a sun dial. This is important because a sundial is perhaps the most simple, most universal and most ancient, of all time keeping devices. It can be formed by anyone with a clear view of the horizon, a stick and some sand in which to stick the stick. (Fun, huh?)
The first hour of the 12 hours of in an average day is the hour between modern 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM. Those 60 minutes of today would all start with the hour ’6:’ followed by some specific minute.
In ancient times that hour was the first hour, or hour ’1’. The difference between these two is 5 hours not the more commonly thought 6 hours. The number that belongs at the top of a Biblically based 12 hour clock is 7 not 6 as is so commonly thought.
The hour between modern 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM is by inference the 12th hour of the day, again the difference from modern labeling is 5 hours, not the supposed 6.
The next smallest unit of time found in the pages of the Bible is called a ’Watch’ of the night.
8Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.
96 days you will labor and do all your work;
10but the 7th day is a sabbath to Yahvah your god; in it you will not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor the traveler who lives in your towns;
2Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land which I give you for an inheritance, then the land will keep a sabbath to Yahvah.
36 years you will sow your fields and 6 years you will prune your vineyards and 6 years you will gather in your produce;
4but the 7th year will be a sabbath rest to the land, and it will be to you a sabbath for Yahvah; you will not sow your fields nor prune your vineyards.
8And you will count 7 sabbaths of years to you, 7 times 7 years; and the space of the 7 sabbaths of years will be to you 49 years.
Implied by the definitions. Any expression ’week’ is either 1) week of days or 2) a week of years, a Sabbath, or 3) a week of weeks of years, a Jubilee.