What is an Hour?
The term is employed to indicate an indefinite period of time, as in Dan 3:6; Dan 4:19, and Matt 9:22; John 7:30, etc. It also indicates a definite period. At the time of our Lord the Jews reckoned the hours from sunrise to sunset, and divided the night into watches. Six in the morning was counted the first, noon the sixth, and 6 p.m. the twelfth hour of the day. In the parable of the laborers, Matt 20:1-10, this division into hours is clearly shown. The husbandman engages laborers early in the morning, and subsequently during the day at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours. Jesus was crucified at the third hour, Mark 15:25, or about 9 a.m., and the darkness continued from the sixth to the ninth hour (12-3 p.m.), Matt 27:45. This mode of reckoning is employed in the Acts, as is plainly seen in ch. Acts 2:15. There were thus twelve hours in every day between the sun's rising and setting, and the hours varied in length with the brevity or length of the day. The Romans computed time from midnight to noon, and divided this period into equal portions, whose beginning was indicated by the expressions first, third, sixth, and ninth hour. It is altogether probable, although opinions differ, that John's Gospel observes this method. The tenth hour, therefore, of ch. John 1:39 coincides with 10 a.m.; the sixth hour, ch. Song 4:6, with 6 p.m. The period mentioned for the last scene in the trial of our Lord, John 19:14, as the sixth hour was 6 a.m. The exact expression must be emphasized, "about the sixth hour." If we take into account the necessary delay before arriving at Calvary, an almost exact harmony is made out between John and the other evangelists. See Day.