MORNING: boqer. Masculine Noun. (Strong’s 1242).
Sounds like: bow-ker
They who dwell at the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You [YHWH] make the sunrise and the sunset [mowtsa’ey boqer wa-erev] shout for joy.
If you translate this from the original Hebrew “the sunrise and the sunset” is literally “the outgoings of the morning and evening” [mowtsa’ey boqer wa-erev]. The clockwork movement from morning to evening to morning again, was a set and unstoppable rhythm put in place from the beginning of time.
In the first chapter of the Bible morning was mentioned six times:
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” And there was evening and there was morning [boqer], one day.
This was followed by five more days of creation and each ended with the same phrase:
Genesis 1:8, 13, 19, 23, 31
And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The Jewish day was meant to be from sunset to sunset, making the morning the middle of the day. That’s trippy for our minds to get around but it was how it worked… and still does. It’s why Shabbat starts at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday.
However, morning is the usual time for a person to wake up, and so it feels very much like a beginning. The Bible has many accounts of people getting up early in the morning to take action:
- Abraham got up early in the morning and sent Hagar and Ishmael away (Genesis 21:14)
- In the morning Isaac and Abimelech exchanged oaths (Genesis 26:31)
- Jacob got up early in the morning and set up a memorial stone (Genesis 28:18)
- Joseph sent his brothers away as the morning dawned (Genesis 44:3)
- Moses built an altar in the morning (Exodus 24:4)
- Moses went up to Mount Sinai in the morning to receive the ten commandment tablets (a second time) (Exodus 34:1-4)
- Joshua got up in the morning and led Israel across the Jordan River and into the promised land (Joshua 3:1)
- David got up early in the morning to bring provisions to his brothers on the battlefield (1 Samuel 17:20-22 )
- Saul tried to put David to death in the morning (1 Samuel 19:11)
- David gave a letter to Uriah, in the morning, to be delivered to Joab, David’s army captain. The letter contained instructions to have Uriah killed on the battlefield (2 Samuel 11:14)
One of the most widely recognized (and misunderstood) stories in the Torah is the account of Abraham offering to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Their journey to Mount Moriah began early in the morning:
So Abraham got up early in the morning [ba-boqer] and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.
The story continued with Abraham setting Isaac on the altar to have him killed as a sacrifice. But YHWH stopped him and provided a substitute ram for the offering instead. It was a beautiful picture that pointed forward to when God would provide His own Anointed Son for the sacrifice. We don’t have to die because someone would come and take that punishment for us. The process began in the morning, but it would not end in the dark of night.
Morning, and the Escape from Egypt
The morning-time seemed to have a special significance in the Exodus scroll. Of the ten plagues, three involved Moses meeting with Pharaoh “in the morning”. In fact, every third plague (1 ,4, 7, and 10) had something to do with the morning.
At the announcement of the first plague (the Nile turning to blood), God sent Moses to meet Pharaoh in the morning by the Nile:
Then YHWH said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning [ba-boqer] just as he is going out to the water, and position yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent. And you shall say to him, ‘YHWH, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness.”
At the announcement of the fourth plague (swarms of flies), Moses was to rise in the morning and meet Pharaoh as he was coming out of the water:
Then YHWH said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning [ba-boqer] and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water; and say to him, ‘This is what YHWH says: “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me.”
Before announcing the seventh plague (thunderstorms of hail and fire) Moses again met Pharaoh in the morning:
Then YHWH said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning [ba-boqer] and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what YHWH, the God of the Hebrews says: “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me.”
And finally, just before the tenth and last plague (death of the firstborn), YHWH gave instructions on how to save themselves from death. A young lamb or goat was to be taken and slaughtered at twilight (the beginning of the new day) and the people were to eat it. But no leftovers were to be set aside for the morning:
Exodus 12:10, 21-22
And you shall not leave any of it over until morning [ad boqer], but whatever is left of it until morning [ad boqer], you shall completely burn with fire.
…Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning [ad boqer].
The blood from the slaughter was to go around the lintel of the doorway and it would act as a sign for the angel of death to “passover” the house and spare the people inside. The people were to remain in the house all night and not leave until the morning dawned.
After the devastating final plague, Pharaoh finally conceded and agreed to let the Hebrew people go. But it didn’t take long for him to change his mind, and he gathered his army to stop them. Meanwhile, that night YHWH pushed back the water and allowed Moses and the people to walk across the Reed (not Red) Sea on dry land. The Egyptians followed them, but God looked down at morning’s light (Ex 14:24) and took action:
Then YHWH said to Moses, “Reach out with your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.”
So Moses reached out with his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak [morning: boqer], while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then YHWH overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
The Egyptians had followed them in the darkness, but at first light they were swallowed up into the sea.
Moses and the people had escaped Egypt, but the journey to follow wouldn’t be easy. It didn’t take long for them to start complaining. They were tired and hungry. Moses and Aaron addressed the people’s angst:
So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that YHWH has brought you out of the land of Egypt; and in the morning [u-voqer] you will see the glory of YHWH, for He hears your grumblings against YHWH; and what are we, that you grumble against us?”
And Moses said, “This will happen when YHWH gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning [ba-boqer]; for YHWH hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against YHWH.”
And sure enough, YHWH delivered! In the evening quail came and covered the camp…
…and in the morning [u-va-boqer] there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which YHWH has given you to eat.”
The manna (which literally means “what is it?”) came with particular instructions. Just like the passover lamb, manna was not to be held back for the morning:
Moses said to them, “No one is to leave any of it until morning [ad boqer].”
But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning [ad boqer], and it bred worms and stank; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning [ba-boqer ba-boqer], everyone as much as he would eat; but when the sun became hot, it would melt.
The one exception was for the Sabbath. They were allowed to collect extra on the sixth day to be held for the Sabbath:
So they put it aside until morning [ad boqer], as Moses had ordered, and it did not stink nor was there a maggot in it. Then Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to YHWH; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”
There’s another interesting foreshadowing in this passage. Yeshua (Jesus) claimed to be the Bread of Life (John 6:35)… nourishment in the desert of life. He died on preparation day, Friday. He was taken off the cross before the Sabbath began at sunset, but after three days, He would rise again and meet with His followers.
In the Moses account they were rescued in the morning when the Egyptians fell into the sea; they were fed manna in the morning; and “on the third day” they would meet God in the morning:
So it came about on the third day, when it was morning [ha-boqer], that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
God met the people in the light of the morning. That was intentional. He brought them out of darkness and into light, and He would meet them there.
The Exodus account was a rescue story and it allowed the people to become a free and united family. They set up a place of worship (Tabernacle) and Aaron and his sons began the family priesthood:
Exodus 27:21 (see also Leviticus 24:3)
In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning [meh-erev ad boqer] before YHWH; it shall be a permanent statute throughout their generations for the sons of Israel.
To look after the Tabernacle, which was an oasis where heaven met earth, Aaron and his descendants were to keep order in the sacred space from evening to morning. This was a reminder of YHWH’s Edenic creation, when God created heaven and earth, from evening to morning… from darkness to light.
With the building of the Tabernacle, the Hebrew people had a place to pray and worship YHWH. Prayer was, and is, a fundamental element of faith. Calling out to God, connecting with Him, communicating with Him is not just an act of devotion, it’s an act of friendship and communion.
King David was known for his prayerful Psalms and they weren’t always sun-shiny and happy. But regardless of all his troubles, David saw through the darkness and followed the light:
[David:] Listen to my words, YHWH, consider my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray.
In the morning [boqer], YHWH, You will hear my voice; in the morning [boqer] I will present my prayer to You and be on the watch.
Of course, David didn’t just pray in the morning, but all through the day, starting with the evening, followed by morning, and ending at noon… a typical Jewish day:
[David:] As for me, I shall call upon God, and YHWH will save me.
Evening and morning [erev wa-voqer] and at noon, I will complain and moan, and He will hear my voice.
He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me, for they are many who are aggressive toward me.
God will hear and humiliate them— even the one who sits enthroned from ancient times— Selah— with whom there is no change, and who do not fear God.
It might have been dark times, but David always held onto hope. He may have struggled, but he knew he would be redeemed!
Praise in the Morning
Along with morning prayer went morning praise:
A Psalm, a Song for the Sabbath day.
It is good to give thanks to YHWH and to sing praises to Your name, Most High; to declare Your goodness in the morning [ba-boqer] and Your faithfulness by night.
Psalm 59 was the prayer David prayed when he knew that Saul wanted to kill him. Regardless of his anxiety, David found time to sing praises to God in the morning:
[David:] But as for me, I will sing of Your strength; yes, I will joyfully sing of Your faithfulness in the morning [la-boqer], for You have been my refuge and a place of refuge on the day of my distress.
David understood that YHWH was the God of Light and Life and He had power over darkness, destruction and death. People tried to kill David and force him into the grave, but he recognized that it was YHWH who kept him alive. He would see the light of the morning because YHWH had lifted him up:
[David:] I will exalt You, YHWH, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. YHWH my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.
YHWH, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.
Sing praise to YHWH, you His godly ones, and praise the mention of His holiness.
For His anger is but for a moment, His favour is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning [w-la-boqer].
The Morning Redemption
As we read earlier, the Exodus outlined the great rescue from Egyptian slavery, but it also foreshadowed the great rescue from human’s slavery to death, the result of human’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden. Eve and Adam essentially expelled themselves from the Garden, but YHWH would find a way to bring them back. He would anoint a Messiah, His chosen Son, to save and redeem the people. He would come like the dawn, and save humanity from the chains of death. They would be in darkness, but He would lead them from darkness to light.
The story of Ruth outlined the roots of the kingdom of David, from the line of Judah. She would be famous as the great grandmother of King David, from whose line the Messiah would come. Ruth was a Moabite who needed rescuing. She and her mother-in-law were in a desperate state. They had nothing… no food, no shelter, no money, no future. They needed a redeemer. And so they went to Bethlehem to look for one of Naomi’s family members to take them in. They found Boaz, but Ruth had to be assertive in order to rescue Naomi and herself.
Ruth unapologetically broke the rules in order to garner Boaz’s attention. She snuck into the threshing floor where Boaz was sleeping, and laid at his feet:
And it happened in the middle of the night that the man was startled and bent forward; and behold, a woman was lying at his feet. So he said, “Who are you?”
And she answered, “I am Ruth your servant. Now spread your garment over your servant, for you are a redeemer.”
Then he said, “May you be blessed of YHWH, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first, by not going after young men, whether poor or rich. So now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you say, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of valour. But now, although it is true that I am a redeemer, yet there is also a redeemer more closely related than I. Remain this night, and when morning [ba-boqer] comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as YHWH lives. Lie down until morning [ha-boqer].”
So she lay at his feet until the morning [ad ha-boqer], and got up before one person could recognize another; and he said, “Do not let it be known that the woman came to the threshing floor.” Again he said, “Give me the shawl that is on you and hold it.” So she held it, and he measured six measures of barley and laid it on her. Then she went into the city. When she came to her mother-in-law, she said, “How did it go, my daughter?” And she told her all that the man had done for her.
Ruth laid at Boaz’s feet in the darkness of night, vulnerable and at risk, but in the morning she rose up, redeemed! She didn’t know the outcome yet, but she had garnered a promise… she had a redeemer and she would live!
This began the line of David, from the tribe of Judah, and it brought a Kingdom that celebrated YHWH’s love and light over darkness.
From Darkness to Morning and Injustice to Justice
These themes of light and darkness, morning and night, have a heavy footprint in the Bible. It can be found in all the sections of the Tanakh, from the Torah, to the writings, and throughout the prophets:
He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and changes deep darkness into morning [la-boqer], who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, YHWH is His name.
YHWH was the light-bringer and justice champion:
Every morning [Morning by morning: ba-boqer ba-boqer] He [YHWH] brings His justice to light; He does not fail.
Lamentations gives us this beautiful image of God renewing His promise to be faithful, merciful, and compassionate, every morning:
YHWH’s acts of mercy indeed do not end, for His compassions do not fail.
They are new every morning [la-b’qarim]; Great is Your faithfulness.
Every morning He would renew His promises, but He also expected His children to be like Him, to be light bringers and justice bringers to this aching world.
The King of Judah, was a child of God (although, depending on the king, they did not always act that way). In the time of Jeremiah, YHWH gave orders to the king of Judah to be a justice champion and to renew that promise every morning:
“Then say to the household of the king of Judah, ‘Hear the word of YHWH, house of David, this is what YHWH says:
“Administer justice every morning [la-boqer]; and save the person who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor, so that My wrath will not spread like fire and burn, with no one to extinguish it, because of the evil of their deeds.”
Good leaders were light bringers, and a righteous leader was like the light of the morning. King David believed so strongly in this that they were part of his last words:
2 Samuel 23:3-4
[David:] “The God of Israel said it; the Rock of Israel spoke to me:
‘He who rules over mankind righteously, who rules in the fear of God, is like the light of the morning [boqer] when the sun rises, a morning [boqer] without clouds, when the fresh grass springs out of the earth from sunshine after rain.’
This was why David shone as King. He understood that Kingship was YHWH’s domain, and he was only a guest in the lineup. His descendant would be the coming King of Light who would chase the clouds away and renew the Garden.
But, of course, not all leaders had the convictions of David. Many wicked leaders followed his reign. To the wicked, morning was the same as darkness. They could not see the light:
[Job:] “The murderer arises at dawn; he kills the poor and the needy, and at night he is like a thief.
The eye of the adulterer watches for twilight, saying, ‘No eye will see me.’ and he disguises his face.
In the darkness they dig into houses, they shut themselves up by day; they do not know the light.
For the morning [boqer] is the same to him as thick darkness, for he is familiar with the terrors of thick darkness.”
Those who followed evil lived in thick darkness; regardless of whether it was morning or night, darkness surrounded them. Without YHWH, they would never see the light.
But life is not always easy, or sun-shiny, for those who followed YHWH. Truth be told, sometimes we feel as if we’re living in darkness. Many of the Psalms reflected this feeling:
[Sons of Korah to YHWH:] Will Your wonders be made known in the darkness? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
But I, YHWH, have cried out to You for help, and in the morning [u-va-boqer] my prayer comes before You.
YHWH, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me?
The Morning Messiah
There are times when we feel that God is not wit us, that He has turned away, and we are left on our own. We are not, but it can feel that way.
Yeshua must have felt rejected and alone at times. He was separated from His Father when took on humanity’s sins on the Roman execution rack. To go to the grave meant going into darkness, and He did it, bravely, to save us.
Yeshua’s path to the cross had a few morning-moments”
- The Jewish leaders met in the morning to make plans to kill Jesus (Matthew 27:1)
- Yeshua was arrested at night and was brought to trial at the court of Pontius Pilate early in the morning (Mark 15:1; John 18:28).
- Yeshua was crucified in the “third hour” (Mark 15:25), which, by the modern clock, is 9 in the morning.
- Following Yeshua’s death, in the very early morning, the women took spices to His tomb (Luke 24:1).
In John’s account, when Mary Magdalen went to visit Yeshua’s grave, she went so early that it was still dark. It was in this darkness that she saw He was no longer in the tomb. She promptly informed Peter and John, and they ran to see but they did not stay. Mary stayed, and in the morning light she met the Gardener. He said to her:
“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
Thinking that He was the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you put Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher).
Mary recognized her Teacher when she heard her name. She joyfully saw Yeshua, the Light of the World, in the morning light and she knew she was redeemed!
The Morning Star
Stars were frequently anthropomorphized in the Bible… they praised God, they sang, and they shone like God’s light in the darkness. YHWH’s divine family sparkled like stars and any early Hebrew person, looking up into the night sky, saw what seemed to be the Heavenly Host shining down on them.
After Job struggled with God over his terribly tragic life, God put his life into perspective:
Job 38:4-7, 12-13
[YHWH to Job:] “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the measuring line over it?
On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars [kok’vey boqer] sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?…
…“Have you ever in your life commanded the morning [boqer], and made the dawn know its place, so that it would take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked would be shaken off from it?”
God had two families… His heavenly family (the host of heaven) and His earthly family (humanity). They all had a job to do. It’s what we are called to do. We are to be YHWH’s Light-bringers, like the stars.
But ultimately it was YHWH who controlled the morning and it was His morning light that exposed the wicked who hid in dark shadows.
Many people have associated Satan as the “morning star” from Isaiah 14, which the King James version identified as “Lucifer”. But this conclusion is derived from an awkward translation. The verse doesn’t actually mention Lucifer, or star, or morning. Instead of “morning star” it reads, “shining one, son of the dawn” which very likely was an ancient reference to the planet venus. Venus could be seen shining in the early morning sky and ushered in the sun. The whole poem was addressed to the King of Babylon, and Babylon was the Biblical epitome of evil. One day Babylon (which was shiny on the outside, but dark on the inside) would fall and the Light wpuld rise.
The Satan (ha-Satan) was not the “morning star”, Yeshua was… and He claimed it in the final chapter of the Biblical story:
“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star [Greek: ho aster ho lampros ho proinos].”
Yeshua was the light of the world… the new day dawning… and He would clear the way for the New Heaven and the New Earth, where there would be no more living in darkness:
And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illuminate them; and they will reign forever and ever.
That was the end of the book, but we’re still living in the middle of the story, and the end has not yet come. Until then, we look to Yeshua and follow in His ways. His Spirit lives within our hearts, so that we can be a light for others. The disciple Peter poetically put it this way:
2 Peter 1:19
And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star [Greek: phosphoros] arises in your hearts.
We are meant to be children of Light… light-bringers in dark places, but we cannot do it alone. Every morning this ought to be our prayer:
YHWH, be gracious to us; we have waited for You.
Be our strength every morning [la-b’qarim], our salvation also in the time of distress.
And all the people said, “Amen!”
Next week: Revisiting SERVANT