Question of the week: Why is there an evening-morning phrase for the Genesis creation days if those days are longer than 24 hours?
My answer: The Hebrew noun for day, yôm, has four distinct literal definitions,1 one of which is a long, finite period of time. That definition clearly is implied in Genesis 2:4 where yôm is used to refer to the entirety of creation history.
Like virtually all biblical Hebrew nouns, the Hebrew words, ereb and boqer, translated as evening and morning, respectively, have multiple literal definitions. The base definitions are ending and beginning.
In Genesis 1, the descriptions of each of the first six creation days are followed by the phrase, “and there was evening, and there was morning.” However, there is no such phrase for the 7th day. The “and there was evening and there was morning” phrases for the first six creation days mean that each of those days had a definite start point and a definite endpoint. The lack of an “and there was evening and there was morning“ phrase for the seventh day implies that the seventh day is not yet finished.
Psalm 95:11 and Hebrews 4:1–11 both state that we are still in the seventh day. During the seventh day, God ceases from his work of creation. Indeed, after the creation of Eve, we see no scientific evidence for creation miracles. On the other hand, previous to the creation of Eve, the first six Genesis 1 days, we see abundant scientific evidence for creation miracles. For much more on this subject, see the books Improbable Planet, Navigating Genesis, The Creator and the Cosmos, 4th edition, A Matter of Days, Origins of Life.
Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1906; reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997), 398–401; William Gesenius, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, trans. Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1847; reprint, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979), 341–342; R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1980), 1:370–371.