Three Days and Three Nights
I have found that it does not matter how much scripture you provide to those believing in a Wednesday crucifixion, they cannot get their head around three days and three nights. So I have now added a page 5 which covers this issue from every single famous theologian that have had no trouble in agreeing with each other since these facts are so easy to see and understand. They all confirm the Jewish way of reckoning time was to regard any part of a day, however small, included within a period of days, as a full day. If one can accept this simple fact, then they should have no trouble with Matthew 12:40. It is my heartfelt prayer that this page will help those who cannot get past this issue of three days and nights.
Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible. Albert Barnes (1798-1870)
Three days and three nights - It will be seen in the account of the resurrection of Christ that he was in the grave but two nights and a part of three days. See Mat_18:6. This computation is, however, strictly in accordance with the Jewish mode of reckoning. If it had “not” been, the Jews would have understood it, and would have charged our Saviour as being a false prophet, for it was well known to them that he had spoken this prophecy, Mat_27:63. Such a charge, however, was never made; and it is plain, therefore, that what was “meant” by the prediction was accomplished. It was a maxim, also, among the Jews, in computing time, that a part of a day was to be received as the whole. Many instances of this kind occur in both sacred and profane history. See 2Ch_10:5, 2Ch_10:12; Gen_42:17-18. Compare Est_4:16 with Est_5:1.
In the heart of the earth - The Jews used the word “heart” to denote the “interior” of a thing, or to speak of being in a thing. It means, here, to be in the grave or sepulchre.
Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible. Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., (1715-1832)
Three days and three nights - Our Lord rose from the grave on the day but one after his crucifixion: so that, in the computation in this verse, the part of the day on which he was crucified, and the part of that on which he rose again, are severally estimated as an entire day; and this, no doubt, exactly corresponded to the time in which Jonah was in the belly of the fish. Our Lord says, As Jonah was, so shall the Son of man be, etc. Evening and morning, or night and day, is the Hebrew phrase for a natural day, which the Greeks termed νυχθημερον, nuchthemeron. The very same quantity of time which is here termed three days and three nights, and which, in reality, was only one whole day, a part of two others, and two whole nights, is termed three days and three nights, in the book of Esther: Go; neither eat nor drink Three Days, Night or Day, and so I will go in unto the king: Est_4:16. Afterwards it follows, Est_5:1. On the Third Day, Esther stood in the inner court of the king’s house. Many examples might be produced, from both the sacred and profane writers, in vindication of the propriety of the expression in the text. For farther satisfaction, the reader, if he please, may consult Whitby and Wakefield, and take the following from Lightfoot.
“I. The Jewish writers extend that memorable station of the unmoving sun, at Joshua’s prayer, to six and thirty hours; for so Kimchi upon that place: ‘According to more exact interpretation, the sun and moon stood still for six and thirty hours: for when the fight was on the eve of the Sabbath, Joshua feared lest the Israelites might break the Sabbath; therefore he spread abroad his hands, that the sun might stand still on the sixth day, according to the measure of the day of the Sabbath, and the moon according to the measure of the night of the Sabbath, and of the going out of the Sabbath, which amounts to six and thirty hours.’
“II. If you number the hours that pass from our Savior’s giving up the ghost upon the cross to his resurrection, you shall find almost the same number of hours; and yet that space is called by him three days and three nights, whereas two nights only came between, and one complete day. Nevertheless, while he speaks these words, he is not without the consent both of the Jewish schools and their computation. Weigh well that which is disputed in the tract Scabbath, concerning the separation of a woman for three days; where many things are discussed by the Gemarists, concerning the computation of this space of three days. Among other things these words occur: R. Ismael saith, Sometimes it contains four אונות onoth, sometimes five, sometimes six. But how much is the space of an אונה onah? R. Jochanan saith, Either a day or a night. And so also the Jerusalem Talmud: ‘R. Akiba fixed a Day for an onah, and a Night for an onah.’ But the tradition is, that R. Eliazar ben Azariah said, A day and a night make an onah: and a Part of an onah is as the Whole. And a little after, R. Ismael computed a part of the onah for the whole.” Thus, then, three days and three nights, according to this Jewish method of reckoning, included any part of the first day; the whole of the following night; the next day and its night; and any part of the succeeding or third day.
John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible. Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)
So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. That Christ means himself by the "son of man", there is no reason to doubt; and his being laid in a tomb, dug out of a rock, is sufficient to answer this phrase, "the heart of the earth", in distinction from the surface of it; but some difficulty arises about the time of his continuing there, and the prediction here made agreeable to the type: for it was on the sixth day of the week, we commonly call "Friday", towards the close, on the day of the preparation for the sabbath, and when the sabbath drew on, that the body of Christ was laid in the sepulchre; where it lay all the next day, which was the sabbath of the Jews, and what we commonly call "Saturday"; and early on the first of the week, usually called "Sunday", or the Lord's day, he rose from the dead; so that he was but one whole day, and part of two, in the grave. To solve this difficulty, and set the matter in a clear light, let it be observed, that the three days and three nights, mean three natural days, consisting of day and night, or twenty four hours, and are what the Greeks call νυχθημερα, "night days"; but the Jews have no other way of expressing them, but as here; and with them it is a well known rule, and used on all occasions, as in the computation of their feasts and times of mourning, in the observance of the passover, circumcision, and divers purifications, that מקצת היום ככולו, "a part of a day is as the whole" (n): and so, whatever was done before sun setting, or after, if but an hour, or ever so small a time, before or after it, it was reckoned as the whole preceding, or following day; and whether this was in the night part, or day part of the night day, or natural day, it mattered not, it was accounted as the whole night day: by this rule, the case here is easily adjusted; Christ was laid in the grave towards the close of the sixth day, a little before sun setting, and this being a part of the night day preceding, is reckoned as the whole; he continued there the whole night day following, being the seventh day; and rose again early on the first day, which being after sun setting, though it might be even before sun rising, yet being a part of the night day following, is to be esteemed as the whole; and thus the son of man was to be, and was three days and three nights in the grave; and which was very easy to be understood by the Jews; and it is a question whether Jonas was longer in the belly of the fish.
A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown
so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth — This was the second public announcement of His resurrection three days after His death. (For the first, see Joh_2:19). Jonah’s case was analogous to this, as being a signal judgment of God; reversed in three days; and followed by a glorious mission to the Gentiles. The expression “in the heart of the earth,” suggested by the expression of Jonah with respect to the sea (Jon_2:3, in the Septuagint), means simply the grave, but this considered as the most emphatic expression of real and total entombment. The period during which He was to lie in the grave is here expressed in round numbers, according to the Jewish way of speaking, which was to regard any part of a day, however small, included within a period of days, as a full day. (See 1Sa_30:12, 1Sa_30:13; Est_4:16; Est_5:1; Mat_27:63, Mat_27:64, etc.).
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible
Three days and three nights - It was customary with the eastern nations to reckon any part of a natural day of twenty - four hours, for the whole day. Accordingly they used to say a thing was done after three or seven days, if it was done on the third or seventh day, from that which was last mentioned. Instances of this may be seen, 1Ki_20:29; and in many other places. And as the Hebrews had no word to express a natural day, they used night and day, or day and night for it. So that to say a thing happened after three days and three nights, was with them the very same, as to say, it happened after three days, or on the third day. See Est_4:16; Est_5:1; Gen_7:4, Gen_7:12; Exo_24:18; Exo_34:28. Jon_2:1.
The People's New Testament (1891) by B. W. Johnson
So shall the Son of man be three days and three nights. Jesus says (Mat_16:21) that he will "be raised again the third day." Hence, in Jewish usage the third day must mean the same as three days and three nights. It was and is customary with the Orientals to make any part of the day stand for the whole twenty-four hours. Compare Mat_16:21, Mar_8:31, 2Ch_10:5 and 2Ch_10:12, Est_4:16, Gen_7:4, Gen_7:12, Exo_24:18, Exo_34:28. A traveler in the East writes: "At length the tenth morning arrived--the tenth morning because, though we performed nominally ten days quarantine, yet it was, really, only eight days. We landed at nine o'clock in the evening of the first day, and were liberated at six o'clock in the morning of the tenth day, but it was held to be ten days according to the custom of the East." Christ was buried Friday evening, lay in the grave Saturday, and rose Sunday, parts of three days, rose "on the third day," and was in the grave the space of time meant in eastern usage by three days and three nights.
John Lightfoot, A Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica.
[The Son of man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.] I. The Jewish writers extend that memorable station of the unmoving sun at Joshua's prayer to six-and-thirty hours; for so Kimchi upon that place: "According to more exact interpretation, the sun and moon stood still for six-and-thirty hours: for when the fight was on the eve of the sabbath, Joshua feared lest the Israelites might break the sabbath: therefore he spread abroad his hands, that the sun might stand still on the sixth day, according to the measure of the day of the sabbath, and the moon, according to the measure of the night of the sabbath, and of the going-out of the sabbath; which amounts to six-and-thirty hours."
II. If you number the hours that passed from our Saviour's giving up the ghost upon the cross to his resurrection, you shall find almost the same number of hours; and yet that space is called by him "three days and three nights," when as two nights only came between, and only one complete day. Nevertheless, while he speaks these words, he is not without the consent both of the Jewish schools, and their computation. Weigh well that which is disputed in the tract Schabbath; concerning the uncleanness of a woman for three days; where many things are discussed by the Gemarists concerning the computation of this space of three days. Among other things these words occur; "R. Ismael saith, Sometimes it contains four Onoth sometimes five, sometimes six. But how much is the space of an Onah? R. Jochanan saith either a day or a night." And so also the Jerusalem Talmud; "R. Akiba fixed a day for an Onah; and a night for an Onah; but the tradition is, that R. Eliezar Ben Azariah said, A day and a night make an Onah, and a part of an Onah is as the whole." And a little after, R. Ismael computeth a part of the Onah for the whole.
It is not easy to translate the word Onah into good Latin: for to some it is the same with the half of a natural day; to some it is all one with a whole natural day. According to the first sense we may observe, from the words of R. Ismael, that sometimes four Onoth; or halves of a natural day, may be accounted for three days: and that they also are so numbered that one part or the other of those halves may be accounted for a whole. Compare the latter sense with the words of our Saviour, which are now before us: "A day and a night (saith the tradition) make an Onah; and a part of an Onah is as the whole." Therefore Christ may truly be said to have been in his grave three Onoth; or three natural days (when yet the greatest part of the first day was wanting, and the night altogether, and the greatest part by far of the third day also), the consent of the schools and dialect of the nation agreeing thereunto. For, "the least part of the Onah concluded the whole." So that according to this idiom, that diminutive part of the third day upon which Christ arose may be computed for the whole day, and the night following it.