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watches of the night Summary and Overview

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watches of the night in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

WATCH'ES OF THE NIGHT . The original division of the night was into three watches - " the beginning of the watches," from sunset to 10 o'clock, Lam 2:19; "the middle watch," from 10 to 2 o'clock, Jud 7:19; and "the morning watch," from 2 o'clock to sunrise, Ex 14:24; 1 Sam 11:11 - but after the Captivity the Jews adopted the custom of Rome and Greece, which divided the twelve hours of the night into four watches, beginning with 6 in the afternoon - "even," from 6 to 9 o'clock; "midnight," from 9 "cock-crowing," from 12 to morning, from 3 to 6; Matt 14:25; Mark 13:35; Luke 12:38.

watches of the night in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

The Jews reckoned three military watches: the "first" or beginning of the watches (Lamentations 2:19), from sunset to ten o'clock; the second or "middle watch" was from ten until two o'clock (Judges 7:19); the third, "the morning watch," from two to sunrise (Exodus 14:24; 1 Samuel 11:11). Afterward under the Romans they had four watches (Matthew 14:25): Luke 12:38, "even, midnight, cockcrowing, and morning" (Mark 13:35); ending respectively at 9 p.m., midnight, 3 a.m., and 6 a.m. (compare Acts 12:4.) Watchmen patrolled the streets (Song of Solomon 3:3; Song of Solomon 5:7; Psalm 127:1).