Genese 1:5 Hieronymus traduxit:

Appellavitque lucem Diem, et tenebras Noctem: factumque est vespere et mane, dies unus.

Cur "unus", non "primus"? Nonne numerum ordinalem significat? Nonne "unus" est cardinalis?

2 Answers 2


This is a literal translation of the Hebrew original, which has yom ehad "one day", not yom rishon "first day".

  • 2
    This is correct. On top of which, in English inverting the noun and modifier makes it clear what's going on. It's not 'one day,' but rather 'day one.'
    – cmw
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 23:26
  • @C.M.Weimer Wouldn't "day one" in English be equivalent to "the first day"?
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 23:32
  • 1
    @C.M.Weimer I'm not sure that's actually true because the following days are given ordinals in the Hebrew: yom sheni "second day", etc. If the intended sense was "day one", you'd probably get cardinals across the board for "day two" etc.
    – TKR
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 23:37

It's a cardinal number, not an ordinal number, in the original Hebrew. Look at the other uses of the same Hebrew phrase:

Genesis 1:9 (NIV):

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.

Genesis 2:24 (NIV):

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

And so on. The vast majority are clearly 'one'.

The NAS translates Gen 1:5 literally as "one day":

God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.


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