I have heard many times that Jesus was crucified at 9:00 a.m. and remained on the cross till 3 p.m.. How do we know that? The Scriptures say something like the third hour:

Matthew 15:25: And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

But how do we know that the third hour was exactly 9:00 a.m.?

Do we draw information on that point exclusively from Scriptures?

Is it something like a known fact from Hebrew tradition?

Or, perhaps, something else ?

1 Answer 1


We do not know that the third hour was exactly 9:00 AM - that is an estimation for the purpose of providing an understandable translation.

The Jewish day started at dawn and ended at dusk. There were 12 hours, which were each 1/12th of the stretch between dawn and dusk. (More info.)

For simplicity, if we consider dawn to be roughly 6:00 AM, that would make the 3rd hour about 9:00 AM.

  • 1
    As Christ was crucified at Passover and Passover is near spring equinox, this estimate is quite good.
    – zefciu
    Jul 16, 2012 at 7:33
  • 2
    Passover 33 AD fell on Friday, April 1. Sunrise that day was 8:39 in Jerusalem. 3 hours later is 11:39 AM.
    – Ray
    Jul 16, 2012 at 15:17
  • @Ray - Except it wouldn't be three 'absolute' hours, it'd be three 'relative' hours (based on the portion of the sky traversed). And I'd expect a time that close to when the sun was directly overhead to probably be +5 hours. Jul 17, 2012 at 17:11
  • 2
    If you're referring to the idea that you divide the duration of daylight in 12, on that date (assuming the traditional year of 33 AD, it would be April 1), it was 12 hours and 40 minutes of daylight. 760 / 12 is about 63 minutes per hour. So 3 hours after sunrise would be 11:48.
    – Ray
    Jul 17, 2012 at 19:42
  • 2
    Either way, if dawn was at 8:39 AM, surely the third hour wouldn't be only 41 minutes later?!
    – Ray
    Jul 17, 2012 at 19:43

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