Genesis 15:17 states: ויהי השמש באה ועלטה היה

What I would like to know why השמש באה is often translated as: 'the sun set (the going away of the sun) or was going down' while באה or בא has the meaning of 'to come, to enter; to approach, to come near'. How is it that when the sun comes it goes down? Is this because it appears as if the sun is coming to us?

  • Look at Rashi... May 16 '17 at 18:35
  • The word באה means "is coming" if the accent is on the last syllable. In the verse that you cited, the accent is on the 1st syllable which means "came". I.e., the sun already came (up). The day is done. So, it's setting.
    – DanF
    May 16 '17 at 19:37
  • @GershonGold Rash"i seems to answer just part of the question.
    – DanF
    May 16 '17 at 19:39

When referring to the sun, the term בא or some form of it, always means that the sun is setting. You are correct in stating that the word בא means "to come".

Refer to Metzudat David on Joshua 10:13. When Joshua was fighting the war against Givon, Joshua prays to G-d that He prevent the sun from setting until he completes the battle. The verse uses the phrase

ולא אץ לבוא

Metzudat David explains:

לא היה ממהר לשקוע ... למהר לבית שקיעתו

It was in no hurry to set...to hurry to its house of its setting.

Thus, he mentions the concept that the sun has a "house" or "dwelling" in the sky which it comes to when it sets.

  • 1
    I think this answer misses the main point. "בא" typically in Chumash (and at least sometimes in Nach, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to say it's typical) means "enter" rather than "come" and thus M'tzudas David is on the mark: the sun is entering its house.
    – msh210
    May 16 '17 at 21:33
  • @msh210 I'm trusting your more careful Ivrit analysis on this one. I don't have access to the best resources, now. By all means, please edit my answer with your point.
    – DanF
    May 16 '17 at 21:36

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