Question: "What does dayspring mean in the Bible?"

Answer: The term dayspring is only found in two places in the Bible and is used primarily in the King James Version (KJV) or Bible versions published before the second half of the twentieth century. Dayspring is an archaic word meaning “dawn” or “morning.” The King James Version uses the word dayspring in Job 38:12: “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place?” The New International Version (NIV) translates Job 38:12 this way: “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?” In this passage the Lord emphasizes His all-encompassing power—He is the only One who can cause the dawn.

The word dayspring is also found in Zacharias’s prophecy at the birth of his son, John. Zacharias says that “the dayspring from on high hath visited us” (Luke 1:78, KJV). In this instance, the dayspring is a metaphor for the promised Messiah, Jesus, who would soon arrive. The NIV translates the word for “dayspring” as “the rising sun”; the New American Standard Version (NASB) translates it as “the Sunrise from on high.” The word Sunrise is capitalized in the NASB because it refers to the Son of God who would rise like the sun to bring light to all men (see Malachi 4:2 and John 1:4, 9–10).

The word dayspring is still used today as a generic term for “a new era,” but it is no longer used for “sunrise.” Words like dayspring that have lost or changed their meanings with the passage of time are one reason for newer Bible versions. When the King James Bible was first translated into English, the word dayspring was commonly used. In the past 400 years, dayspring has become archaic and can cause confusion to modern readers.

It is helpful when studying the Bible to use several versions and compare wordings in order to gain a fuller comprehension of what is being said. There are many resources that provide side-by-side comparisons of every verse, as well as the original Greek or Hebrew. By comparing different versions of the same verse, we gain insights into words such as dayspring and move closer to comprehending our incomprehensible God.

Dayspring is also the name of a popular Christian greeting card company: