It's getting dark around 4:30 pm these days in Japan- and it's nearly wintertime. Our faithful 5 pm neighborhood chime now follows the sunset. Chimes in the dark aren't nearly as fun as they are faithful.

Total daylight (in the Northern Hemisphere) will continue diminishing until December 21st. Though the extra sunshine is a gift to those living in the Southern half of the world. This is another reminder that God created our world well and with purpose.

We have springtime, summertime, and wintertime, but autumn doesn't have a time. Autumn, instead, has the unique privilege of two names: fall and autumn. Languages are odd like that.

Japanese has an excellent word to describe the fall colors in the trees, which you'll often hear this time of year: 紅葉, pronounced "kou-yoh." The first Japanese character means deep red, while the second character means leaf (among other things: plane, lobe, needle, blade...). 

Interestingly enough, the same two characters 紅葉 also read "momiji." Momiji means Japanese maple, which are often a brilliant red this time of year. A few momiji trees are even a dazzling yellow display of intelligent design. 

In Japan, momiji and ginkgo trees are carefully selected and arranged in temples and public parks to magnify their natural majesty. For example, fall at Tokyo University's Komaba campus highlights their exclusive use of yellow ginkgo trees to line the sidewalks around the university. Today, the campus pathways are as bright as sunshine and twice as bright on all the clear days.

a bench under a tree in front of a building
Photo by Joylynn Goh / Unsplash

Autumn is thought-provoking because it is modern-day vocabulary used very sparingly in the Bible.

Ancient biblical languages don't describe our third season of the year similarly. My guess is that this is because our modern society is uniquely removed from agricultural cycles. Not every historical human society viewed seasons in the same order, the same length, or the same way.

While there are many passages about seasons, rains, and harvest time, the word autumn is an unusual translation in the Bible. Biblical Hebrew uses the words early and late rain to refer to seasons. The ESV translates early rain as autumn in one instance but not directly in others.

Harvest time could refer to a few different harvest times, such as spring and summer. In my quick research, the early fall harvest in Isreal contains various fruits, specifically grapes, figs, and pomegranates. Olives would be the final, late fall harvest in Israel. 

According to the ESV (and possibly other translations I didn't search), here are the only two verses I could find that use the word autumn:

They do not say in their hearts, 'Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.'
Jeremiah 5:24 (ESV)

The scroll of Jeremiah contains the Hebrew word "early rain." When translated in this context, it means autumn.

These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;
Jude 1:12 (ESV)

The letter of Jude contains a Greek word, only used once in the New Testament, that means "belonging to late autumn."

Thus ends some fall thought food for you.
I pray you had a great Thanksgiving day in America and Japan.