International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
mid'-nit (chatsoth laylah, "middle of the night" (Exodus 11:4 Job 34:20 Psalm 119:62), chatsi ha-laylah, "the half of the night" (Exodus 12:29 Judges 16:3 Ruth 3:8), tokh ha-laylah, "the division of the night" and hence, the middle point (1 Kings 3:20); meses nuktos (Matthew 25:6), or meson tes nuktos, "the middle of the night" (Acts 27:27), mesonuktios, "midnight"; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, mesonuktion (Acts 16:25, etc.)): In the period before the exile midnight does not seem to have been very accurately determined. The division of the night was into three watches, the middle one of which included midnight. In New Testament times the four-watch division was used where midnight must have been more or less accurately determined.