DAYSPRING (Heb. shāchar, to break forth). A poetic name used in KJV for the dawn (Job.38.12; niv “dawn”), and also in describing the advent of the Messiah (Luke.1.78; niv “rising sun”).


C. H. Gordon, Ugaritic Literature (1949), 60-62; J. Gray, “The Desert God Attr in the Literature and Religion of Canaan,” JNES VIII (1949), 72-83.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

What is the meaning of anatole in Lu 1:78? Certainly not branch; that does not fit any of the facts, unless it be rendered "branch of light" (see Reynolds, John the Baptist, 115).

It occurs in Zacharias’ hymn over the birth of his son. The ode consists of two parts, "The glory and security of the Messiah’s kingdom," and "The glory of the Forerunner." The expression before us is in the latter part. It naturally refers, therefore, not to the Messiah himself, but to John. He is the dayspring from on high who hath visited the people who sat in darkness and the shadow of death. With Godet we believe that the picture is borrowed from the caravan which has missed its way in the desert. The unfortunate pilgrims, overtaken by the night, are sitting down expecting death, when suddenly a star brightly beams above them. They take courage at the sight. The whole caravan leaps to its feet. It is the herald of the coming day and soon they see the great orb himself filling the east with orient pearl and gold. Is not one tempted to go a little farther and see here the morning star, herald of the coming sun to be obliterated by his rising? `He must wax, but I must wane’ (Joh 3:30). What was John’s work but, by his own testimony, to guide the benighted pilgrims into the way of peace, that is, to Him who was the Prince of Peace? If, however, as by most commentators, it be taken to refer to the Messiah, it probably implies prophetic knowledge that the conception of Jesus had already taken place, and that the Messianic era was at hand, when the Jewish world should be filled with spiritual splendor. See Day-star.

G. H. Trever