The Hebrews indicated direction from the viewpoint of a person facing east. Thus the west was behind them and might be implied by the Hebrew word ʼa·chohrʹ, meaning “behind.”—Isa 9:12.
Most often, “west” (“westward,” or “western”) is denoted by the Hebrew word yam (meaning “sea,” as at Jos 1:4), evidently because the Mediterranean, or Great Sea, lay in that direction from the Promised Land. (Ge 28:14; Ex 10:19; 38:12; Nu 34:6; Zec 14:4) The context must be considered to determine whether yam means “sea” or denotes the west.—Jos 15:8-12; 2Ch 4:2-4, 15.
Another Hebrew word (ma·ʽaravʹ) is used to denote either the sunset (Isa 43:5; 59:19) or the west. (1Ch 26:30; 2Ch 32:30) It is used to help convey the thought of great distance in the comforting assurance of Jehovah’s mercy toward imperfect humans: “As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions.”—Ps 103:12.
When Jesus said that many would come “from eastern parts and western parts” to recline at the table in the Kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Greek text at Matthew 8:11 says literally “from risings and settings.” Here the Greek word dy·smeʹ relates to the direction of the sunset, that is, the west. (Int) Dy·smeʹ is also used elsewhere to denote the west.—Mt 24:27; Lu 12:54; 13:29; Re 21:13.