Ancient Israel’s Calendar
Why do some insist that Saturday is the “Sabbath Day” given by God in Exodus 20? The errors begin when one takes the modern Jewish calendar, and tries to fit the Sabbaths of Israel, as outlined in the Scriptures, into such a calendar. It should be remembered that the present Jewish calendar was fixed by Hillel II in the year 670 of the Seleucidan era; or 359 AD. The assumption that the modern Jewish calendar is the same as the Biblical Calendar has led many to wrongly conclude that the biblical calendar was a lunar or solar-lunar calendar. It cannot be over emphasized that the calendar which Israel had, when they were organized as a nation at Sinai, was a solar calendar.
In the Old Testament, the word "moon" appears in certain passages, such as Ezekiel 46:1-3 and Isaiah 66:22-23. Because of this, the conclusion has been reached that Israel reckoned time by the moon. But the word "moon" in these passages is a translation error, and should read "month." Israel was forbidden all moon worship (Deut, 4:1-9; 17:2-5). Josiah abolished it (ll Kings 23: 5). To worship on the new moon was tantamount to moon worship, which was contrary to the Divine command. The Hebrew word for "moon" is "Yareach" or "Yerach", and also "Labanah". The Hebrew word for "Month" is "Chodesh". "Chodesh" is the same word translated “moon” in the passages in Ezekiel and Isaiah. "Chodesh" is correctly translated "month" 220 times in the Old Testament. Yet, it is erroneously translated "new moon" twenty times without any reason whatsoever. In Amos 8:5, the correct reading is "Month" instead of "moon", conceding the fact that "Chodesh" means "New Month” and not "new moon”. In ISamuel 20:5, the word translated "moon" is the identical Hebrew word translated "month" in verse 27. The word is "Chodesh". The expression "the new moon," used by the translators, was the first day of the month; this is patent from the fact that "the morrow" of verse 27 was "the second day of the month." The words "new moon" as found in Colossians 2:16, come from a combination of two Greek words, "neos" and 'men" which both Young and Strong in their concordances have shown to mean "new month".
Ezra 3:5 shows that Israel had two outstanding "New Months", and they were synchronized to fall at the beginning of each Year (the religious and civil), and both were a Sabbath. They are Abib 1, the Religious New Year; and Tisri 1, the Civil New Year. Abib 1st was to begin on sundown of the Vernal Equinox. Numbers 28:11-15 gives the commands and directions for the sacrifices to be offered "in the beginning of your months"; which included the first day of the first month, which was a Sabbath, and the beginning of the Religious Year. And Leviticus 23:24-25, and Numbers 29:1-6 are commands and directions given for the sacrifices to be offered in the celebration of the Civil New Year.
The Three Sabbaths
Next, lets study the various phases of Israel's Sabbaths. You will see that Israel's Sabbaths came on fixed dates of the month, instead of a certain day of the week. Israel had no Saturday Sabbath. You will also see that the day on which the Sabbath is kept is a question entirely distinct from that of the perpetual obligation of the Sabbath. Thus, there is a distinct difference between the keeping of the Sabbath, and the particular day on which the Sabbath is to be kept. With this in mind, let's look at the three different Sabbaths which the Bible recognizes, and the different reasons for keeping each.
1st - THE CREATION SABBATH: The Sabbath which was instituted at creation, and that Israel was told to remember in commemoration of a finished creation. There is no evidence that this Sabbath was a Saturday Sabbath.
2nd - THE DELIVERANCE SABBATH: This Sabbath was a day of the month Sabbath, kept in commemoration of a finished deliverance from Egypt, which Israel was commanded to keep. This Sabbath commemorated the deliverance from Egypt.
3rd - THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH: This is a day of the week Sabbath kept in commemoration of Christ's finished resurrection and is the only Sabbath that remains.
Note the difference between the Fourth Commandment given in Exodus 20:3-17, and that given in Deuteronomy 5:7-21. The one in Exodus tells Israel to remember something in commemoration of God's finished creation. The one in Deuteronomy tells them to keep something in commemoration of their deliverance from Egypt. The Ten Commandments are given three times in the Bible: in Exodus, in Deuteronomy, and then all ten are again reiterated at various places in the New Testament. But in all three occasions the main difference is in the Fourth Commandment. Hebrews 4:9 gives us the New Testament Sabbath, and clearly states this remaining Sabbath is in commemoration of Christ's finished work.
For several weeks after leaving Egypt, Israel kept the patriarchal Sabbath or the Edenic Sabbath. This is what was given to Israel in Exodus 20. Read chapters 20 through 24 and you will find the Ten Commandments were not written on the tables of stone at first, but given aloud by GOD to ALL of Israel. Then we read in Exodus 24:12, that God told Moses "Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written: that thou mayest teach them”. Note especially the future tense, "I will give thee." Moses was there forty days and forty nights. And Exodus 31:18 tells that it was at this time that Moses got the tables of stone.
Exodus 32 tells how Moses broke these stones when he saw the idolatry of Israel. Reading on through chapter 34 we are told that God renewed the tables of stone. The tables-of-stone-Commandments are those given in Deuteronomy 5 (See Deut. 5:22), telling Israel to keep a Sabbath in Commemoration of their deliverance from Egypt. Also note that at that time, God commanded them to make the seventh Egyptian month Abib (also called Nisan - Neh. 2:1 and Esther 3:7) their first month, because during that month they came out of Egypt. (Ex. 12:1-2; 13:3-4; Num. 33:3) These facts prove that the reason for keeping the Sabbath permitted changing, and that God's calendar itself was subject to change. It was not fixed and unalterable, as some would have us believe.
Seventh Day: or Seventh Day of Week?
All Hebrew Sabbaths were on fixed days (or dates) of the month, and not a fixed day of the week. They simply worked six days and then rested, regardless of what day of the week the Sabbath came on. In fact they did not name the days of the week, Sunday through Saturday, as we now do. That was a later practice. The days of the week are not mentioned in the Bible. The Commandment never mentioned the “seventh day of the week”. This is a point gratuitously assumed by the Keepers of the Saturday Sabbath, without a bit of evidence to prove it. Others assume that the Old Testament Sabbath came on the seventh day of the week, or Saturday, because the modern Orthodox Jews keep Saturday. But it cannot be emphasized too strongly that the modern Jewish calendar did not have its origin in the Hebrew age but about the 4th century of the Christian era.
If the Bible is its own interpreter, let’s examine it to see what is meant by the seventh day. While it does say that "the seventh day is the Sabbath" it nowhere says that the “seventh day of the week” is the Sabbath. The word "week" has been supplied by the Keepers of the Saturday Sabbath. The expression, "the seventh day" is used in many other places in the Bible and does not mean the seventh day of the week at all. See Leviticus 13:5-6, 27, 32, 34; 14:9, 39 and Numbers 6:9. All the expression can possibly mean in these and other places is the seventh day of a cycle, or a certain period after a starting point. I remind you again, that Israel never named the days of the week as we do, Sunday through Saturday. They were numbered. It was always stated that an event took place on the 19th, or 21st day of the month, or what ever day of whatever month it happened to be.
Besides the regular Sabbath, Israel also had many Feast Days, Fast Days, and annual Sabbaths, such as: The Passover, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Waves Sheaf, Pentecost, The Feast of Trumpets, The Great Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles. Some of these were called Sabbaths, but were synchronized to fall on the regular Sabbath day.
Now, with these things in mind we are prepared to take a look at Israel’s calendar. We find that Israel’s calendar was similar to, but an improvement of, and superior to, the Egyptian calendar. On leaving Egypt, Israel changed their calendar to make their sacred year begin on the first of Abib (Sundown on the Vernal Equinox), the seventh month of the Egyptian calendar. Their civil year was the same as the Egyptian, which began on the first of Tisri. The Egyptians had twelve nominal months of thirty days each, which gave three hundred and sixty days, and the missing five days were added on at the end, under the name of "days additional to the year" (See Egyptian Calendar, Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 4, Page 575, Ed. 1943). Israel retained a thirty day month, twelve months to a year, but instead of adding five days at the end of the year they added three days at the end of the sixth month and two days at the end of the twelfth month. The governing principle was that extra days should be added only when and where needed, as will be shown later. Seven supplementary days, or one week, were added every twenty-eight years to provide for the fraction of a day. The adding of these extra days kept their scientific Day of Rest, one day in seven, in line with their month of thirty days.
The Bible throughout refers to a year of twelve months of thirty days each. (See twelve months mentioned in 1Kings 4:7 and 1Chronicles 27:1-15.) According to Genesis 7:11 and 8:3, Five months of biblical time is equal to one hundred and fifty days. The 1,260 days of Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 correspond to the forty-two months of Revelation 12:6; 11:2-3; 13:5. By dividing 150 by 5 we get 30. By dividing 1,260 by 42 we get 30, thus showing that the biblical month was 30 days.
Now to show that Israel's Sabbaths were on a fixed day of the month, let us turn first to the Book of Leviticus. The fifteenth of Abib, in the first month, had to be a Sabbath every year. (Leviticus 23:6-7 and 11) "And on the fifteenth day of the same month (Abib) is the feast of unleavened bread. . . In the first day (of the feast) thou shall have a holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein..”. In the eleventh verse we read "On the morrow after the Sabbath (on the morrow after the fifteenth day of Abib) the priest shall wave it” (The Sheaf of the first fruits). Then this fifteenth of Abib was a fixed Sabbath every year. If so, then the first and eighth of Abib must have been fixed Sabbaths every year. Also the seven Sabbaths following the fifteenth of Abib were fixed Sabbaths. (Lev. 23:15-16). "And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath (the 16th of Abib) from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord”.
Beginning with Abib 16th, they were to count seven Sabbaths; and then the 50th day (the day after the seven Sabbaths) would be Pentecost. Since the Sabbath of Abib 15th is fixed by date, naturally these seven successive Sabbaths must also have been on fixed dates, and would fall as follows: Abib 22 and 29, Iyar 6, 13, 20, and 27, and Sivan 4. By no means can there possibly be seven Sabbaths complete from Abib 15th to Sivan 4th unless those Sabbaths came on fixed dates of the Month Every Year!
Likewise, the first day of the seventh month, Tisri, had to be a Sabbath every year. In Leviticus 23:24-25 we read "Speak unto the children of Israel saying, in the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath. . . ye shall do no servile work therein”. The fifteenth and twenty second days of the seventh month also had to be fixed Sabbaths. In Leviticus 23:39 we read “Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day (that is, the first day of the feast, namely the fifteenth day of the seventh month) shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day (eighth day of the feast, namely the twenty second of the month) shall be a Sabbath".
Now if the 1st, 15th, and 22nd of this seventh month were Sabbaths, fixed by date every year, then it follows that the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th days of the seventh month were always regular Sabbaths fixed by date. Thus, we have fifteen regular Sabbaths fixed by date, coming in cycles of seven days, all fixed to fall upon certain days of the month every year; just as New Year's Day, Independence Day and Christmas Day must fall upon the same day of the month every year, regardless of the day of the week. This means that one time throughout a seven year cycle, each of them would fall on every single day of the week, just as your birthday comes on a different day of the week every year.
But that is not all. According to Exodus 12:3, 5-6, 24, and Leviticus 23:15, the 10th, 14th and 16th of Abib could never be Sabbaths, because they were work days by specific command; real work like cleaning house, butchering cattle, and reaping fields. We know these dates would fall on Saturday once every seven years, and if Saturday were the Sabbath, there would be a conflict of commands. There would be three dates on which Israel is Commanded to work, that would fall every seventh year on days in which Israel was Commanded not to work. How could this be? We know that never happened, because God is Not the author of confusion.
We have now shown by Scripture, and the calendar disclosed therein, that Israel's Sabbaths were fixed to fall on the same dates of the month every year. With these fifteen regular Sabbaths coming on the same dates every year, and the three commanded work days coming on the same dates every year, It is IMPOSSIBLE for Saturday to have been the “Sabbath Day”!
If the year had 365 days in it and, we divide 365 by 7, we get 52 weeks and one day left over. The question then is, where did the extra day go? That was absorbed by a 48 hour Sabbath on the 4th and 5th of Sivan, as shown by Leviticus 23:15-16 and 21. This changed the day of the week on which the Sabbath was celebrated each year, but also maintained the fixed Sabbaths on the same day of the month and the 7-Day Cycle. There is nothing in the Bible to determine the length of a Sabbath. The Scriptures use the same word to describe: (1) A rest one day long (Ex. 20 :8,11; Deut. 5: 12, 15), (2) A rest two days long (Lev. 23 :15, 16, 21), (3) A rest one year long (Lev. 25:4, 8), (4) A rest two years long (Lev. 25 :8,12), (5) A rest seventy years long (II Chronicles 36:21).
The meaning of the word "Sabbath" is Cessation or Rest. One cannot rest twice unless he has worked between those rests. Thus, the 48 hour Sabbath was not two separate rests or Sabbaths, but a lengthening out of the one rest or Sabbath through two days. As an illustration, note that the rest of the land during the whole of every 49th and 50th year was not two rests to the land, but one rest to the land during the two whole years; hence a Sabbath two years long once in fifty years. Just so, when God required "the seventh Sabbath" and the "morrow after the seventh Sabbath" both to be a Sabbath, it was one Sabbath 48 hours long because no work came between them.
The Fourth Commandment says, "Six days thou shalt labor", but the command also made two days one rest period ". . .a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations" (Lev. 23 :21). Then, if we again have six days labor before another Sabbath, the day of the week on which the Sabbath is observed will change every year at the 4th and 5th of Sivan.
(Remember, Israel had a thirty day month, twelve months to a year, but instead of adding five days at the end of the year they added three days at the end of the sixth month Elul, and two days at the end of the twelfth month Adar).
In like manner, by a law of necessity, we know that 3 of the additional 5 days at the end of the year were added at the end of the month Elul, because we have shown that the 1st of Tisri had to be a Sabbath every year. The last Sabbath of Elul was the 27th of the month, thus leaving only 3 more days in the month: but, in order to have 6 days labor before another Sabbath (1st of Tisri), 3 days have to be added here. After the same manner we know that the 2 remaining days of the 5 supplementary days were added at the end of Adar. We have shown that the 1st of Abib in every year was a Sabbath; but the last Sabbath of Adar was on the 26th, leaving 4 days left of the 30. So, in order to have 6 days labor before the next Sabbath (1st of Abib), we must insert the 2 extra days of labor here. So, even if we Start with Saturday as the Sabbath day, the next year it would be Sunday. Because no matter what day of the week you place the Sabbath on to begin with, the following year it will fall on a different day of the week! Thus we see that the Sabbaths of Ancient Israel were fixed Days of the Month, like our New Year's Day, Independence Day and Christmas Day. While fixed Sabbaths were common among the Accadians and Ancient Indians, the Calendar given by God to Moses was Superior to them all!
Regular Sabbaths and Feast Sabbaths - Same or Separate?
Many, not realizing that the Sabbaths were fixed and synchronized so that the regular Sabbath and the Feast Sabbaths came on the same day, have called the Feast Sabbaths and the "seven Sabbaths complete" extra Sabbaths, without any justification whatsoever. Then, proceeding further in their confusion, they deny a 48 hour Sabbath. So, to confirm the Scriptural teaching, and upset the Saturday Sabbath fallacy, I present these thoughts for you to absorb.
Let's take the first three months of the Hebrew Calendar (Abib, Iyar, Sivan), and place the Fixed Sabbaths (the Festival or Commanded Sabbaths) to all fall on Sunday, and the Pentecost Sabbath to fall on Monday, a condition that will happen once every seven years. For the benefit of the “Keepers of the Saturday Sabbath”, let's also place all their supposed Saturday Sabbaths on Saturday. Now let us begin with Abib the 7th, which would be their Saturday Sabbath. The next week, Saturday and Sunday, Abib 14th and 15th, will both be Sabbaths. Unfortunately for the “Keepers of the Saturday Sabbath”, their Saturday Sabbath comes on the 14th of Abib, the day of the preparation for the Passover Sabbath, during which time hard work such as housecleaning and butchering had to be done. So Abib 14th never could be a Sabbath, but was always a day of preparation for the Sabbath. Also, since Saturday and Sunday (Abib 14th and 15th) are both Sabbaths, they will continue to both be Sabbaths for 8 weeks (because you must count 7 Sabbaths by Command from Abib 15th to get to Pentecost), with the last week having the 3rd, 4th and 5th of Sivan all as Sabbaths. This directly violates the Divine command to work 6 days before a rest; because, in that setup, they only work 5 days, and then rest 2 days or 48 hours. Yet they ridicule the idea of a 48 hour Sabbath, and by their interpretation create a situation which gives them 7 such Sabbaths in one year, with the 9th Sabbath or rest a period of 3 days or 72 hours long. Which is the more absurd, 7 Sabbaths. 48 hours long in one year, or one Sabbath 48 hours long?
Now, let's take the first three months of the Hebrew Calendar, and place the Fixed Sabbaths (the Festival or Commanded Sabbaths) to fall on Friday, as they would once every seven years. Each fixed Sabbath is directly followed by a supposed Saturday Sabbath with Pentecost falling on Saturday. So once again the “Keepers of the Saturday Sabbath” have created a situation where they have 8 two-day or 48 hour Sabbaths coming in one year. Yet they reject a calendar with only one 48 hour Sabbath every year. Again, they only have 5 work days instead of the 6 which were commanded. But wonder of wonders, they have their supposed Saturday Sabbath on Abib 16th, the day upon which the Wave Sheaf was offered before the Lord and the harvest commenced, or a "Commanded" work day.
One more time, let's take the first three months of the Hebrew Calendar, and place the Fixed Sabbaths (the Festival or Commanded Sabbaths) to fall on Wednesday, as they would once every seven years. Each fixed Sabbath is followed by a supposed Saturday Sabbath. We shall begin at Wednesday Abib 15, and count the rest days and work days until after Pentecost; and see how the wild interpretation of the “Keepers of the Saturday Sabbath” violates the command of six days Labor and then a day of rest. There is 1 day to rest (Wednesday Abib 15, Passover) and 2 to work (Abib 16-17), and 1 to rest (Saturday Abib 18) and 3 to work (Abib 19-20-21), and 1 to rest (Wednesday Abib 22 - 7 Days from Passover) and 2 to work (Abib 23-24), and 1 to rest (Saturday Abib 25) and 3 to work, and 1 to rest and 2 to work, and 1 to rest and 3 to work, and 1 to rest and 2 to work, and 1 to rest, and 3 to work, and 1 to rest and 2 to work, and 1 to rest and 3 to work, and 1 to rest and 2 to work, and 1 to rest and 3 to work, and 1 to rest and 2 to work and 1 to rest and 3 to work, and 2 to rest and 1 to work, and 1 to rest. Quite a mess! Well, that's what Saturday Sabbath keeping creates, a mess. But the fixed Sabbaths create harmony, six days labor, then a rest, with once a year the rest being 48 hours long.
Day of Atonement
Right here a legitimate question is in order. If the special Sabbaths were synchronized to fall on the weekly cycle, how is it that the Great Day of Atonement (which was the outstanding day of the year and also a Sabbath) would come in the middle of the week of the seven day cycle? The answer to this question is found immediately in the nature of this Sabbath, as distinguished from all other Sabbaths. The Sabbaths were to be a day of feasting and delight, to commemorate Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery (Deut. 5:15). It was to be a day of delight (Isaiah 58:13-14). The Day of Atonement was different; it was the one day in the year, set apart from all other days. This was a day to "afflict the soul" and a day of fasting (instead of feasting). Thus this day was set apart from all other days, for fasting and affliction (Leviticus 23:26-32, Exodus 30:10, Numbers 29:7, Isaiah 58:3-5).
Israel had two outstanding fast Sabbaths which they observed; one on the seventeenth day of the fourth month (Tammuz), and the other on the Day of Atonement. Tammuz 17th was appointed by Moses, in commemoration of the day when he broke the tables of stone, having found the camp worshiping the golden calf. Three thousand men were put to death for this idolatrous act (Exodus 32). But Tammuz 17th became a fast day only on the authority of Moses. But Tisri 10th, the Day of Atonement, was a fast day by Divine Command from God Himself. However, Israel kept both. Thus in Luke 18:12 we read "I fast twice in the week." The original Greek is Sabbaton and should read, "I fast twice on the Sabbath." So, as you see, there is a very definite reason why the Day of Atonement, although called a Sabbath, was allowed to come in the middle of the seven day cycle, and reserving the rest of the Sabbaths for stated seven day cycles.
One striking confirmation of what I have stated here is found in the way in which the law was apportioned to be read on the Sabbaths, so that the complete law could be read in one year. Both Jewish Encyclopedias place the number of divisions at 54. "The Torah also falls, on the basis of the lessons for the Sabbath, into 54 sidrot according to the annual cycle" (The Jewish Encyclopedia - New York, Funk and Wagnall - 1952, Subject, Torah.) "For the reading, the torah is divided into fifty-four Parashahs" (The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia," New York, 1943, Volume 10, page 274). Thus, we find that the Calendar set forth here is the only one that agrees with the fixed order of Bible reading for each day; so that each Sabbath had its allotted portion of the law to be read on that day. With the 52 Sabbaths, plus the extra day at Pentecost, plus the Day of Atonement, all the Sabbaths are accounted for (54). In fact, this amounts to a mathematical demonstration of the accuracy of this Calendar.
A New Sabbath Replaces the Old?
The Sabbaths of Israel were an integral part of the Old Testament ritual, belonging to the state religion of Israel, and when the ritual or ceremonial law was fulfilled by Christ, the calendar collapsed as well as the order of Sabbath observance. The calendar, the Sabbath, and the ordinances were all related. But that order was to pass, for we read in Hosea 2:11 "I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new months, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts”. When God says such things are going to cease, they cease!
We read in the New Testament that Christ abolished or blotted out the Old Testament ordinances with which the Sabbath was so closely related. “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances" (Eph. 2:15). "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" (Col. 2:14). It certainly is a fact that Israel's ancient Sabbaths have ceased. Yet Hebrews 4:9-10 states in the marginal reading "There remaineth a keeping of a Sabbath to the people of God." This is a proper translation from the Greek word "Sabbatismos. This brings us to the third or Christian Sabbath kept in commemoration of Christ's finished redemption. Robert Young, the learned Greek scholar, translates the two verses from Hebrews as, "There doth remain then a Sabbatical rest to the people of God, for He that did enter into His rest (Jesus), He also rested from His works as God did from His." How was this change of Sabbaths accomplished? Just as at the time of Pentecost ancient Israel had the day on which the Sabbath was observed changed every year by a two day Sabbath, so at the time of Christ's resurrection there was a double Sabbath which changed the Sabbaths, as far as the dispensations are concerned. This is clearly brought out by the New Testament Greek and the symbolism of the Old Testament ritual.
The Greek word "Sabbaton," from which we get the word "Sabbath," occurs in its various case endings, 68 times in the New Testament. It has been properly translated "Sabbath" 59 times, but the word "week" has been used in the 9 remaining places. These 9 references are: Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 18:12; 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:2.
We have already referred to Luke 18:12, showing it referred to the two fast Sabbaths of Israel, but how about the remaining ones? The four Gospel references all deal with the time of Christ's resurrection. When the Proper Greek is supplied, all of these references should read "the first of Sabbaths" or "the first day Sabbath" or "the chief of Sabbaths", and not "first day of the week”. Just as an example, note how Robert Young, in his "Literal Translation of the Bible" gives Matthew 28:1 "And at the eve of the Sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the Sabbaths." In other words, one order of Sabbath was coming to an end, and a new order was introduced at the time of Christ's resurrection. Young consistently gives the same meaning to the other Gospel references. Strong's Concordance supports Young in this, also supplying "Sabbath" and not week!
How then did the word “week” get into these 9 references, instead of the word “Sabbath”? Let us remember first that “Sabbath” originally had no time or septenary significance. It meant "rest" or "cessation." But inasmuch as the Sabbath was usually associated with a day at the end of a 7 day cycle, usage associated it with the week. At least this is the argument of some Greek scholars. But the question that concerns us is, are there any other Greek words which mean "week"? Yes, Gamble has definitely shown that there were three other ways in which they could have stated “week”, and put it beyond all dispute. Nowhere in the Septuagint Old Testament is “Sabbath” ever translated by any other word than “Sabbaton” with one exception. The Greek words “ebdomas” and “ebdomades” definitely mean “week” and “weeks”. However, the disciples never once used those words.
In this discussion let us remember we are not dealing with human documents, but with documents which came by inspiration of God. The point is not what usage has been made of the word “Sabbaton”, as some Greek scholars try to show; but what was in the minds of the Apostles and in the mind of God, when these 9 disputed references were penned. Now, did they want us to know it was the “first day of the week”? If so, there are other Greek words which could have put this matter beyond all dispute (ebdomas and ebdomades); but these words were not used. On the other hand, if the disciples, under inspiration of God, wanted to tell us that a New Sabbath was displacing an old one, then they have used the only words which they could possibly have used to put the matter beyond dispute. For all agree that “Sabbaton” does mean “Sabbath”. That it might mean more than Sabbath is a baseless argument, and beside the issue.
Thus we see that at the resurrection of Christ an old order of Sabbaths came to an end, and a new order of Sabbaths was born. A two day Sabbath took place at this time, just as at the time of Pentecost with ancient Israel, when the Day of the week on which the Sabbath came was changed every year. The New Sabbath, or that which took priority over all others as the chief or foremost Sabbath, was born; and it is the only Sabbath which remains!
Thus we have the Solar Calendar of Ancient Israel, with its Sabbaths coming on Fixed dates each year, and NOT on any particular day of the week! But more importantly, that Calendar, and those Sabbaths have Passed. And we Have a New Calendar, and New Sabbaths in Christ Jesus! Remember, Sabbath means rest. Christ BECAME our rest; and you better be in Him (Sabbath) EVERY day! Is Sunday the New Sabbath instituted at the Resurrection? That question will have to be answered in a later article!
© 2005 Northwdsnh
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