Pendleton, Oregon

 

God sanctified the Sabbath (Gen 2:3): “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified [וַיְקַדֵּשׁ wayəqaddēš] it”—what does that mean?  Sanctification in our modern, secular world is pretty much a vacuous, fluff-fluff term.  In the Hebrew the word is קִדֵּשׁ qiddēš.  It corresponds pretty much to the Polynesian taboo.

 

Among the Columbia River Indians where I have worked the equivalent term is áwtn.  The roots that are dug for food are áwtni ‘sacred’, which means that they are tabooed until all the appropriate ceremonies are accomplished.  There is a song a woman who digs them sings.  They are brought into the longhouse and prepared according to strict rules, and there is a spring festival (káʔuyit ‘first eating’) in which honor is given to the appropriate deity.  Before this a person may say, áwawtšaaš x̣nítna ‘I am sanctifying/tabooing the roots’, which means that the person is neither digging nor eating of the new crop.  After the rituals and the festival the roots are called áwtni x̣nít ‘sanctified/tabooed/holy roots’—even when they now may be eaten.

 

Almost the same concept lies behind the Hebrew word.

 

Touch Not the Holy Thing

Something that is sanctified or holy [קֹדֶשׁ qōdeš] is tabooed, off limits, ordained for a divine purpose—and dangerous. “It is not a game,” my aged Indian informant would say. God instructed the Kohathites who were to bear the tabernacle (Num 4:15), “…they shall not touch the holy thing [הַקֹּדֶשׁ], lest they die.”  And God kept his word:

 

And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. (2Samuel 6:6-7)

 

Notice God’s instructions in regard to the anointing oil:

 

And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy anointing oil unto me throughout your generations. Upon man’s flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy,and it shall be holy unto you. Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people. (Exodus 30:31-33)

 

Things that are sanctified/holy (קֹדֶשׁ) are not to be trifled with.  So what about the sanctified/holy Sabbath?  Might it be dangerous too?

 

Remember, God sanctified the Sabbath (Gen 2:3), “…and he sanctified [וַיְקַדֵּשׁ] it” and thus it was called holy (Exodus 16:23): “…Tomorrow is the rest of the holy [קֹדֶשׁ] sabbath unto the LORD”.  And thus the commandment (Exodus 20:7[8]): “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy [לְקַדְּשׁוֹ].”  And again (Deut 5:12), “Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it [לְקַדְּשׁוֹ], as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.”  Also the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant:

 

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you [מְקַדִּשְׁכֶם]. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy [קֹדֶשׁ] unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy [קֹדֶשׁ] to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, fora perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for insix days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:12-17)And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them. … I amthe LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God. (Ezekiel 20:11-20)

 

All this gives one pause to wonder: should the Gentile even try to keep the Sabbath?  Perhaps the earliest Christian reason for not keeping the Sabbath was precisely this.

 

Furthermore he says [Psalms 24:3-4], “Thou shalt sanctify it with clean handsand a pure heart.” If, then, any one has at present the power to keep holy the day which God made holy, by being pure in heart, we are altogether deceived. See that we shall indeed keep it holy at that time, when we enjoy true rest, when we shall be able to do so because we have been made righteous ourselves and have received the promise, when there is no more sin, but all things have been made new by the Lord: then we shall be able to keep it holy because we ourselves have first been made holy. (Epistle of Barnabas 15:6-7)[1]

 

The Talmud similarly forbids Sabbath observance: “A Gentile who ceases is liable of death, as it says (Genesis 8:22), “and day and night they shall not cease.”[2]  The verb for “they shall cease” (יִשְׁבֹּתוּ yišbōtû) is the same as in Genesis 2:2—“…and he rested [וַיִּשְׁבֹּת wayyišbōt] on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”  The one verse recalls the other.  Nevertheless most exegetes see Genesis 8:22 as the promise that there would be no more flood such as the great flood of the second millennium.

 

While the earth remaineth,

seedtime and harvest,

and cold and heat,

and summer and winter,

and day and night shall not cease.

 

And which we can say would be fulfilled via the throne and the priesthood:

 

Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. (Jeremiah 33:20-22)

 

Even so the rabbinical authorities mostly forbid Sabbath observance for the Gentile—as does Maimonides in Mishneh Torah:

 

A Gentile who is involved with Torah is liable of death; he should not be involved except in the seven commandments provided for them. And so a Gentile who ceases, even on a week day if he does it for himself as a Sabbath is liable of death.[3]

 

And indeed it is a serious matter—as serious as when Uzzah touched the ark.  Sabbath breaking carries the death penalty in the Torah.

 

And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. (Numbers 15:32-36)

 

Breaking the Sabbath is indeed a capital crime:

 

And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day. (Exodus 35:1-3)

 

So on the side of the rabbinical ban for the Gentile is the fact that the Sabbath was the sign of God’s Covenant with Israel—the idea is that if it is the sign that distinguishes the covenant people from the Gentiles, then how can it remain that sign if the Gentiles keep it?

 

The Week and Supersessionism

Before Israel was given the Torah at Sinai, God revealed to Israel the Sabbath through the miracle of the manna (Exodus 16:29-30): “See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested [וַיִּשְׁבְּתוּ wayyišbətû] on the seventh day.”

 

Paganism knew nothing of the seven day week or the Sabbath—this is entirely Israel’s gift.[4]  Atheists have argued that the concept and the term were borrowed from Babylon during the exile of Jerusalem.  It is argued otherwise in Andreasen (1972):

 

A derivation of šabbāt from the Accadian šabattu (the fifteenth day of the month, or the day of the full moon) is unlikely for two reasons.  Firstly, the words are not quite as much alike as they sound and, secondly, šabbāt refers exclusively to a weekly day, while šabattu refers to a monthly day, and the former is not known to have been derived from the latter. (page 9)Consequently, the Accadian šabattu will contribute little or nothing to our understanding of the Old Testament word, whether or not the two are related etymologically.  (page 102)

 

The Sabbath and the seven day week entered the world with the Diaspora of the Jews.  Gentiles were attracted to the synagogue, and it was among these that Christianity got its start among the nations (Acts 15:21), “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”  Also the seven day week was duplicated in paganism under influence of the synagogue.

 

The Seven Planets
Saturn
Jupiter
Mars
Sun
Venus
Mercury
Moon

The seven day week entered paganism—it is generally believed—under influence from the great synagogue in Alexandria—see Zerubavel (1989).  Alexander had brought Babylonian astrologers to Egypt who had assigned every hour of the day to a planet, a planet being a heavenly body that moves independently of the fixed stars (the word is from the Greek phrase πλανήτης ἀστήρ‘wandering star’).[5]  There are seven planets visible to the naked eye—the sun and moon included as in the chart at the right.  Each of the 24 hours of the day was assigned a planet, beginning with Saturn which was believed to be furthest from the earth and continuing accordingly to that which was perceived closest—the moon.  Each day began under the sign of a particular planet that became its name (as in the chart below)—and voilà!  The pagans had a seven day astrological week matching the seven day week of the great synagogue in Alexandria.

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Saturn
Sun
Moon
Mars
Mercury
Jupiter
Venus

 

Saturn’s day (Saturday) was the first day of the astrological week, but soon Sunday was promoted to that spot.  This made the week match the Jewish week.  It also positioned the primary planetary deity first.  English retains the names for every day of the astrological week.

 

Modern English Old English Latin Greek
Sunday Sunnandæg dies Sōlis ἡμέρα Ἡλίου
Monday Mōnandæg dies Lūnae ἡμέρα Σελήνης
Tuesday Tīwesdæg dies Martis ἡμέρα Ἄρεως
Wednesday Wōdnesdæg dies Mercuriī ἡμέρα Ἕρμου
Thursday Þunresdæg dies Jovis ἡμέρα Διός
Friday Frīgedæg dies Veneris ἡμέρα Ἀφροδίτης
Saturday Sæternesdæg dies Saturnī ἡμέρα Κρόνου

 

Very quickly this planetary week spread beyond the borders of Egypt.  It became prominent in the Mithraism of the 2nd century a.d. where Sunday honored Sol Invictus–official god of the later Roman Empire.  In 321 a.d.Constantine made his famous decree:

 

On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.  (Shaff 1867:380, note 1)[6]

 

Thus Constantine made the seven day week official for all: “He enjoined the observance, or rather forbade the public desecration of Sunday, not under the name of Sabbatum or Dies Domini [Lord’s day], but under its old astrological and heathen title, Dies Solis, familiar to all his subjects, so that the law was as applicable to worshippers of Hercules, Apollo, and Mithras, as to the Christians.” (Shaff 1867, page 380)  Consider Eusebius’ account of determining the date of Passover (translation from Percival 1900:54-55):

 

It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom [the calculation] of the Jews, who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. In rejecting their custom, we may transmit to our descendants the legitimate mode of celebrating Easter, which we have observed from the time of the Saviour’s Passion to the present day [according to the day of the week].  We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Saviour has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course (the order of the days of the week); and consequently, in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast.  How can they be in the right, they who, after the death of the Saviour, have no longer been led by reason but by wild violence, as their delusion may urge them?  They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; for, in their blindness and repugnance to all improvements, they frequently celebrate two passovers in the same year.  We could not imitate those who are openly in error.  How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are most certainly blinded by error? for to celebrate the passover twice in one year is totally inadmissible.  But even if this were not so, it would still be your duty not to tarnish your soul by communications with such wicked people [the Jews].[7]

 

Samuele Bacchiocchi (1977), in my opinion, clinches the case that Sunday served to separate the Christian from the synagogue which some were still attending even into Constantine’s time.  Christendom not only cut itself off from the synagogue, it also claimed that it had superseded or replaced Israel—the doctrine of supersessionism or replacement theology.  Centuries of Christian anti-Semitism was the result.[8]  One also finds an “eighth day” theology wherein Sunday foreshadows salvation in the eighth millennium (Epistle of Barnabas 15:8-9):

 

Furthermore he says to them [Isaiah 1:13], “Your new moons and the sabbathsI cannot away with.” Do you see what he means? The present sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but that which I have made, in which I will give rest to all thingsand make the beginning of an eighth day, that is the beginning of another world.[9]Wherefore we also celebrate with gladness the eighth day in which Jesus also rose from the dead, and was made manifest, and ascended into Heaven.[10]

 

Perhaps those who promulgate such a theology await a resurrection after the millennial Sabbath (Revelation 20:5): “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.”  In the same way it is ironic that those who hold to the Friday prayer (جمعة) should also have occupied the Temple mount throughout most of the sixth millennium.

 

And if Christians keep the FIRST day of the week in remembrance of Jesus’ resurrection which supposedly occurred on the first day of the week, then why did the Byzantine missionaries and later the Protestant missionaries renumber the days of the week such that Sunday becomes the seventh day?  Notice below how that in both Russian (under Byzantine influence) and in the American Indian language Umatilla (under Protestant influence) the days are numbered such that Sunday is the seventh day.

 

Russian Umatilla
Monday понедельник ‘after no work’ Pačwáywinaq̓it ‘after the day’
Tuesday вторник ‘second day’ Nápɬk̓ʷi ‘second day’
Wednesday среда ‘middle day’ Mɨtáɬk̓ʷi ‘third day’
Thursday четверг ‘fourth day’ Pinápɬk̓ʷi ‘fourth day’
Friday пятница ‘fifth day’ Páx̣aɬk̓ʷi ‘fifth day’
Saturday суббота ‘Sabbath’ WáɁuyit ‘beginning’
Sunday воскресенье ‘resurrection’ Pačwáywit ‘the day’

 

Islam is also a supersessionist religion.  The Koran presupposes the Hebrew Bible as also the New Testament, but Islam claims precedence for the Koran even as the Hebrew Scriptures are believed to have been corrupted by the Jews.[11]  Islam also adopted the seven day week but generally recognized Saturday as the seventh day.

 

Hebrew            Arabic
Sunday יוֹם רִאשׁוֹן ‘first day’ يوم الأحد ‘first day’
Monday יוֹם שֵׁנִי ‘second day’ يوم الإثنين ‘second day’
Tuesday יוֹם שְׁלִישִׁי ‘third day’ يوم الثُّلَاثاء ‘third day’
Wednesday יוֹם רְבִיעִי ‘fourth day’ يوم الأَرْبعاء ‘fourth day’
Thursday יוֹם חֲמִישִׁי ‘fifth day’ يوم الخَمِيس ‘fifth day’
Friday יוֹם שִׁשִּׁי ‘sixth day’ يوم الجُمْعَة ‘gathering day’
Saturday יוֹם שַׁבָּת ‘Sabbath day’ يوم السَّبْت ‘Sabbath day’

 

Swahili is the only language in the sphere of Islam that has made Friday the seventh day.

 

Swahili Week Day Names  
Saturday jumamosi ‘first day’
Sunday jumapisi ‘second day’
Monday jumatatu ‘third day’
Tuesday jumanne ‘fourth day’
Wednesday jumatano ‘fifth day’
Thursday alhamisi Arabic الخَمِيس alḥamīs ‘the fifth’
Friday ijumaa Arabic الجُمْعَة aljum‘a ‘the gathering’

 

The astrological week spread to India in the 2nd century ad.  The Sanskrit names are compounded of the planetary names or epithets applied to the planets plus वासरम् vāsaram ‘day’.  There is no overt replacement theology other than the general tendency in Hinduism to incorporate other philosophies and religions.  Sunday is always the first day.

Sanskrit Week Day Names
Sunday भानुवासरम् भानु ‘sun’
Monday इन्दुवासरम् इन्दु ‘moon’
Tuesday भौमवासरम् भौम ‘Mars’
Wednesday सौम्यवासरम् सौम्य ‘Mercury’
Thursday गुरूवासरम गुरू ‘Jupiter’
Friday भृगुवासरम् भृगु ‘Venus’
Saturday स्थिरवासरम् स्थिर ‘Saturn’

 

In China the five planets exclusive of the sun日 () and moon 月 (yuè) were linked to the five elements in Chinese philosophy.  The chart below gives the week day names in Chinese characters with the Mandarin pronunciation in pinyin, the Korean in hangul, and the Japanese in hiragana.

 

The Days of the Week
Saturday Friday Thursday Wednesday Tuesday Monday Sunday
土曜日 金曜日 木曜日 水曜日 火曜日 月曜日 日曜日
Tǔyàorì Jīnyàorì Mùyàorì Shuǐyàorì Huǒyàorì Yuèyàorì Rìyàorì
토요일どようび 금요일きんようび 목요일にちようび 수요일にちようび 화요일にちようび 월요일にちようび 일요일にちようび
The Five Elements五行 wǔ xíng
Character Pinyin Element Planet
huǒ Fire Mars
Earth Saturn
jīn Metal Venus
shuǐ Water Mercury
Wood Jupiter
Modern Mandarin
Monday 星期一 xīngqī yī
Tuesday 星期二 xīngqī èr
Wednesday 星期三 xīngqī sān
Thursday 星期四 xīngqī sì
Friday 星期五 xīngqī wǔ
Saturday 星期六 xīngqī liù
Sunday 星期日 xīngqī rì 
星期天 xīngqí tiān 

 

Under Christian and Communist influence Chinese now numbers the days of the week (called 星期 xīngqī ‘planatary dates’) such that Sunday is the seventh day.  The first six days are numbered, 一 () ‘one’, 二 (èr) ‘two’, 三 sān ‘three’, etc., with Sunday named either with 日 () ‘sun’ or 天 (tiān) ‘heaven’.

 

So there you have it.  Today the entire world is geared to the seven day week of the Jews.  Christians, Muslims and pagans distinguish themselves on the way they number the days and which day if any they gather for prayer or worship.  Might this have been in the plan of God all along?  Note the following from Maimonides (Chapter 11 of Hilchos Melachim from the Mishneh Torah(:

 

Also Jesus the Nazarene who imagined that he would be a Messiah but was killed by a court was already prophesied of in Daniel, as it says (Daniel 11:14), “…also the children of the violent among thy people shall lift themselves up to establish the vision; but they shall stumble.” Is there not a greater stumbling-block than this? For all the prophets told that the Messiah is the redeemer of Israel and their savior, and gatherer of their dispersed and strengthener of their commandments, but this one caused Israel to be lost to the sword and the scattering of their remnant and humiliation, and the Torah to be altered and most of the world deluded into serving a god beside Hashem.Yet the thoughts of the Creator of the world there is not in man power to comprehend, for his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), and all these deeds of Jesus the Nazarene and of this Ishmaelite (Mohammed) who arose after him are only to straighten the way for the king Messiah and to perfect the entire world to serve Hashem together, as it says (Zephaniah 3:9), “For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent.”[12]

 

Yet Isaiah counsels Israel to “call the sabbath a delight [עֹנֶג ‘ōneg]” (Isaiah 58:13), and so would God deprive the nations of that delight?  As put by David Klinghoffer (2007:95-96), “It turns out that, the way God made us and made His universe, creativity depends on a vital, ongoing tension between activity and rest. …A country unconscious of the fourth commandment not only will be overworked but will undervalue the work it spends all that time doing.”

 

For the Torah shall go forth from Zion

Israel’s purpose is not to be replaced but to be a light to the nations—that is God’s promise (Isaiah 42:6-7): “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”  Israel’s purpose is to give the truth to the world and thus liberate the world from its superstitions and false gods.  And it is prophesied that the world will be brought to that point—both Israel and the Gentiles must be made ready—and then, as it says,

 

And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:2-3 [compare Micah 4:1-2])

 

As in the beginning when the four rivers converged and flowed into the garden to water it (Gen 2:10), so also the nations will converge and bring their wealth to Jerusalem (Isaiah 66:12), “For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.”  Again he says (Isaiah 61:5-6), “And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.”  And again (Isaiah 60:12), “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.”

 

If in the covenant one’s servant must also cease (Exodus 20:9[10]; Deut 5:13[14]), what happens when all nations become Israel’s servants?

 

In that day the nations will keep the Sabbath in solidarity with Israel (Isaiah 66:23): “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”  And not only the Jewish Sabbath but also the feast of Tabernacles (Zech 14:16): “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.”

 

Instead of “anti-Zionism” the world will heed Psalms 122:6—“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”  The world will have learned the lesson of Genesis 12:3—“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

 

The Sabbath, as we have seen (Ex 31:12-17; Ez 20:11-20), is a sign between God and Israel—maybe more so than serving to distinguish Israel from the nations. It is the sign of Israel’s purpose (Exodus 19:6): “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”  And if Israel would forsake God it would be as in the song of Moses:

 

And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faithfulness. They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation [גּוֹי נָבָל].[13] (Deuteronomy 32:20-21 – JPS 1917)

 

The jealously and anti-Semitism and replacement theology of the Gentiles exists only until Israel turns wholeheartedly to God and utterly away from the false gods of alien ideologies.  And even as a vile nation causes hurt so also might Gentile non-entities provoke Israel to jealousy with their zeal for the God of Israel.

 

If some in the covenant would forget its sign, perhaps some outside will not.  Not that the Gentile Sabbatarian would overthrow the covenant—the deal is that he who blesses Israel will himself be blessed, as it says (Isaiah 56:2), “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.”

 

There is a theme running throughout the prophets regarding the return of the exiles of the Northern Kingdom.  This is the House of Israel which has been lost from history—it is spoken of as a death (Hosea 13:1): “When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.”  What does he say of Ezekiel’s dry bones?  “…these bones are the whole house of Israel” (Ezek 37:11).  However—no one but a Jew can be assured that he is an Israelite.  Yet there is everywhere the promise of a return.

 

ü  Isaiah 11:12-13—“And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.”

 

ü  Jeremiah 23:7-8—“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”

 

ü  Jeremiah 31:8-9—“Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.”

 

ü  Ezekiel 37:11-12—“Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.”

 

ü  Hosea 2:1-2[1:10-11]—“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”

 

And the Sabbath will be a factor in that return:

 

Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord GOD, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. (Isaiah 56:1-8)

 

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:12-14)

 

Thus even as God had said (Deut 32:21), “…and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people [בְּלֹא־עָם]”, so also he says (Hos 2:1[1:10]), “…and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people [לֹא עַמִּי], there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.”

 

Perhaps the ten men in the following might be taken in a last day template as the ten tribes of the northern kingdom (1Kings 11:31-35) having been mingled amid the tongues of the nations (Hosea 7:8):

 

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. (Zechariah 8:23)

 

In the end all Israel and the nations turn to God (Zech 9:1): “The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall betoward the LORD.”

 

The Sabbath is a sign between Israel and God and therefore it behooves all Israelites to keep it.  Perhaps Israel’s nonobservance might be compensated by a degree of Gentile observance.  Not all Gentiles will be redeemed as Israelites, yet all in the future will remember the Sabbath, for as it says of the redeemed (Isaiah 66:19), “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.”  And what will be the response?  Verse 23: “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”  And will this dilute the sign of the covenant?  Verse 22: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.”

 

The Sabbath is not to be trifled with—it is holy/taboo unto Hashem.  But it is also a blessing (Isaiah 56:2).  No doubt those outside the Covenant will not remember it and keep it the same as those within.  But even as the goyim might fall short, so also the wayward citizens of the covenant might be goaded to recover the sign between them and their God.

 

References:

 

Abulafia, Anna Sapir, editor.  1998.  Christians and Jews in Dispute : Disputational Literature and the Rise of Anti-Judaism in the West (c. 1000-1150).  Variorum Collected Studies Series, 621.  Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Company.

 

Andreasen, Niels-Erik A.  1972.  The Old Testament Sabbath: A Tradition-Historical Investigation.  The Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 7.  Missoula, Montana: University of Montana.

 

Bacchiocchi, Samuele.  1977.  From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity.  Imprimatur (con approvazione del Vicariato di Roma in data 17 giugno, 1975).  Rome: The Pontifical Gregorian University Press.

 

Bickerman, E. J.  1980.  Chronology of the Ancient World.  Revised edition (1st edition 1969).  London: Thames & Hudson.

 

Brog, David.  2006.  Standing with Israel.  Orlando, Florida: Charisma House.

 

Carroll, James.  2001.  Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews.  Boston: Mariner Books.

 

Feeney, Denis C.  2007.  Caesar’s Calendar: Ancient Times and the Beginnings of History.  Berkeley: University of California Press.

 

Fredriksen, Paula.  2008.  Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism.  New York: Doubleday Religion.  Reviewed by Kevin Madigan in the November 2008 Commentary: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/augustine-and-the-jews-by-paula-fredriksen/.

 

Klinghoffer, David.  2005.  Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History.  New York: Doubleday.

 

Klinghoffer, David.  2007.  Shattered Tablets: Why We Ignore the Ten Commandments at Our Peril.  New York: Doubleday.

 

Kobler, Franz.  1956.  The vision was there: A history of the British Movement for the Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.  London: Published for the World Jewish Congress, British Section, by Lincolns-Prager.

 

Lake, Kirsopp, translator.  1912.  Apostolic Fathers: Volume I. I Clement. II Clement. Ignatius. Polycarp. Didache. Barnabas.  Loeb Classical Library No. 24.  Harvard University Press.

 

Lazarus-Yafeh, Hava.  1936.  Taḥrīf.  Encyclopedia of Islam, vol. 4.  Edited by M. Th. Houtsma, A. J. Wensinck, H. A. R. Gibb.  Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill.

 

Novak, David.  2004.  The Covenant in Rabbinic Thought.  Pages 65-80 in Eugene B. Korn, editor, Two Faiths, One Covenant?: Jewish and Christian Identity in the Presence of the Other.  Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.  Accessable on line at http://books.google.com/books?id=9ZJs8j3X89MC&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=%22soft+supersessionism%22&source=web&ots=TKgtVxtGIq&sig=r0LJUcqMTDi0HlA1nyuhyjVqUds#v=onepage&q=%22soft%20supersessionism%22&f=false.

 

Michels, A. K.  1967.  The Calendar of the Roman Republic.  Princeton University Press.

 

Percival, Henry.  1900.  Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume XIV/The First Ecumenical Council/On the Keeping of Easter. The Seven Ecumenical Councils. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 14.  From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 14. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace.  Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co.,

 

Richards, E. G.  2000.  Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

Schaff, Philip.  1867.  History of the Christian Church: Vol. II: From Constantine the Great to Gregory the Great A.D. 311–600.  New York: Charles Scribner.

 

Winkelmann, F.  1975.  Eusebius Vita Constantini, pages 3-151 in Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller, edited by F. Winkelmann.  Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

 

Zerubavel, Eviatar.  1989.  The Seven Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week.  University of Chicago Press.

 

 

[1] Epistle of Barnabas 15: 6. πέρας γέ τοι λέγει· Ἁγιάσεις αὐτὴν χερσὶν καθαραῖς καὶ καρδίᾳ καθαρᾷ. εἰ οὖν ἣν ὁ θεὸς ἡμέραν ἡγίασεν νῦν τις δύναται ἁγιάσαι καθαρὸς ὢν τῇ καρδίᾳ, ἐν πᾶσιν πεπλανήμεθα. 7. ἴδε ὅτι ἄρα τότε καλῶς καταπαυόμενοι ἁγιάσομεν αὐτήν, ὅτε δυνησόμεθα αὐτοὶ δικαιωθέντες καὶ ἀπολαβόντες τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν, μηκέτι οὔσης τῆς ἀνομίας, καινῶν δὲ γεγονότων πάντων ὑπὸ κυρίου· τότε δυνησόμεθα αὐτὴν ἁγιάσαι, αὐτοὶ ἁγιασθέντεςπρῶτον.

 

[2] Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b):

וְאָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ And Resh Laqish said,
עוֹבֵד כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁשָּׁבַת חַיָּיב מִיתָה He who serves stars (a Gentile) who ceases is liable to death,
שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ח) as it says (Genesis 8:22),
וְיוֹם וָלַיְלָה לֹא יִשְׁבוֹתוּ “and day and night they shall not cease.”

 

[3] Mishneh Torah (Laws of Kings and their Wars, Chapter 10):

ט  גּוֹי שֶׁעָסַק בְּתוֹרָה חַיָּיב מִיתָה לֹא יַעֲסוֹק אֶלָּא בְּשֶׁבַע מִצְווֹת שֶׁלָהֶן בִּלְבַד. וְכֵן גּוֹי שֶׁשָּׁבַת אֲפִילּוּ בְּיוֹם מִיְּמוֹת הַחוֹל אִם עָשָׂה אוֹתוֹ לְעַצְמוֹ כְּמוֹ שַׁבָּת חַיָּיב מִיתָה.

[4] The Romans, for example, used a nundinal cycle.  The term is related to nonus ‘ninth’, but the counting was inclusive and the cycle consisted of eight days (Michels 1967, Feeney 2007).  The Akan seven day week is believed to have been borrowed from Muslim traders.

 

[5] Compare Jude 13—“Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars [ἀστέρες πλανῆται], to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.”

[6] Also from Shaff 1867:380, note 1: “Lex Constantinus a. 321 (Cod. Just. l. iii., Tit. 12, 3): Imperator Constantinus Aug. Helpidio: ‘Omnes judices, urbanæque plebes et cunctarum atrium officia venerabili die Solis quiescent. Ruri tamen positi agrorum culturæ libere licenterque inserviant, quoniam frequenter evenit, ut non aptius alio die frumenta sulcis aut vineæ scrobibus mandentur, ne occasione momenti pereat commoditas cœlesti provisione concessa. Dat. Non. Mart. Crispo ii. et Constantino ii. Coss.’”

[7] Greek text (from Winkelmann 1975): καὶ πρῶτον μὲν ἀνάξιον ἔδοξεν εἶναι τὴν ἁγιωτάτην ἐκείνην ἑορτὴν τῇ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἑπομένους συνηθείᾳ πληροῦν, οἳ τὰς ἑαυτῶν χεῖρας ἀθεμίτῳ πλημμελήματι χράναντες εἰκότως τὰς ψυχὰς οἱ μιαροὶ τυφλώττουσιν. ἔξεστι γὰρ τοῦ ἐκείνων ἔθνους ἀποβληθέντος ἀληθεστέρᾳ τάξει, ἣν ἐκ πρώτης τοῦ πάθους ἡμέρας ἄχρι τοῦ παρόντος ἐφυλάξαμεν, καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς μέλλοντας αἰῶνας τὴν τῆς ἐπιτηρήσεως ταύτης συμπλήρωσιν ἐκτείνεσθαι. μηδὲν τοίνυν ἔστω ὑμῖν κοινὸν μετὰ τοῦ ἐχθίστου τῶν Ἰουδαίων ὄχλου. εἰλήφαμεν γὰρ παρὰ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἑτέραν ὁδόν, πρόκειται δρόμος τῇ ἱερωτάτῃ ἡμῶν θρησκείᾳ καὶ νόμιμος καὶ πρέπων. τούτου συμφώνως ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι τῆς αἰσχρᾶς ἐκείνης ἑαυτοὺς συνειδήσεως ἀποσπάσωμεν, ἀδελφοὶ τιμιώτατοι. ἔστι γὰρ ὡς ἀληθῶς ἀτοπώτατον ἐκείνους αὐχεῖν, ὡς ἄρα παρεκτὸς τῆς αὐτῶν διδασκαλίας ταῦτα φυλάττειν οὐκ εἴημεν ἱκανοί. τί δὲ φρονεῖν ὀρθὸν ἐκεῖνοι δυνήσονται, οἳ μετὰ τὴν κυριοκτονίαν τε καὶ πατροκτονίαν ἐκείνην ἐκστάντες τῶν φρενῶν ἄγονται οὐ λογισμῷ τινι ἀλλ’ ὁρμῇ ἀκατασχέτῳ, ὅπῃ δ’ ἂν αὐτοὺς ἡ ἔμφυτος αὐτῶν ἀγάγῃ μανία; ἐκεῖθεν τοίνυν κἀν τούτῳ τῷ μέρει τὴν ἀλήθειαν οὐχ ὁρῶσιν, ὡς ἀεὶ κατὰ τὸ πλεῖστον αὐτοὺς πλανωμένους ἀντὶ τῆς προσηκούσης ἐπανορθώσεως ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ ἔτει δεύτερον τὸ πάσχα ἐπιτελεῖν. τίνος οὖν χάριν τούτοις ἑπόμεθα, οὓς δεινὴν πλάνην νοσεῖν ὡμολόγηται; δεύτερον γὰρ τὸ πάσχα ἐν ἑνὶ ἐνιαυτῷ οὐκ ἄν ποτε ποιεῖν ἀνεξόμεθα. ἀλλ’ εἰ καὶ ταῦτα μὴ προὔκειτο, τὴν ὑμετέραν ἀγχίνοιαν ἐχρῆν καὶ διὰ σπουδῆς καὶ δι’ εὐχῆς ἔχειν πάντοτε, ἐν μηδενὸς ὁμοιότητι τὸ καθαρὸν τῆς ὑμετέρας ψυχῆς κοινωνεῖν δοκεῖν ἀνθρώπων ἔθεσι παγκάκων.

 

[8] Various works touch on Christian supersessionism, e.g., Johnson (1988), Abulafia (1998), Carroll (2001), etc..  The latter lays much guilt at the feet of Augustine, but see Fredriksen (2008) who argues against this view.  As for a repudiation of supersessionism within Christendom and the development of Christian Zionism, see Kobler (1956) and Brog (2006).  The Roman Catholic Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate) can be viewed at http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html.

 

[9] The notion that the Seventh Millennium is one of destruction is also to be found in rabbinical literature.  Compare the following from the Babylonian Talmud (Abodah Zarah 9b):

וְאֵין הַקּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא And the Holy One Blessed be He will not
מְחַדֵּשׁ אֶת עוֹלָמוֹ renew his world
אֶלָּא לְאַחַר שִׁבְעַת אֲלָפָים שָׁנָה until after seven thousand years …

 

[10] Translation from Lake (1912).  8. πέρας γέ τοι λέγει αὐτοῖς· Τὰς νεομηνίας ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ σάββατα οὐκ ἀνέχομαι. ὁρᾶτε, πῶς λέγει; οὐ τὰ σάββατα ἐμοὶ δεκτά, ἀλλἃ ὃ πεποίηκα, ἐν ᾧ καταπαύσας τὰ πάντα ἀρχὴν ἡμέρας ὀγδόης ποιήσω, ὅ ἐστιν ἄλλου κόσμου ἀρχήν. 9. διὸ καὶ ἄγομεν τὴν ἡμέραν τὴν ὀγόην εἰς εὐφροσύνην, ἐν ᾗ καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν καὶ φανερωθεὶς ἀνέβη εἰς οὐρανοίς.

[11] Called Taḥrīf (تحريف) ‘distortion, corruption, alteration’.  See Lazarus-Yafeh (1936).

[12] The Rambam in Mishneh Torah (הלכות מלכים ומלחמות פרק יא):

י  אַף יֵשׁוּעַ הַנּוֹצְרִי שֶׁדִּימָּה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מָשִׁיחַ וְנֶהֱרַג בְּבֵית דִּין כְּבָר נִתְנַבֵּא בּוֹ דָּנִיֵּיאל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וּבְנֵי פָּרִיצֵי עַמְּךָ יִינַּשְּׂאוּ לְהַעֲמִיד חָזוֹן וְנִכְשָׁלוּ (דנייאל יא,יד). וְכִי יֵשׁ מִכְשׁוֹל גָּדוֹל מִזֶּה שֶׁכָּל הַנְּבִיאִים דִּיבְּרוּ שֶׁהַמָּשִׁיחַ גּוֹאֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמוֹשִׁיעָם וּמְקַבֵּץ נִדְחֵיהֶם וּמְחַזֵּק מִצְווֹתָן וְזֶה גָּרַם לְאַבֵּד יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּחֶרֶב וּלְפִזֵּר שְׁאֵרִיתָם וּלְהִשְׁפִּילָם וּלְהַחֲלִיף הַתּוֹרָה וּלְהַטְעוֹת רוֹב הָעוֹלָם לַעֲבוֹד אֱלוֹהַ מִבִּלְעֲדֵי ה’. יא  אֲבָל מַחְשְׁבוֹת בּוֹרֵא עוֹלָם אֵין כּוֹחַ בְּאָדָם לְהַשִּׂיגָם כִּי לֹא דַרְכֵינוּ דְרָכָיו וְלֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵינוּ מַחְשְׁבוֹתָיו. וְכָל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ שֶׁל יֵשׁוּעַ הַנּוֹצְרִי וְשֶׁל זֶה הַיִּשְׁמעאלִי שֶׁעָמַד אַחֲרָיו אֵינָן אֶלָּא לְיִישֵּׂר דֶּרֶךְ לְמֶלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ וּלְתַקֵּן אֶת הָעוֹלָם כּוֹלוֹ לַעֲבוֹד אֶת ה’ בְּיַחַד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר כִּי אָז אֶהְפּוֹךְ אֶל עַמִּים שָׂפָה בְרוּרָה לִקְרוֹא כוּלָּם בְּשֵׁם ה’ וּלְעוֹבְדוֹ שְׁכֶם אֶחָד (ראה צפניה ג,ט).

[13] Deuteronomy 32:20-21 (Hebrew text):

כ  וַיֹּאמֶר אַסְתִּירָה פָנַי מֵהֶם אֶרְאֶה מָה אַחֲרִיתָם כִּי דוֹר תַּהְפֻּכֹת הֵמָּה בָּנִים לֹא־אֵמֻן בָּם׃ כא  הֵם קִנְאוּנִי בְלֹא־אֵל כִּעֲסוּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶם וַאֲנִי אַקְנִיאֵם בְּלֹא־עָם בְּגוֹי נָבָל אַכְעִיסֵם׃