SPECIAL TOPIC: SABBATH (BDB 991)
This is from the Hebrew word (BDB 992) meaning "rest" or "cessation." It is connected to the seventh day of creation where God ceased His labor after finishing initial creation (cf. Gen. 2:1-3). God did not rest because He was tired, but because (1) creation was complete and good (cf. Gen. 1:31) and (2) to give mankind a regular pattern for worship and rest. The usage as a day of worship starts with Gen. 2:2-3, where YHWH uses His rest as a pattern for animals (cf. Exod. 23:12) and mankind (humans need a regular schedule of work, rest, and worship). The Sabbath begins like all the days of Genesis 1, at twilight; therefore, twilight on Friday to twilight on Saturday was the official time period. All the details of its observance are given in Exodus (especially chapters 16,20,31, and 35) and Leviticus (especially chapters 23-26). The first specialized use of this day by Israel was in Exod. 16:25-26 in the gathering of manna. It then becomes part of "the Ten Words" (cf. Exod. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15). This is one example where the Ten Words in Exodus 20 are slightly different from the Ten Words in Deuteronomy 5. Deuteronomy is preparing Israel for the settled, agricultural life in Canaan.
The Pharisees had taken these regulations and, by their oral discussions, interpreted them to include many rules. Jesus often performed miracles, knowingly violating their picky rules so as to enter into a dialogue with them. It was not the Sabbath that Jesus rejected or belittled, but their self-righteous legalism and lack of love.
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