This is a continuation of What About the Sabbath blog from last week. I will try and denote “rabbit trails” – those thoughts that pop up that are not pertinent to the central thought of this blog – as [begin RT] and [end RT]. In that way you can skip random thoughts.
[begin RT] I have always thought that the Sabbath was a good time to talk about things to do with Ha Shem. Last week I wrote the beginning of a blog on the Sabbath and I’ve had some time to think about it and do some more reading about it. Because of the various background of my readers (both of them) I don’t vary much from the many and varied translations of the bible itself or the original Masoretic text in Hebrew or the Christian New Testament in (Textus Receptus or Majority Text) Greek. And, as I have said many times, I am NOT a scholar of either Hebrew or Greek – I know just enough to be dangerous but I do find the original languages much more explanatory than some of the translations.[end RT]
[begin RT] For Christian translations I like King James Version [KJV], New KJV [NKJV], The NKJV Greek Interlinear, The Amplified Bible, and a few others. I also have an interesting Hebrew-English version of the New Testament [NT] that makes for helpful translations. For Jewish and Old Testament [OT], I still like the the Christian translations but in addition I like J. P. Green’s Interlinear, the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) with English (1999), and the older 1955 JPS w/o English. Also, from time to time, I consult two or three Jewish Prayer books since the translations there give some insight into what the Jewish people really believe about that particular passage of scripture. So, enough about translations and versions and on to the main topic, the Sabbath, or Shabbos as some call it, which, actually, is a much better pronounciation of the word. [end RT]
Wilson Mar commented last week that the punishment that Ha Shem imposed was rather Draconian. Draco was a man, a created being. So, to my way of thinking, to call the law and enforcements of the laws of Ha Shem something like a man would indicate that Ha Shem was being like a man rather than the man behaving like Ha Shem. Or something like that.
[begin RT] Even though Draconian is a word that I have frequently used myself to describe some overly eager application of some law or rule, I looked it up and it has to do with a “law giver” in Athens, Greek, in about 620 BC. (I don’t care for the artificial BCE appelation – either use Judaic dates and time or Christian dates and times but BCE is silly and used mostly by Israeli archeologists.) [end RT]
In the early days, the Mosaic law (the Torah) was pretty explicit about who is G-d and the things that He expects of us. Wilson’s comment that, “I think this severity is warranted because what we do during the Sabbath demonstrates our willingness to submit to Him.” is spot-on. How we observe Shabbos, if this observance comes from the inside of a person, shows our zeal for G-d and our own personal search for Holiness. As it says in Lev 11:44 “… ,and ye shall be holy; for I am holy… ” This same precept is echoed in the Christian New Testament, I Peter 2:16, “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” G-d has called His people, Jews and Christians, to be holy even as He is holy.
Some seek holiness by fasting and prayer. Indeed, there are tales of Christian churches (Christians interpret the word “church” to mean the people of the congregation, not the building) who fasted and prayed until there was an “answer from G-d Himself.” In like manner did many of the ancient prophets, and some of the prophets today, isolate themselves to prayer and communion with G-d until they had release. Perhaps Shabbos itself could be a day of prayer if not fasting.
Now, let us consider what we SHOULD be doing and not doing on Shabbos as G-d commanded us to do or not do. Considering the early Christians (more on the name later) were all Jews for a while, they kept both the Shabbos (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) and then kept a “Lord’s Day” in honor of Y’Shua (Jesus) by starting the day with prayer and songs – then going to work with the rest of the world. The gentiles (goyim – or nations) had never kept the Jewish Shabbos so they usually just kept the first day as a Sabbath. (this from a brief description in Cruden’s Complete Concordance.)
It is here that I will make the distinction between Shabbos (Jews) being Friday sundown to Saturday sundown and Sabbath (Christian) being just before sunrise on Sunday morning to sometime late evening (near midnight) on the same day.
Ex 16:22-30: And it came to pass that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. (23) And he said unto them, This is that which The LORD hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. … (25) And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a sabbath unto the LORD; today ye shall not find it in the field. (26) Six days ye shall gather it but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be noon. … (29) See, for that theLORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore He giveth you 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. (30) So the people rested on the seventh day. [KJV]
Note that the italicized words are not found in the original Hebrew and that the KJV used LORD rather than Ha Shem or “YHVH” or Jehovah. (Jehovah is a really bad transliteration since it is nowhere near the true name of G-d.) I rather like that about the KJV rather than the JPS that is fairly liberal with the translation.
What I gather from this are two things. (1) We are pretty much commanded to stay home, or very close to home. Later it became a Jewish (and some Christian) tradition that a Sabbath days Journey was about a mile. Even later, the Rabbim took it to mean any place around which you could place a rope. So some congregations came up with REALLY long ropes that would encompass entire cites to allow the congregation to travel anywhere within the city. This seems to be a contrivance to avoid, or get around, G-d’s laws concerning Shabbos rather than an attempt to obey them. (2) Gather and prepare for Shabbos on Friday during the day by preparing twice as much food as you would for just Friday so that you won’t have to cook anything, including coffee, on Shabbos.
The question that has arisen in my home is, “Well, what about using the microwave? That isn’t a fire is it?” My answer up until recently has been to pray and do as G-d leads. But my family seems to try and push the limits of the laws of Shabbos rather than trying to go out of their way to honor Ha Shem. Maybe it’s just the natural rebellion of mankind. Anyway, beginning next Shabbos, we will learn to do without the microwave – coffee will be prepared the day before and set on a timer. We will eat leftovers that are not “nuked” or prepare only sandwiches. As the father / leader / papa of this home it falls to me to be sure that my family and anyone living in my home observe G-d’s laws, if not in spirit at least in form and function.
The only fire that I read about that was permitted (actually, commanded) on Shabbos was that one in temple which was for the sacrifices. And then only the High Priest could do these things. And, before you ask, yes, the priest does work on Shabbos but that is by commandment. Whether the priest takes Friday or Sunday as Shabbos is usually up to the individual person or congregation. In ours, the priest works on Saturday and Sunday and takes Monday for Shabbos.
Ex 23:10-12: And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof. (11) But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat and what they leave the beast of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard and with thy olive yard. (12) Six days thou shalt do thy work and on the seventh day thou shalt rest; that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed. [KJV]
Lev 25:2b-7: When you enter the land that I assign to you, the land shall observe a sabbath of the LORD. (3) Six years you may sow your field and six years you may prune your vineyard and gather in the yield. (4) But in the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath of complete rest, a sabbath of the LORD: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. (5) You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your untrimmed vines; it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. (6) But you may eat whatever the land during its sabbath will produce – you, your male and female slaves, the hired and bound laborers who live with you, (7) and your cattle and the beasts in your land may eat all its yield. [JPS]
Now, personally, I have trouble reconciling verses 6 and 7 with verse 5. Verse 5 says not to reap but verse 6 says that I can eat of it. How can I eat of it without reaping? One explanation would be that during the Sabbath year for the land that you do NOT sow the field nor prune the vineyard (i.e., do not do the “normal” work in the vineyard). BUT, you can eat whatever springs up of itself during the Sabbath year for the land. Maybe a rabbi or two will weigh in with an answer…
Since this is almost 1,800 words, I’ll pick up here next week. Maybe by then we’ll have an answer for verse 5, 6 and 7. Besides, no blog should go much over 2,000 words or it becomes an chapter in a book.
SDG, Yaakov Kohen