Each year as we prepare for Passover, a discussion ensues regarding what day(s) must we request off from work to honor the commandment:
“In the first month on the fourteenth of the month in the afternoon is the time of the pesach-offering to YHVH. And on the fifteenth day of this month is the Festival (chag) of Matzos to YHVH; you shall eat matzos for a seven-day period. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation (qodesh miqra) for you; you shall do no laborious work (abodah melakah). You shall bring a fire-offering to YHVH for a seven-day period; on the seventh day shall be a holy convocation (qodesh miqra); you shall do no laborious work (abodah melakah).” Leviticus 23:5-8
Most teach that the first and last days of Unleavened Bread are called “High” Sabbaths. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t find the word “Sabbath” in the Hebrew in the above referenced passage as well as Exodus 12:14-20; Numbers 28:16-18, 25-16; and Deuteronomy 16:5-8.
What is Sabbath?
“He said to them, “This is what YHVH had spoken; tomorrow is a rest (shabbathown) day, a holy Sabbath (shabbat) to YHVH. Bake what you wish to bake and cook what you wish to cook; and whatever is leftover, put away for yourselves as a safekeeping until the morning. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath (shabbat) for YHVH today you shall not find it in the field. Six days shall you gather it, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, (Shabbat) on it there will be none. See that YHVH has given you the Sabbath (shabbat); that is why He gives you on the sixth day a two-day portion of bread. Let every man remain in his place; let no man leave his place on the seventh day. Exodus 16:23,25-26, 29
“Remember the Sabbath (shabbat) day to sanctify it. Six days shall you work (abad) and accomplish all your work (melakah); But the seventh day is Sabbath (shabbat) to YHVH your God; you shall not do any work (melakah) – you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, your animal, and your convert within your gates for in six days YHVH made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, YHVH blessed the Sabbath (sabbath) day and sanctified it.” Exodus 20:8-11
“YHVH said to Moses, saying: Now you speak to the Children of Israel, saying: ‘However, you must observe My Sabbaths (shabbat), or it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I am YHVH, Who makes you holy.You shall observe the Sabbath (shabbat), for it is holy to you; its desecrators shall be put to death, for whoever does work (melakah) on it, that soul shall be cut off from among its people. For six days work (melakah) may be done and the seventh day is a day of complete (shabbat) rest (shabbathown), it is sacred to YHVH; whoever does work (melakah) on the Sabbath (shabbat) day shall be put to death.’ The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath (shabbat), to make the Sabbath (shabbat) an eternal covenant for their generations. Between Me and the Children of Israel it is a sign forever that in a six-day period YHVH made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested (shabath) and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:12-17
“Six days shall you work (abad) and on the seventh day you shall desist (shabath); you shall desist (shabath) from plowing and harvesting.” Exodus 34:21
“On six days, work (melakah) may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete (shabbat) rest (shabbathown) for YHVH; whoever does work (melakah) on it shall be put to death.You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath (shabbat)day.” Exodus 35:2-3
There are certain permissions and restrictions on Sabbath:
- Observe the day
- Rest on that day
- Sanctify the day
- No baking or cooking
- No kindling a fire
- No plowing or harvesting
- No working
According to Exodus 12:16, we are to have a Holy Convocation on the 1st and 7th day of Unleavened Bread and the only work that may be done is to prepare food:
“On the first day shall be a holy convocation (qodesh miqra) and on the seventh day shall be a holy convocation (qodesh miqra) for you, no work (melakah) may be done on them, except for what must be eaten for any person – only that may be done for you.” Exodus 12:16
IF this day were truly a Sabbath day, we could not prepare food!
YES, we are told to have a Holy Convocation (qodesh miqra). YES, we are told not to work (melakah). BUT it is NOT a Sabbath day by definition.
Three years ago I had a discussion with friends regarding what day we were to start counting the Omer. I have always begun counting the day after the weekly Sabbath, because I understood that to be what the Scriptures were saying. Others began their count the day after the “High Sabbath” of the first day of Unleavened Bread. That prompted an in-depth study of the Scriptures regarding Sabbath, Holy Convocation, and No Work. For those of you who would like to see my notes, I’ve attached them below:
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy Comparison
What this comes down to me is semantics; please don’t call the day a Sabbath if it is not called it in Scripture. YHVH’s word is very clear and simple to understand! WE make it complicated.
Rant over…hope you enjoy the study!