“High” Sabbath?

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

Leviticus 23 Strong’s Numbers

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!



This weekend my husband Tommy and I had the privilege of attending the First Western Regional Bney Yosef North America (BYNA) National Shabbat in Salem, Oregon. We flew from South Carolina to Seattle to visit my good friend Amy and took her and another friend Michelle with us. I will do my best to describe what I experienced at this family reunion!

We arrived at the National Armory Building in Salem with much anticipation and excitement after a long traffic filled drive from Seattle. We knew we were going to see familiar faces as well as meet new family members. As we entered the building there was hustle and bustle as people were preparing a banquet to share with one another. We walked into an older style gymnasium type of room with hardwood floors and bleacher style wooden chairs. Tables were decorated and chairs set up to welcome the invited guests.

The evening opened with the blowing of shofars and then Tommy & I welcoming everyone to the gathering. Grape juice and delicious challah bread were presented and we all recited the traditional blessings together before we dined on a variety of food at the amazing banquet tables. Hebrews know how to throw a party!

We spent about an hour feasting on food and fellowship before Tommy & I were asked to share about BYNA and the National Shabbat Initiative. We transitioned with prayer and the worship team, “Aliyah” lead us in song while Daniel & Sylvia Calderon lead us in the dance. Here is a link to a video of one of the songs: Worship at BYNA National Shabbat in Salem. It was a glorious time in the presence of YHVH! We experienced a very special time of unity that has pervaded EVERY BYNA National Shabbat gathering we have attended.

I understand from some of those in attendance that major reconciliation and restoration took place that night! Hallelujah!

We had the privilege of meeting several of the BYNA Strategic Prayer warriors, one of them being Nana Joy! This mighty woman of the Most High is a blessing to the Kingdom!

Dorothy and Nana Joy

As in most gatherings, we did not want it to end! We returned the Armory back to the way we found it and headed to the home of our friend Eunice for some rest.

Shabbat morning was spent with more fellowship around the table enjoying breakfast together before heading to the home of Don & Cindy Wyant for the afternoon Shabbat gathering. We arrived around 2pm and were graciously welcomed by Cindy and some of the “new” family we met the night before. In keeping with tradition, we started our time together blessing YHVH for the food and then eating a delicious meal together.

The shofars called us to order, we sang the “Shema” and the entered into a time of praise, worship, and dance. We were all encouraged to share. Several prayed, spoke words of knowledge, read Scripture, and sang songs. The presence of YHVH was tangible.

I was prompted to share something YHVH had spoke to me a few days before while Tommy, Amy and I enjoyed a day at a small cabin on the Hood Canal. We went for a walk while waiting for the tide to come in so we could go for a canoe ride and came upon what appeared to be two streams; one coming from the canal and the other flowing the opposite way. At one point the two seemed to “converge” and create this swirly looking area that came together and sort of danced in a circle.


When we returned to the cabin I asked the Father what, if anything, was He trying to show me. I looked up the definition of converge and this is what I found:

  •  (of several people or things) come together from different directions so as eventually to meet.
  • (of a number of things) gradually change so as to become similar or develop something in common.
  • come from different directions and meet at (a place)

At the National Shabbat gathering and in the Wyant’s backyard, a group of people from different parts of the country, state, and region, gathered to meet (converge) for a common purpose; to honor YHVH on Shabbat! We came together like different streams, meeting at a specific location and intersecting with each other through food, fellowship, and worship. Our hearts were knit together. Additional “threads” were being added to the beautiful tapestry YHVH is creating through the BYNA National Shabbat Initiative.

I want to encourage you to attend a BYNA National Shabbat gathering if there is one in your area. The website Bney Yosef National Shabbat has details of upcoming gatherings. It is time for us to come together and worship the Creator, YHVH, in unity with diversity. We had an amazing time at our “family reunion” in Salem. Thanks to all of you who prayed, made food, lead worship & dance, and organized this wonderful time! We look forward to seeing you again!