Sabbath + Calendar

Today our pastor delivered a timely message on sabbath. Of course, it sent me down my (usual) rabbit trail road of Biblical exploration. Here are some quotes from my favorite book on rest:

“In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth.  But without rest, we miss the rest of God:  the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply.  ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’  Some knowing is never pursued, only received.  And for that, you need to be still.  Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness.”[1]

“The opposite of a slave is not a free man.  It’s a worshipper.  The one who is most free is the one who turns the work of his hands into sacrament, into offering.  All he makes and all he does are gifts from God, through God, and to God.  . . . . Virtually any job, no matter how grueling or tedious . . . can be a gift from God, through God, and to God.  The work of our hands, by the alchemy of our devotion, becomes the worship of our hearts.”[2]

“Leisure is what Sabbath becomes when we no longer know how to sanctify time.  Leisure is Sabbath bereft of the sacred.  It is a vacation – literally, a vacating, an evacuation.  As Rybczynski sees it, leisure has become despotic in our age, enslaving us and exhausting us, demanding from us more than it gives.”[3]

“Chronos is the presiding deity of the driven.”[4]

The Sabbath is patterned after the days of creation. Only those who wait on the Lord renew their strength. (I’ll add more on this at the end.)

The Hebrew day starts with when the sun goes down one day and last until the sun goes down the next. Therefore, the first day of your week starts after the sun goes down on Saturday night.

Sunday is the first day and in “first fruits” thinking should be solely given to the Lord. The more in tune you are with God the longer this “first day” lasts. By the time you become an “elder” all of your days should be devoted to the Lord and not yourself… and then there is the day of Sabbath. The coming together to “Rest” in The Lord.

The trajectory of the Sabbath “law” was to keep people on track until the Messiah. First fruits functioned as a stop gap, not a final destination. The hope was that out of devotion to the law, the first day or days weren’t “JUST” the Lords, and the rest of the days the worlds; but that all of the days were eventually reconciled back to the Lord. But that seldom happened individually and never happened communally for Israel. When Jesus came, that was the New Covenant message of redemption, that all days, all peoples, and all things be reconciled to complete Devotion to the Father. -ALL IN

Traditionally, the Sabbath begins with sleep.  It begins in the evening.  The Sabbath meal and “study” would last as long as the candles would burn; and then you would sleep. A return to the womb to the one who created us and to whom we belong. We become unconscious to the world.

That is why in the Bible a city that never sleeps is synonymous with idolatry. It stands in opposition to God’s order and creation.

Sabbath is about trusting the Lord and placing everything back on the Altar of His providence.

Your sabbath represents and reminds you of your freedom in Christ. (EXODUS MOTIF THINKING REMINDED TO YOU 3x A DAY by the SHEMA and then again each Sabbath.) “I must decrease so that He can increase.”  Sabbath is the practice of complete servanthood and submission, becoming nothing. Being reminded of who we are in God and Christ. COMPLETELY

Hebrew Calendar:

The present Hebrew calendar is the result of a process of development, including a Babylonian influence. Until the Tannaitic period (approximately 10–220 CE), the calendar employed a new crescent moon, with an additional month normally added every two or three years to correct for the difference between the lunar year of twelve lunar months and the solar year. The year in which it was added was based on observation of natural agriculture-related events in ancient Israel.[5]

From very early times, the Babylonian calendar was in wide use by the countries of the Near East. The structure, which was also used by the Israelites, was based on lunar months with the intercalation of an additional month to bring the cycle closer to the solar cycle, although there is no mention of this additional month anywhere in the Hebrew Bible.[6]

Based on the classic rabbinic interpretation of Genesis 1:5 (“There was evening and there was morning, one day”), a day in the rabbinic Hebrew calendar runs from sunset (the start of “the evening”) to the next sunset.[7] 

The same definition appears in the Bible in Leviticus 23:32, where the holiday of Yom Kippur is defined as lasting “from evening to evening”. The days are therefore figured locally. Halachically, the previous day ends and a new one starts when three stars are visible in the sky. The time between true sunset and the time when the three stars are visible (known as tzait ha’kochavim) is known as bein hashmashot, and there are differences of opinion as to which day it falls into for some uses. This may be relevant, for example, in determining the date of birth of a child born during that gap.[8]

The names of the days of the week are modeled on the seven days mentioned in the creation story.[9] For example, Genesis 1:8 “… And there was evening and there was morning, a second day” corresponds to Yom Sheni meaning “second day”. (However, for days 1, 6, and 7 the modern name differs slightly from the version in Genesis.)

According to one tradition, the origins of the Hebrew word for ‘evening’ – ‘Erev’ {ערב} – come from the old Hebrew verb ‘Le-Arev’ {לערב} which means ‘to mix’ or ‘to intermingle’ and refers to the special time of the day in which the sunset and light and darkness are ALL present and appear as a ‘mix.’

The Hebrew word for ‘morning’ is ‘Boker’ {בוקר} and it derives from the old Hebrew root B-K-R {ב-ק-ר} which means ‘to break through’, ‘ to penetrate’, ‘to crack’ and refers to the  special time of the day in which the light is ‘breaking through’ the darkness of the night.

In other words, now when ‘God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night’ appeared in the ‘first day of Creation’ it is in fact the invention of the CONCEPT of a DAY. This is why the original Hebrew does not talk about ‘the first day’ but rather the period of time from one evening to the next evening and that is called ONE DAY (‘Yom Echad’).

In terms of “months, the period from 1 Adar (or Adar II, in leap years) to 29 Marcheshvan contains all of the festivals specified in the Bible (Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret). This period is fixed, during which no adjustments are made.

There are additional rules in the Hebrew calendar to prevent certain holidays from falling on certain days of the week. These rules are implemented by adding an extra day to Marcheshvan (making it 30 days long) or by removing one day from Kislev (making it 29 days long). Accordingly, a common Hebrew calendar year can have a length of 353, 354 or 355 days, while a leap Hebrew calendar year can have a length of 383, 384 or 385 days.

The mean period of the lunar month (precisely, the synodic month) is very close to 29.5 days. Accordingly, the basic Hebrew calendar year is one of twelve lunar months alternating between 29 and 30 days:

In leap years (such as 5779) an additional month, Adar I (30 days) is added after Shevat, while the regular Adar is referred to as “Adar II”. In Hebrew there are two common ways of writing the year number: with the thousands, called לפרט גדול (“major era”), and without the thousands, called לפרט קטן (“minor era”). Thus, the 2022 was is written as ה’תשפ”ב ‎(5782) using the “major era” and תשפ”ב ‎(782) using the “minor era”. Thus according to the Hebrew Calendar 2023 is 5783.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8 NASB

Work and “Work” – “The Biblical story of mankind begins with the command, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.’ Work is more than labour. Biblical Hebrew has two words to express the difference: melakhah is work as creation, avodah is work as service or servitude. Melakhah is the arena in which we transform the world and thus become, in the striking rabbinic phrase, ‘partners with God in the work of creation.’[10]

This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 NASB

Yom, the Hebrew word for “day,” is the most common word describing time in the Tanakh. The regular occurrence of day and night not only establishes the routine of our world but also affects the biological clocks of all living things. If you don’t think that is true, just trying staying awake for three or four days.

Essentially God’s calendar is all about Him desiring to tabernacle with us. The entire calendar is based on establishing order to come back to complete intimate partnership with Him.

[1]Mark Buchanan: The Rest of God:  Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath

[2] IBID

[3] IBID

[4] IBID

[5] Talmud, Sanhedrin 11b

[6] Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (1961) by Roland De Vaux, John McHugh, Publisher: McGraw–Hill, p. 179

[7] Kurzweil, Arthur (2011). The Torah For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons.

[8] “Zmanim Briefly Defined and Explained”.

[9] Hebrew-English Bible, Genesis 1

[10] Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference, p. 96.

Comments are closed.