Sabbath Origins

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Wed Dec 1 22:46:02 EST 1999

At 12.58 02/12/99 +1100, you wrote:
>> I seem to be inexorably coming to the conclusion that the seventh day
>> sabbath was instituted in the second century BCE. Notice the way that 1 & 2
>> Maccabees handles the sabbath as though the conflict of handling military
>> problems on the sabbath hadn't been faced before.
>Perhaps this is just a literary technique used to highlight the
>piety-in-the-face-of-opposition that the Maccabees showed. 

By Maccabees here, I guess you mean the Hasmonean family. The only Maccabee
that I know of was Judas -- and his relationship to the Hasmonean family
seems to me to be apocryphal (a comparison between 1 & 2 Macc should show
the problems). Nevertheless, 2Macc 5:25, 6:6 & 6:11 show that it had
nothing specifically to do with the Hasmoneans, so the following suggestion
doesn't seem to me to be helpful:

>In other words, it may simply be a device to make the Maccabees look good. 

>It might also just reflect an attempt to impose this particular Sabbath 
>custom (re military involvement) on the entire population of Palestine as 
>a regulated custom. It seems odd that if the Sabbath custom of resting
>once a week had only just begun, then the Maccabean wars would have killed 
>the custom off.

If it were imposed after the hellenistic crisis, it wouldn't seem odd.

>It seems to me far more likely that the Sabbath (rest once a week) was a
>established custom by 167 BCE, hence the dilemma. The war and persecution 
>probably helped to consolidate Sabbath observance, but it seems to have been 
>a well-entrenched custom, even if it wasn't universally observed.

Hence we come back to the problem, George, that no policy had been made to
deal with the same situation before the hellenistic crisis. Clearly none
had been made though there had been numerous opportunities to do so, given
the stormy recent history in Jerusalem, if the sabbath had been in force as
a seventh day rest.

The justification of Jerusalem's poor showing is because all those foreign
invaders took advantage of the sabbath. Yeah, sure. The other one plays
Jingle Bells. (-:



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