[Fwd: Sabbath Origins]

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Fri Dec 3 01:48:33 EST 1999

>What about the decalogues?  Unless you posit a very late origin,
>a hellenistic origin---

I have mentioned that the only place in Deuteronomy that talks of sabbaths
is the decalogue. I take Deuteronomy to be the book of Moses mentioned in
MMT, ie the other Pentateuchal books did not at that stage have the same
authority. Each circulated separately. So, what was the law translated into

>and this is not the concensus scholarly
>opinion---the seventh day sabbath must have existed at the time
>this commandment was written, well before the Maccabean period.
>If one thinks the decalogue in Exodus is pre-exilic, then the 7th
>day sabbath would be pre-exilic.

But I don't.

>Jeremiah 17.19 to 27 doesn't mention the interval between
>sabbaths, but it does describe in some detail the proper sabbath

I have posted the parallel between Ps81:3 which talks of "new moons, full
moons and feast days" and Hos2:11 which talks of "new moons, sabbaths and
feast days", with the obvious conclusion that "sabbaths" meant "full moons"
(compare with later works which have the order "sabbaths, new moons and
feasts"), which is consistent with a religion that holds its major feasts
in the middle of the month. Why should the fifteenth day of the seventh
month be called a sabbath (Lev23:39)? Remember the Akkadian shapattu, the
fifteenth day. In the Enuma Elish V, providing lunar movements, "Go forth
every month without fail in a corona, At the beginning of the month, to
glow over the land. You shine with horns to mark out six days; On the
seventh day the crown is half. The fifteenth day shall always be the
mid-point, the half of each month..." (S.Dalley, "Myths of Mesopotamia"
Oxford) Naturally "fifteenth day" is the shapattu, the word normally
recognised as cognate with sabbath.

>This may be an addition, and Holladay links it to
>Neh 13.15-22, which is also concerned with labor on the sabbath.
>In this case, the development of the sabbath with its laws about
>labor may be seen as a post-exilic, innovation, perhaps a Persian
>development which emerged from an earlier Judahite-Israelite
>tradition.  Lev 23.4 repeats the commandment to cease work on the
>7th day.
>Hosea  mentions festivals, new moons and sabbaths

Wrong order though. And I think the order is important. When sabbath became
the seventh day the order changed from "new moons, sabbaths (=full moons),
feast days" to "sabbaths, new moons, feast days", maintaining the order of


What makes you think that any book of the OT/HB is pre-exilic?

>and Lev 19.29 mentions sabbaths with the
>implication that this was an important, regularly occurring
>observance during the year.
>But the question of a 7th day sabbath may be linked with the type
>of calendar in use.
>A 7th day sabbath may be connected to the lunar calendar,
>measuring the quarters from new moon to new moon in a 28 day
>lunar cycle.  To state the time span between sabbaths would be
>unnecessary since  the locals would know it and understand it as
>a measuring device between new moons.  Time spans were often
>measured in units of a 7-day week.  Lev 23.15-16:  the time span
>between the wave?? offering and the grain offering was 50
>days---7 weeks plus one day.  Succoth lasts 7 days (Lev 23.34,
>39-42).  The festival of unleavened bread is 7 days (Ex 12.18;
>Lev 23.6).  

I cannot stress more the astronomical basis of two of these feasts, six
months apart, dividing the year in halves, both on the full moon, the
shapattu of the month, "called a sabbath".

>And something marked these units---distinguished the units.  

The phases of the moon, as seen in the indication cited above from the
Enuma Elish?

>The sabbath?

Numbers have always had an importance. Sevens were very popular. How many
planets were known to the ancients? How many days till the new moon loses
its horns? 

The epic of Gilgamesh talks of the Seven Counsellors, and goes into details
about seven days in Tablet XI. Nergal & Ereshkigal, a text with a number of
sevens, mentions the seven gates of heaven. Anzu II, "Seven of Battle,..
seven evil winds,.. the seven whirlwinds". Erra & Ishtum I says that Earth
"bore the Seven Gods" to Anu.

>However, if a solar calendar is in use, the logical connection
>between the 7 day cycle and the calendar would be lost.  And the
>time unit, the 7 days, may need to be emphasized.

I find that the solar calendar was the one in force in Jerusalem prior to
the Seleucids. Note that 1En82 corrects the Persian calendar in order to
advocate the 364 day calendar. A lunar year was not given any importance.
The problem at the time was the 360 calendar, so we see a movement from 360
to 364 day calendar. It is not until the time of Jubilees that the lunar
calendar started intruding on the cultus. The temple rosters found at
Qumran are based on the 364-day solar calendar. The dates in Ezekiel seem
to indicate the solar calendar. I have seen no indications for an early
cultic use of a lunar calendar. If the importance of the Seleucid calendar
brought to Jerusalem as the civil and administrative calendar, it was
already in use before the time of Onias III. It was imposed for cultic
purposes during the hellenistic crisis (Dan7:25, 2Macc6:7). Such an
introduction of a lunar calendar at that time fits the data we have from
Enoch and Jubilees. 2Macc15:36 talks of Adar being the name of a month in
the Syrian language, ie not seen as Hebrew. A second century introduction
of the lunar calendar into cultic use would strengthen the idea of a second
century introduction of the seventh day sabbath.



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