Sabbath Origins

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Sun Dec 5 18:20:23 EST 1999

Just one quick comment before I hit the sack...

At 09.17 06/12/99 +1100, George Athas wrote:
>It's interesting that the only major difference between the two Decalogue
texts (Ex 20 &
>Deut 5) is the reasoning behind the Sabbath. In Exodus, it is associated
with the freedom
>or rest from Egyptian slavery. In Deut, it has to do with the creation
activities of
>Yahweh. Neither of these seem to be associated with any lunar cycle.
Perhaps this is where
>dating might become useful. During the Maccabean-Hasmonean era, the Torah
was a very well
>respected text and being copied quite copiously. The Seleucid persecution
of Jews was very
>much tied up with Torah observance. By 167 BCE, then, we see that Torah
(in whatever
>form). This would mean that the Sabbath observance of a seventh day rest
was a well
>entrenched tradition. If there had been a connection with New Moon
festivals, it was
>certainly lost well before 167 BCE.
>With regards to the Jews not defending themselves on the Sabbath, this may
well have been
>the case because it was precisely for Torah observance that they were
being killed. By
>dying in the act of Torah observance, they were committing an act of
defiance towards the
>Seleucids. Notice that it was only certain elements who had fled into the
desert who
>refused to fight on the Sabbath. The others who learned of the massacre
took swift action
>to make sure this didn't happen again. It doesn't suggest that the Sabbath
>(seventh day rest) was a new thing. Rather, it points to the fact that a
few fervent
>observers chose to die fighting with a Torah scroll in their hand rather
than a sword. If
>the motivation for the persecution had been non-religious, then maybe
these people would
>have defended themselves on the Sabbath. But since it was for Sabbath
observance that they
>were being persecuted (among other things), they observed the Sabbath all
the more
>stringently as they faced their persecutors. Mattathias' response doesn't
>indicate that his decision was a new innovation regarding Sabbath

I'm pretty sure Mattathias didn't exist. The first ha-Shm`wn was the father
of John Hyrcanus. You'll note the constrast between 2Macc and 1Macc on this
subject. 2Macc doesn't know anything about Mattathias and has Judas and
friends leaving Jerusalem, but 1Macc has converted that into an ancestor,
Mattathias, and sons leaving Jerusalem. In 2Macc Judas has different
brothers from 1Macc. 

Be back.


>Rather, it
>seems to have been made to dissuade people from quasi-suicidal tendencies
regarding their
>observance of Torah. For the sake of Torah, they needed to fight not die.
To uphold the
>Sabbath day rest, they needed to be active when needed. This doesn't stop
them from
>resting on every Sabbath - only when they were attacked. Perhaps another
question to ask
>is when else prior to 167 BCE were the Jews attacked for their religious
customs rather
>than political moves?

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