Sabbath Origins

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Mon Dec 6 01:21:44 EST 1999

At 10.38 06/12/99 +1100, George Athas wrote:
>> between Ps81 "new moon,
>> full moon and feast day" with Hos2:11 "new moon, sabbath, feast day" (and
>> Isa1:13 "new moon, sabbath, convocation day"). The order of "new moon,
>> sabbath, feast day" is logical if sabbath equals "full moon", but the order
>> in Chr, "sabbath, new moon, feast day" is logical if sabbath equals
>> "seventh day".
>Sorry, I can't see the relevance of the argument. The order seems just as
logical in all
>references if we're understanding Sabbath as a seventh day rest. You're
supposing that
>there is some kind of fixed order or progression to festivals when they
are mentioned. 

One of frequency. Feasts being least frequent go last. In late times
sabbaths being most frequent go first. If sabbath is as frequent but comes
after the new moon, that's how I would expect the ordering. It so happens
that Ps81:3 preserves the order where the full moon comes after the new
moon (logical isn't it?) reflected in the order given by Hosea and Isaiah.

>I don't see why this has to be the case. Yet, even allowing for such a
fixed progression,
>there's no reason why Sabbath must equal 'full moon'. Why not just say
'full moon' rather
>than 'Sabbath'? 

The term "full moon" is extremely rare in Hebrew it would seem, and only
found on two occasions in the OT/HB. If the word sabbath already existed
with the significance of "full moon" as shapattu did, one would use sabbath
for "full moon". This I wrote to Irene: <<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
[shapattu] 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.>>

>Isn't 'stopping' part of all festivals? Yet, the terminology at least
>suggests that 'Sabbath' is an explicitly stop-oriented festival or
week-oriented festival,
>not a lunar-oriented festival.

Could you explain this (stopping) for me? (Ta.)

>> Other texts like Amos8:5 put the two terms "new moon" and
>> sabbath on equal terms, somehow related to each other.
>Connected, yes. Equated, no. Both are stop-work festivals, but that's
about as much as you
>can argue. They are paralleled, but not equated as identical.
>> > When the first day of the month was considered the new moon then the
>> fifteenth day (shapattu) was the full moon. (Lunar months are of course 29
>> or 30 days long, so one can't consider the possibility that after a month
>> the weeks of a month would be maintained in a static manner.)
>Because the first day of the month could start on any day of the week.


>Perhaps you can provide some more info on the 'shapattu' you mention here.
Can we
>linguistically connect it with _shabbat_?

Not more than is found in the literature on the subject. See De Vaux for
example (in his "Ancient Israel and its Institutions").



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