2 Entries on Sabbath Keeping

2/6/2006 7:51 AM

Title: Sabbath KEEPING

S: Nehemiah 10:31 NKJV  if the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year’s produce and the exacting of every debt.

O: As far as I can see, this is the ONLY place in the Bible that talks about not buying on the Sabbath.  This verse: Nehemiah 13:15 NKJV  In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. 

This verse seems to address it, but not very directly.  It’s really talking more about working on the Sabbath than about selling/buying.

Neh 10:1-31

Conversion is separating from the course and custom of this world, devoting ourselves to the conduct directed by the word of God. When we bind ourselves to do the commandments of God, it is to do all his commandments, and to look to him as the Lord, and our Lord.

That’s taken from the Matthew Henry Concise Commentary. 

hat if the people of the land brought wares or any victuals on the Sabbath-day to sell, we would not buy if of them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and would let the seventh year lie, and the loan of every hand. The words וגו הארץ עמּי are prefixed absolutely, and are afterwards subordinated to the predicate of the sentence by מהם. מקּחות, wares for sale, from לקח, to take, in the sense of to buy, occurs only here. מהם נקּח, to take from them, i.e., to buy. קדשׁ יום beside שׁבּת means the other holy days, the annual festivals, on which, according to the law, Num 28 and 29, no work was to be done.

That’s taken from Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

This again, seems to take the effect of working on the Sabbath.  Yesterday the Tiona’s came and I asked them about it.  They simply said that Jeremiah 17 talks about it.  It doesn’t.  It only talks about working on the Sabbath.  If I am to talk to people who go out to eat on the Sabbath, how do you deal with this? 

It could be said that Nehemiah 10:31 is simply a group of people who want to keep the Sabbath this time and in their zeal they added this prohibition to the Sabbath so they could maintain a tighter boundary. 

But is buying gas working on the Sabbath – hardly anymore work than getting dressed in the morning.  Is going out to eat on Sabbath working?  Not for those who are going out to eat.

A: I am not quite sure what to do with this.  I don’t know why it’s bugging me so much lately.  But I want to deal with it and I want to find some answers to it. 

P: Lord, I doubt that I’m going to start going out to eat on the Sabbath.  Yet, I am sure that there are things that pertain to this discussion that I may be missing.  I’m tired of people giving me trite answers.  I’m tired of people giving me answers that don’t pertain to the discussion.  I’m tired of the assumptions within the church world. 

I’m sure that I do them too, Lord.  But it seems that lately every time I have a question about things, no one can answer them.  If we are supposed to be people of the book, why aren’t we?

Lord, please lead me in this discussion.

The Jews have figured out 39 categories of prohibitions and they haven’t named buying and selling as one of them.

Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabbat

Main article: 39 categories of activity

         Jewish law prohibits doing any form of melachah (“work”, plural “melachot”) on Shabbat. Melachah does not closely correspond to the English definition of the term “work”, nor does it correspond to the definition of the term as used in physics. Rather, it refers to the 39 categories of activity that the Talmud prohibits Jews from engaging in on Shabbat; they are exegetically derived (based on juxtaposition of corresponding Biblical passages) from the kinds of work that were necessary for the construction of the Tabernacle. Many religious scholars have pointed out that these labors have something in common ‑‑ they prohibit any activity that is “creative”, or that exercises control or dominion over one’s environment.


         The 39 activities

As based on the Mishnah Tractate Shabbat 7:2, the 39 activities are:


   1. Sowing;

   2. Plowing;

   3. Reaping;

   4. Binding sheaves;

   5. Threshing;

   6. Winnowing;

   7. Selecting;

   8. Grinding;

   9. Sifting;

  10. Kneading;

  11. Baking;

  12. Shearing wool;

  13. Washing wool;

  14. Beating wool;

  15. Dyeing wool;

  16. Spinning;

  17. Weaving;

  18. Making two loops;

  19. Weaving two threads;

  20. Separating two threads;

  21. Tying;

  22. Untying;

  23. Sewing stitches;

  24. Tearing;

  25. Trapping;

  26. Slaughtering;

  27. Flaying;

  28. Tanning;

  29. Scraping hide;

  30. Marking hides;

  31. Cutting hide to shape;

  32. Writing two or more letters;

  33. Erasing two or more letters;

  34. Building;

  35. Demolishing;

  36. Extinguishing a fire;

  37. Kindling a fire;

  38. Putting the finishing touch on an object;

  39. Transporting an object between a private domain and the public domain, or for a distance of 4 cubits within the public domain;


Status of prohibitions

         Each melachah has derived prohibitions of various kinds. There are, therefore, many more forbidden activities on the Shabbat; all are traced back to one of the 39 above principal melachot. Direct derivatives (toledoth) have the same legal severity as the original melachah (although there are marginal differences); examples are the related activities of cooking, baking, roasting and poaching, all of which fall under “baking”. Indirect derivatives instituted by the rabbinic sages are termed shevuth and are much less severe in legal terms (e.g. they were not punished with stoning when this punishment was still in force).

         Given the above, the 39 melachot are not so much activities as “categories of activity”. For example, while “winnowing” usually refers exclusively to the separation of chaff from grain, and “selecting” refers exclusively to the separation of debris from grain, it refers in the Talmudic sense to any separation of intermixed materials which renders edible that which was inedible. Thus, filtering undrinkable water to make it drinkable falls under this category, as does picking small bones from fish (gefilte fish is a traditional Ashkenazi solution to this problem). Another example is the prohibition (according to Orthodox and some Conservative rabbinic authorities) on turning electric entities on or off, which according to some Halakhic poskim, is derived from one of the “39 categories of work (melachot)” known as “building” and “tearing something down” (the Hebrew word that is used can be interpreted as “destroying for the purpose of rebuilding”). The solution to avoid using electric appliances and switches commonly used involves pre‑set timers.

Perhaps the attitude of buying and selling deals with the idea of work – and that we shouldn’t make anyone else work.  Yet, the Sabbath command says don’t make anyone work that is WITHIN YOUR GATES.  Okay, in our mobile society, you might be able to make an argument for your gates are wherever you are.  But the command also says don’t go out of your homes….  What do we choose?  What do we pick and choose from? 

Lord, please help us.  Please guide us.  Please lead me.  I’m questioning.  I’m questioning this whole thing right now.  And I’m not sure I know why.  I mean, I’m not sure why I am questioning, because it’s unlikely that I will start eating out on Sabbath.  Milton’s words were good for me.  Whatever you do, your kids are likely to take it one more step.  That’s good boundary information and I’m not ready for them to go shopping on Sabbath.

Lord, I have to go and eat breakfast with the family.  Let’s keep having this discussion.  I love you.


2/7/2006 7:18 AM


S: Exodus 20:10 NKJV  but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.

O: Within your gates.  What does that mean?  Within thy gates” is equivalent to in the cities, towns, and villages of thy land, not in thy houses (Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)

Most commentaries actually say this.  The ONLY place that it seems to say it differently is here:

Exodus 20:10 cjb  but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work -not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property.

That’s the “Complete Jewish Bible.”  Isn’t it interesting that the Jews don’t mind asking Gentiles to do things for them that they would consider to be Sabbath-breaking activities, but it’s because they are not within the gates of their property. 

Isn’t it also interesting that you put this in line with the idea that most commentaries believe this to be the gates of the city?  This puts things into new perspective about going out to eat on Sabbath, buying groceries, doing business, etc.  It says, don’t make anyone who is within your city work. 

I’m sure that someone could argue that this pertains to your home town, but not when you are traveling.  Yet, it says within your cities.  It’s plural.  I’m not even going to go down that road and split hairs on it at all.

A: I have a new insight on this passage, Lord, today.  Gail pointed this out to me from the ICB, Kylie’s Bible.  I thought, “Oh brother, let me get a ‘real’ Bible and we’ll see.”  Very interesting to note that the “real” Bibles keep the word gates, and that is usually defined as their own home.  Yet, here we go and I have a huge confrontation about this and I find that it says, don’t make anyone work within your city/cities. 

I am again, convinced that buying and selling on the Sabbath isn’t good, because it makes people work on the Sabbath. 

P: Lord, I know you are leading me.  I know you are charging me with teaching my congregation.  How can I put this in relational language so that they too will understand it?  Please guide me, Lord.  Please lead me.

I love you.