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Rabbinic, Biblical, and future of the Sabbath

Researched by Rabbi D.

The Shabbat in Judaism today


The Shabbat (Sabbath) day among some of our observant Jewish people of today is often celebrated according to rabbinic law.  When I use the term rabbinic law I’m simply refering to keeping the seventh day (1) as rabbinic authorities have mandated their tradition and interpretation of how to honor and keep the Shabbat. This would involve practices called (ha’laha) in which is the way one should walk and keep the Shabbat and other Torah commandments.

An example of this rabbinic law is as follows; Orthodox Judaism insists that one is to use only certain plates to eat off of during the Shabbat. No one is allowed to drive on the Shabbat. No one is allowed to turn on and off the lights in their home during the Shabbat. Gentiles are some times used to either cook or turn off the lights in a Jewish home on the Sabbath. You must also eat three meals on the Shabbat. No one is allowed to water plants, go shopping for groceries and other such restrictions that the Torah never mentions nor gives absolutely no warrant for (2)


Rabbinic law and the Shabbat


According to the B’rit ha dasha rabbinical laws and traditions had been formed up as far back as the times of the Messiah (3). The only problem with rabbinism then and now is that rabbinic tradition often is held more important than G-ds word itself (4). However not every Jewish branch in Judaism follows rabbinism, but those who in Judaism make the tradition more valid and more law than any thing else can be quite legalistic and over zealous. In fact following or observing rabbinic legalism is contradictory to obeying the true commandments of G-d. This is also where Yeshua (Jesus) strongly objected and spoke out against such practices (5). The biblical Shabbat according to the Torah never once mentions the keeping of different plates only to be used on a Shabbat.  The Torah never mandates that your not allowed to turn on and off your lights during the Shabbat today or to use gentiles to do the common work of the home on a Shabbat. However it does say that no fire should be made during the Shabbat (6) yet electricity is not per-say actual fire. Some among the rabbis have even believed that if they keep the Shabbat they are excused from their sins which in my opinion is a false concept (7a) because again the Torah never allows or supports this view. Yet many who are inclined to follow the rabbinic concepts of the Shabbat today are mislead and sadly misinformed. When we go back to what the Torah really says about the Shabbat we’ll come to find that its precepts differ from rabbinic law. We also need to understand that following rabbinic law is not quite the same as following G-ds law. Rabbinic law or supposed oral law is mans interpretation or doctrine along with its own addition to the written law of G-d, and we are not obligated by the written law to obey any oral rabbinic traditions (7b).


The Biblical Shabbat


The biblical Shabbat according to the Torah was simplistically laid out. There are no complications as to how to keep it or what to do on that day. The Torah specifically reads that the Shabbat is to be kept within the home (8). No work should be performed (9). It is called a day of rest (10) but later in Nehemiah (10:31) the buying and selling of goods on the Shabbat was forbidden and added to Shabbat observance. Yet we cannot extract that this law came from out of the Torah or was known as oral law. Violations for profaning the Shabbat were capital punishment (11a). Other than these simple biblical mandates no other biblical additions were given to the Shabbat observance. Yet again it is said by the rabbis (11b) that the oral tradition of the extended Shabbat restrictions existed orally but was not recorded in the Torah, and yet again to this we say  that we are not obligated to obey any oral traditions or rabbinic oral laws.


The Shabbat for believers under the New Covenant

As we have understood within the Torah that the Shabbat is on the 7th day which starts on Friday eve (sunset) to Saturday eve (sunset). The seventh day from biblical standpoint is not on a Sunday as some in the Christian world have come to know (12). Under the B’rit ha dasha (New Covenant) we find that many of the Jewish followers of the Messiah held to the practice of keeping the 7th day Shabbat (13). As Jewish and gentile followers under the New Covenant of the Messiah today Shabbat is an individual choice of observance and is not to be mistaken as Mosaic Law where the Shabbat is obligatory (14). However we should understand that the Shabbat day still remains a valid day for all believers to choose to worship and be separated unto G-d.


The Shabbat in the Future

In the future the Shabbat will once again be instituted as a global day of worship for all when the Messiah returns at his second coming (15). The time for that day will not be on a Sunday but is according to the Torahs mandate. This day will be the biblical Shabbat. Though believers now have the freedom to worship as they choose under the New Covenant today, we will all abide and obey what the law of the Messiah is when he comes. Keeping the Shabbat and giving worship to the Messiah King on this day will be expected.


Script ref & Notes


(1) She’mot Ex.20:11

(2) None of the mentioned deeds is found in the Torah. These concepts of Shabbat observance come from rabbinic law

(3) Mark 7:4-13

(4) In addition to the biblical prohibitions, there are various rabbinic prohibitions introduced as a "fence to the Torah" (Avot 1:1)

(5) Cf. Mark 7:4-13 Yeshua corrects the practices the of rabbinic Judaism of his day


(7) Conversely, whoever observes the Sabbath as it should be, is forgiven his sins, even if he practiced idolatry (Shab. 118b).

(7b) Mattiyahu-Matt. 15:9

(8) She’mot-Ex.16:29

(9) V’yikra-Lev.23:3 Cf. She’mot-Ex.20:10

(10) She’mot-Ex.16:30

(11a) She’mot Ex. 31:14

(11b) Heres a rabbinic explanation of the reasoning for the oral law;

The Hebrew word (me’lachah =work) is rarely used in scripture outside of the context of Shabbat and holiday restrictions. The only other repeated use of the word is in the discussion of the building of the sanctuary and its vessels in the wilderness. (Exodus Ch. 31, 35-38). Notably, the Shabbat restrictions are reiterated during this discussion (Ex. 31:14), thus we can infer that the work of creating the sanctuary had to be stopped for Shabbat. From this, the rabbis concluded that the work prohibited on Shabbat is the same as the work of creating the sanctuary. They found 39 categories of forbidden acts, all of which are types of work that were needed to build the sanctuary:

Sowing,Plowing,Reaping,Binding sheaves,Threshing,Winnowing,Selecting,Grinding,Sifting,Kneading Baking,Shearing wool,Washing wool,Beating wool, Dyeing wool, Spinning,Weaving,Making two loops Weaving two threads, Separating two threads,Tying,Untying,Sewing two stitches,Tearing,Trapping Slaughtering,Flaying,Salting meat,Curing hide,Scraping hide,Cutting hide up,Writing two letters,Erasing two letters,Building,Tearing a building down,Extinguishing a fire,Kindling a fire,Hitting with a hammer,Taking an object from the private domain to the public, or transporting an object in the public domain. (Mishnah Shabbat, 7:2)

It is quite clear that G-d said in the Torah that no work shall be done upon the Shabbat (Ex 20:8-10, 23:12, &Deut 5:2) Yet the work found in the Torah was basic (Ex 16:21-30,35:3,-Num 15:32-36 &Jer 17:21) but it is understood that the rabbis have overemphasized the rules of work upon the Shabbat , and this we can gather from the huge list above and see within the pages of the B’rit ha dasha (New Covenant) Matt 12:1-2, -15:2 &Yohanan-John 5:9,11,16,17, -9:14-16)


(12) In past history when the Jewish nation underwent conquering rulers the days of Jewish worship were changed to accommodate the new religion of the day by those rulers. Such a ruler who was known to have changed the Shabbat day to pagan worship and changed Jewish worship days was Constantine. Also it is assumed by many that (Acts 20:7) justifies the changes of the Shabbat day to Sunday worship now being the new Shabbat. Yet the scriptures never agree nor prove that this is the case. The apostles never changed the Shabbat as some have thought. What needs to be understood about (Acts 20:7) is that the reason why the disciples choose to meet on the fist day of the week which begins on a Saturday evening not Sunday Moring, but continues onto Sunday evening. The reason they met on the first day is because each went on to observe the keeping of Shabbat as was their custom. After the Shabbat was over they came together to celebrate the closing of the Shabbat and the staring of the New week which is a custom known as havdalah (Heb.=separation). This is what they were doing; they were not changing or replacing the Shabbat for the havdala custom or making a new mandatory date for worship. (See our article about the Havdalah)

(13) Acts.13:15, 44,-17:2, -18:4

(14) Col. 2:16-17

(15) Ezek 43:6