LYING FOR GOD:
What Adventists Knew And When They Knew It!
8th Edition – July 28, 2014
KERRY B. WYNNE
B.A., English & history (1970 & 1972), Pacific Union College
M.A., educational administration, Andrews University (1978)
WILLIAM H. HOHMANN
B.A., theology, Ambassador College (1976)
ROBERT K. SANDERS
Founder Of Truth Or Fables.Com
Independent Biblical Researcher and Author
Part I – Verdict: No Sabbath In Genesis
Part II – Ellen White And Her Enablers
No Sabbath In Genesis!
A Point-By Point Rebuttal of The Adventist Defense League’s Paper
By Edwin M. Cotto, “The Sabbath In Genesis.”
Additional Refutations to Objections Submitted
by Sabbatarian Apologist, Brian Knudson.
KERRY B. WYNNE
B.A., English & history (1970 & 1972), Pacific Union College
M.A., educational administration, Andrews University (1978)
WILLIAM H. HOHMANN
B.A., theology, Ambassador College (1976)
ROBERT K. SANDERS
Founder Of Truth Or Fables.Com
Independent Biblical Researcher and Author
You may contact the authors at the following e-mail address. In order to receive a reply you must read LYING FOR GOD from cover to cover, and the first line of your e-mail message must contain a statement to the effect that you have read it and still have additional questions. Due to time constraints and limited staff, we cannot answer questions that are already covered in the book. Also you have permission to distribute this publication in written or electronic form provided that the document is kept fully intact and proper credit is given to the authors. We request that you send copies of this book to 10 other people who fit our target audience. If you are a Hebrew language scholar with special training in the Ancient Hebrew form of the language, we would like to talk to you:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I – VERDICT: No Sabbath In Genesis!
Begins on Page 4
PART II -- ELLEN G. WHITE AND HER ENABLERS
page chapter And Title
114 One – The Unmasking Of Ellen White – Part I
120 two – The Unmasking Of Ellen White – Part II
144 Three – Ellen White Botches Ecclesiastical history
155 Four - Ellen White And Why Christians Observe Sunday
167 Five – What Adventist Leaders New About Sabbath Impossibilities
177 Six – More Barriers To Ellen White's Sabbath Theories
185 Seven – What Adventist Leaders Knew About Daniel's Prophecies
207 Eight-- Time-Line: The Real History Of Adventism
259 Nine – More On Ellen White And The Supernatural
277 Ten – The Visions Created How Much Money?
279 Eleven – Ellen Makes Billions for the Church With Her Un-Biblical Tithing Doctrine
284 Twelve – Church Corruption During The 1970's
292 Thirteen – Does Religion Have To Make Sense? (Hohmann)
300 Appendix I – Sabbath Not A Law For Christians
316 Appendix II – J. N. Andrews On The Didache
318 Appendix III - Tertullian: Was He Sabbatarian or Anti-Sabbatarian?
322 Appendix IV - D. M. Canright On The Supremacy Of The Eastern Church
330 Appendix V - The 10 Commandments In The New Testament (Sanders)
332 Appendix VI – Christians Working On Sabbaths: Unintended
338 Appendix VII - Ellen White's Quinine Teachings Kill Missionaries
339 Appendix VIII -- Canright: No Heathen Weekly Worship Or Rest Days
VERDICT: NO SABBATH IN GENESIS!
From The Land Of Goshen To
The Mountain Of The Moon
The Hebrews left Egypt on a Thursday night and marched and camped for a total of 38 days before they kept their first Sabbath, treating all the previous days of their journey the same in regard to travel and work. One week before observing the first Sabbath ever kept by anyone, they marched 20 kilometers from their camp by the Red Sea to the edge of the Wilderness of Sin, trampling on the 7th day of their week, arriving around 5 pm on the 31st day of their journey late that “Saturday” afternoon. That evening, God introduced the Manna Obedience Test to Israel, instructing them to gather daily an amount sufficient for their needs for one day, and that on the sixth day they were to gather a double portion in order to provide them with manna on the Sabbath, seeing as there would be none provided on that day. Critical thinking elicits the fact that you cannot keep the Sabbath holy without a preparation day before it. All the work has to be completed before sundown on the 6th day.
At this point in the Exodus journey, the Sabbath represented nothing more than the second of two obedience tests. It was not until a few weeks later when, at Mt. Sinai, the Sabbath was incorporated into the treaty between God and Israel known as the 10 Commandments. Like the ordinance of circumcision and the Jewish dietary laws, the institution of the Sabbath was designed to set the Hebrews apart from every other society on Earth, forming a protective social barrier that would severely restrict their interaction with the Heathen. Regarding these cultic Jewish rituals, a scholar once observed that people who do not eat together seldom become friends. If the Sabbath were a Creation ordinance with truly moral qualities, God would not have led His children out of Egypt without provision for keeping it every step of the way. Once, because of their sins, God seems to have threatened to take Israel’s Sabbaths away.
Hosea 2:11 (NIV) - 11 I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days—all her appointed feasts.
There is some evidence that this text may merely represent a prophecy of what would become of Israel’s sabbath system as a result of their disobedience, rather than an actual statement that God would specially intervene to take away their sabbaths. During their various captivities, Israel undoubtedly experienced disruptions of their Sabbath-keeping. In either case, the adoption of the fixed calendar by their conquering nations made it impossible to keep the Sabbath as is was specified in the Law of Moses. In effect, they were forced to keep “Saturday” rather than the “Sabbath.” All of this Sabbath chaos illustrates the fact that the Sabbath is characteristically ceremonial rather than moral. For example, if Israel was committing adultery and fornication “too much,” God would not suspend the parts of the Law of Moses that forbid these sins. Not even God Himself can set aside or suspend moral laws because such laws are based on the natural laws of cause and effect.
Before the Hebrews left Egypt, the instructions God gave them regarding the keeping of the Passover Feast suggest that no Sabbath existed at that time. This feast was to last seven days, so whether a fixed or lunar calendar is used for our calculations, one of those days would have to have been a Sabbath-- if there had been a Sabbath in existence at that time. The preparation of food was allowed on all of the seven days of the Passover feast. By contrast , cooking on the Sabbath was forbidden. For the Sabbath, the cooking must be done on the Preparation Day, or the sixth day of the week. If there was no sixth day of preparation, there could be no seventh-day Sabbath because food would have to be prepared for the people on it. While permission to prepare food on the Sabbath may have been granted in connection with some of the Jewish feast celebrations that God added later, the only national feast week God had given them up to the time of the Exodus was the Passover.
As our study unfolds it will become painfully clear that Exodus 16 provides water-tight proof—not merely evidence--that no Sabbath existed before the giving of the Manna. We do not use the term, proof, loosely. What this fact means is that any argument for the existence of the Sabbath prior to the Exodus must be remarkably clear, or it is hardly worth discussing. Also, any pro-Sabbatarian arguments must be able to stand on their own with evidence gathered only from Genesis 1 through Exodus 16. In view of the absolutes of Exodus 16, Sabbatarians should not expect to be taken seriously if their approach involves taking references to the Sabbath from beyond the account of the Exodus journey and stuffing them back into Genesis 2. In order for them to provide meaningful support for their agenda, they must demonstrate clear Sabbath content in Genesis 2.
All it takes is a brief survey of Genesis through Exodus 16 to see that there is nothing of this sort available to Sabbatarians. At the same time, there is only a limited amount of evidence available to anti-Sabbatarians, such as the four of us, to actually prove that there is no Sabbath content in Genesis. This evidence in found in part in that Moses used special literary devices to limit the blessing, hallowing, and sanctifying (the setting aside) of that day to that ONE day ALONE. We will explain these indicators and how they work subsequently. Meanwhile, let us turn our attention back to the Exodus journey. God introduced the Sabbath to Israel as something new. The people acted as if it were something new— a stiff-necked and stubborn people testing the boundaries. Some individuals gathered firewood on that first Sabbath. They did so publicly. If the Sabbath had existed prior to Exodus 16, these offenders would have been stoned. The stubborn nature of the Hebrew people strongly suggests that if there were Sabbaths before Exodus 16, some of them would have tested God by breaking the Sabbath every chance they got; yet there is no record that God ever rebuked them for Sabbath-breaking prior to Exodus 16. Here is what the Law of Moses has to say about Sabbath-breaking:
Num 15:32 - 36 (NIV) 32While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.
Think how bad the Exodus journey would make God look if the Sabbath had originated at Creation! Was He not powerful enough to control the events of the Exodus to provide for Sabbath-keeping, including, in each case, a Preparation Day? What kind of example would He have set for His people? Do God’s children only have to keep the Sabbath when it is convenient? Clearly, there was no Sabbath to break until day 38 of the Exodus. Sabbatarian apologist, Brendan Knudson, suggests the possibility that if there was Sabbath-breaking involved under God’s direction-- “The ox is in the ditch” principle excusing God for leading His people to trample on it. Our position is that God had enough power to halt all the forces of Evil and Nature to enable them to keep the Sabbath if there had been a Sabbath to keep, and that as a cognate requirement, He would have also given them preparation days to assure that they could keep their Exodus Sabbaths without preparing food or gathering firewood upon it. People get hungry on Sabbath whether food was prepared the day before or not.
Everything we know about God’s character screams out that He would not lead His people to break an eternally binding moral law. This fact explains several mysterious things that honest-at-heart, thinking Sabbatarians have secretly pondered. Why is there no mention of the Sabbath in Genesis? Why did God give Abraham a surgical procedure (circumcision) as a “seal” for his descendants instead of the Sabbath, which was never even mentioned? Why was Sabbath-keeping not included in a list of basic laws that God gave to Noah around the time of the Great Flood? Why did St. Paul instruct the early church not to require Sabbath-keeping of the new Gentile converts (Colossians 2:14-17)? And why did St. Paul not list Sabbath-breaking in any of the several lists of sins he discussed in his writings? In Galatians St. Paul discusses the Christian's freedom from the “LAW,” and it is clear he is discussing moral, rather than ceremonial, laws because the example he cited was adultery. Yet in the same breath he explained that the Christian is not subject to the LAW, he gave a list of 15 sins that he said would keep a person from entering Heaven. Robert K. Sanders observes that in Romans 1:28-32 he listed 16 sins that were not mentioned in Galatians 5 and that he listed still more sins in Ephesians 4:25-32-- and that in all of these lists there is not a single mention of Sabbath-breaking. With all the sins that Paul’s writings mention-- which included sins of motive and omission in addition to the sins of commission that are the focus of the Decalogue-- it is difficult to imagine how an objective Bible student could think that the 10 Commandments were intended to represent a complete guide to morality or that the Sabbath-keeping should be transferred from Judaism to Christianity. Apparently God didn’t think so either because he gave additional moral laws to Moses after He wrote the 10 Commandments in stone, including prohibitions against fornication (a very different sin from adultery in Hebrew thought) and homosexual relationships.
CAN YOU KEEP THE SABBATH AT THE NORTH POLE?
Imagine you are trying to keep the Jewish Sabbath above the Arctic Circle! The Arctic night “Sabbath” eventually arrives. Suddenly you are not allowed to light a fire in your dwelling place because the sun went down but didn’t come back up. Your heater goes out. You honor God’s “law” by not re-lighting it. The next morning you are found frozen to death, and you go down in history as a noble Christian Jewish Sabbath-keeper who would rather die than break the Jewish Sabbath. Perhaps you miraculously survive the Polar Winter “Sabbath without a fire. You can’t work for the oil company that hired you until the sun comes up (making it “Saturday” morning) and goes back down again, creating a Saturday night. Eventually, however, the sun does come back up, stays up for a day, and goes back down. The Arctic stretch of extended non-Sabbath is finally over. You can go to work now. Sabbath-keeping is conventional for a while, but eventually the sun comes up and won’t go down! Now you have to contend with the extended Arctic stretch of non-Sabbath time. Because the sun won’t go down, Sabbath won’t “start” on Friday night. You have to go to work every day because the Sabbath won’t start since there is no sundown on Friday night.
Actually, there are more variations of this Arctic Sabbath nonsense. In the Arctic fall, If the Sun fails to set on a Friday night, you have “endless” work days. If the Sun fails to set on a Saturday night in the Arctic fall, you have an “endless” Sabbath. We will leave it up to your imagination to figure out what happens in the Arctic spring depending on which day the sun rises for the first time of the season. Please review the dual requirements of the Sabbath commandment. Both requirements apply to Jews. Christians who keep the Jewish Sabbath seem to forget the six-day requirement since it works against the ill-contrived idea that Adam and Eve qualified to rest on the 7th day of Creation along with God. God had worked for six days prior, but Adam and Eve had existed only about one day:
Exodus 20:8 (NIV): “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
If you manage to die of over-work during this stretch of non-Sabbath time, you go down in history as the Sabbath-keeping Christian who would rather die than break the Jewish Sabbath. Is it illogical to think that God would impose a moral law on His earthlings that could not be kept anywhere in the solar system. The sins of fornication and adultery can be committed on Planet Earth or in a space ship on its way to Mars, but the Sabbath can’t be kept anywhere but in a climate like Palestine in the Mid-East. The Adventist prophetess, Ellen G. White, “solves” this problem by mandating that people should not live in parts of the Earth where the Sabbath cannot be kept. Try presenting the Gospel to a Polar-living Eskimo while at the same time telling him that he has to move to a different part of the world in order to keep “God’s Law.”
"In the countries where there is no sunset for months and again no sunrise for months the period of time will be calculated by the records kept. But God has a world large enough and proper and right for the human beings He has created to inhabit it without finding homes in those lands so objectionable in very many, many ways" (Ellen G. White, Letter #167, 23 March, 1900).
For the above reference, follow this link: www.gospeloutreach.net/chap09.html
God gave the Sabbath to Israel only. The Nation of Israel is located in a mild climate where the sun does rise and set every 24 hours for the entire year and where the temperatures are moderate enough to get through a cold winter night simply by piling on the blankets.
If you lived in the Arctic Circle as so many people do now, would you be condemned to Hell and receive the Mark of the Beast because you COULD NOT keep the Sabbath right no matter how hard you tried? Would God have to give you a special dispensation to break His law so you wouldn’t end up with the Mark of the Beast?
On top of all this, Sabbath-keepers at the North Pole cannot keep the Sabbath according to a fixed calendar or the lunar calendar. During the Arctic winter, the moon’s position remains very close to the sun after it goes down. Here is what happens according to astronomer, Laura Spitler:
While the Moon does rise during the summer at the North Pole, since the Sun is always up, you generally can't see it, so I'll focus on the movement of the Moon during the winter.
The daily movement from Earth's rotation causes the Moon to circle once around the sky. If you spent the entire day staring at it, you'd have to turn around exactly once. This movement is also the same that the Sun makes during the summer . . .
The second movement caused by the Moon's orbit around the Earth is analogous to the movement of the Sun over the course of a year only it repeats over the course of a lunar month. Near the new Moon phase, the Moon is near the Sun and therefore never rises during the winter. As the Moon approaches full, it will start to pop up above the horizon. Eventually near the full Moon phase it will be high enough in the sky to stay up all day and circle like the Sun. . . The elevation of the circle will rise as the Moon becomes completely full and then start to decrease until it begins to dip below the horizon. Eventually the Moon will stop rising at all as it gets close enough to the new phase. The cycle then repeats.
Follow this link to the above reference: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=777
It appears that even our lunar Sabbath brethren can’t keep the Sabbath “right” above the Arctic Circle. Will they go to Hell because they can’t keep it right? Does God have to give them a special dispensation that would go something like, “Well, my lunar Sabbath-keepers have such a good heart and they really want to do what’s right, but in this case they can’t. I’m going to let them into Heaven anyway.”
WHERE DO YOUR DRAW THE SABBATH-KEEPING LINE?
There is no greater lunacy about the Sabbath than what happened to the Seventh-day Adventists of the South Pacific Islands of Western Samoa and Tokelau in 2011. On midnight on December 29, 2011, a world agreement moved the International Date Line from the American side to the Australian side for the purpose of benefiting tourism. These islands never experienced December 30th because an instant jump was made from December 29th to December 31st at 10:00 GMT. The seventh day of the week got turned into the day that was formerly Sunday. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists considered the matter and decided that the Adventist churches on Samoa and Tokelau were to keep the same day they had always kept, ignoring the change of the International Date Line. As a result, Adventist Sabbath-keepers on these islands began keeping Sunday with the other Christians. These other island Christians, by keeping their new “Sunday,” are expected, according to the statements of Ellen White, to receive the Mark of the Beast if they don’t start worshiping on the right day. These other Christians moved their “Sunday” to the new “Sunday,” which was the former 7th day “Sabbath,” but because they are still thinking of it as “Sunday,” they are probably doomed, according to the typical viewpoint espoused by Adventism, to end up in Hell. Now, they are worshiping on what used to be the 7th day Sabbath, which would have rescued them from Hell. But, alas, the INTENT of these other Island Christians is observe the first day of the week. Their motives are, therefore, wrong, but the motives of the Adventists are pure because they are trying to keep the actual 7th day of the week. It seems that by special dispensation of the General Conference, the Adventists, who now are keeping Sunday will be protected against receiving the dreaded Mark of the Beast. Now, if the non-Adventist Christians on these islands would become Seventh-day Adventists, they could get a special dispensation from the General Conference president to keep the “wrong” day, and both Adventists and non-Adventist Christians could be saved.
The ability of the General Conference to change Sunday into Saturday by dispensation appears to give it powers that rival the ecclesiastical authority falsely credited to the pope by the Catholic Church. For the whole story, see the article in Adventist Today, “Samoa, the International Dateline Shift, and the Seventh-day Sabbath,” which appeared in the publication in 2013 at the following link. Note that the author of the Adventist Today article does not discuss the Mark of the Beast problem. The authors of VERDICT are solely responsible for taking the Mark of the Beast logic to its furthest logical extent:
Hanson summarizes a variety of opinions submitted by various Sabbath-keeping theologians, but the one that fixes the problem the best is the lunar Sabbath approach. As we will explain shortly, the lunar calendar was by Israel in favor of a fixed calendar at some time after the building of the second temple but before the birth of Christ. Therefore, the Jews had been keeping the 7th day of an arbitrary fixed week even before the time of Jesus. However, if the following author is correct, it is possible that the arbitrarily chosen day that the Jews were keeping at the time of Christ may have been changed a second time by Constantine. Some authorities find that some Jewish sects were keeping the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar during the time of Christ. Please note that you are about to read a Seventh-day Adventist’s point-of-view. We object to his assertion that “the Sabbath is introduced in the biblical book of Genesis.” We quote him according to his written statement:
The Samoa Dateline Dilemma shows that one cannot use the International Date Line in determining the Sabbath. In fact, the Old Testament Sabbath does not use the modern Gregorian Calendar: The calendar used by Moses was based upon the phases of the Moon, not a continuous weekly cycle.
The Old Testament calendar starts every month on New Moon Day, and the Sabbaths are always in the same place: The 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month. This is why the feast days in Leviticus 23 have a Sabbath on the 15th of the month, and why the words "New Moon" and "Sabbath" often occur together in Scripture.
The Moon is the clock which orbits the round Earth and provides the reference for Biblical time. If this reference is ignored, then an arbitrary man-made marker (such as the International Date Line) has to be substituted.
The Sabbath is introduced in the Biblical book of Genesis. Note that does not say "count every seven days", but rather Genesis 1.14 : And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for SEASONS, and for days, and years.
“The word for SEASONS is Strong’s #4150, ‘religious festivals’. Notice that Genesis 1:14 says that the "religious festivals" are designated by the "lights in...heaven". Psalm 104:19 identifies the light as the Moon.
The Sabbaths and Feast Days are linked by the Fourth Commandment as recorded in two different Bible books: The Fourth Commandment in Exodus 20 clearly references the seventh day Sabbath based on Creation; The Fourth Commandment in Deuteronomy 5 clearly references the seventh day Sabbath based on the deliverance from Egypt, which occurred on the evening of the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread.
Note that the Sabbath commandment in Deuteronomy 5:12-15 does not mention Creation, but rather the Exodus from Egypt, which happened on the 15th, at night. To repeat, the seventh-day Sabbaths are always in the same place: The 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th of the month, and they use the same calendar as the Feast Days—the Lunar Calendar. The format of the Biblical Month:
Note: Moon phases are approximate, and are shown for the Northern Hemisphere; If you're south of the Equator, they are reversed.
The reason most Jews today keep Saturday is the same exact reason that most Christians keep Sunday—because of Constantine's calendar change, and the persecutions by which he enforced these changes. Prior to this, in 46-45 BC, Julius Caesar (the Julian Calendar) had separated the months and weeks from the Moon and made a continuous eight day cycle, but he did not enforce it on other nations living within the Empire.
In AD 321, Constantine created a compromise calendar. He blended the Hebrew idea of a seven day week with the Julian concept of a continuous weekly cycle, and added the veneration of the "sun god" from Mithraism to create the Roman calendar used today. He enforced his calendar upon the entire Roman Empire with military power.
Because of these changes which were being enforced by persecutions across the Roman Empire, the Jewish Sanhedrin met for the last time around AD 350, and modified their calendar to the form used by most Jews today, in which the Sabbath is on Saturday. Other Feast Days are determined using a form of the Lunar calendar.
Constantine's calendar was modified slightly by Pope Gregory into the calendar used today. However, the true Calendar ordained at Creation, according to Genesis 1:14 and Psalms 81:3, is based on the phases of the Moon. Therefore, neither Saturday nor Sunday is the Old Testament Sabbath, and the International Date Line is not involved at all.
This situation in Samoa is a tiny foreshadowing of what is coming. If the proposed New World Calendar is adopted, and the 364-day perpetual year is implemented, then the extra "blank" day (called "World Day Holiday") will disrupt any continuous seven-day cycle. At that point, the whole world will face a situation where the day that "should have been" Saturday or Sunday will fall on a different day.
NOTE: According to Hanson, this on-line source for this information no longer exists.
Our research of the lunar Sabbath concept produced these observations about it:
1. The Karaite sect of Judaism knows more about the Hebrew lunar calendar than any other authority. The Karaites came into existence when Rabbinical Judaism chose to abandon the lunar calendar in favor of the fixed calendar. It appears that it was the decision of a council of rabbis during the Babylonian Exile to abandon the Hebrew lunar calendar in favor of the fixed calendar of their captors that disassociated the weekly Sabbath from the four phases of the Moon.
2. Since the new moons are invisible during the Arctic winter, the Sabbaths cannot be determined by the new moons or periods of sunsets and sunrises. In order for the Sabbath to be a moral principle, it must be possible to keep it everywhere—not just in Palestine.
3. Karaite Judaism rejects the notion that the “true” seventh day can be known because it was kept according to the lunar calendar before the Babylonian Exile, the nomadic life of proto-Hebrews, and the chaotic nature of ancient history.
4. While solving the International Date Line problem, the lunar Sabbath concept does nothing to help Sabbath-keepers who live above the Arctic Circle. A moral law is universal in principle and application, so the Sabbath cannot possibly be a moral law. Even in ancient Israel it could only become a moral issue when it became a decision to obey or disobey a clear command of God.
5. Seventh-day Adventists represent the largest body of Sabbath-keepers outside of Judaism. In 1995 the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists commissioned a committee to study the credibility of the lunar Sabbath concept for the third time in its history. The committee was disbanded and its findings were ignored when a number of the members of the committee were convinced that it was, indeed, the way the Hebrews originally kept the weekly Sabbath. There is strong evidence that three of these committee members were biblical scholars from the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary at Andrews University. These scholars reportedly found that the evidence was “overwhelming” in favor of its validity.
WORKING TOWARDS A NEW SABBATH THEORY
We now know that the ancient civilizations contemporary to the time of the Israel’s exodus from Egypt marked time by lunar months. We also know that their smallest “absolute” unit of time for periods of time less than a solar year was the lunar month. They had no concern for numbers of days within a lunar month. Universal to virtually all ancient societies contemporary with Exodus Era Israel was that the number of days between the lunar months were of no consequence or concern. These civilizations were focused on the absolute reference point represented by the appearance of the new moon. (The reference point was always an absolute, fixed event. This is not at all the same thing as saying that the time between the reference points were absolutely the same length.)
Furthermore, we know that in between the new moons they kept track of time by seven-day weeks that were correlated to the four phases of the moon. Finally, we know that their focus on the new moon as the absolute reference of time-keeping resulted in a total lack of concern for the number of days between those absolute reference points. This is one more prime example of the danger of studying the Bible without an understanding of the culture and the language which produced the biblical record. It is a very naive biblical scholar who would demand that Moses explain that his time references were lunar at a time when the entire world had no concept of fixed calendars. Forgive us for this example, but we believe it hits the hammer on the nail. Prior to American movies becomes so raunchy in the post-Christian Era, programs and movies did not include any mention of the characters having to use the bathroom. Never-the-less, all Americans subconsciously knew that the characters were somehow sneaking away to use the toilet at least a couple of times a day. Who will not confess that in the movie, Crocodile Dundee, he or she did not wonder about bathroom “breaks” when a man and a woman got lost alone together in the Australian Outback? Now, unfortunately, the cameras take the viewer right into the restrooms, leaving no doubt that the people being portrayed by the actors have to use the toilet like everyone else.
Many of the cuneiform writings discuss a day of cessation from work at the end of each phase and suggest that the extra days between the last new moon and the first new moon were spent resting, rather than working. This information, which has been widely available for a very long time to scholars, raises serious questions about the usual Sabbatarian explanation for the existence of the pervasive Heathen concept of a seven-day week and a day of rest at the week’s end. Sabbatarians claim that this Heathen familiarity with a kind of sabbath principle is due to the retention (with corruption) of the memory of a seven-day fixed week and a Sabbath ordinance that all people were supposed to keep since Creation. Unfortunately there are better explanations for this phenomenon—the universal association between seven-day periods of time and the four phases of the moon. Since there was no Sabbath ordinance in Genesis, other explanations demand to be found.
The Hebrew word for Sabbath is closely related and derived from a word that means “propitiation.” When God ceased His creative work on the 7th day of Creation, He did not ask to be propitiated, and there is nothing in the story of Adam and Eve to suggest that any such propitiation if for no other reason than sin had not entered the world yet. The fact that in these ancient languages the sabbath concept was equated with the need to appease the gods is a major linguistic barrier to the idea the Sabbath originated at Creation.
The work of D. A. Carson and his team of distinguished biblical scholars published From Sabbath to Lord’s Day in 1982. This landmark study of the Sabbath-Sunday Question provided the world with a break-through understanding of the Hebrew linguistics of Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20 that definitively proved that Moses worded his language carefully to make it impossible for his Hebrew readers to see a Sabbath commandment in Genesis 2. Their studies also proved to the point of over-kill that Christians abandoned Sabbath-keeping for biblical reasons and that all the known conspiracy-apostasy theories to explain this abandonment are contrary to facts of history that have been known for nearly 2,000 years.
The lunar connection explains the development of the Heathen concept of a seven day week and a day of rest at the end of the week better than any other theories, since we now know for certain that there was no Sabbath in Genesis.
The Encyclopedia Biblica (The MacMillan Company, 1899, p. 4180) says that the Hebrew word for Sabbath, or sabbathon, conveys the propitiation or appeasement of divine anger:
It is the opinion of [Professor Jastrow] that the idea of propitiation or appeasement of divine anger, and it is . . . the opinion of [Professor Jastrow] that the Hebrew Sabbath (i.e. Creation Sabbath) was originally a Sabbathon – i.e. a day of propitiation and appeasement; marked by atoning rites . . . it was celebratred at intervals of seven days, CORRESPONDING WITH CHANGES IN THE MOON’S PHASES, and was identical in character with the four days in each month, i.e. 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th! (page 4,180). Cited in From Sabbath to Saturday by John D. Keyser.)
The Encyclopedia Biblica also notes that the word translated “rest” in Genesis 2:1-2, indicates that the 7th day of Creation was a day that divided something and has nothing to do with resting. For our immediate purposes, note that the word indicates a division of the month—not days. (We hasten to point out, as discussed elsewhere, that to us it seems to divide the seven days of Creation into two categories —the days that God created and the day that he did not create.) However, since Jastrow is an expert in Ancient Hebrew linguistics, we may find ourselves having to defer to his interpretation-- one that represents still another serious argument against a Creation Sabbath from Hebrew linguistics. On page 4,173 we read:
The word, “Sabbath” is a feminine form/word. The ROOT (of Sabbath) has NOTHING to do with resting in the sense of enjoying repose; in transitive forms and applications, it means: “to sever,” “to put an end to”—“to come to an end.” In a transitive sense – “the divider” – indicates the Sabbath as dividing the month. It certainly cannot be translated “The Day of Rest.”
Lunar Sabbath Researcher, John D. Keyser, has studied the “heathen” Sabbath in depth, and he presents numerous examples of it in his remarkable book, From Sabbath to Saturday. These are some examples he discovered:
Discovered by Assyriologist, George Smith in 1869 among the cuneiform tablets in the British Museum and summarized here by Hutton Webster:
. . .a curious religious calendar of the Assyrians, in which every month is divided into four weeks, and the seventh days or “Sabbaths,” are marked out as days on which no work should be undertaken.”
It appears to be a transcript of a much more ancient Babylonia original, possibly belonging to the age of Hammurabi, which has been made by order of Ashurbanipal and place in his royal library at Nineveh. The calendar, which is complete for the thirteenth or intercalary month, called Elul II, and for Markheshwan, the eight month of the Babylonia year, takes up thirty days in succession and indicates the deity to which each day is sacred and what sacrifices or precautionary measures are necessary for each day.
All the days are styled “favourable,” an expression which must indicate a pious hope not a fact, since the words ud-khul-gal or umu limnu (“the devil day”) are particularly applied to the seventh fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eight days . . . With regard to the reasons which dictate the choice of the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days, two views have been entertained. It has been held, in the first place, that the “evil days” were selected as CORRESPONDING TO THE MOON’S SUCCESSIVE CHANGES; hence the seventh day marks the close of the earliest form of the seven-day week, A WEEK BOUND UP WITH THE LUNAR PHASES.
(Hutton Webster, Rest Days: a Study in Early Law and Morality, New York: The MacMillan Company. 1916, p. 223-224.)
It seems like the utilization of the lunar calendar appears to have produced some extra rest days between the months:
Assurbanipal in the seventh century promulgated a calendar with a definite scheme of a seven-day week, a regulation of the month by which all men were to rest on days 7, 14, 19, 21,28. The old menology of Nisan made the TWO DAYS OF THE DARK OF THE MOON, 29, 30, rest days, so that each lunar month had 9 rest days, on which neither the sick could be cured nor a man in difficulty consult a prophet, none might travel, and fasting was enforced.
Keyser cites Hutton Webster, a contributor to Rest Days: A Study in Early Law and Morality, pp. 228-229, regarding the fact that the Babylonian “Epic of Creation,” includes a discussion of lunar weeks that end in a Sabbath rest day. Keyser says:
“Finally,” writes Webster, “in the fifth tablet of the Babylonian ‘Epic of Creation,’ a work which in its original form is traced to the close of the third millennium B.C., it is told how the god Marduk, having created and set in order the heavenly bodies, then placed the moon in the sky to make known the days and DIVIDE THE MONTH WITH HER PHASES.” “Although this interesting production, in its present mutilated state,” elicits Webster, “mentions only the seventh and fourteenth days, we are entitled to believe that the original text also referred to the twenty-first and twenty-eighth days of the month.”
Keyser’s research suggests that the seven-day week synchronized to the four phases of the moon was virtually universal in the ancient world that surrounded Israel. He cites the work of Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (Charles Scribner Sons, New York, 1892-1902), the article, “On Sabbath: Babylonian,” it appears that the document referenced by Hastings is the same one referenced by Webster above:
Almost all scholars today agree that the primal seven-day calendar, as used among the very ancient Semites (including the Babylonians and Hebrews), was based upon the moon. Furthermore, this unique weekly cycle was observed in tandem with the lunar phases. An example of the early week, based upon the phases of the moon, is described in the Fifth Tablet of the Semitic Story of Creation. Note that the moon is said to “make known the days” and its horns “the seasons,” creating the Sabbath on the 7th and 14th days of the month. Quoting the tablet’s translation, he finds:
[The moon] He caused to shine, ruling the night: He set him then as a creature of the Night, to make known the days.
Monthly unfailing, He provided him with a tiara.
At the beginning of the month then,
Appearing in the land,
The horns shine forth to make known the seasons.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE EXTRA DAYS?
Beyond any reasonable doubt, virtually all the ancient civilizations contemporary to Ancient Israel and Israel itself used the lunar calendar, and the first sighting of the new moon started the first day of the first week of the new month. The ancients viewed the monthly cycle of the moon as the absolute marker for any period of time less than one solar year, and they cared nothing about the number of days in between the markers represented by the appearance of each new moon. But what about the extra days between the new moon months? They never seem to add up to seven.
If you look back at our example of a lunar month and analyze it, you can’t help being puzzled by the fact that the new moon seems both to end the month and to begin it. The orbit of the moon around the Earth varies by up to several days. Therefore, there are almost always (it seems) these extra days left over at the end of each lunar month. As “moderns” accustomed to a fixed calendar and having never known anything else, our first reaction to the lunar concept of marking time is that these extra days “mess up” the weekly cycle. This perception is the result of normal cultural bias, but one that is dangerous when it comes to translating one language into another. We will explain momentarily that the Hebrews simply discarded these days and either rested or worked on them. Their absolute standard was the appearance of each new moon. The records left by these societies strongly suggest that they simply rested on these extra days. Recall from the previous section that Assurbanipal’s calendar of the 7th century BCE had a total of nine rest days, a few of them represented by the extra days in between the months.
Elsewhere in VERDICT, we cite the work of Benner, a noted Hebrew language scholar. Benner says that the Hebrew language is impossible to translate accurately without an advanced understanding of the culture that produced it. The culture in which the early Israelites and their ancestors found themselves was overwhelmingly enmeshed in the concept of the lunar calendar and the lunar week. The trouble we have comprehending the variable day lunar month is the result of our Western idea, forged into our minds by our fixed calendar cultural experience. Since a fixed calendar has been used by civilizations roughly since the time of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires, the weeks “butt up” against each other consecutively. However, by either method of reckoning time, a week is always seven days.
The fact that the ancients likely rested on these extra days is supported by the obsession they appear to have had on fertility subjects and celebrated with fertility rites. They did not fail to notice that the number of days it takes the moon to go around the Earth is roughly equal to the number of days in a woman’s reproductive cycle. Notice the research of Janet and Stewart Farrar in their book, The Witches’ Goddess (Phoenix Publishing, pp. 24-25, & p. 106):
The modern use of seven day weeks also stems from the ancient lunar calendar. The first of every lunar month was marked as the first day of a new week and a Sabbath was celebrated every seventh day to mark the 4 quarters of the moon. The last week was followed by the days of the dark moon when the goddess was held to be menstruating and so an extended Sabbath was observed until the waxing crescent moon reappeared and the new month began.
The Jewish Encyclopedia addresses the problem of the extra days between the lunar months with this explanation in Volume 10, p. 482, the article, “Week:”
The idea of the week, as a subdivision of the month [was found] . . . in Babylonia, where each lunar month was divided into four parts, CORRESPONDING TO THE FOUR PHASES OF THE MOON. The first week of each month began with the new moon, so that, as the lunar month was one or two days more than four periods of seven days, these additional days were not reckoned at all. Every seventh day (sabbatum) was regarded as an unlucky day. This method of reckoning time spread westward through Syria and Palestine, and WAS ADOPTED BY THE ISRAELITES, probably after they settled in Palestine.
THE NEW THEORY OF SABBATH ORIGINS
Thanks to advanced studies in Hebrew linguistics we now know that there is no possibility that the Sabbath ordinance was imposed on God’s people until the time of the Exodus. We also know that Heathen societies that predated Exodus Era Israel had a “sabbath” concept based on the four phases of the moon and fertility themes. The next logical step requires the obvious conclusion, and that is that the sabbath of propitiation and fertility associations that was so prevalent in the societies that predated ancient Israel could not have developed as the result of some kind of “dim memory” of the “original Sabbath” in the Garden of Eden. No such thing ever existed! Additionally, some historians see evidence that this lunar-fertility sabbath was part of the Egyptian culture when the Hebrews were their captives.
The next logical step is to conclude that the evidence available to us suggests that when God gave Israel its sabbath system, His thinking was that He would take a purely heathen concept, redeemed it, washed it clean of its fertility and superstitious connotations, and present it to Israel in the glorious and holy form in which came down to them from Mt. Sinai-- The Mountain of the Moon. It would appear that while it was washed of its Heathen connotations, its association with the four phases of the Moon was retained. After all, in Genesis, Chapter One, God stated that the sun and moon were given to the human race to determine “sacred times.” The lunar connection with the Sabbath, then, did not need to be cleansed as it reflected His provision for time-keeping for all peoples for all time from the beginning of time. The earliest societies on Earth had retained the memory of the lunar method of time reckoning that God had given to the world in the very beginning. And this memory was not a “dim” one either. With each appearance of the Moon, all the people on the Earth recognized the existence of God's long-lasting timepiece.
This theory of how the Jewish Sabbath came into existence is so much in keeping with God’s preference for communicating spiritual truths to Israel through cultural concepts with which they were already familiar. For example, God modeled the Ten Commandments after the formula for the treaties that Israel’s neighbors made with one another. It was the custom of the time to draft these agreements so that a list of required actions by the people of a conquered nation had a ceremonial requirement placed right in the middle. The ceremony that the people were required to enact at regular intervals was designed to help the conquered people to remember the one who had the power to require them fulfill their obligations, as well as to remember his actual requirements. Consider the fact that Jehovah did not choose to ban slavery for Israel. The practice of slavery was universal at the time. The way the Heathen practiced it created extreme human suffering. God’s regulations for slavery within Israel was just, humane, and designed to give the worker-slave hope were for the future at the end of his seven-year indenture. Similarly, He chose to control—not to erase—certain inequalities between the role of men and women in society. The Law of Moses provided, for example, that women could own property, and they enjoyed many protections and privileges while the women of Israel's neighbors were frequently treated as having less value than livestock. Jehovah seems to have chosen to work within the culture of the day whether in regard to the Sabbath, slavery, or women’s rights. Even female slaves had a status of honor and protection unheard of in the Heathen world. In the New Testament, Jesus redeemed the concept of baptism-- always a symbol of spiritual renewal-- from heathen cultic sources.
It is impossible to divorce the Sabbath from its lunar foundations. Recall once more that Jehovah gave these treaty-like Ten Commandments from the top of the Mountain of the Moon (Sin = Semitic for Moon) which sat on the edge of the Wilderness of the Moon. Furthermore, He thundered these requirements to the Hebrews on the same day as the pagan High Sabbath of the lunar month. The Sabbaths before and after the giving of the 10 Commandments from Mt. Sinai correlated with the designated sabbaths of the lunar month.
Was it just a coincidence that God chose the High Sabbath of the pagan lunar month to present the terms of His treaty with the ceremonial Sabbath requirement placed in the middle with His Hebrew people? It would seem that if we were to humbly attempt to think about the way God would view this question, we would reason that if He were concerned about the linkage between the Holy Sabbath of the Hebrews and the pagan Sabbaths of their neighbors, He would have avoided giving the terms of His treaty with Israel on that day. Because ALL the countries around Israel kept time by the phases of the moon, all sabbaths, whether sacred or pagan, would have been observed on exactly the same day in that part of the world.
The lunar month and the lunar-based seven-day week was simply the way things worked at that time in the history of the world. Back then the concept of a fixed calendar would likely have been as incomprehensible to them as their lunar calendar is to us. To demand that Moses record the fact that Israel was using a lunar calendar at the time of the Exodus is as unreasonable as demanding that Robert Hemingway explain that in the age he wrote in, there were things called cars that drove on things called roads. He would simply put a car in his story if it was a necessary part of his story-telling, and his readers would already know what a car was.
DID JESUS KEEP THE “RIGHT” DAY?
The Karaite Jews are the world’s experts on how the current fixed 7th day of our current week came to be arbitrarily assigned to be thought of as the 7th day. By the time Jesus came to Earth, the Karaites had been reminding the Rabbinical Jews that no one could possibly tell which day was the seventh for hundreds of years. They reminded the rabbinical Jews that the lunar Sabbath was the true Sabbath and pressed their fellow Jews to return to keeping it the right way.
It is amazing but true. Jesus did not keep the “right” day if the right day is defined as being an exact seven-day multiple of the 7 th day of Creation Week. There is not one text in the Torah or the Old Testament that teaches that the Sabbath must be kept as an exact seven-day multiple of the 7th day of Creation. The only requirement of the Law of Moses is that the people must work for six days and rest on the 7th. The Sabbath concept was modeled after the seven days of Creation, but no absolute reference point for determining the first day of the six days of work is provided. It seems that the 7th day is determined by a prior six days of work and that the week's beginning is correlated to the new moon. Any attempt to add or subtract Sabbath attributes is like adding words to Scripture, which is a practice forbidden by it.
The fact that Jesus gave His tacit approval to an arbitrarily chosen 7th day poses serious problems for any Sabbath-keeping Christian sect which presumes to threaten other believers will Hell fire for failing to rest on an arbitrarily designated period of 24 hours. How could Jesus send anyone to Hell for not keeping the “right” day when He Himself kept a day that was randomly picked by the Babylonian rabbis be called the 7th day? (Some authorities provide evidence that some of the Jewish sects were keeping the lunar Sabbath. The Nazarene sect, for example, was included in this category.
Jesus didn’t teach them to return to keeping their Sabbaths by synchronizing them to the new moons. Nor did He reveal which day that was an exact seven-day multiple of the 7 th day of Creation Week. The fact that Jesus did neither of these things underscores the fact that no day of the week possesses intrinsic sacredness. It also suggests that He knew the Sabbath would cease to be relevant to His followers after His death on the cross. If there was a problem, it wasn’t worth fixing.
From Sabbath To Saturday!
The pioneers of Adventism would have to have known that the Karaite Jews knew that it was impossible to know which day of the week was an exact seven-day multiple of the 7th day of Creation. These pioneers of Adventism were previously Millerites. These pioneers had to know that Miller’s prophecy that Jesus would return on October 22nd, 1844 was completely dependent on the principles of the Hebrew lunar calendar. William Miller, his Millerite followers, and the pioneers of Adventism that came out of the Millerite Movement would have to have known that any day of the fixed calendar had only one chance in seven to be an exact seven-day multiple of the 7th day of Creation. Some of these Millerites, but not William Miller himself, became enamored with Sabbatarianism and, astonishingly, began to teach that the 7th day of the current fixed calendar was, indeed, an exact seven-day interval of the 7th day of Creation. Amazingly, they began to teach others that failing to rest on this 7th day would give people the Mark of the Beast and send them straight to Hell. What’s with this?
Unknown to almost all Seventh-day Adventists is the fact that the Lunar Sabbath Question has arisen three times in SDA history, causing controversy every time. In fact, every time the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is forced to form a study committee to examine the issue of the lunar Sabbath’s biblical and historical claims, some of the Adventist scholars on those committees become convinced of its truth and start talking about the need for the denomination to start keeping the Sabbath according to its principles. Each time these committees are shut down and their work is destroyed or lost.
An extensive research paper outlining the astronomical, historical, and biblical evidence for the biblical lunar Sabbath was submitted to the General Conference during the 1930’s. Not only was the committee commissioned to study it shut down, but the research paper—one that had taken decades to produce—mysteriously disappeared and has never been found.
The most recent lunar Sabbath study committee to be scuttled was one appointed by former General Conference president, Robert S. Folkenburg, in 1995. It was reportedly disbanded when three committee members, all theology professors from the Church’s theological seminary at Andrews University, became convinced that the evidence in favor of the biblical lunar Sabbath was overwhelming. Information about these things is handled well by the damage control experts of the Church. Our readers should do their own Internet research to verify this information if they are interested.
Non-lunar Sabbath-keepers, and especially Seventh-day Adventists, will fight the lunar Sabbath concept to the death because it destroys key elements of the Adventist agenda. It destroys the SDA concept of the Third Angel’s Message that the time has now arrived when everyone must rest on a certain 24-hour period of time during the arbitrarily chosen 7th day of the fixed week or they will receive the Mark of the Beast and go straight to Hell after the judgment. (Note that not all Sabbatarians base their Sabbath-keeping on the idea that the 7th day has to be an exact seven-day multiple of the 7th day of Creation. They have more explaining to do than any other Sabbatarian sect in our opinion.)
On top of all of this, the fact that the “real” seventh day wandered through the week makes it impossible that the pope or any other entity could have “changed” the Sabbath. It “changed” almost every month by itself! Ellen White said that God showed her that the pope “changed” the Sabbath. We must ask, “Changed what?” Sacredness from one arbitrarily labeled day of the week to another arbitrarily labeled day of the week? There is no fixed sacred period of 24 hours to transfer to a different day of the week.
There is little possibility that Ellen White did not fully comprehend the implications of the Karaite position on the Sabbath. She was a Millerite before she became a Sabbath-keeping Advent Movement believer. How could she not know these things? How could she not have known that there was only one chance in seven that the “seventh day” was REALLY the 7th day? These questions raise serious concerns about the integrity and motives not only of Ellen White, but the other pioneer founders of Adventism. Did they want to teach the TRUTH and nothing but the whole TRUTH, or did they want to present a different enough message to attract new members to contribute money to the cause but not to present ideas so radical that no one would listen?
At the time God gave Israel the Sabbath, the civilizations of the world were using the lunar calendar to keep track of units of time of less than one year. As noted earlier, the seven-day week was the natural outcome of the four phases of the moon, which are approximately seven days each. The moon was something everyone could see, and its movements had definite patterns. This seems to be the reason why seven-day weeks were natural to ancient civilizations.
The most vocal opponents of the lunar Sabbath concept cite lack of Scriptural evidence for it. This argument sounds piously credible, but it is incredibly naive. Time after time, continuing biblical research has demonstrated that a failure to study the culture that produced the Scripture and linguistics of biblical author's language has led to unwarranted assumptions. We will provide you with some remarkable examples later in VERDICT. It is equally important to consider any passage in the light of to whom God was speaking and under what circumstances He spoke to them. The use of the lunar calendar was simply the way the ancient world worked for both its civilizations and nomadic tribes. Why should an Old Testament author be expected to spell-out the details of something that was such a fundamental part of their lives that they could not even imagine anything else?
We lay this fact at your feet. The historical evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the fact that the Jews kept the Sabbath according to the lunar calendar before the building of the second temple. Similarly, the historical evidence is overwhelming that at some time after the building of the second temple, Rabbinical Judaism severed the link between the Sabbath and the new moon, fashioning a fixed calendar after the likeness of the Heathen nations around them. The Karaite Judaism arose in protest of this apparent violation of the Law of Moses and owes its very existence to the controversy that erupted when the Sabbath was changed to Saturday by Rabbinical Judaism. The Karaites formed into an opposition sect to protest this apostasy from the will of the Law of Moses. There is good evidence that some of the sects within the Judaism of Jesus’ time maintained Sabbath observance according to the lunar calendar. The Nazarenes were one of these sects. Jesus may have been a Nazarene. The Karaites were there when William Miller was forging his 2,300 day prophecy, and they are still here today while Sabbatarian Christians are fighting over a lunar versus fixed way of Sabbath-keeping. You can visit their website to verify the truth of what we are explaining, and their U.S. headquarters are in Los Angeles.
This whole fiasco is of no real interest to Gospel Christians who enjoy the freedom from the Law that St. Paul stressed so greatly. However, Sabbath keepers, if they are going to insist that Christians must keep the Jewish Sabbath, should concern themselves not with questions like, “Did the pope change the Sabbath?” but rather, “Who changed the Sabbath to Saturday?”
A most remarkable summary of the history of how the lunar Sabbath got changed to Saturday, including evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Jews in Jerusalem were keeping the lunar Sabbath during this period of Jewish history can be found at this Web address, by author John D. Keyser of the Hope of Israel Organization:
King Hezekiah, The Sun Dial, And The
World Abandonment Of The Lunar Calendar
Why did world civilizations abandon their lunar calendars for fixed calendars? The solar year does not exactly total up to any exact number of days. The story you are about to hear is as strange as anything you have ever heard, but the historical and astronomical evidence for its truth is as remarkable as the story is bizarre.
As the contributor cited by Adventist Today’s Hanson explained, Genesis 1:14-16 spells out the concept that God gave the sun and moon to be the markers of time for the human race. God specifically mentioned that these markers were designed for keeping track of sacred days. This concept is especially clear in the New International Version. We will start where the contributor quoted by Hanson left off:
Genesis 1:14-16 (NIV) - 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.
It was a disruption of world lunar calendars by a series of catastrophic events that took place somewhat before the building of the second temple in 586 BC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Temple) that made the use of the lunar calendar impractical for world civilizations, including Israel. The disruption of these world lunar calendars, as mentioned elsewhere, strongly correlated through a study of the calendar, historical, and astronomical records of the major world civilizations of the age. Furthermore, there is a remarkable correlation between the records of these disruptive world events with the biblical record of the turning back of the sundial by 10 degrees as a sign requested by King Hezekiah. This event is recorded in both Isaiah 38:8 and II Kings 20. Historian, Edwin Thiele, places the reign of King Hezekiah between 715 and 786 BCE. See:
Also, in Joshua 10 we have the story of how God prevented the sun from going down until a battle was won. Both events took place after the lunar-based Sabbath was given to Israel from high atop the Mountain of the Moon—Mt. Sinai. Ancient civilizations used the lunar calendar until the disruptive events that seem to have taken place between 600 and 800 BCE.
As we review Velikovsky’s research, you will recognize that these dates lend credibility to his theory that it was a major astronomical event that altered the length of the lunar month. Prior to these strange events, the lunar calendars of world civilizations had 12 months of 30 days each which added up to a solar year that was about 360 days. After the miracle of the sun dial retreating 10 degrees, the solar year mysteriously grew from about 360 days to about 365.25 days, and world civilizations were forced to add extra days to their lunar calendars to get them to sync with the expanded length of the solar year. These disruptive events recorded in the histories of ancient civilizations included crazy weather patterns, earthquakes, and other catastrophes. This is true of the calendars and histories of the Mayans in South America, the Chinese, and the civilizations of the Middle East. It is no stretch of the imagination to see the reality of the biblical teaching that the Earth is “growing old like a garment.” Today scientists believe they have proof that the magnetic field of the Earth has reversed polarity several times in the past, and some scientists, including Albert Einstein, have believed that a major disruptive event in the distant past caused the continents of the world to drift many thousands of miles within the space of less than one or two days. To dismiss Velikovsky’s astronomical explanation as the explanation for the world abandonment of the lunar calendar tends to diminish the reality of two biblical miracles. The miracles of a lengthened day and the sun dial going backwards ten degrees would have to have natural consequences. For more information on Einstein and the Polar Shift Hypothesis, follow this link:
It is critically important to understand the reality of this part of ancient calendar and astronomical history. Therefore, we quote at length from a position paper posted by the Sabbath-keeping Bethel Church of God of Eugene, Oregon:
With respect to the calendar, the book of Genesis implies a 360-day year at the time of the Flood (Dictionary of the Bible, by James Hastings, s.v. “Time”). Comparing Genesis 7:11, 24 with Genesis 8:4 we see months of thirty days-a five-month period with 150 days. Checking Deuteronomy 34:8 with Numbers 20:29 we see a thirty-day month during the time of Moses-at about 1500 BC. According to Immanuel Velikovsky in his work, Worlds in Collision, we find the following information: The old Babylonian year consisted of 360 days-twelve months of thirty days each. Scholars knew this even before the cuneiform script was understood. The Assyrian year contained 360 days; a decade was made up of 3,600 days. Assyrian documents reveal a thirty-day month from new moon to new moon. Anciently, the Persian year also had 360 days of twelve months containing thirty days each. The Egyptian year was 360 days in length. Later, it was changed to 365 days. The Book of Sothis states the added five days were introduced at a later time. The Eber Papyrus lists a year of twelve months with thirty days each. During the Eighteenth Dynasty the new moon festival was observed at periods of thirty days. After the fall of the Middle Kingdom, the Hyksos introduced a solar year of 360 days according to a gloss on a manuscript of Timaeus. The Mayan year originally consisted of 360 days, but five days were later added, as well as another day every fourth year. In South America, in ancient times, the year consisted of 360 days with twelve months. The same was true in China – 360 days with twelve months. When five days were added to the Chinese year they included another one-quarter day. Plutarch wrote that when Rome was first founded during the time of Romulus, the Roman year was 360 days. Various Latin authors record the month as being thirty days in length. What this means is that there is ample historical evidence to demonstrate that before the introduction of a 365¼ day year the length of the year was 360 days. The ancient texts of India during the Veda period state the year was 360 days in comments found throughout the Brahmanas. Nowhere is intercalation mentioned. Nor is an extra five or six days associated with a solar year. The Hindu year was made up of twelve months of thirty days each. With their astronomical skills it is astonishing why the Brahmans failed to realize that 360 days was 5¼ days short. All the historical computations found in Hindu history used a 360-day year with months of thirty days each. What is quite apparent is that throughout the world we find a calendar of 360 days that was later changed at about the seventh century BC when five days were added to the year (Velikovsky, 124, 331-341). Did God change the seasons as Daniel stated? (Dan. 2:21).
About the seventh or eighth centuries BC five additional days were added to the length of the year. From about this time the Hindu year, for example, was lengthened to 365¼ days even though the original length of the year was still used. From the fifteenth century down to the eighth century BC, the length of the year was consistently the same due to the orbit of the Earth and revolutions of the moon. It was the same thirty-day month, and the length of the year itself did not vary more than a few hours. What happened to change this? Some sort of catastrophe occurred that altered both the orbit and axis of the Earth and moon as well as the length of the year. Repeated disturbances changed the orbit of the Earth from 360 days to 365 and ¼ days in length and the length of the month from thirty days to 29½ days (Velikovsky, 338, 332, 342).
What is required to bring about the kind of changes that took place in the eighth century BC? For one thing the axis of the Earth must be altered from the perpendicular into a tilt. This would affect the seasons. The 23½ degree tilt of the axis is now responsible for the seasons-spring following winter and fall following summer because the axis is tilted either toward or away from the sun. A perpendicular axis prevents seasonal changes, which appears to be the case from the opening chapters of Genesis. Fossil remains prove that at one time the climate was the same worldwide. Should there be another change in the axis the seasons would be more intense and their order would be altered. The orbits of both the Earth and moon must be modified in order to change the times. According to Velikovsky, there is a vast amount of information available from peoples all over the globe to demonstrate what took place in the eighth century BC. During a century of disturbances, which involved two catastrophes, the moon receded into an orbit of 29¼ days as an average and has remained so ever since. Also, the Earth orbit was changed so that 5¼ days were added. Written traditions by many of the ancient peoples recount the disorder of the seasons and connect it directly with the motion of the planets (Velikovsky, 345, 120-121).
What took place in the middle of the eighth century BC, is that the calendar previously accurate became unusable. Lunar and solar movements changed repeatedly from 747 to 687 BC, and calendar adjustments had to be made, Velikovsky tells us. Adjustments were soon outdated and had to be readjusted. Clay tables found at the royal library in Nineveh record astronomical observations made prior to the time our present system was established. One tablet places the vernal equinox as the sixth of Nisan, and another places it at the fifteenth. This difference cannot be explained by modern scholars. These Assyrian astronomers were very accurate and precise in their work and would not have erred by a period of nine days. The astronomical tablets at Nineveh reveal three systems of planets. Single planets were closely observed and tracked in three dissimilar schedules. The movements of the moon itself were found to have two different systems. The last one to be observed corresponds to our present solar order. In one of the systems observed, the solstitial and equinoctial locations on the ecliptic are found six degrees too far to the east. Tablet 272 records that the distances from one new moon to another on the Chaldean ecliptic average three degrees, fourteen minutes too great. Thus, during a lunar month the moon traveled farther in relationship to the fixed stars than the present order shows. The astronomical tables at Nineveh reveal that the world order repeatedly changed during a single century. Included in these tables is the fact that the apparent path of the sun, as it traversed the heavens, led Babylonian astronomers to differentiate three orbits for the sun (Velikovsky, 349-350).
For information on Velikovsky, follow this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Velikovsky
There is no record that the Hebrews ever had to add extra days to their calendar before 600 to 700 BCE. In fact there is no record of any ancient contemporary civilization adding extra days to its lunar calendar before these strange astronomical events happened. The Sabbatarian writers from the Bethel Church of God also conclude from their research that there may have been some convulsive global activities during the Great Flood and/or the Exodus that may have contributed to solar system events that created minor disparities between the lunar and solar calendars even before the major disruptive events that occurred later. Here is another interesting observation the authors credit to Velikovsky:
Velikovsky is not the only one who contends that the original new year in the Bible fell on the tenth day of the seventh month, the same day as the Day of Atonement. See Leviticus 25:9. It was later transferred to the first of Tishri — the first day of the seventh month. If this is true, on the Jewish calendar as well as the Babylonian calendar, there is an equinoctial displacement of nine days. When scholars examine the Assyrian astronomical records, they regard them as enigmatic mistakes. Yet, what needs to be asked is how could these astronomers who were responsible for the earlier records be so careless as to uphold a 360-day year, an error that in only six years would lead to a whole month’s divergence? Certainly these astronomers of the royal observatories would not have announced to the king wrong dates when anyone can observe when the moon is new. Furthermore, their records on the clay tablets required mathematical calculation. What should be obvious is that during the reign of Assurbanipal, the movements of the planets, the precession of the equinoxes, and recurring return of the eclipses had been recorded and recalculated. As changes in the heavens took place, new tablets were placed in the royal archives along with the older records (Velikovsky, 350).
The Greek philosopher Thales is credited with discovering how many days were in a year. From his time (640-546 BC) the Greeks knew the year consisted of 365 days. Since he was born in the seventh century BC, is it possible he learned the new length of the year? It was about this time that the year was firmly fixed at its present length. A contemporary of Thales was Solon. He is credited with discovering that the length of the lunar month was less than thirty days. Yet, for the purpose of computation, as well as respect for the earlier length, the 360-day year was maintained for some period of time (Velikovsky, 338). If the year was 365 days then as it is now, it is odd that the discovery of the 365-day year should have occurred as late as the seventh century BC. There were many more much older kingdoms which certainly would have discovered this earlier. Why would the calculation of the length of a year, which is a reasonably simple matter to understand, be discovered by Thales, while the calculation of the eclipses, which is quite difficult to forecast, had been discovered centuries before? The same conclusion can be reached regarding Solon’s discovery of the length of the lunar month because we can see that an adjustment of a new calendar system was taking place! (Velikovsky, 356-357). In Peru, the king issued orders that astronomical observations be made. The result was a calendar change in the length of the year from 360 days to 365¼. The same was true with the Toltecs. Their history records how the sages and astrologers were gathered together in order to recalculate the length of the year which had been recognized as inaccurate. The Talmud relates how King Hezekiah made a calendar change. He is said to have intercalated the calendar in order to delay the Passover. While this conclusion may be erroneous, it is recognized that the Passover was held the second month for ritual reasons. See 2 Chronicles 30. Whatever changes became fixed at that time is not known, but it is apparent calendar computation had become difficult (Velikovsky, 352). Even the Romans made corrections in their calendar near the end of the eighth or beginning of the seventh century BC. Numa, the second king of Rome and a contemporary of King Hezekiah, made corrections in the inequality of the calendar which required further corrections later (ibid, 356).
The same writers cite the following additional support for the observation that calendar adjustments were taking place on a global basis after these disruptive global events:
What can be seen in all this is that in the years following 687 BC there were calendar reforms taking place all over the Earth. The calendar was in a state of chaos between 747687 BC, the length of both the month and the year constantly changing. We have our present calendar today because the new order has not been altered (Velikovsky, 358-359).
Note that Velikovsky’s research does not appear to mention that the week may have had its position altered again much later by Constantine as suggested by Hanson. It is our position that the Jews most likely have been keeping the same arbitrarily determined seventh-day since sometime between the building of the second temple and the birth of Jesus. In either case, our current seventh day has no absolute reference of any kind. As mentioned elsewhere, Jewish historical records indicate that it was the Babylonian rabbis who severed the Sabbath from its lunar reckoning and re-made it into a fixed calendar event that occurred every 7 days with weeks that butted up against each other.
There you have it. The history of Israel's original utilization of the lunar calendar to determine its Sabbath days destroys the foundation for any religious theory that imposes the keeping of any particular day of the modern fixed week.
KARAITES, MILLERITES, AND ADVENTISM
Here is the current position statement of the U.S. Organization of Karaite Jews in the U.S. on the calendar problem as it relates to keeping the weekly Sabbath as of Winter 201. Note that this position is unchanged since the sect formed at some time after the building of the second temple. Remember that Adventism evolved out of the Millerite Movement. William Miller and Ellen White corresponded with each other. She said that God showed her that William Miller rejected the Sabbath because he had a “mental block” to it, implying that it was a honest rejection of the truth on his part. What we know about William Miller's understanding of Karaite Judaism and its position on the lunar calendar suggests that he rejected Sabbatarian Adventism because he knew its belief system was impossibly wrong. Here is the official position of the Karaite Jews on these issues:
Does Shabbath Have to Be on a Saturday?
One of the questions which I am constantly asked by former gentiles making their way into Karaism is whether Shabbath must be on a Saturday. The idea that it must be on Saturday comes from two questionable assumptions: (1) That Saturday is the actual "anniversary" of the day within the seven day week on which Yehowah rested from creating the universe, and (2) That the Shabbath has to be the same day as this anniversary. If either one of these assumptions is incorrect, then Shabbath does not have to be on a Saturday. While there is no outright proof that the first assumption is not correct, there is also no outright proof that it is. Through all the trials and tribulations that humanity has experienced over the past 5,000 years, we have no proof whatsoever that our current Saturday is the actual seven-day "anniversary" of the original Shabbath of Creation. Likewise, the Rabbinical year (5768 as of this writing) is only a guesstimate rather than a cold, hard fact. (More likely than not, the current year is not what the Rabbinical calendar says it is.) To illustrate this point, I borrow a quote from the character Morpheus in the movie The Matrix, who, explaining his post-apocalyptic world, says, "You believe it's the year 1999 when in fact it's closer to 2199. I can't tell you exactly what year it is, because we honestly don't know." As for the second assumption, this too comes from the flawed Rabbinical concept that the essence of the Shabbath is the celebration of the seventh-day "anniversary" of Yehowah's rest-after-creation. In fact, the essence of the Shabbath is not the seventh day, but the rest. As usual, the Rabbis have switched the focus of this crucial holiday away from its humanistic and social justice aspects, and placed it on the symbolic and ritualistic aspects. From a Karaite point of view, we do not celebrate the Shabbath because it is some esoteric and mystical anniversary of an original Shabbath, we celebrate it so that we can rest, so that our dependents can rest, and so that our animals can rest. This is the essence of the Shabbath. Shabbath, and indeed the entire Torah, is about serving Elohim through serving our fellow man. Thus, theoretically speaking, it does not matter what day the Shabbath falls on; it only matters that on every seventh day, the entire society is allowed a day of rest, physical and spiritual rejuvenation, and holiness. Do I therefore recommend that you start celebrating Shabbath on Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Sunday? No, I do not. I personally celebrate the Shabbath on Saturday, and will continue to do so. This is the day that the people of Israel have currently chosen for the Shabbath, and the Shabbath must be a national rather than an individual effort. But let us not harbor the illusion that the day the nation has chosen is the exact same day on which Elohim rested, or that it even needs to be. What is important and central to the idea of the Shabbath is that on every seventh day, all people and animals get a chance to rest. - See more at:
General Internet reference: http://karaiteinsights.com/article/shabbat.html
COLOSSIANS 2:14-17 AND THE
LUNAR SABBATH CONCEPT
Even Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath scholar, the late Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, conceded that Colossians 2:14-17 targets the weekly Sabbath, and it was his absurdly Judaistic work-around of Colossians 2:14-17 that finally opened the eyes of the Evangelical world to the impossibilities of Sabbatarianism. A few thinking Seventh-day Adventist theologians took note of the implications of Bacchiocchi’s theory’s implications and left Adventism, including the (then) controversial independent SDA theologian, Dr. Robert Brinsmead. Our research on the lunar Sabbath contributes to an already massive amount of evidence that Dr. Bacchiocchi's assessment is correct. This passage indeed does target the weekly Sabbath, and there is no possible way around it. Whether Israel kept a fixed or lunar Sabbath prior to the building of the second temple or not, Bible writers appear to have thought about the three types of sabbaths as a set-- annual, monthly, and weekly. Thanks to the Karaite Jews and other sources, we now know that all three Sabbath types were synchronized to the phases of the moon. Sometimes these categories were listed in reverse order, but never randomly. Later we will provide extensive treatment of the many barriers to a Sabbatarian-friendly interpretation of Colossians 2:14-17. Recall once again that in this key passage St. Paul classified three kinds of sabbaths together in one group he identified as “obsolete shadows.” He listed the annual sabbaths, then the monthly sabbaths, and finally a third kind of sabbath. The only other possible candidate for the third sabbath’s position in the sentence is the weekly Sabbath. Otherwise, his writing would make no sense, as you would have “annual, monthly, annual,” or “annual, monthly, monthly.”
Note that the Greek word in the third position in Colossians 2:14-17 is “sabbaton.” Here is the Strong’s definition of the word:
Title: Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries
Copyright: Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 2003, QuickVerse, a division of Findex.com, Inc.
σάββατον sabbaton sab'-bat-on
Of Hebrew origin [H7676]; the Sabbath (that is, Shabbath), or day of weekly repose from secular avocations (also the observance or institution itself); by extension a se'nnight, that is, the interval between two Sabbaths; likewise the plural in all the above applications:— sabbath (day), week.
GALATIANS 4:8-11 (NIV) - Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God-or rather are known by God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Sabbatarian apologists claim that the special days Paul was referring to here were the sacred days of the pagan calendar. Unfortunately, the focus of the book of Galatians is on the baleful influence of the Judaizers—Christian Jews who wanted all Christians to keep the Law of Moses and the rabbinical traditions. Several verses later, Paul even names the Judaizers as the culprits he is referring to. Review the following principles and you will see that Paul’s three anti-Sabbatarian passages are consistent: (1) The Sabbath was not referenced to the 7 th day of Creation, but rather to the principle of work six days and rest the 7th. (2) All three sabbath types were an integrated and inseparable set of sacred days in Jewish thought. (3) Even Seventh-day Adventist Sabbatarians concede that the annual and monthly sabbaths were done away with by Christ’s death on the Cross. (4) One type of Sabbath cannot exist without the others, so St. Paul said in Colossians 2:14-17 that all three types of Sabbaths became obsolete shadows when the Reality that cast those shadows died on the Cross. (5) If, indeed, the lunar Sabbath concept is true, we would have an additional reason to see all sabbaths as an inseparable set.
Romans 14:5-6 (NIV) - One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
Sabbatarian apologists claim that the days referred to in this passage are merely references to the ceremonial Jewish feast days. They use circular reasoning, assuming that since the Sabbath is an unquestionable truth, Paul could not possibly be referring to the weekly Sabbath days in this passage. Unfortunately, this statement is about as clear as it can be said. Only a Sabbatarian bias forces someone to try to explain it away in such a manner.
Once the sabbath set became obsolete shadows at the Cross, there was no principle or absolute reference point that could be used to make any day of the year intrinsically sacred. As you will discover as you look deeper into the Sabbath-Sunday Question, you will see that Christians came to observe Sunday out of arbitrary convenience— not because Sunday was sacred. As we have said before, informed Jews never based their weekly Sabbaths on an absolute reference point because they couldn’t.
Paul is correct. With no absolute reference point to use to calculate a sacred day, no day possesses any sacredness in and of itself. To the Christian, all days are equal. Any day is a good day to worship God. Observe Sunday if you wish as an arbitrary day that Christians have chosen or worship on Saturday, but understand that if you chose to worship on Saturday, you are doing so not because it falls on a new moon or because it is an exact seven-day interval of the 7th day of Creation Week. Christians, therefore, are obligated to respect Paul’s admonition not to impose their own idea about sacred days on other believers because there are no longer ANY sacred days. We cannot imagine St. Paul telling the new Gentile converts that they would receive the Mark of the Beast and go to Hell if they did not join the Jewish Christians in keeping the Jewish Sabbath. The Jews departed from the intent of the Law of Moses by capitulating to worship on the day that Babylonian rabbis had arbitrarily chosen to be labeled the 7th day. Christians violate God’s special revelation through St. Paul that Christians are not to impose the Jewish Sabbath on others. They can keep it themselves without sinning because any day is a good day to worship God, but they ignore God's specific instructions when they seek to impose it on others.
DO THEN JEWS BELIEVE GENTILES
SHOULD KEEP THE SABBATH?
Again, we turn to the Karaite Jews for light on this perspective. Keep in mind that this opinion is that of Jewish scholars and can be used only so far to throw light on how Christians should think about this subject. Note that the foundation of this opinion is the concept that there is only one chance in seven that the seventh-day is an exact seven-day multiple of the 7th day of Creation:
Do the Other Nations Have to Keep The Shabbath? First of all, it is clear from what I have written above, that even if the other nations do have to keep the Shabbath, it does not necessarily have to be on a Saturday. Each society may choose its own day, and as long as all the members of that society are allowed to rest on that day, then that society is, in effect, keeping the Shabbath. But now the question arises, "Do they have to?" The answer to this question actually raises a much more general question: "Do the nations other than Israel have to keep the Torah at all? If so, what parts of it must they keep?" To answer that the other nations do not have to keep the Torah at all is clearly flawed, since no thinking person can imagine that other nations should be permitted to commit murder, theft and adultery. On the other hand, to answer that the other nations must keep the entire Torah is equally flawed, since, for instance, what relevance would keeping the detailed laws of Passover have to another nation, inasmuch as Passover specifically celebrates the freeing of Israel from Egypt? The answer, in my opinion, lies somewhere in-between. The laws of the Torah are meant for Israel, but Israel, in keeping them, is in turn meant to set an example for the rest of the nations. In other words, that which is mentioned in Deuteronomy 4:6 is supposed to happen: "So keep them and do them because this is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the nations, who will hear all these laws and say, 'This is certainly a wise and understanding nation, this great nation.' " 5 After coming to this conclusion, other nations will naturally want to emulate many of our laws. When they do, Israel's role in the world is actualized. (For a further explanation of this idea, I recommend reading my book, The Torah and the Marketplace of Ideas.) Therefore, to return to the specific question of the Shabbath, my answer is as follows: The other nations are not explicitly required to keep the Shabbath, but as Israel's influence in the world grows, other nations, seeing the beauty and wisdom of the Shabbath, will choose to integrate the idea into their own societies. Indeed, this is exactly what has happened, as both Christian and Muslim societies do keep a form of the Shabbath, and just about all societies around the modern world have the concept of a day off from work, whereas this was not the case 2,000 years ago.
Sabbatarians protest that some of the rabbis taught that the Sabbath was universal, and it is true that some have. Only a few select rabbis are chosen to have extensive training in the Ancient Hebrew version of the Hebrew language in which the Torah was “originally” written; so it is not surprising that a rabbi who did not receive this special training would write in ignorance. (We will have more to say about this fact later.) That this universal view is held by some rabbis has been substantiated by a paper sent to us by Brendan Knudson, “Patriarchs, Rabbis, and Sabbath,” by Robert M. Johnson, available from Andrews University Library. One example Johnson cites is found in the Book of Jubilees 2:30-33, which describes an angel telling Moses, “We kept Sabbath in the heavens before it was made known to any flesh to keep Sabbath thereon on the earth.” Note that the rabbinical author of the Book of Jubilees advocates for the universality of the Sabbath from a non-biblical perspective. As Robert K. Sanders observes, the angels had no part in Creation, so there would be no point in them keeping the Sabbath. When angels are assisting mankind through the week, they are doing “good” on the Sabbath, and thus they would not be resting. Furthermore, as Sanders observes, “The Father and Jesus work on the Sabbath. A non-biblical starting point seems to lead to a non-biblical conclusion.” (Similarly, Duane Johnson observes that Seventh-day Adventist scholars, while using questionable support for the Sabbath from other sources, demonstrate literary bias when they attempt to squeeze out a Sabbatarian-friendly reading of quotes from the early fathers of the church. Unfortunately, most of these passages, when taken in proper context, were strongly anti-Sabbatarian. Johnson cites such works as The Didache and The Epistle of St. Barnabas as examples of the writings of the early fathers who strongly opposed Sabbath-keeping. Now, reflect on Robert K. Sander's observation that a non-biblical starting point leads to non-biblical conclusions:
John 5:16 - 18 (NIV) 16So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
The rabbinical author of The Book of Jubilees, quoted by Robert M. Johnson, continues:
And the Creator of all things blessed it, but he did not sanctify all peoples and nations to keep Sabbath, but Israel alone.
Notice the theological difficulties posed by a Sabbath that existed before the creation of Planet Earth. The Sabbath was given to Israel. The Sabbath was given to the Jews in part to help them remember that God created this world —not the Universe. It was also given to them to help them not forget that God had led them out of Egyptian slavery. Jewish scholars seem to vary in their methods of Bible study just the way Christians scholars do. We would ask the question, if any Jewish rabbi studied the Exodus story with a native understanding of Ancient Hebrew, how could he possibly arrive at the conclusion that the Sabbath had universal jurisdiction?
God never sent a messenger to a Heathen city or nation to condemn it for Sabbath-breaking, but He did for violating fundamental moral laws. On the other hand, God rebuked Israel when it broke the Sabbath after it was given to them as an ordinance– additional evidence that the Sabbath was for Israel alone. No other nations had any meaningful knowledge of the True God or of the Sabbath He provided for the Jews. Robert K. Sanders provides three texts to support this position:
Psalm 147:19 - 20 (NIV) 19 He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. 20He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the LORD.
The Sinaitic Sabbath covenant was not made with the Fathers such as Adam, Noah, Isaac, and Abraham.
Deut. 5:2 -3 (NIV) 2The LORD our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. 3It was not with our fathers that the LORD made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today.
If the Israelites did not know about the Sabbath then certainly the Gentile nations did not know about it:
Neh. 9:13, 14 (NIV) 13“You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. 14You made known to them your holy Sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.
Duane Johnson adds the following texts in support of the fact that the Law of Moses with its Sabbath commandment was unique to Israel:
Deut 4:5 - 7 (KJV) 5Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. 7For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
Deuteronomy 4:5-7 - Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
Sabbatarians claim that since the Sabbath is part of the 10 Commandments, doing away with it would be like doing away with all LAW. The reference to the Law in James 2:8-11 is to all 613 laws of Moses—not simply the 10 Commandments:
James 2:8 - 11 (NIV) 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Note contextually how James uses the “law” here, referring to the “whole” law, and how that covenant law worked when it came to breaking any one point of that whole law. One was guilty of the entirety should they break any one point of that law.
William Hohmann observes that James used the Old Covenant Law as an example to illustrate how the New Covenant “Royal Law of Liberty” works when it comes to our relationship with other people. If we show favoritism for one, and despise another, failing to show proper love even for one other human being, we are guilty of transgressing that Royal Christian law of Liberty, having shown partiality in our love and treatment of others.
Before going any further we need to take a good look at what the LAW really is. The heresy of Sabbatarianism develops in part when there is a serious misunderstanding of what Bible writers meant when they discussed the topic of the Law. There is no doubt that God gave His human begins laws from the very beginning, but He only gave the Decalogue with its Sabbath commandment to the Jews. Robert K. Sanders clarifies what God’s law really is in the next section.
THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT
by Robert K. Sanders
We observe that most Sabbatarians have no knowledge of this law. They have been indoctrinated into the law of the flesh, known as the Old Covenant in the New Testament. They have been led to believe that they must keep the Ten Commandments or they will lose their salvation. Jesus taught the Jews the spiritual aspects of the Law, that if they lust after a woman they had adultery in their hearts. The Jews under the Law did not have the Law of the Spirit within their hearts. They hated the Gentiles as well as their fellow Jews.
At the time of Noah before the flood God said that His Spirit would not always “contend with man." The Holy Spirit put a basic understanding of moral law into the consciences of every human being. God said in Genesis 6 that the thoughts of man were evil continually. Mankind rejected God's moral laws. God declared Noah to be a righteous man, and only he and his family were saved from the flood.
King David understood the concept of the Law of the Spirit. After he committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband, he wrote:
Psalm 51: 10-11 (NIV) - Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
God tells Jeremiah that He was going to make a new covenant with Israel that would not be like the one He made with them when he delivered them from Egypt:
Jeremiah 31:31 (NIV) -The Lord said, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.”
The Jews were devoid of the spirit of God as they were an idolatrous, rebellious people which are the reasons God gave them the Old Covenant law so that they would know what sin was.
Paul explains that God writes His law on the hearts of Christians. The ministry that brings death was written on stone and was fading away, and the ministry of the spirit is more glorious. What was written on stone and "fading away"? The Ten Commandments with the Sabbath!
2 Cor. 3:3 (NIV) 3You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Cor. 3:7 - 8 (NIV) 7Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
Paul writes that the Gentiles that "do not have the law" still have the requirements of the law written on their hearts. The Gentiles as well as the Jews who follow the Spirit written in their hearts will be eternally saved when God judges the world through Jesus Christ (Verse 16):
Rom. 2:14 - 16 (NIV) 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Rom 2:7 (NIV) – 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Heb. 8:10 (NIV) - 10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel.
God has been speaking to each person who comes into the world through their consciences from Adam to Moses and from Moses till the end of the world (See St. John, Chapter One).The various moral codes of the world seem to agree to a remarkable extent. As C. S. Lewis once pointed out, there are few if any societies on Earth where lying, cheating, and stealing are looked upon with admiration and approval. Similarly, as Lewis observed, these societies have disagreed about how many wives a man could have, but few, if any, have believed that a man could take any woman he wanted for a wife.
The writer of Hebrews references Jer. 31:31 to illustrate that a new covenant was part of God’s plan for the future of his people:
Jer. 31:31 (NIV) - The days are coming,” declares the Lord,“when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
Here is the text from Hebrews:
Heb. 8:13 (NIV) - 13By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
King David did not need any written laws to tell him it was wrong to commit adultery with Bathsheba and kill her husband. The real laws of God seem to explain themselves: Don’t do anything to others that you would not want them to do to you. If a person steals someone from someone else, that person may fight the thief to get his things back, and in the process one or both of them may die. Kerry Wynne knows a particular atheist very well. He observes that he despises dishonesty and has a sharp conscience when it comes to business dealings. Recently he thought someone had stolen several hundred dollars from him. He had no trouble seeing that what happened to him was intrinsically “wrong.” Wynne observes that if those who do not even profess to believe in a Higher Power have a good sense of right and wrong forged into their minds, it should not be difficult to understand how Christians, who are under control of the Holy Spirit, would have the REAL “Law of God” emblazoned deeply in their souls—the Law of the Spirit—and would have an innate understanding of God’s LAW that would greatly transcend a mere list of “do's” and “don'ts” that govern sins of commission to encompass an understanding of sins of omission and motive.
Kerry Wynne tells of a remarkable incident that took place between a Seventh-day Adventist missionary and a Head Hunter in Borneo during the 1970’s. This head hunter’s village was feuding with another village, and a war between them seemed likely. The missionary was working to try to prevent the fight. In a discussion with one of the cannibal warriors, the missionary asked him if he planned to eat the people he killed in battle. The warrior got a solemn look on his face, put his hand over his heart, and said, “No, master. I could never do that. Something in here (At this point he thumped the area over his heart.) tells me that would be very wrong. No, I will not eat them.” Even the Heathen know when they are doing evil. The LAW is, indeed, written on their hearts.
Wynne also relates an interesting discussion he had with a Christian who questioned whether there was any commandment in the Bible against a man having more than one wife. A careful analysis of Scripture proves that there is not. The Bible is full of examples of polygamy, and although King David had many wives there is no record that God ever rebuked him for this practice. In fact, God said that David was a “man after His own heart.” Wynne asked his believing friend whether or not he would wish to share a woman that he was crazy about with several other men. The friend evaded the question. Then Wynne pointed out that surely he would not wish to do so if he was deeply in love with her and then suggested that if he were a woman who was deeply in love with her husband, she would not want to share him with several other women. If we follow the command of Jesus to love others like we love ourselves, it is a “no brainer” that we would not want to do anything to someone else that we would not want that person to do to us. There is no question that the Law of the Spirit is vastly superior to the Ten Commandments, the entire Law of Moses, or even the lists of sins that St. Paul gave us.
Wynne also observes that Romans 7 demonstrates that when Paul said Christians are not under the LAW, he meant, in a very real sense, that they were no longer under any written codification of LAW whether it be ceremonial or moral, when it came to the process by which salvation works. Notice that the example he gives in this particular discussion of the Law is the sin of adultery. The claim that Paul only targeted the ceremonial LAW is refuted by this fact. At the same time there is no license to sin because the standard of the Law of the Spirit is much higher. Following the direct and unrelenting influence of the Holy Spirit leads the sinner away from all the sins that Sabbatarian legalist is “worried about,” and more. The LAW that Jesus confirmed, that we are to love God supremely and others as ourselves, is comprehensive and enables us to decide every moral issue that confronts us. He gave this “law” to Israel in the Old Testament, and He confirmed it in the New Testament.
There should be almost no moral issue that can’t be resolved to the best of a believer’s conscience with the combination of the Law of the Spirit and the comprehensive principle that Jesus gave us that we are to love God supremely and others as ourselves. Let’s say, for example, that you are a fetus in your mother’s womb, but the man who fathered you does not care about her and has no interest in being a parent to you. Do you want to be butchered and aborted without a chance to see the light of day just because your father is a no-good? Do you, then, simply because your father was a no-good, not care to ever see flowers and trees, hear the song of a bird, or behold the glories of a star-studded sky at night? Of course not! You want to see the light of day. Your mother, then, really knows what to do. If your situations were reversed, what would she do? Also, notice Jesus Himself “replaced” the 7th Commandment against adultery with something far more comprehensive. He said that not only must a man not commit the act of adultery itself, but that he must not even look at a woman with lust in his heart. Surely the Law of the Spirit is a principle that is not difficult to grasp.
THE SABBATH A MEMORIAL TO THE ESCAPE
FROM EGYPTIAN SLAVERY
Genesis chapter 2 does not instruct Mankind to do anything Sabbath related. There is no command to follow God’s example of rest in the future or even at the moment. Moses' account of the events of the 7th day of Creation is the story of what God did. The account of these events doesn’t even suggest that Adam and Eve joined Him in the ceasing of His of activity. We don't have any evidence that God took seven days to create Planet Earth because He wished to establish a seven-day week for the human race, although such is certainly possible, but not plausible. In the first chapter of Genesis, God gave the Sun and Moon to help people keep track of sacred days. All we really know is that God wanted a seven-day week for Israel and that at Creation He gave the moon (and the sun) to Mankind to provide a reference for its holy days. When God gave them the Sabbath ordinance at Mt. Sinai, the Mountain of the Moon, He provided that the new moons would provide the point of reference for Israel’s Sabbaths, other holy days, and the sacred feasts. As we will explain later the Ancient Hebrew form of the Hebrew language did not develop until after the time of King David. There is almost no chance that the nomadic Children of Israel could maintain an accurate reference to one single day over a period of over a thousand years.
Furthermore, Moses, the assumed author of Genesis, used specific Hebrew linguistic devices to clarify that these special attributes—the blessing and sanctification (setting aside of it)– gave this one, single day a significance that He wanted all the human family to remember over a time period that would have no boundaries. Both the blessing and the sanctification of the 7th day might well have taken place at that time, but in either case, whenever these attributes were applied, they were bestowed upon this one day in the history of Planet Earth. It was the MEMORY of the blessing and setting aside of this one day, together with the self-evident eternal rest of God from creating Planet Earth, that was to be remembered forever.
When we get to Exodus 20, Moses used several linguistic indicators to clarify that the Sabbath ordinance was only MODELED after Creation week’s pattern of Divine work and “rest.” However, in Leviticus God told them that He gave them the Sabbath to help them remember that it was He who brought them out of Egyptian slavery. Do today's Sabbath-keepers break the Sabbath when they fail to think about how God rescued them from Egyptian slavery? No Christian has ever been rescued from slavery in Egypt by the miraculous power of God, so Christians do not meet an important qualification for those who are commanded to keep it. Note this passage from Deuteronomy:
(NIV) - Deuteronomy 5:12-15 - “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
Sabbath keeping for Christians fails the logic test. Israel was commanded to keep it as a memorial; a reminder it was their God who made heaven and earth and who rested on that seventh day, of which the sabbath was a shadow of where they could rest from their labors and remember also that they and or their ancestors who were slaves in Egypt worked without rest. Israel collectively often “forgot” all this – having abandoned God and His commands for them, having turned time and again to idolatry. Christians are not ancient Israelites, devoid of God's Spirit. True Christians, in possession of God's Holy Spirit, are not going to forget who their God is, and as such, do not need the memorial of a sabbath as a reminder not to forget God. The Christian has entered into God's rest through faith, a rest that is permanent as contrasted to the weely sabbath rest which was temporary and merely a shadow of God's rest. (See: Psalms 95; Hebrews 4; Colossians 2:16-17)
IMPOSSIBLE BARRIER: CIRCUMCISION
A former Adventist researcher who has chosen to remain anonymous has found proof in the work of Seventh-day Adventist theologians Maxwell and Damsteegt that Seventh-day Adventists have known since no later than 1992 that the Jews have typically understood that observance of the ordinance of circumcision was a requirement for keeping the Sabbath. This unnamed former Adventist scholar, whose work we found posted at a website which examines the Sabbatarian views of the now defunct Worldwide Church of God, focuses on the research of these SDA biblical scholars, Mervyn Maxwell, and P. Gerard Damsteegt, eds., Source Book for the History of Sabbath and Sunday. Berrien Springs, Mich.: Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, 1992.
So, if the Christians were worshiping on Sunday, why wasn’t there an outcry in the Jewish church in Jerusalem? It was a church that most likely continued to meet on Saturday at the synagogue for several decades to hear the scriptures read. The reason they did not cry out in protest is because Jews believed then, and still believe now, that the Sabbath was given only to Jews. They NEVER expected Gentiles (which made up most of the early church) to keep the Sabbath. Notice the following passages:
“The children of Noah...were given seven Laws only, the observance of the Sabbath not being among them” (Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:21 [Soncino ed., p. 23], as quoted in C. Mervyn Maxwell and P. Gerard Damsteegt, eds., Source Book for the History of Sabbath and Sunday [Berrien Springs, Mich.: Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, 1992], p. 75).
The Noachian laws are also listed in Midrash Genesis Rabbah 16:6 (Soncino ed., p. 131), Sanhedrin 56 a, b; and Midrash Song of Songs Rabbah 1:2(5) (Soncino ed. pp. 26-7) (ibid., p. 74). Gentiles could be considered righteous if they observed these laws, which did not include the Sabbath. Nor did they include restrictions about pork. Rabbi Judah could say that there was a time for the “sons of Jacob when unclean beasts were still permitted to them'' (Hullin 7:6, as quoted in Maxwell and Damsteegt, p.74. The rabbis did not think that the Sabbath had been given to Gentiles: ``Why does it say, `The Lord hath given you'' (Ex. 16:29)? To you hath he given it [the Sabbath], but not to the heathen. It is in virtue of this that the Sages stated [Sanh. 56b] that if some of the heathen observed the Sabbath, then not only do they not receive any reward [but they are even considered to be transgressing]'' (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 25:11 [Soncino ed., p. 314], as quoted in Maxwell and Damsteegt, p. 74).
"A non-Jew who observes the Sabbath whilst he is uncircumcised incurs liability for the punishment of death. Why? Because non-Jews were not commanded concerning it.... The Sabbath is a reunion between Israel and God, as it is said, 'It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel' (Ex. 31:17); therefore any non-Jew who, being uncircumcised, thrusts himself between them incurs the penalty of death.... The Gentiles have not been commanded to observe the Sabbath'' (Midrash Deuteronomy Rabbah 1:21 [Soncino ed., pp. 23-4], as quoted in Maxwell and Damsteegt, p. 75).
The Jews understood that the Sabbath commandment was given only to Israel. The Jews traditionally thought in terms of two different sets of laws– the Noachian laws– which they believed were given to everyone, and the TORAH laws that they believed were given only to Israel at the time of the Exodus.
It is important to keep in mind that the concept of Noachian law is NOT a biblical concept and is to a large extent Jewish tradition. Only a couple of the seven laws are found in the Old Testament Scriptures accepted by Jews as the Canon. The remainder are found only in literature understood by the Jews to be a non-canonical and interpretive version of the Books of Moses. Please study these quotations from the Jewish Encyclopedia carefully:
The Seven Laws.
Laws which were supposed by the Rabbis to have been binding upon mankind at large even before the revelation at Sinai, and which are still binding upon non-Jews. The term ‘Noachian’ indicates the universality of these ordinances, since the whole human race was supposed to be descended from the three sons of Noah, who alone survived the Flood. Although only those laws which are found in the earlier chapters of the Pentateuch, before the record of the revelation at Sinai, should, it would seem, be binding upon all mankind, yet the Rabbis discarded some and, by hermeneutic rules or in accordance with some tradition (see Judah ha-Levi, “Cuzari,” iii. 73), introduced others which are not found there. Basing their views on the passage in Gen. II.16, they declared that the following six commandments were enjoined upon Adam: (1) not to worship idols; (2) not to blaspheme the name of God; (3) to establish courts of justice; (4) not to kill; (5) not to commit adultery; and (6) not to rob (Gen. R. xvi. 9, xxiv. 5; Cant. R. i. 16; comp. Seder Olam Rabbah, ed. Ratner, ch. v. and notes, Wilna, 1897; Maimonides, “Yad,” Melakim, ix. 1). A seventh commandment was added after the Flood—not to eat flesh that had been cut from a living animal (Gen. ix. 4). Thus, the Talmud frequently speaks of “the seven laws of the sons of Noah,” which were regarded as obligatory upon all mankind, in contradistinction to those that were binding upon Israelites only (Tosef., Ab. Zarah, ix. 4; Sanh. 56a et seq.).
He who observed the seven Noachian laws was regarded as a domiciled alien (Ab. Zarah 64b; see Proselyte), as one of the pious of the Gentiles, and was assured of a portion in the world to come (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 1; Sanh. 105a; comp. ib. 91b; “Yad,” l.c. viii. 11).
Here is a more extensive quote from the Jewish Encyclopedia which supports the concept that the Jews are very serious about their belief that the Sabbath was given to Israel alone. This passage is particularly interesting because it has a direct bearing on the Sabbath question for Christians as viewed by the Jews (Jewish Encyclopedia, article, “Gentile,” section “Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah”):
Resh Laish (d. 278) said, “A Gentile observing the Sabbath deserves death” (Sanh. 58b). This refers to a Gentile who accepted the seven laws of the Noachidæ, inasmuch as “the Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel alone,” and it was probably directed against the Christian Jews, who disregarded the Mosaic laws and yet at that time kept up the observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Rabbina, who lived about 150 years after the Christians had changed the day of rest to Sunday, could not quite understand the principle underlying Resh Laish's law, and, commenting upon it, added: “not even on Mondays [is the Gentile allowed to rest]”; intimating that the mandate given to the Noachidæ that “day and night shall not cease” (=“have no rest ”) should be taken in a literal sense (Gen. Viii. 22)— probably to discourage general idleness (ib. Rashi), or for the more plausible reason advanced by Maimonides, who says: “The principle is, one is not permitted to make innovations in religion or to create new commandments. He has the privilege to become a true proselyte by accepting the whole Law” (“Yad,” Melakim, x. 9). R. Emden [An unrenderable Hebrew symbol follows the word “Emden,” ed. note] In a remarkable apology for Christianity contained in his appendix to Seder Olam (pp. 32b-34b, Hamburg, 1752), gives it as his opinion that the original intention of Jesus, and especially of Paul, was to convert only the Gentiles to the seven moral laws of Noah and to let the Jews follow the Mosaic law— which explains the apparent contradictions in the New Testament regarding the laws of Moses and the Sabbath.
In his classic “A Digest of the Sabbath Question,” former SDA theologian, Robert D. Brinsmead observed:
The Book of Jubilees (a Jewish pseudepigraphal work of the second century BC) says that “the Creator of all things.., did not sanctify all peoples and nations to keep Sabbath thereon, but Israel alone” (“The Book of Jubilees,” in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, ed. R.H. Charles, vol. 2, Pseudepigrapha [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913], p. 15).
This same anonymous researcher also quotes biblical scholar, James Charlesworth, in support of his point that the Jews have always viewed the Sabbath as being given only to the Jews:
Further evidence of the antiquity of this rabbinic understanding comes from the second-century BC book of Jubilees:
"The Creator of all blessed it, but he did not sanctify any people or nations to keep the Sabbath thereon with the sole exception of Israel. He granted to them alone that they might eat and drink and keep the Sabbath thereon upon the earth'' (Jubilees 2:31, James Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, [New York: Doubleday, 1985], vol. 2, p. 58).
As noted by Michael Morrison, who writes about the former Sabbatarian views of the Worldwide Church of God, it was the fact that the Jews understood that the Sabbath was only for the Jews that combined with the decision of the Council of Jerusalem not to require the new Gentile converts to be circumcised that prevented any controversy over the official discontinuance of the ordinances of circumcision and the Sabbath at that time. See: http://www.gci.org/law/sabbath/history1"???
Summarizing the research of SDA researchers, Maxwell and Damsteegt, and biblical scholar, Charlesworth, our anonymous former SDA scholar comments on their work as follows:
Based on these quotes above, we can see from the Jewish writings, and from the Adventist documents that the Gentiles were never expected to keep the Sabbath. This was the understanding of the Jews, to whom the Sabbath was given, and whom Christ never corrected on this matter. So, this begs the question, Why do Adventist’s and others keep the Sabbath rather than the Lords day, which according to the writings of early Christians, was kept during the time of the Apostles?
Note: Unfortunately the link to this quote no longer works, so source identification at the time the 7th Edition was published is impossible.
We will spend a considerable amount of time examining the circumcision-Sabbath connection because the concept is so critically important to the Sabbath question. A proper understanding of this principle helps us understand what St. Paul was thinking when he wrote about the law, circumcision, and the Sabbath. Paul was a Jewish lawyer, and he would have thought about these things the same way as other Jewish lawyers. Apologists for Adventism point out that the mixed multitude was commanded to keep the Sabbath during the Exodus when the Manna was also given to the Hebrews, and that a very large number of the people were not circumcised at the time. This excuse works for about two weeks. At the time the Sabbath appears to have been merely an obedience test—like the Manna Obedience Test. However, When the LAW was given to them a short time later at Mt. Sinai, circumcision became a covenantal agreement between each individual Hebrew and God and the nation of Israel as a whole. The specifications of this treaty required circumcision in order to keep the Mosaic Law. Thereafter, Old Testament writers made note of how this concept was incorporated into universal practice in Israel.
We are much more interested in the entire concept as it developed through Jewish history because above everything else, we need to understand what St. Paul and the other apostles were thinking when they brought circumcision into discussions about the Law.
Israel viewed the Law of Moses as one integrated and inseparable body of 613 equally important “covenant” points of law. You break one of these 613 laws, and you have violated the covenant. The Decalogue was only a part of the Law of Moses, and it was strikingly incomplete. Take the Seventh Commandment that addresses the sin of adultery. Because of the very nature of Hebrew linguistics and culture, this commandment of the Decalogue, to our surprise, does not forbid sexual relationships between a man and a woman who are not married. By the very definition of the word, adultery, two unmarried persons cannot possibly commit the sin of adultery. Any attempt to say that adultery covers all sexual sins ignores the facts of Hebrew linguistics and culture. In English, fornication is the definition of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman who are not married. Even more striking is that the Decalogue portion of the Law of Moses does not address homosexual behavior or human sexual relations with animals. Rabbinical law draws a sharp difference between adultery and fornication, supporting this fact.
Evidence of the interpretive restrictions imposed by the existence of the separate definitions of these English words is that God chose to cover these additional areas of sexual sins– fornication, homosexuality, and bestiality-- outside of the Decalogue “section” of the Law of Moses. The Jews believed that all 613 of these laws were equally important. Thus, when St. Paul says that circumcision is a token of bondage to the entire law, we are confronted with the principle that without the requirement for circumcision, there is no requirement for keeping the Sabbath because it is one of the most important components of the Law of Moses. Keep in mind that the abrogation of the Decalogue at the cross did not cause natural law and/or the Law of the Spirit to cease:
Galatians 5:3 (NIV) - Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.
The Torah, we must remember, contains the Sabbath commandment and is included in the 613 laws of Moses. There is sufficient evidence that Gentile men who chose to locate within a Jewish community had to be circumcised if they wanted his family to be able to participate in any of the ordinances that God had given to Israel. Before the Law of Moses was given at Mt. Sinai, God required the foreigner who wished to participate in the Passover to be circumcised:
Exodus 12:48 (NIV) - “An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORD's Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it.”
In the Old Testament we see that Gentiles were only required to keep the Sabbath if they chose to unite with a Jewish community mentioned as we see in this passage from Isaiah 56– a text which Sabbatarians like to use to demonstrate the perpetuity of the Sabbath. This conclusion begs the logical conclusion regarding the perpetuity of sacrifices:
Isa 56:4 - 7 (NIV) 4For this is what the LORD says:“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant— 5to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off. 6And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant— 7these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
In our study of the problems of Sabbatarianism, our interest is as much in how the Israelites viewed the concept of the Law and its relationship to the Sabbath as we are in the actual teachings of the Scripture regarding it. What we do know is that by the time of Jesus, the keeping of the Torah– the Law of Moses– was thought of to be for Jews only, and Gentiles were not welcome to participate in its ordinances unless they were circumcised.
The Council of Jerusalem made the decision not to impose circumcision on the Gentile converts, thus settling the Sabbath question forever. Dr. Bacchiocchi teaches that the exemption (contrary to the law) for circumcision was for the Gentiles only and was still required for the Jewish Christians. (See Bacchiocchi’s essay, “How Did Sabbath Keeping Begin,” in the section titled, ‘Attachment to the Law.’) If the issue involved here is truly a moral one, God could therefore not make a distinction between what Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians were required to do! What kind of theological nonsense is this in regard to the Gospel in which God and his Christian followers do not even differentiate between male and female, the free and the slave? We are at a total loss to see why Dr. Bacchiocchi would suggest such an idea. Dr. Bacchiocchi’s willingness to split the requirement for Sabbath-keeping between the Jew and the Gentile is a desperate attempt on his part to extricate himself from the illogical web into which he has fallen.
The biblical understanding of circumcision as taught in Scripture and Jewish rabbinical writings is close to absolute proof that Sabbath-keeping ended at the cross and was officially put to rest at the Council of Jerusalem.
As we mentioned earlier, Jewish thought regarding Gentiles and the Sabbath is based on the Jewish belief that the Sabbath was not given to Adam and Eve at the Creation. Understanding the linguistics of their own Hebrew language, they clearly perceived that Moses worded his account of the events of the 7th day of Creation in such a way as to make certain they could not possibly read a Sabbath commandment into what he wrote.
These concepts about what the Bible really teaches about the question of Sabbath-keeping for Christians from a combination of Jewish traditional theology and the Bible:
1. The Jews knew the Sabbath didn't begin at Creation.
2. The Jews believed the Sabbath was given to Israel and Israel alone.
3. The Jews, who are known to be excellent historians, knew that Christians abandoned the Sabbath almost immediately, and the most extreme of the rabbis in the early Christian era taught that Christians and others who kept the Sabbath should be put to death. (See page 33 for the comments of the Jewish Encyclopedia.)
4. Similarly, the gateway to keeping the TORAH, even for an Israelite, was circumcision. Circumcision represents the bondage of an Israelite to the Torah.
5. The Sabbath was not part of Noachian Law, which was a non-biblical concept held by Rabbinical Judaism.
6. God sent his prophets to rebuke many Gentile nations, but there is no record in the Bible that God ever rebuked them for Sabbath-breaking.
7. Jesus viewed both the Sabbath and circumcision to be ceremonial in nature. He did not condemn the Jews for breaking the Sabbath to circumcise a child on the 8th day following his birth according to the laws of Moses:
John 7:21-23 (NIV) - Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. 22Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?”
8. The Weekly Sabbath is listed in Leviticus 23 as one of many ceremonial ordinances.
Note that the Jews knew which ordinance superseded the other when contests between circumcision and the Sabbath arose. Jesus recognized that the Law of Moses incorporated this hierarchy between the two ordinances. At the Council of Jerusalem, the Apostle Peter, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was able to persuade the other Early Church leaders to avoid saddling the new Gentile converts with a burden that neither they nor their Jewish fathers were able to bear. Once the decision was made not to require the Gentile converts to be circumcised, the Sabbath question was settled forever. There was no chance (without ignoring the legalities of that covenant law) for the Sabbath question to surface again without first reviving the question over Christians undergoing circumcision. This understanding helps us to see why the requirement to keep the Jewish Sabbath was never indicated in any Scripture that post-dated this historic council.
The link between circumcision, the TORAH, and the Sabbath is clear.
Acts 15:4 - Acts 15:5 (NIV) - And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
Both Christians and Jews understood that TORAH law was designed to keep Jews and Gentiles separate. The TORAH, with the Sabbath and its dietary laws, had to come to an end before the Gospel could include the Gentiles. While it may not matter what day Christians choose to worship God, choosing to retain the Sabbath as a day of rest is like rebuilding the same wall of separation that cost God so much to tear down. Here is how Paul talks about this concept in Ephesians Chapter 2:
(NIV)Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)― 12remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14For He himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.
Jews and Christians can now eat together and worship together. The barrier erected by the Jewish ordinances of the Sabbath, the Jewish dietary laws, and circumcision have been destroyed by what happened at the cross.
The Jews, according to the rabbinical writings down through history, have believed the Sabbath was given to them at the Exodus as a sign to differentiate them from all the other peoples of the world. In fact the very words of God Himself explain why He gave the Sabbath to Israel:
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 - “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do. 15Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” (N IV-Deuteronomy 5:12-15)
Israel was the only nation ever brought out of Egyptian slavery by God. The Sabbath part of the 10 Commandments would differentiate the Nation of Israel from all the other peoples of the world who were required only to keep the moral requirements of the Noachian laws.
Furthermore, Rabbinical Judaism taught that the Gentiles would be eternally saved if they kept the basic moral laws given to mankind in the Book of Genesis.
As mentioned elsewhere, the concept of Noachian Law is not part of the Jewish Canon's teachings. In other words, the idea cannot be found in the Old Testament as we know it and which both Jews and Christians accept as the inspired Word of God. We present the concept not as true doctrine, but as a way to understand how Jews thought about the subject of The Law.
The rabbinical writings make it very clear that the Sabbath is intended for no one else but Israel, and this concept is very well documented in the Jewish Encyclopedia. It is no surprise that the Jews would view the Sabbath this way, since they read the books of Moses in their own language. The meaning indicators in Genesis 2 that are invisible to us are perfectly clear to rabbinical scholars who have had special training in the ancient form of the Hebrew language. They have recognized, “from the beginning,” that Moses contraindicated a Sabbath commandment at the time of Creation. In his classic “A Digest of the Sabbath Question,” Robert D. Brinsmead says:
The Book of Jubilees (a Jewish pseudepigraphal work of the second century BC) says that “the Creator of all things.., did not sanctify all peoples and nations to keep Sabbath thereon, but Israel alone” (“The Book of Jubilees,” in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, ed. R.H. Charles, vol. 2, Pseudepigrapha [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913], p. 15).
Jewish tradition taught that the “Noachian Laws” were given to every person on Earth around the time of the Great Flood. As we mention elsewhere, there is only Scriptural support for three of the seven laws. The key point, however, is that the Sabbath was not a part of the Noachian laws. Therefore, the Jews believe that the Gentiles who keep the Noachian laws will be saved without having kept the Sabbath, and there is no indication in the rabbinical records that the Jews ever officially believed otherwise. God never sent an Israelite prophet to rebuke a heathen nation or city for Sabbath-breaking, but He did so for disregarding the basic principles of REAL morality– in particular violence and sexual evils.
The logic of set theory demands that one cannot use a trait that is characteristic of all the members of the set to create a sub-set. C. S. Lewis once said that nonsense is nonsense even when you are talking about God. One of the reasons God explained for giving the Sabbath to Israel was to create a sign that would differentiate them from all the other nations of the world. If all the nations, kindred, tongues, and people of the world kept the Sabbath, it would be impossible for God to use the Sabbath as a distinguishing sign. In fact God wished to keep Israel separate from the Heathen during the dispensation of the Torah (Exodus to the Cross) for good reasons. The Israelites were a stubborn and stiff-necked people according to God’s own assessment. He knew the Hebrews would easily be corrupted by associating with the Heathen. The ordinances of the Sabbath, circumcision, and the Jewish dietary laws placed a high wall of social separation between Israel and the Gentiles. If people don’t eat together, they are less likely to become friends. Along similar lines, the ordinance of circumcision made it a very painful process for the head of a Gentile household to make a decision to join an Israelite community and to live as a proselyte. Contrast this with God’s expressed New Covenant purpose to tear down this barrier between Jews and Gentiles after the cross. St. Paul was God’s specially designated ambassador of the Gospel to the Gentiles according to Scripture. We credit our reading of the works of Robert D. Brinsmead for the concepts I have mentioned in this paragraph.
It should be clear, now, that the Adventist interpretation that only the “ceremonial” laws were nailed to the cross is not possible for a number of reasons. The Sabbath was a ceremonial law designed to keep Israel and the Gentiles separate, and that barrier must come down if Jews and Gentiles are to be united in the Gospel. The Old Testament, as well as Jewish traditional theology, views the TORAH as absolutely inseparable covenant.
At least in the years subsequent to the writing of From Sabbath to Sunday, Dr. Bacchiocchi was fully aware of the Jewish concept of the circumcision-Sabbath connection, although he tried his best to discount it. In a later book he acknowledges that the opinion of Jewish rabbinical thought for hundreds of years before the birth of Christ was that the Sabbath was given to Israel at the time of the giving of the manna; that it was given only to Israel; and that circumcision was a prerequisite for both Israelites and proselytes to Judaism for keeping the Sabbath. Here is proof of what he knew, quoting a section of that book. Please keep in mind that the following statement is written by a pro-Sabbatarian, Seventh-day Adventist author. The trouble is that he wrote this at a time when he had unfettered access to scholarly studies that by that time had thoroughly disproved the concept that the Sabbath was a Creation ordinance. We are referring again to the definite work of the D. A. Carson team. Dr. Bacchiocchi offers no proof that the Sabbath was a Creation ordinance, perhaps because there is no proof to offer and all the evidence is against this point-of-view. We do not approve of the content of the following quoted passage and it does not reflect the opinion of any of us four authors. The following quote is from Bacchiocchi’s book, The Sabbath in the New Testament, Answers to Questions, Chapter 8, “Questions About The Sabbath in the Old Testament,” posted at Dr. Bacchiocchi's website, Biblical Perspectives.)
Have not Rabbis and Church Fathers taught that the Sabbath is a Mosaic institution established by Moses for Israel alone? Does not this historical view negate the creation origin and universal validity of the Sabbath?
Mosaic Institution. Some Palestinian Rabbis and some early Church Fathers did reduce the Sabbath from a creation ordinance for mankind to a Mosaic institution for the Jews. Their teaching, however, does not negate the validity of the Biblical view of the creation origin and universal scope of the Sabbath, because the teachings of the Scriptures are not "a matter of one’s own interpretation" (2 Pet 1:20).
Jewish Identity. Furthermore, note should be taken of the factors which contributed to the adoption of the Mosaic origin of the Sabbath. It was the strong desire to preserve a Jewish identity, at a time when Hellenistic forces were pressing for the abandonment of the Jewish religion, that apparently led Palestinian Rabbis to reduce the Sabbath from a creation ordinance established for mankind to a Mosaic ordinance given exclusively to Israel.
Such a development occurred in response to the determined efforts of the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes to implement a program of radical Hellenization of the Jews through the prohibition of sacrifices and Sabbath-keeping (175 BC). The result was that many Jews fell away, "sacrificed to the gods and desecrated the Sabbath" (1 Macc. 1:43).
Pious Jews passionately resisted the Hellenization efforts of Antiochus Epiphanies, preferring to be slaughtered rather than desecrate the Sabbath (1 Macc. 2:32-38). The need to preserve a Jewish identity at that critical time inspired an exclusivistic and nationalistic view of the Sabbath.
The notion was introduced at this time by some Rabbis that the privilege of Sabbath-keeping was denied to the Gentiles and reserved exclusively for Israel. As stated in the book of Jubilees, "He [God] allowed no other people or peoples to keep the Sabbath on this day, except Israel only; to it alone he granted to eat and drink and keep the Sabbath on it" (2:31). If the patriarchs are sometimes mentioned as keeping the Sabbath, this is regarded as an exception "before it [the Sabbath] was given" to Israel.
A Secondary Development. The notion of the Sabbath as an exclusively Jewish institution, established not at creation for all mankind but by Moses for Israel alone, Makes God guilty, to say the least, of favoritism and discriminatory practices.
It must be said, however, that the notion of a Mosaic origin of the Sabbath represents a late secondary development rather than an original tradition. This is borne out by the fact that in Hellenistic (Greek) Judaism the Sabbath was viewed as a creation ordinance for mankind. Moreover, even in Palestinian literature (both apocalyptic and rabbinic) frequent mention is made of God, Adam, Seth, Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph as scrupulously observing the Sabbath.
Apologetic Need. The early Fathers adopted the notion of the Mosaic origin and exclusive Jewish nature of the Sabbath, to challenge those Christians who defended the binding obligations of the Sabbath commandment in the Christian dispensation. The standard and frequent argument is that the patriarchs and righteous men before Moses did not observe the Sabbath, and thus the day must be regarded as a temporary ordinance, deriving from Moses, and enjoined exclusively on the Jews on account of their unfaithfulness.
The reduction of a creation ordinance to an infamous sign of Jewish disobedience may reflect the need for short-term apologetic arguments, but it lacks a comprehension of the permanent and lofty values placed upon the Sabbath by Scripture.
(Dr. Bacchiocchi, from The Sabbath in the New Testament, Answers to Questions, Chapter 8, “Questions About The Sabbath in the Old Testament,” posted at Dr. Bacchiocchi's website, Biblical Perspectives.)
Again, our purpose in providing the above reference from Dr. Bacchiocchi is simply to show that he was well aware of facts that make his Sabbatarian views difficult to sustain.
BRENDAN KNUDSON’S OBJECTIONS
TO THE CIRCUMCISION ARGUMENT
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Just because the Jews believed that circumcision was a prerequisite to Sabbath-keeping does not make it true.
AUTHORS: Thanks for acknowledging that the Jews have believed that circumcision is a prerequisite to Sabbath observance.
In order to understand a Jewish book like the Bible, you must understand Jewish language, culture, and history. We know that the Jews of Jesus’ day believed that neither Gentile proselyte nor Jew could keep the Sabbath without being circumcised. Jesus Himself restricted the application of the Sabbath to Israel by excluding the Gentile “dogs.” It was a group of Jews—the Apostles—who, in apostolic times, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, decided that the Gentile converts coming into the Church did not have to be circumcised. The issue of Sabbath-keeping never arose after the Council of Jerusalem. Even if the Apostles happened to be wrong in their beliefs, this was what they believed, and it was this belief that guided their thinking about what Jewish requirements would be appropriate for the new Gentile converts.
What they believed about the relationship between circumcision and Sabbath observance affected how New Testament writers thought and wrote about it. The truth of the concept is found throughout the Law of Moses. The interpretation of this principle is manifest in how the Jews implemented it throughout their recorded history. Jesus even commented on the relationship between the two ordinances when He pointed out to his Jewish audience that their practice was to circumcise a new baby boy on the Sabbath if the 8th day of his life fell on the Sabbath.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The Bible demonstrates that Sabbath-keeping applied to the uncircumcised stranger who was passing through Israelite territory. The scope of the Pentateuch’s teaching about Sabbath-keeping seems to include both the circumcised foreigner and the uncircumcised foreigner.
AUTHORS: Gentiles working within the national boundaries of Israel on the Sabbath would make it difficult for their Jewish hosts to keep the Sabbath. Almost certainly the Law of Moses regulated the foreigner’s activity on the Sabbath so the Jews could keep the Sabbath at all times, as well as to prevent a Jew from working by proxy through Gentiles. The Gentiles rested on the Sabbath only because Jewish law required them to appease their hosts while they were within their gates. When they left they were no longer bound by law to keep the Sabbath. They were no more “Sabbath keepers” than the animals within the gates of the Jews, who also rested/ceased. Imagine a Gentile merchant who wants to load the goods he purchased from an Israelite merchant on his camels after sunset on the Preparation Day. He wants his Jewish seller to unlock the storehouse and help him load-up for the long journey back to the Kingdom of Sheba.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: In this, we see that the Sabbath was binding upon the uncircumcised as well as the circumcised, thus demonstrating that its universal nature extended beyond the covenant God had established with Israel.
AUTHORS: God made no covenant with any other nation but Israel. The Law of Moses specified what was to happen within the territorial boundaries of His nation, Israel. The concept of national jurisdiction is recognized by the popular statement, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” The provision Brendan cites was enacted to enable the Jews within their own domain to keep the Sabbath without interference from their Gentile visitors. The law also prevented the Jew from using the Gentiles among them as proxy workers. Brendan draws a conclusion then that goes way beyond the confines stated in Scripture regarding the Gentiles who happened to be “within the gates” or borders of Israel. This restriction to territory within the confines of Israel hardly qualifies the Sabbath as being universal in nature.
The Sabbath was definitely a “religious” thing for the Jew, but it was merely a civil provision for the visiting Gentile. The Jew could be stoned to death for picking up firewood on the Sabbath, but there was no provision in the Law of Moses for stoning their Gentile guests who collected firewood on the Sabbath.
ROBERT K. SANDERS: Any Gentile or foreigner that wished to keep the Sabbath was required to obey all the Old Covenant laws which required circumcision. In Isaiah 56, we have the mentioning of the Eunuchs who kept the Sabbath. God told them that they must keep the covenant to be accepted and that the covenant requires circumcision.
Isaiah 56:4-5 (NIV) 4 For this is what the LORD says: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant— 5to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: From the time that the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land at Kadesh, the Scriptures reveal that the Hebrews were forbidden from performing circumcision (Joshua 5:7) and the entire next generation who entered the promised land were not circumcised until they had crossed the Jordan (Joshua 5:2-4). Circumcision was required to partake of the Passover (Exodus 12:43-49) and they did not eat it during all the 40 years in the wilderness until the rite of circumcision was renewed (Joshua 5:11). This fact represents a final blow to the anti-Sabbatarian argument that the Bible concept of circumcision is a barrier to Sabbatarianism.
WILLIAM'S RESPONSE: Brendan takes great liberty with Scripture, drawing conclusions not necessarily supported by the text. It does not say the Hebrews were forbidden from performing circumcision. The narrative indicates it was something neglected by them. Israel had a nasty habit of forgetting the law given to them down through time. The same can be said for the Passover. Brendan assumes; draws out a conclusion, that they had not kept the Passover for those 40 years in the wilderness. All the narrative does tell us that it was kept by them just prior to entering into the land, along with the next generation undergoing circumcision. Brendan wants desperately to turn this into the “last nail in the coffin” regarding the “alleged” connection between circumcision and Sabbath observance, when in fact all that is demonstrated is the Hebrew's proclivity at ignoring their own law.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: The root of Brenden’s objection is based on the errant premise that the Sabbath ordinance is intrinsically moral. The Sabbath started out as an obedience test. Shortly thereafter it was elevated to the status of an obedience test that would distinguish Israel from all the other nations of the world. Because both are intrinsically “ceremonial,” God can do what he wants to with them. The whole world did without a Sabbath for two-thousand years before God gave it to Israel. The whole world went without the ordinance of circumcision until God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. God would not be intermittent with moral laws. For example, He would not ever suspend the natural law against adultery. Imagine God punishing Israel by taking away the prohibition against adultery because they had been doing evil! Recall that once God did threaten to take away Israel’s Sabbaths:
Hosea 2:11 (NIV) 11I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days—all her appointed feasts.
Note that once Israel crossed the Jordan and became established as a nation, the hierarchy between circumcision and the Sabbath remained unchanged until the time of Jesus, with circumcision, a “ceremonial” point of law, taking precedence over the sabbath. Circumcision remained the gateway to the privilege of keeping the Law of Moses, the Sabbath being the most significant seal of the contract between God and Israel from Mt. Sinai to the Cross.
BARRIER: THE SABBATH IS A TREATY WITH A
CEREMONIAL REQUIREMENT IN THE MIDDLE
Robert Brinsmead's intense research prior to the publication of his 1981 essay, “Sabbatarianism Re-examined,” uncovered the fact that the 10 Commandments were modeled after the Hittite treaties of the time. (See “Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East,” George E. Mendenhall, 1954; and “The Two Tables of the Covenant,” Meridith Kline, Westminster Theological Journal 22 (1960) 133-146, both available on the Web). Brinsmead says:
The ceremonial nature of the Sabbath law has been confirmed by Mendenhall's 1954 discovery that the Ten Commandments conform to the structure of treaties between Hittite kings and their vassals. Annexed to the stipulations of a Hittite treaty was a provision for a periodic ceremony to rehearse the treaty between the lord and the vassal. Meredith Kline beautifully demonstrates that the Sabbath law in the middle of the Ten Commandments is the counterpart of a Hittite treaty memorial celebration with respect to its provision for the rehearsal of God's covenant. The Sabbath law, therefore, was a law requiring a ceremony of covenantal rehearsal.
The Sabbath was a ceremonial rite given to Israel to help the Chosen People remember that God was the One responsible for bringing them out of the slavery of Egypt. It would be so very much like God to communicate His plan for them in the context of their contemporary culture because the people could understand it better. Moses, in Leviticus 23, lists the weekly Sabbath as one of the many ceremonial festivals given to the Israelite nation to be observed, labeling them “appointed feasts.” The evidence in this section combines with the fact that a study of the Hebrew linguistics of the Creation Story illustrates the -fact- that the Sabbath could not have been a Creation ordinance. There are two fundamental reasons God listed for giving the Sabbath to Israel, and BOTH specifications have to be met for its consistent application: (1) to help Israel remember that God created the world, and (2) to help Israel remember that God rescued them from Egyptian slavery. At the time of Creation, there was no Egyptian slavery to be rescued from. The specifications for the use of the Sabbath cannot be met for anyone living before the time of the Exodus.
A RESPECTABLE ARGUMENT AGAINST A GENESIS SABBATH:
The Theory of Prolepsis
Sabbatarians think that if they can prove that the first Christians abandoned Sabbath-keeping as the result of some kind of sinister apostasy, they can prove that the intent of the Sabbath commandment was universal and had to be present in Genesis. Circular reasoning results in the absolute necessity to find a plausible conspiracy theory to explain Sabbath abandonment by the early church. Christian scholars have known for a very long time that there is no such explanation. The fact that the first Christians abandoned the Sabbath on biblical grounds has been remarkably well understood by the larger body of Christians since the earliest roots of the Faith. The Greek Orthodox Church kept excellent records of its ecclesiastical history from the beginning of the Faith, and these records show that they never kept the Jewish Sabbath. Their records demonstrate that the Orthodox churches observed, instead, a Sabbath festival at several times during their liturgical year. This festival sometimes included the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, but it was a social occasion that had many of the attributes of what we refer to today as a “party,” including excessive eating and even drunkenness. Unfortunately Sabbatarian writers often quote passages from these early Christian authors that refer to the keeping of the Sabbath festival to support the idea that the Sabbath was widely kept during these centuries. The truth, as conceded by SDA Sabbath scholar, the late Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, is that Sunday observance was wide-spread by 100 AD and essentially universal by 140 AD. It is not even possible that the Roman Catholic Church could have "changed" the Sabbath. At the same time, we acknowledge that there have always been small pockets of Sabbatarians throughout the history of the church. In fact, Christian groups which kept the Sabbath during the first and second centuries quickly moved into the heresies of Gnosticism and Ebionism and disappeared from the Christian fold. The Church would have perished altogether if it had not been for the Sunday-observing Christians who preserved the purity of the Gospel. Citing the research of former Seventh-day Adventist independent theologian, Robert D. Brinsmead in his essay, “Sabbatarianism Re-examined” (1981), The Sabbath-keeping Christians were not the heroes of the Faith. They were its biggest enemies. We will expand on this fact as our study progresses.
MOSES AND THE LITERARY TECHNIQUE OF “PROLEPSIS”
It is tempting to draw a comparison between the reluctance of Sabbatarians, and Evolutionists to give up their beliefs in these highly flawed theories in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are impossible. For example, three absolute barriers to Evolution have come to light through continuing research: (1) Evolution defies probability. The chance that even one molecule essential to life could evolve by itself is greater than the ratio of one molecule to all the molecules in the known universe. (2) Mutations always result in a loss of information, so the evolution of increasingly complex body structures is impossible. (3) Strides in information theory prove that information comes only from an intelligent source, whether the vehicle that carries that information is DNA or the pages of a book. Evolution would therefore require parallel evolution of an organism and the attendant DNA information. Yet, despite the discovery of these impossible road-blocks to Evolution, the vast majority of scientists cling to the belief that simple organisms evolved into more complex ones. Similarly, if you confront Sabbath-keepers with the three absolute barriers to Sabbatarianism, the response is the same. No evidence to the contrary is allowed. It’s like watching the black knight in the British comedy, “Monte Python and the Holy Grail.”
Both adherents of these respective belief systems act as giant knowledge filters to make sure that no adverse information gets through to their minions. Unfortunately, most Sabbatarians abandon their critical thinking skills in favor of embracing the belief system they have adopted from their leaders– hook, line, and sinker. As William Hohmann observes, to them, the Sabbath law MUST be true. He adds that cult research has proven that cult members, after being confronted with overwhelming evidence that their belief system is wrong, usually react by developing a still greater commitment to their beliefs and, astonishingly, become even more zealous in converting others to adopt the cult’s teachings. This attitude reflects circular reasoning at its worst. It goes like this. Since the Sabbath is true, there can be no real evidence against it, and since there is no real evidence against it, the Sabbath is true.
One respectable but less-than-definitive argument against a Genesis origin for the Sabbath is the possibility that the author of Genesis used a literary device called prolepsis in Genesis 2:2-3 to show the relationship between the events of the 7th day of Creation and the giving of the Sabbath commandment at Mt. Sinai. The Bible is literature. The books of the Bible share many attributes with world literature. We mentioned earlier that failure to understand the linguistics of the original language of the Pentateuch can lead to disaster. The same is true of a failure to understand it as a literary work.
The commentary on Genesis 2:3 in John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible theorizes that since Moses wrote both the account of Creation and of the Exodus, he was likely thinking about both events when he wrote Genesis and Exodus. He chose to show the relationship between the 7th day of Creation and the 4th commandment through prolepsis. Merriam Webster’s On-Line Dictionary defines this term as “The representation of a thing as existing before it actually does or did so, as in “he was a dead man when he entered.” [In regard to] literary [terminology], a figurative device in narrative, in which a future event is prefigured, such as “the destruction of the Vendôme Column and his part in it are foreshadowed in moments of haunting prolepsis.” Gill explains this way:
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.
A day in which he took delight and pleasure, having finished all his works, and resting from them, and looking over them as very good; and so he pronounced this day a good and happy day, and "sanctified" or appointed it in his mind to be a day separated from others, for holy service and worship; as it was with the Jews when they became a body of people, both civil and ecclesiastical: or this is all said by way of prolepsis or anticipation, as many things in this chapter are, many names of countries and rivers, by which being called in the times of Moses, are here given them, though they were not called by them so early, nor till many ages after: and according to Jarchi this passage respects future time, when God "blessed" this day with the manna, which descended on all the days of the week, an omer for a man, and on the sixth day double food; and he "sanctified" it with the manna which did not descend at all on that day: besides, these words may be read in a parenthesis, as containing an account of a fact that was done, not at the beginning of the world, and on the first seventh day of it; but of what had been done in the times of Moses, who wrote this, after the giving of the law of the sabbath; and this being given through his hands to the people of Israel, he takes this opportunity here to insert it, and very pertinently, seeing the reason why God then, in the times of Moses, blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it, was, because he had rested on that day from all his works, (Exodus 20:11) and the same reason is given here, taken plainly out of that law which he had delivered to them:
because that in it he had rested from all his work, which God created and made;
which shows, that this refers not to the same time when God blessed and hallowed the seventh day, which was done in the times of Moses, but to what had been long before, and was then given as a reason enforcing it; for it is not here said, as in the preceding verse, "he rested", but "had rested", even from the foundation of the world, when his works were finished, as in ( Hebrews 4:3 ) even what "he created to make" V5, as the words may be here rendered; which he created out of nothing, as he did the first matter, in order to make all things out of it, and put them in that order, and bring them to that perfection he did.
It is possible, then, that Moses, writing about both events, comments on the blessing and the hallowing of the 7th day in Genesis 2 before it took place because in his mind he knew it had taken place in the future.
Brendan possesses a general knowledge of the Hebrew language. He does not, however, exhibit expert level knowledge of Ancient Hebrew. Nor does he speak for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in any official capacity, especially in view of his recent highly controversial activities in regard to the White Estate. He has reviewed our work, having posted refutations of it on the Internet. His challenges are well-articulated, and we will present his objections with appropriate rebuttals throughout this up-dated version. Here are his objections in regard to the concept of prolepsis:
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The author’s defense [Wynne’s] that you can have your cake and eat it too in regard to the possibility that Moses referred to the blessing and the hallowing of the 7th day of Creation as a literary prolepsis— is double-speak and amounts to a concession that the blessing and hallowing would have to have taken place on the 7th day of Creation. This concession backs Wynne away from an argument he initially presented as a weighty one.
AUTHORS: The question of WHEN it was actually blessed is insignificant because the real issue is whether one single day got blessed or subsequent multiples of it got selectively blessed at the same time. A special Hebrew usage device clarifies that only one day got blessed. The memory of this ONE is indicated by this literary indicator to have no boundaries. Therefore, there is no room on any subsequent day, whether it be a specific interval of it or not, to “place” any additional blessing on top of it. If something it set aside, it can only be set aside once, unless, of course, someone drags it out of its set aside place and puts it back into regular service again. There is no double-speak here because WHEN does not matter to our position. WHEN is, however, critical to Brendan’s assumptive position. There is nothing available to last without boundaries but the memory of its significance. A day can last only 24 hours– an EVENING plus a morning. It can't apply to God's resting because God rested permanently from creating Planet Earth after the 6th day. It can't apply to man because Adam and Eve ended up having to earn their keep by the sweat of their brow. Likely they rested when they got tired because there was no resting pattern imposed on them by Genesis 2:2-3. The question of WHEN the 7th day of Creation got set aside will be addressed when we do a word study of the three key words in the passage. We will look deeply into Hebrew grammar at that time.
Moses would not worry that his readers would think that the 7th day he was telling about lasted any longer than 24 literal hours. Therefore, the only likely reason he would go out of his way to use this special linguistic indicator would be to clarify that it was the MEMORY of this day that was to last forever. At Mt. Sinai He blessed and hallowed a pattern of RECURRING 7th days as a new ordinance for Israel, modeling it after the length and structure of the days of Creation. Unlike what took place during the days of Creation, at Mt. Sinai God indicated that the new Sabbath ceremony was to take place every 7th day thereafter. Since the idea of a fixed calendar had not (so far as we know) yet occurred to human civilization at that time, it would go without saying that the special blessing of the Sabbath would occur on days that were multiples of seven in relation to the new moon. Later in the Old Testament, God tells His people that the Old Covenant will be replaced with a new one that will be very different. The New Covenant says nothing about the requirement to keep new moon sabbaths, annual sabbaths, or weekly Sabbaths.
We do not know if Moses was thinking in terms of prolepsis. This concept was developed by a theologian who did not seem familiar with the significance of the absence of the “evening and morning” suffix, but who, at the same time, recognized a number of other absolute barriers to a Genesis origin for the Sabbath. It would be natural for a theologian without expert level training in Ancient Hebrew to comprehend the fact that there is no Sabbath hiding within Genesis 2:2-3 because so many different facts, themes, and principles in the Bible absolutely contraindicate Sabbath-keeping in general for anyone but the Jews. Keep in mind that we believe that there is not enough evidence to prove there is a Sabbath in the Genesis account. Our position is that the blessing, setting aside, and the eternal memorialization of this one day can’t change it into a weekly ritual that governs the behavior of Christians in this world and for eternity in the next.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: No such Hebrew literary device exists. The absence or presence of the evening and morning suffix after the discussion of the events of a Hebrew day does not limit or un-limit it. Rather, the simple absence of it means nothing. The use of this argument represents the logical error of arguing from silence. It is inappropriate for Wynne to challenge Sabbatarians to provide “testimonies” from two experts in Ancient Hebrew that no such literary device exists. We can look at the evidence for ourselves.
AUTHORS: Neither of us is knowledgeable enough in Ancient Hebrew to look at the evidence by himself. We cannot, therefore, pretend the literary evidence of ancient Hebrew does not exist simply because we desire this to be true. Brendan assumes that we can use our knowledge of the English language and limited understanding of the “original” Ancient Hebrew language to evaluate this question. Unfortunately, the very structure of Ancient Hebrew is very different than English, and the language has its own history and culture. We have provided expert testimony for Sabbatarians to consider. This is not an argument from pure silence as Brendan alleges. The sound of this silence is deafening since the “silence” is actually a particular literary device characteristic of Ancient Hebrew that “jumps off the page” when a reader has a native understanding of the original language. The evening and morning suffix puts boundaries on a day—a yom. All the first six days have boundaries, and the reason for those boundaries is self-evident. They were task days with the work projects completed within a 24-hour periods of time as defined by an evening plus a morning. The MEMORY of 7th day has no boundaries because its memory is to last forever. A boundary would restrict the command to remember the day only for a limited amount of time.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Wynne’s explanation that the absence of the “evening and morning” suffix phrase gives this one 24-hour day unending attributes of blessing and setting aside (hallowing), thus preventing an recurrence of an application of this blessing and hallowing to future 7th days, is based on the logical fallacy of appeal to authority. The fact that various biblical scholars writing on various continents and at different times in the history of the Church have interpreted this wording to be a special Hebrew linguistic device means nothing. Again, Wynne has exhibited an error of logic by appealing to authority. He has flimsy evidence to purport that he presents a “verdict” in regard to the presence or absence of a Sabbath in Genesis 2:2-3.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: Researchers pour over a variety of expert sources, look for significant correlations and hope to discover and present something new. For example, in this paper, one of our contributions may be a new reason why Jewish writers frequently referred to the Sabbath system as a complete set— annual, monthly, and weekly. In turn, this concept would add still another biblical principle to demonstrate that St. Paul really did target the weekly Sabbath in Colossians 2:14-17.
From the early centuries of the Christian faith, various writers have commented about the anti-Sabbatarian significance of the absence of the “morning and evening” suffix. The VERDICT that there is no Sabbath in Genesis is based on at least four factors: (1) A full set of biblical themes and principles that forbids the structuring of Sabbatarian theology in general. (2) The evidence that the Sabbath cannot be proof-texted back into it, and: (3) the lack of evidence of its existence within Genesis 2:2-3 itself, and: (4) A significant indicator within Genesis 2:2-3 that the existence of one within it is deliberately excluded.
Note that the argument against a Creation origin for the Sabbath from Exodus 16 is unequivocal and that the argument from Exodus 20—that the Sabbath was modeled after the days of Creation—is strong.
WILLIAM'S RESPONSE: Arguing from authority is NOT necessarily a logical fallacy. An appeal to a supposed authority which really isn’t an authority represents an informal logical fallacy. Brendan wants to label our appeal to credible authorities as a logical fallacy, but he is strangely silent over Cotto’s appeal to both Sabbatarian and non-Sabbatarian sources, including SDA leaders, who are NOT credible authorities because they do not have proper backgrounds in Ancient Hebrew. So what we really see here is that Brendan’s use of a flawed double standard. Credible authorities have supported a conclusion that is contrary to the results he wants. Unfortunately, if we can so easily dismiss the testimony of credible authorities, we can dismiss the conclusions of Seventh-day Adventist theologians and members of the Adventist community who have even less “authority” when it comes to expertise in Ancient Hebrew, including Brendan. Or, we can, as the Seventh-day Adventists do, believe whatever we want to without any true, sufficient, or credible evidence. Brandon's conclusion regarding a logical fallacy actually produces another logical fallacy; an “ad-hominem” where one goes about looking for a way to discredit credible witnesses or authorities.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Wynne’s claim that the author of Genesis could still be thinking of the blessing and hallowing of the 7th day of Creation as a flash-forward to the giving of the Sabbath Commandment at Mt. Sinai is ridiculous in view of the book-end restrictions of the author of Genesis' use of the restrictive literary devices of merismus and inclusio. The use of these twin literary devices is mutually exclusive of prolepsis. His arguments side-step the real issue, which is the barrier to prolepsis imposed by merismus and inclusio. Wynne has ignored it completely by merely insisting on prolepsis as if these “excluding” literary devices do not exist. Again, he appeals to expert opinion to support his conclusions rather than the evidence itself.
The chiastic [often saying the same thing twice but in somewhat different ways] structure of the account of the 7th day of Creation within the inclusion between its book-ends gives emphasis to the main point that the 7th day is blessed and set aside [made holy], which proves that this blessing and hallowing of the 7th day of Creation was equivalent to making it into a Sabbath concept because these things happened within the time-frame of the narrative. This represents a fatal blow to the desperate need of the authors of VERDICT: No Sabbath in Genesis!’ to project this blessing and hallowing far into the future at Mt. Sinai. The chiastic structure of the last verses of this inclusion looks like this:
A1 --- Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
A2 -------- And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done,
B -------------- and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.
X ------------------ So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,
B ------------- because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation. A1` -- These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, A2` ------- in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
AUTHORS: It is Brendan who is ignoring the real evidence, which is expert scholarly opinion from multiple sources which all make the same observation. It is the strength of this scholarly opinion that has contributed to shaping our point of view. Both the concepts of book-ending and prolepsis are literary devices common to many languages. If the author of Genesis 2:2-3 actually did use prolepsis here, he did so because writers have the creative power to write things any way they please. We acknowledge that book-ending exists in literature. However, our position is that book-ending does not have the magical powers of exclusion that Brendan ascribes to it. Anything can be placed between the two ends of a book. Furthermore, we do not insist that prolepsis is necessarily the case in this passage. We present it as a possibility that is compatible with the fact that the blessing and hallowing of that one, single day cannot repeat at recurring intervals because the memory assigned to it forever means there is no place on a subsequent day where such a blessing could be set down on it. The 7th day was memorialized, and the memory of that one single day would last forever. Once genuinely and permanently blessed, always blessed. Once set aside, always set aside.
Since neither Brendan nor the authors of this paper are experts in Ancient Hebrew, both parties are dependent on expert testimony when it comes to Hebrew linguistics. The experts have spoken, and what they have said is not acceptable to Sabbatarians. Brendan's reaction is to deny the evidence of experts he cannot refute, along with a thinly vailed ad hominem.
The 7th day of Creation lasted only 24 hours, but the memory of it will last forever. The day a person graduates from college is a very blessed day, and the day for the graduation ceremony is set aside by college leadership. A college graduate will always remember that day without the need for any weekly, monthly, or annual rituals.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Patterns of symmetry in the Creation account explain why the author of Genesis 2:2-3 left off the “evening and morning” phrase after the 7th day. To include it would be to write redundantly. There is no need to resort to creating an imaginary Hebrew literary device to explain its absence. The Creation account contains a symmetrical pattern for the six days of Divine activity. From a state of תֹהוּ (tohu) and בֹּהוּ (bohu), literally formlessness and emptiness, the first three days describe God's activity in forming heaven and earth and then the second lot of three days see Him filling what He has just formed.
So we see some clear reasons why there should be a symmetrical pattern between the first set of three days and the second set of three days with the words "and the evening and morning were the ___ day". The final (in this case the seventh) in a series where the preceding instances are symmetrical does not have to follow the pattern of the preceding six. It is free to break its own ground to highlight its significance. And according to the established practice of Hebrew linguistics we have noted, breaking from the pattern at a climax highlights and focuses on the climax as the intended destination of the previous steps in the series. What this means is that while the six days of creating were important, the destination was always the seventh day.
Now, while the seventh day omits the pattern of "and the evening and morning were the ___ day", the Hebrew of Genesis 2:1-3 does not leave any excuse to think that this is anything other than an open and closed 24 hour period of time. This revolves around the triple use of the word "day" with the ordinal number "seventh".
The other six days of the creation account refer to the day in the order only once. So we can see "first day" (Genesis 1:5), "second day" (Genesis 1:8), "third day" (Genesis 1:13), "fourth day (Genesis 1:19), "fifth day" (Genesis 1:23), "sixth day" (Genesis 1:31). In contrast, "seventh day" is mentioned three times in two verses (Genesis 2:2-3). Because the reference of the day is always connected to the phrase "the evening and the morning were the ___ day" in the previous six, while the ordinal number of the seventh day is mentioned three times with highlights on the climax of a series, it is no wonder that the rest of the formula is left off for space constraints to avoid being cumbersome.
KERRY'S RESPONSE: I enjoy the tongue-in-cheek idea that the destination day of Creation Week was the day God created Eve. What a great, incomparable fusion of incredible beauty, grace, and charm, presented to the Universe as the ultimate achievement of God’s creative power, all wrapped up in one gorgeous, unimaginable, heart-stopping package—the first creature in the entire history of the Universe, aside from Adam, to be made in the express image of God. The jaws of every created being in the universe, including the angels, must have dropped in breathless awe as the dust that God had sculptured into Eve sprang to life when it was fused with one of Adam’s ribs and she began to talk, walk, and smile. Adam surely must have fainted “dead” on the spot. Even the angels must have been paralyzed with breathless awe as they looked upon her beauty. Perhaps God had to put the breath of life back into Adam to prevent him from suffering death before sin even had a chance to enter the world. None of us would be here today to rest on any day of the week if it had not been for the creation of Eve. Since Creation, every man who has ever lived has enjoyed the truly marvelous beauty and charm of the loveliest life-form ever imagined in the history of the Universe. Therefore, I am not convinced that a day that merely celebrates the finishing of all this creative activity could possibly be more important than the days when creative work was actually accomplished. Not even the Sabbath ordinance itself, which ruled Israel from Sinai to the Cross, held a candle to the supreme importance of Eve’s creation.
More seriously, at the time– that is, at the time of Creation Week– the 7th day was presented as no more important than a boundary that marked the eternal end of God's creative work in regard to Planet Earth and the beginning of a new life for Adam and Eve. Its significant but modest importance is illustrated by the action language description of God kneeling down on this day for a moment followed by an announcement that everyone should remember that He ended His creation of Planet Earth on it. Then the story moves on. It was not until thousands of years later that the days of Creation were used as the MODEL for a new cultic ritual that Israel would practice to remind them that God had rescued their ancestors from slavery in Egypt and that He created them.
Is there really any significance to the fact that the 7th day is referred to three times in the passage that discusses the events of the seventh day? Three things happened on the seventh day, whereas only one thing happened on the first six days. However, quantity does not equal “quality.” So far this morning I rolled out of bed, got dressed, and had breakfast—not particularly interesting. On the 7th day, God stopped creating, blessed the memory of the 7th day, and set it aside to be remembered forever– not particularly interesting at the time, but still part of the story of what God did. The supreme importance accorded to this day resulted from what happened to it thousands of years later at Mt. Sinai. Using the days of Creation, including the 7th one, as a model upon which to base His Sabbath concept, God did set aside intervals of seven days to be blessed. The story of the 7th day of Creation would be much more significant if God had told Adam and Eve to rest every seventh day thereafter, but He didn’t. In fact it doesn't even tell us that Adam and Eve rested along with God. A day that God ceased creating cannot be intrinsically more important than the days He actually made something. The 7th day was not the focus of the days of Creation at the time of Creation. It signified the end of it. It was just another one of the days of Creation, and the story was about another day in the “life” of God. Stuff happened on every day of Creation.
Even if Brendan is right about the focus on the 7th day being produced by Hebrew linguistic structural patterns, focusing a flashlight’s beam on it or blasting it with a powerful laser gun will not turn a boundary marker into a cultic ritual.
WILLIAM'S RESPONSE: These patterns Brendan sees may or may not exist. However, to utilize these patterns to explain the absence of this key phrase is nothing but pure speculation. If you read what Brendan wrote carefully, you will see a duplicity in what he says. Moses wrote with a “pattern of symmetry” regarding the phrase, “and the evening and the morning”. Why then does Moses break with his “pattern of symmetry” when it comes to the seventh day? Brendan concludes it was a matter of space restraints and to prevent the narrative from being cumbersome. This self-serving statement helps to demonstrate the differnce between what we are presenting as evidence to support our claims regarding the lack of credible evidence in Genesis to support a weekly sabbath there, and how Brendan and other SDA theologians treat their “evidence” as fact. Is Brendon right here, or wrong? What really matters is that Brendan here is speculating, even as we may speculate, the difference being we have no problem admitting when we are speculating. Brendon, et.al. offer speculations as facts engraven in stone.
Brendan then claims there are no linguistic indicators that prevent the reading into the text a weekly sabbath, ignoring the experts in the field. I like to refer to this as “Ostrich theology” where one buries his head in the sand, and pretends evidence contrary to one's beliefs simply does not exist. Brandon would better serve his position by examining the claims of those scholars such as D.A. Carson, and offer up evidence to the contrary instead of just dismissing what they have demonstrated in their scholarly works out of hand.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The fact that the Hebrew word for day, יבֿם (yom), has been categorically established as including "evening and morning" over the preceding six ordinal references rules out any attempts to protract the seventh yom into an indefinite, unending eternity. An ordinal day has already been defined six previous times as "evening and morning". By the time we get to the seventh, the word is pregnant with this undeniable meaning. A study of the literary features of the Genesis 1:1-2:4 inclusio demonstrates the internal reasons for breaking with the pattern on the seventh day.
WILLIAM’S RESPONSE: Brendan’s conclusion appears to dismiss Hebrews 4. Indeed the “day” began and ended, but there is a bit more to the story, for there is a spiritual aspect to this day also, hinting at the nature of the “day” of God's rest, entered into by the faithful, while it is still called “To day” as related in Hebrews 4. God's rest then is not limited to any one day, or multiple of days. Some will enter into God's rest “To day”. Some will enter into God's rest “tomorrow” when it then becomes “To day”. The weekly sabbath that Sabbatarians so desperately need to find in Genesis 2, which was to be a shadow of God's rest, is not there. What is there is tripped over and unrecognizable due to its association with faith, whereas points of law are not of faith, according to Paul. The Sabbatarian's distinctive is, after all, the sabbath, and without it, they have no distinctive, and the obvious becomes painfully clear and unavoidable; their whole theology is built on lies, and they have been partakers of those lies.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: No one is trying to protract the seventh YOM into an unending eternity for mankind. It is the memory of that one day that this literary device protracts into eternity.
Hebrews 4 talks about a Sabbath rest that never ends for the Christian believer. It points out that Israel never experienced the rest that it was intended to provide even when they had the seventh day Sabbath. Christians will find real rest in the truths of the Gospel that Israel never realized under the Old Covenant. They will experience this rest for eternity.
Apologist Brendan speaks with an impressive knowledge of Hebrew grammar and structure, but as we have pointed out before, his training in Ancient Hebrew is not at the near-native level it would take for him to be familiar with the language's advanced concepts. He would demonstrate better scholarship by deferring to the authorities we have cited who recognize the fact of these literary device's existence—unless, of course, he can find a competent authority to testify that it actually does not exist.
Brendan argues against the limitations of a very specific Hebrew linguistic device with the implications of the characteristics of language in general. Even if he is right about this emphasis, it does not turn one single day in the history of Planet Earth into a cultic ritual that threatens the penalty of death to those who would gather a stick of firewood on it or to an Eskimo who would dare to light a fire in an Igloo during an Arctic winter. Instead, it emphasizes this one day, and only this one day, the emphasis serving the purpose of demonstrating a striking and significant barrier marking the transition from God’s creating to His ceasing from creative activity.
Furthermore, informed anti-Sabbatarians do not teach that the concrete actions God took on the 7th day of Creation, including His literal ceasing, took more time than an evening plus a morning. Rather, they teach that the attributes He assigned to this one day memorialized it forever, removing any boundaries to how long it was to be remembered. Anti-Sabbatarians also point out that Genesis 2:2-3 is only an account of what God did on the 7th day of Creation. Brendan’s assumption that God intended His action to be an example for man to follow simply because the two things are mentioned together in the same story is not a respectable theory. (We are sure Brendan wished Moses would have supported his assumption by recording Adam and Eve resting the day after they were created).
We have reached the Verdict that there is no Sabbath in Genesis via a wide range of biblical facts, principles, and themes that demonstrate to the point of over-kill that a Sabbatarian belief system is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Scripture and the facts of history. In regard to the historical side of this issue, Sabbatarians seem unable to grasp the fact that Christians did not abandon Sabbath-keeping because of some kind of sinister apostasy-conspiracy. Rather, the first Christians abandoned it on biblical principles, writing about the fact that the Sabbath was not given at Creation, that it was a definitive sign between God and Israel, and so on. The widely Sabbatarian-touted story of how the Catholic Church supposedly “changed the day” is now the laughing stock of the Christian world. Apologist Brendan has been deceived by a religious environment characterized by denial and Ostrich head-burying in regard to the truth about Sabbath abandonment. The early founders of the Christian Faith argued against a Creation origin for the Sabbath utilizing most of the key arguments anti-Sabbatarians use today. The conspiracy theory of Sabbath abandonment is pleasing to those who want to feel like they are specially chosen by God, but this idea is nothing more than a cherished, self-serving historical fairy tale.
COTTO’S RESPONSE TO THE CHALLENGE:
A SERVING OF BALONEY
Amidst this background of ecclesiastical knowledge and a mountain of biblical evidence to the contrary, SDA apologist, Edwin M. Cotto, seeks to convince us that the Sabbath is found in Genesis 2. In subsequent pages we will provide both evidence and proof that no Sabbath ordinance exists in Genesis and that it is impossible to legitimately proof-text it backwards into it. Even Catholic scholars understand the biblical reasons for Sabbath abandonment. While a number of unauthorized spokespersons for the Catholic Church have claimed that the Mother Church changed the Sabbath by arbitrary ecclesiastical authority alone, its official position, expounded on the official website of the Catholic Church, is that the Sabbath was abandoned for the same biblical reasons cited by Protestant and Orthodox scholars.
HEBREW LINGUISTIC DEVICES
We will have much more to say about this subject later. In Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20, Moses utilized a variety of Hebrew meaning indicators to clarify that the Sabbath did not exist until the time of the giving of the Manna. Since these Hebrew literary devices convey their meanings through ways that are uniquely characteristic of Ancient Hebrew, they are invisible to those who lack advanced training in it. At this level of linguistics, one must possess a nearly "native" command of the language– difficult, as we have noted, since it evolved from its “original” form of Ancient Hebrew into Modern Hebrew, and then into Aramaic well before the time of Christ. These clarifying indicators may have developed out of necessity to compensate for the limitations of this primitive action-based language. Modern languages are more versatile. Perhaps Ancient Hebrew developed a seemingly wider variety of meaning indicators because of the conceptual limitations imposed on it by being an “action” language based on “root structures.” While modern languages such as English may also use textually subtle meaning indicators, the need for them might be diminished by their greater flexibility and resources. Whereas modern languages have an abundance of words which are capable of communicating abstract concepts, Ancient Hebrew usually required the use of a concrete action to represent an abstract idea.
Although Ancient Hebrew utilized idioms, the usage conventions we discuss are not idioms. While a guidebook to Ancient Hebrew idioms would help us recognize them, it is useless to decode the other kind of not-so-obvious literary devices that Moses used in these three key passages. One example of a non-idiomatic indicator is that in Ancient Hebrew, the lack of a definite article before a noun signifies that the whole idea is new. This particular indicator has critical implications for determining what Moses conveyed about the Sabbath in the Pentateuch.
You can’t argue with the way people use their own language. When Moses, the assumed author of Genesis, assembled it from oral traditions and authored the remaining books of the Pentateuch, he was so successful in wording the Sabbath-related passages in Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20 that those who have possessed a native-like understanding of Ancient Hebrew have not been able to find an actual weekly Sabbath in Genesis. This fact is validated by reviewing thousands of years of rabbinical writings.
THE EVER-CHANGING NATURE OF LANGUAGE
The language spoken by the Children of Israel during the time of the Judges seems not to have fully evolved from the Ancient Hebrew until sometime after the kingdoms of Judah and Israel had become established. Over the hundreds and hundreds of years that transpired between the early kingdoms and the various periods of captivity, Ancient Hebrew evolved into “Modern” Hebrew. These Hebrew languages were very different from one another, including their written characters. Modern Hebrew had a long life-span, but by the time of Christ, the Jews, with the exception of specially trained rabbinical scholars, could not speak, read, or write either of the old Hebrew languages, and they were speaking Aramaic. Both the ancient and modern forms of Hebrew were known only to the rabbis. The Old Testament, whether written in Ancient Hebrew or Modern Hebrew, had to be translated again into Aramaic. Recall that Jesus read Scriptures about Himself from Aramaic scrolls in the synagogue. By the time of Christ, both the Ancient and Modern Hebrew languages were used only for religious studies. Some rabbinical scholars were responsible for keeping the knowledge of Ancient Hebrew alive, and they used it for specialized work such as studying the Pentateuch in its “original” language. Unfortunately, many Christian scholars have attempted to study the Ancient Hebrew text of the Pentateuch without sufficient training. The results have been disastrous.
The wording of Genesis 2 is unfavorable to the Sabbatarian belief model, especially in view of the fact that Exodus 16 utilizes a full set of specific indicators to clarify that the Sabbath commandment was being introduced for the first time. This fact is not surprising, since, as we recall, the Israelites under the direct leadership of God did not keep their first Sabbath until the 31st day of the Exodus. Finally, Exodus 20 contains four Hebrew usage indicators which clarify that the Sabbath ordinance was a new concept that was merely modeled after Creation week. We will explore these things in detail later.
Scholars are also faced with the challenge that God spoke to the Hebrews in anthropomorphic and cultural terms they could understand. For example, when God talked with Moses, He expressed human-like emotions such as jealousy or anger. Let us not think for a moment that the purity and selflessness of God’s “jealousy” or “anger” could be fully represented by the use of these human terms.
In the Creation story, Moses described God’s Creative work in terms of the action-based language that his readers would understand. However, since the language of the Pentateuch may have developed from Egyptian (or something else) into the Ancient Hebrew language, we should not assume that the anthropomorphic explanations of His activities in Genesis 1 & 2 can be taken with the degree of literalization that would provide a solid basis for the formulation of a universally applicable Christian doctrine. The literalness of God’s “resting” is very important to the concept of Sabbatarianism, yet it collapses unless these anthropomorphic representations can be taken to represent the full reality of His actions. The nature of the Ancient Hebrew language does not give us license to do so. We will be taking a look at these limitations of Genesis 2 in this paper.
WHAT LANGUAGE WAS THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE OF THE PENTATEUCH?
Recent archaeological discoveries silence the skeptics by validating the Bible story of King David. However, they also provide evidence we are talking about that the language used during the time of the Judges had not yet evolved completely into Ancient Hebrew. Inscriptions dug up in cities dated to near the time of King David are currently undecipherable, even though there are some rough similarities between the characters they used and those of Ancient Hebrew. The language in which the Pentateuch was originally recorded was almost certainly not Ancient Hebrew. This fact gives us plenty of reasons to make us even more reluctant to construct a major Christian doctrine on two verses from the Pentateuch.
Reflecting on Judaism.Com is a Jewish website that focuses on the theological issues within Judaism. The question of the original language of the Pentateuch is a sensitive one among Jewish scholars. In his essay on the question of the original language of the Torah, lay scholar, Woolf Abrahams, reports that he submitted this question to a variety of Jewish scholars and found no consensus. One professor he consulted, an anonymous orthodox Jewish professor of Jewish History at an Israeli University, provided these comments regarding the question:
The question has some merit but is problematic because you do not define what you mean by Torah. The Torah (as in the Pentateuch) informs us that what was given at Sinai (and this presumes that the events described in the Torah are historical – a rather difficult presumption) was the 10 commandments only. It is pretty clear that the Torah (as we have it now) was written down in stages at a much later period (probably after the setting up of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah) when Hebrew would have been the spoken language, hence it is written in Hebrew. The stories about Abraham and co [Company?] were told and written down in Hebrew without anyone questioning what languages were spoken at that time. The authors had a few other things on their minds when they compiled the Pentateuch… Hence, even the 10 commandments as they appear in the Pentateuch reflect different oral traditions and transmission; hence, it is impossible to know in what language they originally appeared. There were clearly translated at some stage into Hebrew in two similar but slightly different versions as can be seen in Exodus and Deuteronomy. I hope that is helpful.
OSTRICH THEOLOGY: THE IGNORIZATION OF D. A. CARSON
In 1982 a group of biblical scholars under the leadership of D.A. Carson published research that demonstrated conclusively that the linguistics of the Ancient Hebrew text of Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20 unequivocally prove the Sabbath did not exist until the time of the Exodus. We have other evidence from the Pentateuch that this is so, including the chronology of the Exodus journey.
Without a Creation origin for the Sabbath, the idea that Christians must keep the Jewish Sabbath collapses. How would a Christian theologian develop a belief model that would justify requiring Christians to keep the Jewish Sabbath when Adam and Eve, Enoch, and Abraham did not keep it? It is no surprise, then, that the Adventist Defense League would attempt to re-establish the credibility of the idea that the Sabbath is a Creation ordinance by publishing a new paper, “The Sabbath in Genesis,” authored by Edwin M. Cotto. Assuming the Adventist Defense League offers the best available apology for a Creation origin for the Sabbath, our paper, “VERDICT: No Sabbath in Genesis,” evaluates and refutes his methods and conclusions. We have quoted or summarized each of his major points, which are followed by appropriate rebuttals. As you have been following in this presentation, we have expanded our discussion to include the objections to our position by another Sabbatarian scholar, Brendan Knudson.
Since the Sabbath-Sunday Question is possibly the most complex of all Christian controversies, we ask our readers to study Book II of the 8th Edition of Lying for God, before drawing any final conclusions or contacting us. This subject is so huge that a comprehensive treatment of it, such as is found in our full-length Lying for God may be necessary to enable the reader to grasp the principles we set forth in VERDICT. Further study is especially important for inquiring Seventh-day Adventists, whose views are further complicated by their additional traditional belief in the Church’s prophetess, Ellen G. White. She claimed that God showed her the Sabbath “truth” in vision.
Cotto released his defense of the Sabbath-in-Genesis theory over thirty years after a team of biblical scholars, working under the leadership of Evangelical scholar, D.A. Carson, published their definitive findings in regard to the Sabbath-Sunday Question in the 1982 book, From Sabbath to Lord's Day. Carson published this research as a rebuttal to an earlier book authored by SDA Sabbath scholar, Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath to Sunday. Carson and his associates laid out a formidable case against Bacchiocchi’s research methods and conclusions, each chapter having been researched and written by outstanding scholars with expertise in each area impacted by Dr. Bacchiocchi’s claims. Cotto writes as if he is unaware of their work.
While Bacchiocchi explored a variety of Sabbath-Sunday issues in From Sabbath to Sunday, his main focus was to re-establish the credibility of the idea that the so-called “change” of the Sabbath was the result of sinister forces conspiring to destroy the genuine worship of God. In his doctoral studies at the Gregorian University at the Vatican, he discovered that the Seventh-day Adventist teaching that the Catholic Church “changed” the Sabbath was wrong. He was forced to concede that this “change” happened hundreds of years earlier. One of his theories was that the Church at Rome “changed it” between 100-140AD because it feared that the Roman Empire’s persecution of Jews would be extended to Christians because of the SUPPOSED common link of the Sabbath. (The first pope was seated about the year 600 AD.) Another of his theories was that Mithraism– or sun worship– had become popular by this time and had influenced Christians to adopt the same day of worship for utilitarian purposes. These and his other theories had been thoroughly debunked by the Carson team and a variety of other scholars. Bacchiocchi’s book, From Sabbath to Sunday, was published in 1977. Virtually all of these conspiracy theories are outlined and refuted in our complete book, Lying for God.
SDA leaders have known for a long time that Ellen White was dreadfully wrong about the Catholic Church changing the Sabbath. Subsequent to the release of Bacchiocchi’s 1977 book, From Sabbath to Sunday, SDA Sabbath scholars began developing their own alternate conspiracy theories. Even the General Conference developed one with a team approach. A plausible Sabbatarian-supportive theory was desperately needed for two reasons. First, Carson and his associates had thoroughly discredited Bacchiocchi’s ideas, leaving in disrepute the entire concept that sinister forces had worked together to change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. Second, Bacchiocchi’s theories conflicted with what Ellen White claimed God told her. Any new theory would have to solve both issues for Adventists, but such was never achieved. Most Seventh-day Adventists, including the majority of the clergy, are unaware of this unsavory history because the source for Sabbath-related things is sifted through the restrictive knowledge filter of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (note that information control is a practice of cults).
The Carson scholars drew from the greatly improved understanding of the diversity of the early church to demonstrate that these conspiracy theories were historically impossible and that the scholars of the Early Church had been articulate in spelling out the biblical reasons for Sabbath abandonment. Unfortunately, Seventh-day Adventist apologists have never acknowledged the existence of Carson’s comprehensive research or made any effort to refute it, despite the passage of over 30 years. This is the epitome of Ostrich Theology.
Some years ago, two prominent SDA apologists, confronted with our summary of Carson’s work in Lying for God, challenged the validity our position on the Hebrew linguistics of Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20. We asked them to find a Hebrew scholar to refute Carson, but no one has come forward until Brendan Knudson, who, professing a working knowledge of biblical languages, reviewed our book and paper. One of the two apologists who challenged us prior to Knudson had told us that the only Hebrew scholar he knew was a former Hebrew professor of his, Dr. A. Jerry Gladson, who very soon afterward abandoned Adventism. (We note that Dr. Gladson was fired by Southern Adventist University for his views on the Doctrine of the Investigative Judgment.) He was awarded a Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies from Vanderbilt University and served there as Adjunct Professor of Old Testament Language and Literature upon the completion of his studies.
In light of Carson's unchallenged and definitive work, Cotto is obligated to uncover hidden content, unknown to or misunderstood by the Carson scholars, and found strictly within Genesis 2:2-3, that would cause an expert in Ancient Hebrew to “see” in Moses' account of what God did on this one day an example of what man should do at every interval of seven days thereafter. The pressure on Sabbatarians is more intense than ever, now that we know for certain that Colossians 2:14-17 represents a command from God through St. Paul not to enforce Sabbath-keeping on the Gentile believers. Intense research on Colossians 2:14-17 over the past three decades has been devastating to the Sabbatarian belief model. Multiple angles of evidence have now come together to demonstrate to the point of over-kill that Paul meant exactly what he said. To the already definitive list of research findings, as we mentioned earlier, we add our theory that the Hebrews' use of the lunar calendar may have contributed to the fact that Hebrew writers often referred to all three sabbath types as a set (annual-monthly-weekly). In turn, this fact would provide further evidence that the Sabbath in the third position of Colossians 2:14-17 is a reference to the weekly Sabbath of the Decalogue and, therefore, is labeled an obsolete ordinance.
THE THREE KEY WORDS
OF GENESIS 2:2-3
Three key words within the text of Genesis 2:2-3 must be clearly understood to comprehend why the case for a Sabbath in this passage is extremely weak. Of course other factors are involved. We have called bluff on the hand of cards typically played by Edwin M. Cotto, Brendan Knudson, and other Sabbatarian apologists. Now is a good time to review what little substance either side has to work with in this passage. Here is a literal translation of Genesis 2:2-3 from the Ancient Hebrew by Jeff Benner of www.ancient-hebrew.org:
GENESIS 2:2 AND 2:3
And He will much-FINISH (verb) Elohiym in the Day the SEVENTH BUSINESS-him WHICH he did DO (verb) and he will CEASE (verb) in the DAY the SEVENTH from ALL BUSINESS-him WHICH he did DO (verb).
And he will much KNEEL (verb) Elohiym AT DAY the SEVENTH and he will much SET APART (verb) AT him GIVEN THAT in-him he did CEASE (verb) from-ALL BUSINESS-him WHICH he did-FATTEN (verb—in the sense of “to fill up”) Elohiym to DO (verb).
The story we find here has no information useful for developing Christian doctrine. In Exodus 20 and other passages of the Pentateuch, Moses presented the Sabbath as an institution designed to set Israel apart from everyone else. Additionally, the Law of Moses specified that neither Jew nor proselyte could keep the Sabbath without first complying with the Ordinance of Circumcision—a purely Jewish requirement. In the case of Genesis 2, he simply tells the story of what God did on this one day in the history of Planet Earth. As we will point out later, the account doesn’t even say that Adam and Eve rested in celebration with God, or that the celebration was to be repeated every seven days thereafter.
These following three things tend to indicate Genesis 2:2-3’s lack of support for Sabbatarianism: (1) The Ancient Hebrew verb for “set apart” cannot mean “set aside for religious services.” (2) The Ancient Hebrew verb translated “cease” likely does not mean “rest” in the English sense of “repose.” (3) The lack of the evening and morning suffix, in effect, LIMITS the blessing and setting aside to this one day because it EXTENDS its MEMORY from this one point in time on a continuum which projects into the future with no boundaries. Since this one day has been blessed forever, it is impossible to bless or set it aside again. There would be no point in blessing it again and again by observing a recurring cultic ceremony.
The 7th day’s status of being blessed and set aside to be remembered forever resulted from direct assignment by God. By contrast, His eternal resting/ceasing merely resulted of the fact that He didn’t do any more creating. No special linguistic indicator is needed to communicate the fact that God’s rest lasts forever. As we will point out later, if Adam and Eve had followed God’s example, they would have rested that day and never worked again.
To indicate that God had set this day aside, Moses said that God "knelt down" on it. People do not remain in a kneeling position for very long because it is uncomfortable. Apparently the special qualities of this day were to be recognized, but not dwelt upon. His recognition of it, represented only by a quick kneeling down, was commensurate with its limited significance as a boundary day. The implication here is that He set down His creative "wand" and walked away from His work area. Perhaps He headed in the direction of the bowered kitchen where He likely joined Adam and Eve for a celebration banquet. It would seem likely that after they might have enjoyed hours of blessed fellowship together, God might have returned to His usual dwelling place and left Adam and Eve to enjoy their garden home until His next visit. It is difficult not to talk about these things in anthropomorphic terms, but is believable that God appeared to them in a human-like form to which they could relate, since the writer of Genesis records the fact that He walked with them in the Garden.
Benner describes the Hebrew language as an "action" language. The author of Genesis only says that God CEASED on this one day. If Moses had intended to indicate that God reposed on the 7th day, he would have said something like, "God stretched out" on it instead.
THE WORD “BLESSED”
The meaning of the word translated “blessed” is clear in both Hebrew and English. Sabbatarians want the fact that the 7th day of Creation was blessed to mean that every subsequent recurring interval of it was also “blessed.” How would anyone come to this conclusion based on the passage itself if they had not heard about the Sabbath commandment that came into existence thousands of years later? By indicating that the memory of the blessing and hallowing of this one day had no boundaries, the author of the passage clarifies that the only thing left to do with this day is to remember it.
It is always important, as we have said before, to keep in mind that Moses was telling a story about what God did—not what Adam and Eve did, or what they were supposed to do in the future.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The word “blessed” is parsed as Piel Imperfect 3rd Person Masculine Singular. If the author of Genesis had used the perfect tense of this word, it would have implied a completed action. However, the imperfect refers to an on-going action that was not completed. This implies that every 7th day thereafter was specially blessed. The Piel verbal form intensifies the verb so that in this instance, the full force would be represented in the phrase, “He caused to be blessed," rather than simply “He blessed.”
AUTHORS: Simply intensifying the recognition of one single day in the history of Planet Earth does not turn it into a recurring cultic ritual. There is no logic to this assertion at all and no magic to explain how simply making one day stronger than the other ones could cause it to replicate itself after intervals of a certain integer.
Furthermore, the assumption that God intended to establish the length of a “week” to be seven days appears to be contrary to God’s explanation of how man was to keep track of time. The minimum measurement of time specified by God was to be marked by the Moon, or roughly 30 days. Before the Great Flood, one rotation of the month might have equaled 1/12 of a solar year. The only other time marker God specified was the sun, or roughly 360 days. There is no indication that God cared about how man divided up the approximately 30 days of the lunar month except that He gave the moon four phases in which it appears to look the same for seven days at a time. It is not safe to make assumptions about things for which we have no proof when it comes to establishing Bible doctrine. We only know one thing for certain, and that is that at Mt. Sinai, the Mountain of the Moon, a mountain which sat at the edge of the Wilderness of the Moon, God did specify a 7-day length week with a recurring Sabbath. We do know another thing, and that is that the lunar calendar is believed to have been nearly universal in early civilizations. Therefore, it is likely that God intended the 7th day cultic ritual to be referenced to the lunar calendar.
Since the early, ancient civilizations appear to have used lunar calendars, why would we expect still earlier, nomadic clans and small cities to have developed a fixed calendar? Recall the implications of the fact that when God called Abraham, He called him out of a Heathen culture that had almost completely forgotten the worship of the True God.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: the imperfect tense of the verb, blessed, IMPLIES an on-going action that was not completed, and this fact IMPLIES that every 7th day thereafter was specially blessed.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: To the contrary, the imperfect tense of this verb likely indicates that memory of this one day is on-going and without boundaries. If God says something is blessed forever, it is blessed forever. This blessing of the 7th day only blesses ONE day forever. Blessing one day does not bless any day that comes after it. Where is the “Thus saith the Lord” for a recurring Sabbath at intervals of seven days in Genesis?
Exodus 16 does not merely imply that the Sabbath is being given for the very first time. It states this fact unequivocally when you combine the description of the events that took place with the defining clarity of Hebrew linguistics. The faint suggestion of a Sabbath presence that might possibly be assumed into Genesis 2:2-3 holds no water against the absolutes of Exodus 16 and the strong evidence that the Sabbath was MODELED after Creation Week found in Exodus 20. Add that to a host of biblical impossibilities that in themselves would contraindicate the idea that Christians must keep the Sabbath, and there is no justification for reading a Sabbath into Genesis. Even Jesus excluded the application of the Sabbath to the Gentile "dogs" when He clarified through the cultural terminology of His day that the Sabbath was given only to "man"– or to the Jews only. Recall that to the Jew, all the other people on Earth were subhuman.
To meet Brendan on his own ground, however, recall that his concept of the book-ended inclusio of Genesis 2:2-3 requires that the events told about therein must be interpreted as having completely taken place within the 24-hour boundaries of that inclusio. Which of his perceived principles of Hebrew linguistics is stronger? The inclusio, or the tense of the verb? If it is the inclusio, the idea that the passage could discuss repetitive rituals that extend beyond the bookend is excluded.
The practical way of looking at the question of whether the Piel verbal form suggests a 7th day ceremony that must be observed at every 7th day thereafter for eternity is like this. The author of Genesis 2:2-3 is telling us the story of what God did on this day of Creation. We are only assuming that God must have spent some special time with Adam and Eve on the 7th day to celebrate His creative achievement. No matter HOW INTENSE the blessing of this one and only special celebration the tense of the verb makes it, it does not turn a picnic lunch that he might have celebrated with Adam and Eve into a cultic institution that requires everyone in the world to stop working on the 7th day of a seven-day week or face death by stoning. The Heathen around Israel did not keep the Sabbath. Israel was never sent to rebuke all the heathen people around them because they broke the Sabbath. On the other hand, Israel’s prophets were sent to Israel to rebuke the Hebrews for Sabbath-breaking.
If Brendan’s book-end/inclusio theory does not stop the 7th day’s resting, blessing, and hallowing from recurring at seven day intervals thereafter, a very SPECIFIC Hebrew literary device does, and that is the absence of the evening and morning suffix. This is a real literary device characteristic of Ancient Hebrew which has been recognized by biblical scholars who have written on different continents and over centuries of time.
THE WORD “REST” ( “CEASED”)
The word for “rest” used in Genesis 2 means “to cease” or “to stop.” In Genesis 2, it is the “Qal” form, which has its own specific variant definitions. Note that it is only the alternate reading of the second definition of the “Qal” form that actually means “rest” in the sense of repose. The word simply means to “cease” or “stop.” In Exodus 20, the word commonly translated as “rested” CAN mean “repose,” but some authorities point out that its meaning is more precisely rendered as ceasing or stopping. (We will have more to say about this later in our section on Exodus 20.) The ceasing, or stopping—or even the resting—took place on one single day. There is no suggestion here that man is supposed to stop doing anything. The story tells us about what God did. The passage doesn’t even tell us that Adam and Eve rested that day because this part of the story was not about them. God’s rest from that Creation lasts forever. The memory of this ceasing was to last forever. The day itself, however, was 24 hours in duration, like all the other days of Creation. Informed Sabbatarians do not teach that the 7th day of Creation was unending.
STRONG'S CONCORDANCE WORD #7672 – SHABATH
Original Word: שָׁבַת
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (shaw-bath')
Short Definition: to
BROWN-DRIVER-BRIGGS - SHABATH
Original Word: שָׁבַת
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (shaw-bath')
Short Definition: to
שָׁבַת71 verb cease, desist, rest (As šabâtu, probably cease, be completed DlWB ZimKAT 3. 593 (JenZA iv (1889), 277 f. is sceptical); Arabic: cut off, interrupt; Late Hebrew has שֶׁבֶת neglect, etc., Aramaic שִׁבְתָּא cost of neglect); —
Qal 27 Perfect 3 masculine singular ׳שׁ Genesis 2:3 +; 3 plural שָׁבָ֑תוּ Lamentations 5:14, etc.; Imperfect 3 masculine singular יִשְׁבּוֺת Hosea 7:4; יִשְׁבֹּת Proverbs 22:10 2t.; 3 feminine singular תִּשְׁבֹּת Leviticus 26:35; תִּשְׁבַּת Leviticus 26:34; Nehemiah 6:3 +, etc.; —
1 cease: (absolute 13 t.) of seasons Genesis 8:22 (J); manna Joshua 5:12 (P), etc., Isaiah 14:4 (twice in verse); Nehemiah 6:3 +; with מִן Hosea 7:4 3t. [Ed. Note: First, original meaning of the Qal form.]
2 desist from labour, rest: [Ed. Note: Second meaning of the Qal form.]
a. with מִן (of God) Genesis 2:2,3(P). [Ed. Note: The ceasing of God.]
b. מִן omitted, ב temporal Exodus 23:12 (E), Exodus 16:30; Exodus 34:21 (J), Exodus 31:17 (P); ׳בֶּחָרִישׁ וּבַקָּצִיר שׁ Exodus 34:21 (J; i.e., even in these busy seasons).
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BRENDAN: Not only does the word translated REST mean “repose,” but the fact that this word is parsed entirely as Qal Perfect 3rd Person Masculine Singular causes it to represent a completed action. That is, the "rest" was begun and finished on the day in question. Because of this fact, Anti-Sabbatarians are wrong to teach that the 7th day of Creation was unending and that God’s rest, therefore, lasted forever. The Hebrew does not say that God rested from the Seventh day onwards—only at a time within the Seventh day period of time between the book-ends. So we have several indicators which point to the idea that the rest of the Seventh day was limited to that day alone.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: It is self-evident that God’s rest from creating Planet Earth lasts forever. Again, we teach that the MEMORY of the 7th day lasted forever– not that the "day" did. As noted elsewhere, if Adam and Eve had followed God’s example, they never would have worked again. Anti-Sabbatarians have no problem with the idea that God stopped creating and celebrated His great work on the 7th day. The Qal Perfect may very well indicate that the rest was a completed action—something very easy to understand if you view the word commonly translated as “rest” to be it’s more accurate meaning—ceased. At some point, God set aside His creative "wand," and His creative activity was over– completed. Notice that elsewhere we have provided ample evidence that the best rendering of the word “rest” is actually “ceased." Perhaps God relaxed with Adam and Eve that day in the cool of the garden. This likely action would have been completed when God said “Good-night,” returned to His throne, and Adam and Eve retired for the night in their bower-constructed home. However, there is no reason for Anti-Sabbatarians to invent a perpetual rest for the 7th day for God since He has not worked at creating Planet Earth since the 6th day of Creation. As Brendan stresses, the concept of resting applied to that one day only. He is right about the detail but wrong in its application.
In keeping with the concept that the best rendering of this word is “ceased,” Anti-Sabbatarians are happy with the understanding that this action was completed within this 24-hour period of time. Here is an illustration. A man is chopping wood. His wife calls him in for supper. There is an actual moment when he stops using the ax, lays it down on the ground, and heads toward the house. He continues to have “ceased” chopping wood even when he has arrived at the kitchen. As always, what Anti-Sabbatarians are trying to get across is that this account tells what God did—not what man is supposed to do. Even if God’s action was taken as an example for Adam and Eve, they would have been required to stop what they were doing, kneel down for a moment, and never work again. Remember the example of Jesus cursing the fig tree. Just because his ceasing/resting is mentioned in a narrative that also mentions that Adam and Eve were made in God’s image does not mean that they must repeat His action at every 7th interval thereafter—book-ends or no book-ends.
One way to check one’s logic is to follow an argument to its greatest possible extent. Note that if Brendan’s book-end theory is correct, it would seem that the blessing and hallowing of the 7th day could not apply to any time after the end book-end.
WILLIAM’S RESPONSE: So, we are to believe that God is not resting/ceasing forever in relation to that Creation, but the seventh day, as a Sabbath, which is not even addressed here, mysteriously does last forever, all from the narrative here in Genesis 2? Pull the other leg. Again, Brendan is appealing to his own authority in matters where he claims that to appeal to any other authority is to avail ones-self of a logical fallacy. There is a disjoint in logic with Brendan. God ended His work of Creation on or by that seventh day. He did not pick up where He left off on the next day, whether we want to call it day “8” or a new day “one”. That Creation was finished; over with, and duly noted and memorialized for all eternity.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The Hebrew word translated “rested” in Genesis 2:2-3 does not simply mean “ceased.” Since it implies a formal period of rest, Anti-Sabbatarians are wrong to teach that the 7th day of Creation simply represents a boundary day between God’s creative activities and His non-creating activity. There are linguistic indicators that it is an extended ceasing that is spread out over the 24-hour period of the “yom” day, which, again, is book-ended to form an inclusio. This special resting makes it a good candidate for being the first Sabbath ever observed, and it precludes the Anti-Sabbatarian claim that this passage could be used to teach that the rest that man is required to “observe” is merely an eternal spiritual rest.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: How could simply extending the special resting to cover 24 hours of this one day make it a good "candidate" for the first Sabbath? This argument simply doesn't follow. Anti-Sabbatarians do not have to demonstrate that God's resting was less than 24 hours to muster a solid defense. What He did is not indicated to be a pattern for man to follow. God stopped “working” and never worked again at creating Earth. It was never a candidate for the first Sabbath. The story is about what God did. Genesis 2:2-3 doesn’t even say that Adam and Eve rested on the 7th day. Not only is the form of the word translated “rest” better translated “ceased,” but the context, content, and structure of the passage support the concept that the 7th day WAS a boundary day between God’s creating activity and his cessation from that creating activity. God did not indicate that man was to rest on the 7th day of Creation, on any subsequent multiple of it, or some kind of eternal spiritual rest.
WILLIAM’S RESPONSE: Again, Brendan resorts to himself as his own authority, which when applied to anyone else is a logical fallacy. Regardless, it would appear that Brendan attempts to redefine his opponent's position (again) by saying we claim this is about “observing” an eternal spiritual rest, when in fact what is believed and taught is that this represents a rest one enters into through faith, as contrasted to the weekly Sabbath that was not entered into through faith, and was indeed a shadow of this rest we call “God's rest” which, the author of Psalms points out is entered into while it is still called “To day”. Is this too cryptic for Sabbatarians? That seventh day shows having an open end thorough the lack of the phraseology found at the end of the other days, so that we understand that God is still in that rest, and we can enter into His rest while it is still called “To day” regardless of which day of the week it presently is. “To day” God is still in His rest. In an allegorical sense, He is still in that “day” of rest. The Sabbath, like so many other physical things found in Scripture, serve as a type or “shadow” of something spiritual; in this case a rest or ceasing that is permanent, as compared to the temporary rest or cessation from labor the Israelite (Jew) enjoyed, and which came about, not every day, but once every seventh-day. Faith had nothing to do with whether they entered into the weekly Sabbath. It came about, regardless. When the day was over, the Israelite had to resume a work that was vain in nature, eventually leading to death, despite their best efforts! Our assurance through faith is that we have passed from death to life. We no longer live a vain existence, seeing as our lives are now hidden in Christ. Our lives have meaning and purpose, where God is at the center of our existence. Can those who blindly kept the shadow weekly Sabbath, whose works God called “. . . evil even from their youth” have any true spiritual value? No more so than one who refrains from murdering another who still possesses that heart of stone where that one harbors hatred for another. Lastly, I cannot help but wonder, if a Genesis weekly sabbath was indeed established for mankind, why God was so criptic about it that it requires such linguistic gymnastics to flesh it out of the narrative. With all the importance Sabbatarians attach to a Genesis sabbath, there is an expectation it would be plainly so stated. God could not have been more explicit in the instructions given to the children of Israel. But here, in Genesis, the narrative requires contortions of interpretation the likes of which is not found elsewhere in Scripture. It all begs the logical question, “how would one go about establishing a false belief held to be true when there is no plain statement to that effect? Answer? Pretty much the way we see Sabbatarians make the case for a weekly Sabbath instituted at Creation week.
Apologist Brendan: The close proximity of the account of God resting on the 7th day the fact that the newly created mankind were created in God’s “image” shows that what God does at this point is exemplary for what mankind must do. Furthermore, the word translated REST—does not merely mean “ceased." Therefore, this passage teaches that all people must rest like God did on every 7th interval from the 7th day of Creation.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: It does nothing of the sort! Again, if Adam and Eve did what God did, they would have ceased all activity, knelt down too acknowledge the day, and never to work again. There is no known literary convention in English that establishes that the mention of two such things close together in a written work creates the requirement that an action by the former must be performed by the latter, much less at recurring intervals. I suspect that there is no such literary convention in Ancient Hebrew either. Two writers of the Gospels tell about how Jesus cursed the pretentious fig tree. Jesus’ disciples were in very close proximity to Him when He performed this surprising action. If we apply Brendan’s principle to the cursing of the fig tree, all followers of Jesus would have to curse at least one fig tree.
WILLIAM’S RESPONSE: Another logical fallacy is a “Non Sequitur." This is where a conclusion is drawn that is not supported by the context. Brendan resorts to this “proximity” argument to convince us that because God's action is close to the mentioning of the fact that man was created in His image, man is required to copy His actions. This is the sort of thing you would expect when one tries to make a case for a belief where there is no “Thus saith the Lord." Do we see any evidence from Scripture this was the case then? Do we see Adam and Eve resting every Sabbath thereafter? Do we see any examples of anyone else prior to Exodus 16 getting the message that God needs be emulated in this regard? The straight facts without extrapolation state that God quit working on that seventh day and that He blessed and sanctified the day on which He quit creating. Anything concluded beyond the scope of this is merely speculative and assumptive. These are methods commonly employed in deceptions.
THE WORD “SANCTIFIED” [HALLOWED]
Using the dictionary definitions below as a reference, observe that the form of the word translated “sanctify,” means “consecrated” or “dedicated.” The author of Genesis in this passage states that this one single day has been dedicated, or “set aside.” The meaning that it is “set aside for a holy purpose” is permitted by this form of the word. In Exodus 20:8 however, the form of this word used is different, and it can mean something akin to be “set aside to be observed.” We maintain that the word, “qadash,” in Genesis 2:2-3 indicates that this one, single day in the history of Planet Earth was set aside for the holy use of “memorializing” God’s completion and cessation of creative activity. Please study the following Hebrew dictionary definitions from two authoritative sources:
Gen 2:3 (KJV) 3And GodH430 blessedH1288 the seventhH7637 dayH3117, and sanctifiedH6942 it: becauseH3588 that in it he had restedH7673 from allH3605 his workH4399 whichH834 GodH430 createdH1254 and madeH6213.
STRONG’S #6942 – QADASH
qadash: to be set apart or consecrated Original Word: קָדַשׁ
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (kaw-dash')
Short Definition: consecrate
denominative verb from qodesh
Definition: to be set apart or consecrated
(1) become consecrated (2), become defiled (1), become holy (1), consecrate (43), consecrated (35), consecrates (7), consecration (2), declare holy (1), dedicate (2), dedicated (8), dedicating (1), holier (1), holy (5), keep (1), keep it holy (2), keep the holy (3), made it holy (1), manifest my holiness (2), prepare (2), prove myself holy (2), proved himself holy (1), purified (1), regard as holy (1), sanctified (9), sanctifies (10), sanctify (12), set them apart (1), set apart (4), set apart the consecrated (2), show himself holy (1), transmit holiness (2), treat me as holy (3), treated as holy (1), vindicate the holiness (1), wholly dedicate (1).
BROWN-DRIVER-BRIGGS – QADASH-STRONG’S HEBREW WORD #6942
Another source, Brown-Driver-Briggs, gives the following definitions. Note that a secondary use of this word can mean “to set aside for religious services,” but this definition is EXCLUDED from Genesis 2:2-3 but is accepted in Exodus 20 and other later texts. The key area our readers need to focus on is highlighted in yellow, but for best comprehension of the involved principles, please study the entire definition. The first meaning of the exact form of the word as used in Genesis 2 is “to set apart.” Editor’s notes are in red type and separated from the sources by brackets. Note that this word has at least three forms and that sometimes the different forms have variants with their respective definitions. The following entry, for example, lists two variants of the Pi’el form with their different meanings and the texts in which those variants are found:
verb denominative be set apart, consecrated (Gerber238ff.); —
Qal Perfect3masculine singular ׳ק Exodus 29:21; suffix קְדַשְׁתִּיךָ Isaiah 65:5; 3masculine plural קָדֵ֑שׁוּ Numbers 17:2; Imperfect3masculine singular יִקְדַּשׁ 1 Samuel 21:6; יִקְדָּ֑שׁ Exodus 29:37 +, etc.; —
1. be set apart, consecrated, hallowed, of shew-bread 1 Samuel 21:6 (dubious Passage, but compare especially RSSemitic i. 436; 2nd ed. 455 [also Drsm.293], who proposes יְקֻדַּשׁ); Aaron and his sons by blood Exodus 29:21 (P); other persons Isaiah 65:5 (Di; but
Pi`el Gei RSSemitic i. 431; 2nd ed. 451 Che Du Buhl).
2. be hallowed, by contact with sacred things, and so tabooed from profane use, of forfeited to sanctuary Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:29; Leviticus 6:11; Leviticus 6:20 Numbers 17:2; Numbers 17:3 (P), Haggai 2:12.
3. consecrated, tabooed (above) Deuteronomy 22:9 (law against mixtures).
Niph`al Perfect. 3 masculine singular נִקְדַּשׁ Isaiah 5:16; Exodus 29:43, etc.; Imperfect3masculine singular וַיִּקָּדֵשׁ Numbers 20:13; 1singular אֶקָּדֵשׁ Leviticus 10:3; Infinitive construct. suffix הִקָּֽדְשִׁי Ezekiel 36:23; Ezekiel 38:16; —
1. shew oneself sacred, majestic:
3. be consecrated, dedicated, by ׳כבוד י Exodus 29:43 (P).
Pi`el Perfect3masculine singular קִדַּשׁ Numbers 6:11; 1 Kings 8:64, etc.; Imperfect3masculine singular יְקַדֵּשׁ Genesis 2:3 +, etc.; Imperative masculine singular קַדֵּשׁ Joshua 7:13; קַדֶּשֿׁ Exodus 13:2, etc.; Infinitive construct קַדֵּשׁ Exodus 29:1 +, etc.; Participle מְקַדֵּשׁ Exodus 37:28; suffix מְקַדִּשְׁכֶם Exodus 31:13 +, etc.; — [Note Genesis 2:3 uses this variant of the Pi’el form, which means, “be consecreated, dedicated, by]
1. set apart as sacred, consecrate, dedicate:
a. places: Sinai Exodus 19:23 (J), alter, etc., Exodus 29:36,37; Exodus 30:29 (P), tabernacle, etc. Exodus 40:9,10,11; Leviticus 8:10,11,15; Numbers 7:1 (twice in verse) (P); tent of meeting Exodus 29:44 (P); place of sacrifice 1 Kings 8:64 2Chronicles 7:7; gate Nehemiah 3:1 (twice in verse); — Ezekiel 7:24 see מִקְדָּשׁ below
b. wave-offering Exodus 29:27 (P).
2. observe as holy, keep sacred: feasts, Sabbath Exodus 20:8 = Deuteronomy 5:12 (Decal.), Jeremiah 17:22,24,27; Ezekiel 20:20; Ezekiel 44:24; Nehemiah 13:22; fast Joel 1:14; Joel 2:15; year of Jubilee Leviticus HYPERLINK "http://interlinearbible.org/leviticus/25-10.htm"25:10 (P); so עצרה לבעל 2 Kings 10:20. [Editor’s Note: this is not the variant of the pi’el form used in Genesis 2:2-3. Therefore, it cannot mean observe as holy, or keep sacred; so it is not responsible interpretation to try to make it mean that the day was set aside for sacred services.]
3. honour as sacred, hallow:
b priest Leviticus 21:8 (H).
4. consecrate by purification:
Here is a summary of Brendan’s objections to our interpretation of the word, “hallowed” (sanctified) and our rebuttal:
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The word translated as “HALLOWED” is parsed as Piel Imperfect 3rd Person Masculine Singular. If the author of Genesis has used the perfect tense of this word, it would imply a completed action. However, the imperfect refers to an on-going action that was not completed. This word, properly understood, implies that every 7th day thereafter was specially set aside. The implications of the tense of the verb—a grammatical consideration—trumps the so-called specific Hebrew literary indicator – the absence of the evening and morning suffix clause—and provides evidence that the setting aside of the 7th day means every seventh day thereafter is intended to be set aside. If you allege a literary device in a passage, you had better make sure it fits with all the grammatical senses of the words! Again, the Piel form of the verb intensifies it so that it is most fully represented by the translation, “He caused to be set apart.”
AUTHORS: The claim that the use of a tense that means the action was not completed possesses no such magic to transform one day into an endless number of days, much less days that can figure out the neat trick of jumping over six days at a time and landing on the 7th interval of the initial one. How could Brendan explain the logic of this claim? There is no explanation— just a wish and a hope. The incomplete action implied by this choice of verb tense is more likely designed to convey the idea that one day is set aside to be remembered.
In Genesis 2:2-3 the writer does not seem to be trying to say anything profound. He reported what God did on that day. It was set aside as a day that was to be remembered. It was set aside for this express purpose before there was a Jewish Sabbath, and it is still set aside to be remembered after the Sabbath perished at the cross. There is nothing to stop it from being remembered. Christians remember it still even though they don’t keep the Sabbath.
Even after the Old Covenant Sabbath ended at Calvary, Paul writing to the Colossians makes it plain to them that it was Jesus that created the world without having a Sabbath ordinance:
Col 1:15 - 17 (NIV) - 15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
The 7 days of Creation was a member of a set of things God could have chosen to use as a model to design and implement a cultic ritual to remind the Hebrews that He had rescued them from Egyptian slavery. For example, He could have made a five day week based on the four sides of a pyramid for working with the pinnacle point at the top representing the day when their labor stopped as a model for the Sabbath. But when God looked at all of His choices, He decided the Creation one suited His purposes the best.
As always, we are back to a key point of contention. Brendan is a linguist with an impressive knowledge of the Hebrew language. The problem is that he has just enough knowledge to get himself into trouble. Few Rabbis in Israel today have an expert education in Ancient Hebrew, and Brendan would like us to think that he knows enough about this language to act as his own authority in translating its special shades of meaning to us? As a general rule, informed Rabbis throughout the history of Judaism have not taught that the Sabbath existed before the giving of the Manna. Why should Brendan expect to be able to win, on his own steam, against a host of Rabbinical scholars? We have referenced these authorities and others who testify that there is no Sabbath in Genesis, as well as scholars who have explained the significance of the absence of the evening and morning phrase.
WILLIAM’S RESPONSE: Isn’t Brendan arguing both ends here? He insists the day is book-ended when it comes to the exclusion of “and the evening and the morning” phrase, but then he argues the exact opposite when it comes to “hallowed” and “blessed.”
APOLOGIST BRENDAN – In his paper, “The Sabbath and Genesis 2:2-3, H. Ross Coe, a Seventh-day Adventist writer, defends the presence of a Sabbath in Genesis very well, using arguments from Hebrew structure and grammar. You need to read his paper. His arguments from Hebrew grammar and structure are strong.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: Understanding this next quote from Coe’s paper, some knowledge of Hebrew's fine shades of meaning inherent within the tense of Hebrew verbs is needed. I adapted the following explanation from an authority on Hebrew grammar, Ronald J. Williams of the University of Toronto in his Williams’ Hebrew Syntax, Third Edition, by Ronald J. Williams, University Of Toronto Press, Inc., 2007, which is available on Google Books: FACTITIVE PIEL FORM – If a verb has a factitive meaning in the Piel, then the subject of the verb in the Piel causes its direct object to enter a state that can be described by the same verb in the Qal. For example, the subject of the Piel in “he glorified” causes the direct object to enter the state described by that verb in the Qal, as in “he was glorious”. CAUSATIVE PIEL- Whereas “factitive” refers to causing a state, ‘causative’ refers to causing an action. Causative verbs are rare in the Piel and Pual. The subject of a causative verb causes the direct object to do some action. For example, in “They made him sing,” the subject “they” causes the direct object “him” to do the action “to sing,” so the verb “to make” has a causative meaning in that sentence.
Coe, our SDA apologist, argues that the tense of the verb chosen by the writer of Genesis 2:2-3 indicates a degree of immediacy plus an element of a declarative announcement which, to him, conclusively demonstrates that the 7th day was made into a Sabbath ordinance on that very day. Note that we are not able to print the Hebrew characters in this extensive quote from Cole, so Cole’s quote is modified for best understanding without them. We are talking about the Hebrew word for “set aside” in both cases:
The clearest evidence in favor of the Sabbath as a Creation ordinance comes from a close study of the statement, “and he sanctified it” in Genesis 2:3.
Some interpreters have attempted to separate the divine sanctification of the seventh day from the institution of the Sabbath. For example, R.J. Griffith has suggested that at Creation “God blessed and set apart the day for its future use as a day of rest and worship for Israel under the Law . . . In like manner He set apart Jeremiah while in the womb (Jer. 1:5), though his ministry as a prophet did not commence until years later [Richard James Griffith, “The Eschatological Significance of the Sabbath” (Th.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1999), 32, 43-49).]
The difference between Jeremiah and the seventh day is that Jeremiah had to be born, grow, and mature before he could assume the prophetic office, whereas the seventh day is an impersonal abstract object that does not require growth or maturity. However, the most basic problem with this proposal is that it automatically equates the use of the Piel stem [of the Hebrew word to sanctify in Genesis 2:3] with the use of the Hiphil stem of the same verb in Jeremiah 1:5.
Stative Qal verbs . . . form factitives in the Piel and causatives in the Hiphil [Bruce K. Waltke and M. O’Connor, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 400,437.] It is true that factitives and causatives lie so close together in meaning that often “the English tends to blur the distinction [Ibid., p. 438]. However, a good case has been made that there is a real distinction, consisting primarily in the notion that Piel factitives “direct attention to the results of the situation apart from the event,” while Hiphil causatives refer to “the process” involved [Ibid.]. The use of the Hiphil stem [of this verb] in Jeremiah 1:5 would thus stress the process by which YHWH set Jeremiah apart as a prophet even before birth, irrespective of when he might actually assume the prophetic office. However, the use of the Piel stem of [the word for sanctified]_in Genesis 2:3 would stress that here is an action whose results are evident immediately, and the canonical picture of the Creation origin of the Sabbath would be clearly affirmed. (H. Ross Coe, “The Sabbath in Genesis 2:2-3, Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 41, No. 1,5-12. Copyright Andrews University Press, 2003.)
It was immediately evident that this one day—the 7th day of Creation—was considered by God to be such a special day that it was to be set aside to be remembered forever, but what kind of magic is there that turns one day into unlimited multiples of itself that go on forever? Perhaps Coe has presented a good case for the 7th day of Creation receiving special recognition at the very time of Creation, but he has not provided any evidence that would explain how the blessing and memory bestowed upon this one day would magically travel six more days down the line and jump on the next 7th day and continue to do that forever—even after this world’s sun grows cold and the eternally saved are living on a new planet going around a new sun in another dimension in another universe. What would happen to the memory of this day on the six days in between?
It is possible to specify the significance of the use of the Piel stem of [the word “sanctified”] in Genesis 2:3 even further. “The factitive Piel can be the result of a sensory causation, causation, a mental change or a speech act that reflects a mental change [Waltke and O’Connor, p. 401]. In cases of psychological causation, the Piel is designated as estimative, while in cases of linguistic causation, it is designated as declarative/delocutive [Ibid., p. 402]. Apart from Gen 2:3 and the reference of Exodus 20:11, the Piel stem of is used, with a period of time as its object, a total of thirteen times in the OT. There is no instance of a "real" factitive Piel in this list, as is to be expected, given the abstract nature of time. However, it is used as an estimative Piel eight times and as a declarative Pie1 five times. In Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11, the estimative use of the Piel can be ruled out since these texts do not state that God sanctified the seventh day by stopping all activity on it. Instead, they state that he sanctified it because he then ceased his work. Accordingly, the Piel in these instances must be declarative, with an emphasis on the public proclamation of the sanctity of the seventh day right at the time of Creation." A grammatical analysis of the statement, "and he sanctified it [the seventh day]”; Gen 2:3) thus provides persuasive evidence in favor of the Sabbath being presented here as a Creation ordinance. (H. Ross Coe, “The Sabbath in Genesis 2:2-3, Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 41, No. 1,5-12. Copyright Andrews University Press, 2003.)
No matter how loud you shout something—no matter how magnificently you proclaim something from the top of a mountain—it cannot transform ONE day of resting in the history of Planet Earth into an unlimited number of days of resting in the future. If the memory and blessing of this ONE day is to be remembered forever, the blessing and memory of it have to sit on top of every single day thereafter. This understanding dove-tails nicely in relation to Psalms 95 and Hebrews 4, which teach that Israel never achieved the rest that God had planned for them, Sabbath or no Sabbath.
If the Bible story took us only as far as the crossing of the Red Sea, it would never occur to anyone that multiples of the 7th day of Creation were intended in Genesis 2:2-3. Where is the “Thus saith the Lord” content in Genesis 2:2-3 to establish a doctrine that would affect Jews and non-Jews beyond the known Universe for eternity? It just isn’t there! The story of the Exodus so clearly excludes the possibility of a Creation origin for the Sabbath that any attempt to read one into it betrays a doctrine in search of support.
WILLIAM'S RESPONSE: What we witness here so far is a case where very specific recent linguistic studies of Hebrew and the precursors of Ancient Hebrew by both rabbinical and Christian scholars with expert backgrounds are summarily dismissed and replaced by extremely general linguistic concepts theorized by non-expert Sabbatarian apologists. What is lacking by the pro-Sabbatarian crowd is any scholarly rebuttal of the linguistic findings by these experts that point out the impossibility of Creation content in Genesis for the establishment of a weekly Sabbath. Instead, they offer up a parallel examination of Genesis 2, drawing opposite conclusions. This does not demonstrate proper biblical scholarship and hermeneutics. It does demonstrate what is commonly practiced as a form of indoctrination. Proper scholarship demands that one examine ALL the evidence to the contrary, and explain, convincingly, using the proper methods of scholarship, why and how the evidence to the contrary does not actually contradict one's position. This has not been done by these Sabbatarian apologists. The linguistic studies of Carson, et. al. were simply dismissed out of hand. They are treated as though they do not exist. The unspoken claim that results is that all the other Hebrew scholars, admittedly with a greater background and understanding regarding Hebrew and the linguistics of Hebrew, got it wrong. It is a fiat declaration, pulled out of thin air. Again, Sabbatarians have provided nothing of substance to demonstrate why and how the greater experts down through history are wrong. All they have done is offer up an alternative linguistic interpretation that contradicts the findings of both Jewish and Christian scholars throughout history. Sabbatarians have a vested interest in the outcome, and judging by the other doctrines they hold true, and the scholarship behind them, we would do well to take what they say and teach with the proverbial dose of salt.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Thus the sum of the evidence is that the inclusio serves as a pattern for the continuation of the blessing that began on the initial Seventh day of Creation. The Seventh day of Creation was set aside from the week as holy and the imperfect form of the verb shows that this incomplete action continues in every subsequent week. The Hebrew grammar and literary techniques used by Moses are unequivocal on this point. Without an anti-Sabbatarian bias, it is clear that God intended to continue to spend time with humanity on every Seventh-day after the first one. All the features of this passage come together to show that the Sabbath was an institution God instituted for his imago dei to repeat after Him.
AUTHORS: Moses’ choice to use the imperfect form of the verb did nothing of the sort! It is incapable of empowering the blessing of it to skip six days, and land back on a 7th day, and follow this pattern forever after. This is not even a new trick for a new dog to learn. And how could all of the verb tenses and structures Brendan talks about add up to demonstrate, unequivocally, that God intended to spend special time with the human race every seventh-day thereafter? This assumption is as imaginative as it gets. Unfortunately for both points of view, the Hebrew grammar and literary techniques used in Genesis 2:2-3 do not produce an unequivocal statement useful to either side. Following this method of Bible study, one could prove anything from the Bible. If it isn’t there, just put it there!
Putting a halt to all this speculation is Jesus’ own statement that the Sabbath was made for man—thus powerfully communicating to His hearers via the cultural “language” of His time that the Heathen “dogs” were excluded.
Colossians 2:14-17 forbids the church to require Sabbath observance of its new Gentile converts. St. Paul, who recorded the chronologically last complete list of sins in the Bible, mentioned 23 things that would keep a person out of Heaven, and Sabbath-breaking was not one of them. St. Paul stated that no day possesses any sacredness in itself.
God rescued the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. Deductive exegesis readily demonstrates that the 10 Commandments are equivalent to the Old Covenant, the work of Robert K. Sanders being particularly definitive in this case. Sabbath keepers “forget” to “remember” the command that God gave in the Ten Commandments to "remember that they were slaves in Egypt as the reason for “observing” the Sabbath.
Deut. 5:15 (NIV) 15Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.)
God said that the Old Covenant was to be replaced with a new covenant that would be very different. Only the Old Covenant included the Sabbath. Furthermore, Sabbath-keeping was permitted only for those who were circumcised whether they were Hebrews or proselytes. The Council of Jerusalem decided against circumcision for the Gentiles, thus settling the Sabbath question forever. You would expect that if the Sabbath were an eternally binding requirement for the people of God, the apostles would have noted it as such when it came to teaching the gentiles.
The Sabbath ordinance is NOT in Genesis 2:2-3. If there was a Sabbath commandment given during Creation Week, the passage does not tell us. It doesn’t specify that Adam and Eve rested on it, much less what they were supposed to do thereafter. God accomplished the memorialization of this one day by indicating that the blessing of it was to be remembered without boundaries. This one day was to be remembered as long as there would be people to hear about it. Scripture is full of both evidence as well as proof, that the Sabbath did not exist until the Exodus and that it represented a temporary cultic ritual imposed on Israel between Sinai and the Cross. At the Cross all 613 requirements of the Law of Moses as a codified law perished for Israel.
We are anxious that our readers understand that the subject of the LAW is different from that of the subject of SALVATION. From the best that we can understand from our study of the Scriptures, salvation is through FAITH and its attendant GRACE, alone. Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, when it comes to the process of how believers are saved they could not possibly be “under” a codified law set of any kind, or not one person could be saved. The topic of how salvation works is a subject for another book, and to explain it or to understand it fully is very difficult to convey to those who insist on the observation of commands outside the realm of the intent of heart. Salvation is by faith alone and its attendant grace alone. It is difficult for those raised with the cultic belief that they must do works of the law, and if not, they are sinners and will be lost. We are saved by faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and placed under His grace. The gospel consists of faith, that the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on Calvary, on our behalf covered our sins, past, present and future, this is His grace. There is nothing we can do to merit salvation as we all are sinners. This is the gift of God. If salvation were dependent on any works then it is no longer a gift and Jesus' sacrifice was incomplete. Claiming one must keep the Sabbath in order to be saved, or maintain one's salvation status is to falsify the gospel, no matter how well-intended the belief may be.
John 3:16 - 21 (NIV) 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
Acts 16:29 - 34 (NIV) 29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.
Rom 5:9 - 11 (NIV) - 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
This one thing we do know, however, and that is that the Holy Spirit leads and guides the “believer”. It seems that those who are saved are those who follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
HOW THE PENTATEUCH GOT
INTO ANCIENT HEBREW
Rabbinical Judaism gives 1391 to 1271 BCE as a likely life-span for Moses, and Christian tradition has assumed a much earlier date (www.crystalinks.com, article, "Moses"). A primitive form of what might possibly be a precursor to Ancient Hebrew appears to have begun to emerge from the Canaanite family of languages not long before the time of King David. This proto-Hebrew language developed into its final Ancient Hebrew form sometime after the reign of King David. Looking at things from the perspective of this time in Israel’s early history, the evolution of the language would have been slow. Each generation of scribes might have had to up-date the language in increments, but they would have no trouble understanding the current version they were working with and up-dating it to a somewhat more “modern” usage, much like the King James Bible was up-dated in small increments until the current age is well represented by something like The New International Version.
The concept that the Hebrew language had not fully evolved into Ancient Hebrew by the time of King David is verified by recent archaeological discoveries of artifacts with inscriptions that date back to the 10th Century BCE, including one found at a dig in a village believed to have been built near the time of the early Kingdom of Judah. While these discoveries have helped establish the authenticity of the biblical stories of the first kings of Judah, they reveal that the written form of the language was only remotely similar to Ancient Hebrew. In fact these inscriptions are currently undecipherable.
The Canaanite group of languages formed a branch of the Northwest Semitic family of languages (Wikipedia article, "Hebrew Language"). From Moses through the period of the Judges, God’s people almost certainly spoke a precursor to Ancient Hebrew. The original language of the Pentateuch may have been Egyptian or an early form of the Canaanite family of languages. It may have been re-translated from time to time as the language spoken by Israel evolved during the period of the Judges into the Ancient Hebrew.
The scribes responsible for safe-guarding the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible credited to Moses' authorship) over the centuries between the Exodus and the Captivity undoubtedly confronted significant challenges. This fact should make us more reluctant than ever to formulate a globally applicable Christian doctrine on parts of the Pentateuch that are just telling a story. It is one thing to base a Christian doctrine on a statement credited to God that reads with perfect clarity, such as “Thou shalt not steal,” but it is another thing to base the doctrine that all people must keep the Sabbath for now and eternity on a passage that tells the story of what God did on a certain day in the history of Planet Earth. All other facets of Scripture teach that the Sabbath was for no one else but the children of Israel. Even Jesus excluded the Heathen "dogs" from the Sabbath. The only possible hope Sabbatarians have to make the Sabbath a universal requirement is to prove there is a Sabbath at Creation. This simply cannot be done without violating proper methods of interpretation and scholarship.
The fact that Moses’ books probably went through additional steps of translation prior to settling into its Ancient Hebrew form does not provide any support for the skeptical point of view that the events he described were not real. Even if all of the Book of Genesis came to Moses in oral form, this would be an inadequate excuse to disbelieve the truth of what he wrote. Scholars understand that in many primitive societies, important histories have been memorized word-for-word and passed down from one generation to the next. This process was considered to be sacred.
One of the world’s greatest guitarists has an amazing photographic memory. It is not unreasonable to assume that in the early generations of human history, a high percentage of the population had photographic memories that would facilitate the maintenance of highly accurate oral histories.
As the Pentateuch was up-dated into Ancient Hebrew, nothing was placed in the text of Genesis 2:2-3 to suggest that the seventh day was more than 24 hours in length. Nothing was said about either God or man “kneeling down” on every interval of the 7th day of Creation. This day was to be set aside forever to be remembered as the day the creating of Planet Earth was completed. Moses was telling a story, choosing his words carefully to prevent his future readers from seeing things in his account that weren’t there. In the translation up-dates between the Exodus and the time when the Pentateuch took its final shape in Ancient Hebrew, the translators were successful in preserving these key distinctions.
Because Moses wrote both the account of Creation and the giving of the Law from Mt. Sinai, he likely recognized the need to make these critical clarifications with the appropriate language “tools” he had at his disposal. If these tools were not characteristic of the original language Moses used, the translators who brought the books of Moses into the Ancient Hebrew used the tools they had to make clear what they understood Moses to mean. Note that if this is the case, they were closer in time to the earlier languages that it might have been written in– perhaps like the translators of the New International Version are in relationship to the translators of the King James Version.
Thanks to the inspiration of God through Moses and/or the translators between Moses’ original language and the Ancient Hebrew, Israel and its Levitical and rabbinical scholars never generally believed the Sabbath was intended for anyone else but them, and they generally always believed the Sabbath was introduced for the first time in the history of the world with the giving of the Manna. If you want to understand the perspective of Bible writers on the Sabbath, you must understand the perspective of the Jews on the Sabbath because those who preserved the Bible WERE JEWS THEMSELVES.
MARK 2:27 CANNOT BE USED TO STUFF
THE SABBATH BACK INTO GENESIS
Other than a misreading of Genesis 2:2-3, the only other Bible text that appears on the surface to teach a universal Sabbath requirement is Mark 2:27. All other Sabbath-related passages band together to form a sturdy chain of concepts which work together to teach that the Sabbath was a distinguishing identifier that was designed to rule over Judaism for the duration of the Mosaic Covenant. In Mark 2:27, Jesus said that the Sabbath was “made for man.” Later we will demonstrate that by indicating that the Sabbath was intended for the Jewish “humans,” versus the Heathen “dogs,” Jesus restricted the application of the Sabbath ordinance to the Jews. In doing so, Jesus validated the principle that the Sabbath is subordinate to the Ordinance of Circumcision. He also most likely prevented Himself from an attempted stoning, as the slightest suggestion that the Gentiles were included in the ordinance of the Sabbath would have incited the crowd like almost nothing else.
Recall that elsewhere Jesus illustrated the principle that the Sabbath is subordinate to the Ordinance of Circumcision again when He called attention to the fact that the Jews circumcised a male child on the 8th day of his life even if that eighth day fell on the Sabbath. It is Benner, an expert Hebrew scholar, who says that it is not possible to understand Ancient Hebrew without knowing its cultural context. No better example of this principle can be found than Mark 2:27.
Language changes significantly even over a few centuries. In the King James Era the word "let" meant to hinder or prevent. Now, less than 500 years later it means the opposite– to allow or permit. Imagine a language that changed like this for thousands of years, and you will understand how language’s constant change creates problems for translators working millenniums later! Take the epic poem, Beowulf, which is believed to have been composed between the 8th and 11th centuries. Most of its content was written in Old English. Although the language is “English,” it is mostly unintelligible to the modern English reader. Today, even a person who speaks English as his or her native language will have to read an English to English translation of it to get very much out of the story.
We will have more to say about Benner later, and the “dog versus human Jews” aspect of Mark 2:27 will be expanded later. For the present, our focus will return to the question of whether there is a good case for the presence of a Sabbath in Genesis 2:2-3.
SABBATARIAN OBJECTIONS TO THE
PROOF FROM HEBREW LINGUISTICS
We have EVIDENCE from several perspectives that the Sabbath did not exist until the time of the Exodus, and we have PROOF of it from Hebrew linguistics. The Ancient Hebrew text of Exodus 16 is unequivocal. There was no Sabbath until a week after the giving of the Manna. Carson and his associates identified a variety of Hebrew meaning indicators Moses used to make these distinctions.
Since the Carson research was published in 1982 as a rebuttal to Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi’s “From Sabbath to Sunday” (1977), Adventist leaders have known the facts about the so-called Creation origin of the Sabbath ordinance since no later than 1982. Sadly, when Adventism was confronted with this twin combination of proof and evidence that the Sabbath did not exist prior to the events of Exodus 16, the Seventh-day Adventist Church did not discard its Sabbath doctrine. The “sister” Sabbatarian church to Adventism, The Worldwide Church of God, DID discard its Sabbath doctrine after the Carson research came to light. This fact is extremely significant, since both denominations came out of the very same group of Sabbath-keeping believers that emerged from the aftermath of the Millerite Great Disappointment of 1844.
Until the early 1980’s Sabbatarians had never had to face the implications of findings of the highest level of Hebrew linguistics studies to any significant degree. Cotto is unwilling to accept the fatal-to-Sabbatarian meaning of the original Ancient Hebrew text of Genesis 2:2-3 because their work conflicts with his system of cherished beliefs. It is interesting to note that one of the Sabbatarian apologists who helped shape the approach of our paper actually thought he found support for his Sabbatarian reading of Genesis in Benner’s research. He wants to believe that a mechanical translation is very good at giving an English-speaking reader a very accurate understanding of the Hebrew writer’s intent. The reality is that Benner’s work seems to teach nearly the exact opposite.
While Benner believes that the new “mechanical” translation methods enable readers to have a better understanding of the intent of the Ancient Hebrew, he teaches that there are many limitations created by our ignorance of the cultural environment that surrounded the writer at the time. He adds that Ancient Hebrew communicates meaning through structural patterns and usage conventions that transcend word translation accuracy or the understanding of idioms. Sabbatarians, including Cotto, simply cannot accept the possibility that Genesis 2:2-3 does not instruct the reader to set aside every subsequent seven-day multiple of the 7th day by setting aside the one and only 7th day of the days of Creation and that this possibility is negated by a non-idiomatic meaning indicator that the average Hebrew scholar can’t even see.
The more one reads Benner’s explanations of the difficulties involved in translating Ancient Hebrew into Modern English, the greater the linguistic barriers to finding any real substance in Genesis 2:2-3 appear. According to Benner, Ancient Hebrew is put together using “root” structures. English and other modern languages are more expressively flexible, but not necessarily more “poetic.” Languages based on root structures approach the communication of ideas differently than languages that have different operational principles. Benner says that in many cases accurate translation of Ancient Hebrew into modern languages is not even possible.
And, as we mentioned before, Ancient Hebrew is very different than the Modern Hebrew language that evolved from it, including its written characters. Even a modern Jewish scholar may or may not have expertise in Ancient Hebrew. If a significant number of Jewish rabbinical scholars have not completed advanced studies in Ancient Hebrew, it is unreasonable to suppose that more than a tiny fraction of Christian scholars would have this degree of Hebrew expertise. By the time of Jesus even Modern Hebrew was no longer spoken. Jesus read to the people in a synagogue from a scroll written in Aramaic. Only specially trained rabbis understood the Hebrew and used it for religious studies. Israel as a nation wrote and spoke Aramaic. The scrolls were written in Aramaic, and the rabbis read the Scriptures to the people in Aramaic in the synagogues. Benner clearly does not say that a mechanical translation such as his can communicate all the meaning intended by the writer. At his website he says:
Because the meaning of a Hebrew word cannot be conveyed completely through one or two English words, each word found in the MT [Mechanical Translation] will be included in the dictionary. This dictionary will more accurately define each word within the context of Ancient Hebrew language and culture."
Benner also has this to say about translating Ancient Hebrew into modern languages:
The Hebrew language, as is the case with every language, is closely tied to the culture the speakers and writers belong to. When reading the Bible, whether in Hebrew, English or any other language, it is essential that it be read through the eyes and mind of the Hebrew culture and not one's own culture.
With this new understanding of ancient biblical languages it is easy to see that much that goes into producing a translation of the Bible is unknown to the typical reader. Most Christians assume modern translations represent a close equivalent of the author’s original intent. A good example of this fallacy, as I mentioned before, is that once the Jewish culture during the time of Jesus is understood, we see that when He told the Jews that the Sabbath was made for man, speaking in Aramaic, or course, He was excluding the Gentile "dogs." In this particular case an understanding of what Jesus really said is fully dependent on knowing the language’s cultural context. Jesus spoke these words in Aramaic and His words were recorded in the original language of the Gospel writer who recorded the story. Note that in this case, the importance of the culture in which His words were formulated transcends the importance of the language in which it was spoken, or even the language in which it was recorded. However, the solution is not to modify the translation process. The student of the Bible must make up the difference by striving to understand the influences that produced what the writer penned. Concluding that “man” here by Sabbatarians and the SDA means all mankind without examining the cultural influences on the statement only serves to further demonstrate the tendency towards shoddy scholarship when doctrines of questionable authenticity, yet critical to their theology, are at stake. The SDA has a culture of biblical interpretation from its inception that was so poor that even similar sounding words were grounds for a particular interpretation, with no proper examination of the etymology of the words. For example, Easter in the SDA theology is associated with Eostre which they define as the goddess of spring, of pagan origination. Yet Webster’s Dictionary provides this etymology of the word:
Middle English estre, from Old English ēastre; akin to Old High German ōstarun (plural) Easter, Old English ēast east.
The true connection is in regards to the association of sunrise in the east with the resurrection or rising of Christ. There is no other legitimate association of the “Easter” in the Christian faith. What this demonstrates for our readers is the proclivity in the SDA culture to use whatever association or interpretation they desire, despite the reputability of the method, in order to achieve the desired outcome; in this case the “poisoning of the well” when it comes to the observance of the resurrection of Christ with the associative word/term: Easter. Is it any wonder or surprise then, given the culture of the SDA, that they would also use whatever means possible to find a Sabbath instituted at Creation, when their theology demands it?
Because of the significant differences between Ancient Hebrew, Modern Hebrew, English, and the cultures they represent, a mechanical translation of one isolated passage of Genesis is insufficient to support the doctrine that God requires all Earthlings to keep the Sabbath for eternity.
CLAIM: JEWISH LINGUISTS ARE INFLUENCED
BY GREEK CULTURE IN THEIR INTERPRETATION
The allegation is that the Jews do not believe the Sabbath was a Creation ordinance because they were influenced by Greek culture and that this interference has biased the thinking of rabbinical scholars from classical times onward. He alleges the following:
There are two broadly different Jews living today both biased in perspective viewpoint on Ancient Hebrew. Modern Jews are broadly influenced by Greek thinking. Ancient Hebrew thinking is based on Eastern values which original Hebrew was. Modern scholars doing any Bible study think in terms of Greek culture, not the ancient Hebrew culture.
To the contrary, it is the more mature knowledge of ancient Hebrew culture and linguistics among Christian scholars that has sealed the doom for Sabbatarian theology.
Our Adventist apologist has the “Veil of Moses” over his eyes (See II Cor. 3). Rabbinical scholars did not conclude that the Sabbath was given only to Israel as a result of Greek cultural influences. They studied the Old Testament and arrived at conclusions based on their knowledge of the historical development of their own cultural, linguistic, and scriptural heritage. They did not need any help from Greek influences to see the following principles that are fatal to Sabbatarian theology: (1) No Creation origin for the Sabbath. (2) Sabbath as a sign to set Israel apart from all the other nations of the world. (3) No Sabbath-keeping for Jews or proselytes without circumcision. To the contrary, Cotto demonstrates the Sabbatarian tendency, based on its internal “cultural” influences, by producing a claim that is couched in an accusation. The proper tools of biblical investigation are thus circumvented.
Additionally, Christians understand that the Old Covenant was represented by and is essentially equivalent to the Ten Commandments, and the Scriptures teach that the Old Covenant would be done away and replaced with something radically different—in other words, a New Covenant would replace the 10 Commandments. (This concept is another entire study in itself.)
Many of the fathers of the early church understood these things. The vast majority of the reformers understood these things, and some of them wrote about the obsolescence of the Sabbath, including Martin Luther and, later, the Lutherans who drafted the Augsburg Confession. Biblical scholars from the era of Charles I of England through the contemporaries of Ellen White in the mid 1800’s understood and wrote about these principles. Farmers, living in the mid 1800’s, intent in starting their own religious movement based loosely on the religion of the Puritans, failed to “get the memo.”
CLAIM: THE JEWS ARE WRONG IN BELIEVING
THE SABBATH WAS GIVEN ONLY TO THEM
The allegation is that the Jews view the Sabbath as a law for Jews only because they see the Talmud as more important than the Torah. Cotto believes, therefore, that this view is not based on the principle of "Sola Scriptora," i.e. “the Torah and the Torah alone.” He adds, "The Bible must be its own interpreter!"
“The Bible and the Bible alone” is a dangerous idea if Benner's precautions are not observed. The Bible cannot be properly understood without a comprehensive knowledge of the culture that produced it and a native-like understanding of the language. One must also consider to whom God was speaking and under what circumstances. Again, there is no better example than the “Dogs versus Jews” cultural understanding that shows us that Jesus did define the Sabbath as strictly for Jews in Mark 2:27, as contrasted to the SDA cultural interpretation of “man” that is based solely on their need. Recall that even the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus for help for her demon-possessed daughter understood that Jews regarded them a "dogs" in Matt. 15:22-28. The Sabbatarian dodge regarding the interpretation of “man” (Gr. Anthropos) actually supports the “Dogs versus Jews” interpretation as anthropos does not always translate as “all men” but rather can and does refer to even one man or any subset of men, such as the Jews. The fact that the Greek word chosen here being anthropos only supports the Aramaic/Hebrew concept of “dogs” being exclusionary regarding the rest of mankind. Sabbatarian apologists ignore the cultural implications and language considerations in favor of their desired conclusions.
Properly understood, the books of Moses alone provides all the proof necessary to see that neither Jews nor converts to Judaism were permitted to keep the Sabbath without first meeting the requirements for circumcision. This principle is part of the Law of Moses and is illustrated by both the record of Old Testament Scripture and the rabbinical writings. Recall, once again, that Jesus commented on the subordination of the Sabbath to the ordinance of circumcision when He called attention to the fact that according to the Law of Moses, a male child is to be circumcised on the 8th day of his life even if that 8th day falls on the Sabbath. When the Council of Jerusalem decided that the Gentiles should not be subjected to the Ordinance of Circumcision; the entry sign to the old covenant law, Sabbath-keeping was declared officially closed for the Gentiles in the early church as a result. In reality it was finished for all the church when Christ died on the cross. Some scholars find evidence that the part of the Didache which documents Christians meeting for worship on Sunday was written as early as 53 AD. Paul’s last epistle was authored around 63 AD. It was St. Paul who commanded the early church not to enforce Sabbath-keeping on Christian believers in Colossians 2:14-17.
The Jews are correct, therefore, in believing that the Sabbath was only for them. Only the Jews observe circumcision as a religious rite.
SABBATARIAN CLAIM: THE SABBATH IS
MORAL SO IT HAD TO BEGIN AT CREATION
Our same apologist declares that the Sabbath is a moral law because we have a body clock that dictates that our bodies rest every 7 days in order to maintain good health. This begs the logical question regarding clean and unclean meats and their associated health benefits. Would they not be “moral” laws also, using this same reasoning?
He says, "The 7 day bio-rhythm clock is genetically wired into man." Then he references an article in Discover Magazine, entitled "Reading Your Body Clock with a Molecular Timetable Inspired by Flowers."
This article says nothing about a weekly body rhythm. Instead it discusses a daily body rhythm and provides evidence that trying to work against this daily rhythm is detrimental to one’s health. As an example, the author mentions lack of sleep– a 24-hour rhythm controlled by an astronomical pattern. Interestingly, there is a body "rhythm" of approximately 28 days with women of child-bearing age. There is no such thing as a 7-day body cycle so far as we know. If any of our readers can provide proof of a 7-day body rhythm, I invite them to submit the research. Even if there was, a good scientist would ask if that rhythm was not induced by the body constantly following a seven-day pattern of activity and would theorize that if a person operated in a culture with a 10-day week if the body would not also create a 10-day rhythm for itself.
Moses explained God’s two reasons for giving the Sabbath ordinance to the Hebrews: (1) To help them remember that He created them. (2) To keep the memory of the fact that He rescued them from slavery in Egypt. The Sabbath rest was given to them as a form of restitution for the 400 years their slave masters did not let them rest. Christians were never slaves in Egypt and they do not need compensation for prior suffering.
No person raised in a Heathen land wakes up to the conclusion that he or she needed to rest one day out of seven, much less determines which one of those days was the "right" one– unless he or she gets a little help from a Seventh-day Adventist missionary.
EVIDENCE FROM THE BOOK OF ENOCH
You can track the cover-up of this problem within Adventism from the 1840’s to the present day on our time line of Adventist history. The affinity for a 7-day week among various Heathen civilizations does not seem to depend on a “dim” memory of the seven days of Creation as passed down through the earliest ages of human history, although such is certainly possible. However, since the moon seems to come to a standstill for 7 days at a time during its 28-29 day cycle, a seven-day week would be more likely to develop for astronomical reasons. Quoted in the Book of Jude, The Book of Enoch discusses the 7-day duration of the four phases of the moon. Purportedly written by Enoch, the 7th from Adam, most scholars believe it was put together from a number of sources about 200 BCE. It makes no reference to the Sabbath or the Mosaic Covenant. A fragment of The Book of Enoch which talks about these four phases of the Moon was featured in a recent national exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The absence of any reference to the Sabbath or the Mosaic Covenant is remarkable regardless of when The Book of Enoch was written. If it was written during the pre-Flood time of Enoch, it provides additional evidence– not proof– that the Sabbath was completely unknown to the descendants of Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham prior to the Exodus. If the story was fabricated by some well-meaning rabbis a few hundred years before the birth of Christ, those who put it together were careful to make their work credible by avoiding any mention of things that did not exist at the time of Enoch. Either scenario provides additional evidence that the Jews did not believe the Sabbath originated at Creation.
A POINT-BY-POINT ANALYSIS OF
EDWIN M. COTTO’S METHODOLOGY
COTTO: THE HEBREW WORD, "SHABBATH," THAT MOSES USED IN EXODUS 20:8 IS NOT FOUND IN GENESIS 2. ALTHOUGH ANTI-SABBATARIANS USE THIS AS PROOF THAT THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF THE SABBATH ORDINANCE IS FOUND IN EXODUS 16, THE EXISTENCE OF THE SABBATH IN GENESIS 2 HAS BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED BY BOTH SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS AND SUNDAY-OBSERVING SCHOLARS.
Cotto hasn’t been reading the right books. The quality of one’s sources is important. As a claim of evidence, it stands on very shaky ground, when you realize you can make a similar claim regarding “experts” who believe the earth is flat, or that of some scientists and others who insist man never walked on the moon.
Since few biblical scholars have the expertise in Ancient Hebrew to evaluate what is and what is not in Genesis 2:2-3, the opinion of scholars without this advanced Hebrew training can vary widely. The Sabbatarian knowledge filter has not allowed him to find out, for example, that the Sabbath-Sunday Question was completely resolved back in the 1600’s when there was a huge crisis which nearly turned England into a Sabbath-keeping nation. One large faction wanted King Charles I, the successor to King James, to require the Church of England to impose the observance of the Jewish Sabbath on the entire country. At the same time the large population of Puritans was pressuring him to require Sunday to be kept in much the same way the Jews kept Saturday. King Charles I turned to his court chaplain, Peter Heylyn, a well-respected biblical scholar, and demanded that he research the subject. Heylyn investigated and reported on every significant historical and biblical fact relating to the Sabbath-Sunday Question that was available up to that time.
By the time Peter Heylyn's exhaustive Sabbath research was published in 1636 (History of the Sabbath), he had a vast amount of information to report, including conclusive arguments in favor of an Exodus origin for the Sabbath and proof that the Hebrews did not keep their first Sabbath until over a month after they left Egypt. Thanks to Heylyn's definitive work, the Sabbath-Sunday issue remained largely dormant for the next 200 years. Of course there have always been small enclaves of Sabbath-keeping Christians, and this 200 year period of church history was no exception. (Note that Sabbatarians often quote Heylyn out of context to support Sabbatarian ideas; a further example of Sabbatarian “culture” when it comes to evidence. Heylyn reported on all three sides of the issue, so isolated passages from his book can be irresponsibly used to support the Sabbatarianism which he wrote to refute.) The Sabbath-Sunday Question did not come to the forefront of Christian controversy again until the late Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath scholar, Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, began to confront the clergy of the world with his iconoclastic views through the mass marketing his 1977 book, From Sabbath to Sunday. Bacchiocchi’s work was thoroughly refuted by D.A. Carson, who headed a group of some of the finest biblical scholars in a top priority project to evaluate Bacchiocchi’s theological ideas and twisted view of the status of the Sabbath during the first thousand years of the Christian Faith. They published their findings in their 1982 book, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, which included a comprehensive debunking of the idea that there is Sabbath content in Genesis 2:2-3.
Much background information is needed to grasp the water-tight case for the Exodus 16 origin of the Sabbath. As we mentioned earlier, under God's direct leadership the Children of Israel treated Friday nights and Saturdays like any other days of the week until the 31st day of their journey out of Egypt. They left Egypt on a Thursday night and traveled for several days into the wilderness at the onset of their journey, marching and working on Friday nights and Saturday. It is inconceivable that God would lead His people to transgress a so-called “eternal, moral law” just because it wasn't convenient for Him to stop the action so His people could “keep” the Sabbath. Weeks later the Hebrews arrived at the Wilderness of the Moon [Sin] on a Saturday night about 5 pm, having marched across the desert on Friday and Saturday, and didn’t keep the Sabbath until a week later. The biblical account of the first Sabbath reports that some of the people behaved as if they had never heard of it before, even collecting firewood on it after God specifically told them not to. (There is no indication that these people were put to death by stoning, which would be in keeping with our expectations of how we might think God would deal with first-time offenders.) Recall, also, that God explained the Manna collection laws on the Saturday evening they arrived at the Wilderness of Sin, but He did not introduce the Sabbath Obedience Test until the following Friday—the day before they actually kept their first Sabbath. See:
THE HEBREW LINGUISTICS OF EXODUS 16
EVIDENCE FROM DEFINITE VERSUS INDEFINITE ARTICLES
A Hebrew keeper of the written records who lived in ancient Israel would instantly recognize that the text of the Pentateuch was carefully worded to clarify that the Sabbath was introduced for the first time in Exodus 16. A biblical scholar who wrote during the time of Ellen White, Robert Cox, F.S.A. (Scotland), published a comprehensive two-volume report on the Sabbath-Sunday Question in 1865. The Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in 1863. While Cox was reporting on the fatal-to-Sabbatarianism implications of Hebrew linguistics and the chronology of the Exodus on the Sabbath-Sunday Question, Ellen White was spinning her scripturally unsupportable, imaginative tales about Adam and Eve, Enoch, and Abraham keeping the Sabbath. Sabbatarians sometimes quote Cox out of context because like Heylyn, he reported on all sides of the Sabbath controversy. I quote Cox from his 1865 edition of the Literature of the Sabbath Question, published that year in Edinburgh by MacLachlan and Stewart, and in London by Simkin, Marshal, and Company– available to all readers as a Google Book:
In the Hebrew phrase here (Exodus 16 verse 23] translated, “the rest of the holy Sabbath,” and in that translated “a Sabbath” in verse 25, and “the Sabbath” in verse 26, the article is wanting; and consequently, instead of using the definite English article in the first and third instances, our translators [probably referring to the King James Version] ought to have used the indefinite, as they have done in the second instance. The words in verse 23 mean literally, “A resting of a holy Sabbath to Jehovah is tomorrow.” In verse 29, where the article is prefixed in the original, we have a correct translation in the phrase “the Sabbath,” the institution thus being now spoken of as known to the hearers. This distinction between the 29th and the previous verses in regard to the article, is preserved in the Septuagint, and also in De Wette's translation. Geddes inconsistently gives “a sabbath” in verse 25 and 29, and “the sabbath” in verse 26.
The true rendering of these verses ought to be kept in mind while judging whether or not the Sabbath is in this chapter spoken of as an institution previously known to the Israelites. In reference to that question, see Gen. ii. 3 (p. 3); Exod. xx.8-11 (p. 11); Deut. v. 12-15 (p. 25; Neh. ix.14 (p. 35); Ezek. xx. 12 (p. 44).
Here is an explanation that will help us understand why a proper translation of the definite versus indefinite article was so important to Cox. In the English language an ARTICLE modifies a noun (the name of a person, place, or thing), making it either indefinite (“a” or “an”) or definite (“the”). Unlike English, Hebrew does not have an indefinite article― just a definite article.
The linguistic term ANARTHROUS means, in reference to a noun, that it does not have an article, definite or indefinite, before it (e.g. the Sabbath or a Sabbath).
Nouns that do not have an article before them in Hebrew are generally translated into English with the indefinite article (e.g. “a” or “an”). However, in the case where the anarthrous nouns are qualitative, the Hebrew noun is often translated without any article.
In Hebrew, the occurrence of an anarthrous noun (one without any kind of an article associated with it) carries the significance that the whole idea is new. It is of great significance, then, that the Hebrew word for “Sabbath” in Exodus 16:23, Exodus 20:10, and Exodus 35:2-3 is articular in construction. There are only four places in the Pentateuch where this particular form of the Hebrew word for Sabbath is found, again indicating that the noun is a new thing. In the three latter instances this anarthrous construction occurs within a formula (= Work six days, but on the seventh there is a rest.) The combination of the anarthrous construction within a specified formula gives even more support for the likelihood that the intention of Moses was to emphasize that the concept of the Sabbath was new.
There is significant academic recognition of this important characteristic of the Hebrew language. It was researched in depth by Harold H.P. Dressler as part of the Carson project. In 1982, he was teaching Old Testament as Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Northwest Baptist Theological College in Vancouver, BC, Canada. His paper, “The Sabbath in the Old Testament,” is one of the chapters in the book, From Sabbath to the Lord's Day (1982), edited by D.A. Carson. Dressler, provided these scholarly references in footnote number 39, p. 37 in From Sabbath to Lord's Day:
39 The anarthrous construction carries significance (i.e. “The whole idea was new”) as pointed out by G. Rawlinson, Exodus (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co., 1906), p.52; A. Dillman, Die Bucher Exodus und Leviticus (Leipzig: S. Hitzel, 1897), p. 175; P Heinisch, Das Buch Exodus (Bonn: Hanstein, 1934), p. 133; G. Henton Davies, Exodus (London: SCM, 1967), p. 140. This construction of the word [Hebrew characters not renderable in our word processing program, the particular form of the word Sabbath found in this passage] occurs only four times in the Pentateuch, Exodus 16:23; 20:10 (followed in v. 11 with an articular construction) and Exodus 35:2 (followed in v. 3 by an articular construction). In the latter three instances this construction occurs within a formula: “six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath . . .” The anarthrous construction in Exodus 16:23, 25 is unique and may, therefore, well signify the newness of an idea.
The www.Bible.Ca staff completed an exhaustive linguistics study that provides even further evidence that the Sabbath was introduced for the first time in Exodus 16. Combined with our understanding of the significance of the anarthrous construction of nouns in Hebrew, it is clear that the majority of the scholars who translated the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament into English have recognized the existence of this usage indicator for a long time.
The first time any Jewish holy day is mentioned in Scripture, it always lacks the definite article (“a” Sabbath versus the indefinite “the” Sabbath, for example).
The Jewish holy days are never introduced the first time in Scripture with the definite article “the” but with the indefinite “a” or “an”.
This powerful argument provides more than ample evidence that the weekly Sabbath did not exist before Exodus 16:23.
What makes it irrefutable is the fact that every Jewish Holy Day follows this same pattern!
FIRST TIME: tomorrow is a Sabbath: Ex 16:23
SUBSEQUENT MENTION: the Lord has given you the Sabbath: Ex 16:29
FIRST TIME: A solemn rest “a” holy Sabbath: Ex. 16:25
SUBSEQUENT MENTION: “the” Sabbath: Ex 20:11
SUBSEQUENT MENTION: “the” Sabbath: Deuteronomy 5:12
FIRST TIME: “a” memorial: Exodus 12:14
SUBSEQUENT MENTION: afterward, “the” Lord’s Passover
FIRST TIME; “an” holy convocation:
SUBSEQUENT MENTION: “the” day of Pentecost: Acts 2:1
FIRST TIME; Unleavened bread: “a” feast: Ex 12:40
SUBSEQUENT MENTION: afterward, “the” feast: Lev. 23:6
FIRST MENTION: “an” altar Gen. 8:20
SUBSEQUENT MENTION: “the” altar: Gen. 8:20
Not all English translations follow this principle with 100% accuracy, however. In Exodus 16 the NIV appears to supply the indefinite article correctly, whereas the King James Version does not. Here is a comparison of the same passage in both translations:
NIV translation of Exodus 16:21-26:
Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers [b] for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.'” 24So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25“Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”
King James translation of Exodus 16:21-26:
And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. 22And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.
BRENDAN’S OBJECTIONS TO ANARTHROUS CONSTRUCTION
ARGUMENT WITH OUR REBUTTALS
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The argument from anarthrous construction, which in Hebrew suggests that the whole idea is new, is highly questionable. Even Wynne’s expert witness, Harold H. P. Dressler, quoted in D.A. Carson’s (editor) book, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, is tentative in his mention of this idea, stating only that “The anarthrous construction in Exodus 16:23-25 is unique and may, therefore, well signify the newness of an idea.” He even delegated the mention of this to a footnote, suggesting that it wasn’t particularly important.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: The arguments available to support the concept of no Sabbath before the giving of the manna are so strong that these other arguments were the focus of Dressler’s work. The complete quote of Dressler’s footnote lists support for his idea from four prominent biblical scholars who wrote between 1897 and 1967 on two different continents. Dressler appears to be utilizing scholarly restraint—a trait that both Brendan and the three of us could strive better to emulate. Dressler is also correct. This argument is not conclusive in itself.
WILLIAM'S RESPONSE: Taking one argument of many, and one piece of evidence from among many, and disparaging this one item does not in turn discredit all the evidence and proofs available. You will find this approach to be a common ploy whenever people are defending a weaker position. In turn, they demand that every point of “evidence” that they produce be addressed. They never admit to being wrong, no matter how persuasive and airtight the evidence. Brendan offers no explanation as to why Dressler is wrong. He sees no reason to truly address the evidence. He merely dismisses it based on the perception of it all being of minor importance and lacking credibility. If we were to treat the Sabbatarian's arguments in such a manner, they would be screaming foul.
Brendan offers no evidence from any credible sources that would disparage the significance of the anarthrous construction in these key texts. What is self-evident to anyone, willing to look at all the available examples, is summarily dismissed by Brendan based solely on his own bias.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Two important books about Hebrew linguistics do not say anything about the significance of anarthrous construction, including A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew by Paul Joüon and Takamitsu Muraoka and An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax by Bruce K Waltke and M. O'Connor.
KERRY’S RESPONSE: A careful reading of our presentation includes an extensive section on the significance of the anarthrous construction of the word, Sabbath, in various passages related to our study. Brendan fails to mention that we cite a variety of sources that go back at least as far as the early 1600’s (Peter Heylyn’s History of the Sabbath) that mention it. No book on any subject can cover every possible aspect. Most likely the authors of these two books were not interested in the Sabbath-Sunday question, and they were not fortunate to have stumbled across it. The argument applies to the introduction of new Jewish holy days only—something that would be easy for researchers to miss who had no particular interest in Sabbath-Sunday issues.
WILLIAM’S RESPONSE: For someone who at first was intent on making an accusation regarding the alleged use of a logical fallacy; “an appeal to authority”, Brendan has now availed himself of a number of true logical fallacies. Here, we see an attempt to provide evidence based on a negative-- an argument based on silence. Can we ask a few logical questions? Does the omission of evidence in one book negate the evidence of another? Is Brendan offering us a reasonable explanation regarding the actual evidence, or is he out to seeking ways to disparage the evidence through association or the lack of association with other scholars in the field? This comes across more like a dodge rather than a scholarly response.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: There is a logical reason for the anarthrous use of šabbāṯ in these texts - that the word šabbāṯ was an intrinsically definite noun! Divine names, Human names, Place names, most pronouns, unique appellatives, certain cosmological elements and human institutions, unique titles are all intrinsically determinate – not needing the article! The anarthrous use of šabbāṯ in its first literary reference by that name in Exodus 16 (and many places thereafter) shows that it was already an established institution recognizable by the Hebrews! The use of the article with šabbāṯ after it has been mentioned in the context without the article is not uncommon in Hebrew. In such cases it acts as a weak demonstrative.
AUTHORS: Brendan would do well, here, to provide us with an authoritative source to support his claim that what he says about important proper nouns not needing an article in front of them is true. If the Ancient Hebrew language provides that self-evidently important Hebrew nouns do not need to be introduced by an article, why in the Old Testament Scriptures do subsequent mentions of Jewish holy days ALWAYS have the definite article before it and initial mentions of them NEVER have articles before them? Brendan’s theory makes no sense when applied to the mention of Jewish sacred days. Also, note that Brendan proposes a general principle of Hebrew to challenge a specific Hebrew literary convention—a convention that can be easily validated by checking out how the mention of Jewish holy days is handled in the original Ancient Hebrew text or a Hebrew-English interlinear translation.
In fact, if Brendan is correct, he bestows an ever higher degree of credibility to our theory of anarthrous construction. It would mean that in every instance Old Testament writers went out of their way to make an exception to a general grammatical rule to comply with a special rule that regulates how the mention of Jewish holy days is to be handled in Hebrew. To the contrary, it appears that the SPECIAL principle in this case trumps the GENERAL principle. If a Jewish holy day, such as the Sabbath, is self-evidently important and needs no article before it, we should never find a mention of it that has an article before it. Would not the presence of such an article suggest, in this case, that the holy day was not self-evidently important?
The only claim we have really made is that in every case, when a Jewish holy or feast day is mentioned in the Old Testament for the very first time, it is preceded by an indefinite article and that every subsequent mention of it features a definite article in front of it. (Actually, you may recall that in Hebrew there is no such thing as an indefinite article, but rather in the case where an indefinite article would precede it in English, no article precedes it at all. In a proper English translation, the presence of the equivalent of an indefinite article is indicated by the article “a,” as in “a Sabbath.”) Before incorporating the argument from anarthrous construction, we took the time to work through a Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible to see if we could find even one instance where a Jewish holy or feast day did not follow this principle, and we could not find one as long as common sense linguistic principles of context were considered.
We cannot speak for Hebrew nouns in general. Brendan comments about the example of the word, altar, mentioned in the early chapters of Genesis. The rule is followed even there, but he argues that the concept of an altar was probably in place before the altar was mentioned in the story. Whatever, the best way to refute Brendan’s argument is to find an example of where a Jewish holiday, feast, or holy day is mentioned for the very first time in the original Hebrew that is preceded by a definite article. We make no claims for ordinary nouns. To do so would seem to present an unreasonable task for any Hebrew writer, who would have to look at every noun he used to make sure that if he had never mentioned it before, he could not put an article (“the”) before it.
A NEW TESTAMENT EXAMPLE OF THE SIGNIFICANCE
OF DEFINITE VERSUS INDEFINITE ARTICLES
Thomas Preble was the first Millerite to write in favor of keeping the Jewish Sabbath. It was his pro-Sabbath tract entitled, “Tract, Showing That the Seventh Day Should Be Observed As the Sabbath,” reprinted from an article he had published in the early Advent publication, Hope of Israel in the Feb. 28, 1845 issue, that influenced the parents of J. N. Andrews, the future wife of Uriah Smith, and Joseph Bates to become Sabbath-keepers. It was Joseph Bates who introduced the Sabbath to Ellen White. However, he kept the Sabbath only until mid-1847, at which time he repudiated his own work. (Credit to http://www.imsmedia.org/adventist-pioneers/thomas-m-preble.) In 1867 he published an expose of the cult of Adventism in 1867 entitled The First Day Sabbath Clearly Proved. You can find it in Google Books. While he incorporated many of the same anti-Sabbatarian concepts that are used against the 7th day Sabbath doctrine today, his main thesis was that at the Cross, the Jewish Sabbath of the 7th day of the week, ended, and the Christian “Sabbath” began. He called attention, among other things, that in Genesis the only principle for Sabbath-keeping is that the human race should work six days and rest one day. His argument is difficult to follow, but fighting to understand it is worthwhile for many reasons:
Did the Lord Jesus keep the seventh-day Sabbath? He evidently did, as he was "made under the law" (Gal. 4 : 4), and was "circumcised;" He no doubt observed the Sabbath, as it ought to have been observed at that time; although his manner of keeping it, however, was such that the Pharisees accused him of breaking it, because he did not observe their traditions, which they had connected with the observance of that day. There is no doubt but the women mentioned in Luke 23:55, after they had "prepared spices and ointments" for the body of Jesus, returned and rested the Sabbath-day according to the "commandment ;" yea, the "fourth commandment."
Good, says the Sabbatarian. And I too say, Good ; because I have no doubt of its truth. But when this matter shall be critically examined, I think all candid minds will acknowledge that this was the last seventh-day Sabbath ever kept according to the commandment: as I believe the following facts will abundantly prove. The original Greek words for Sabbath, as found in the New Testament, in their singular and plural form, are Sabbaton, and Sabbata. The number of times these words occur in the New Testament is sixty-eight. They are found in different books, as follows : in Matthew, eleven times ; in Mark, twelve times ; in Luke, twenty times ; in John, thirteen times; in Acts, ten times; in 1 Corinthians, once; and in Colossians, once. These words are transferred (not translated) into our English version, in all, fifty-nine times ; and thus called Sabbath, or Sabbath-days, etc. But the translators saw fit to render the word Sabbaton, by the word "week," in nine cases out of the whole number sixty-eight, and these nine cases are found in the following places : in Matthew 28: 1; Mark 16: 2, 9; Luke 18: 12; 24 : 1 ; John 20 : 1, 19 ; Acts 20 : 7 ; 1 Corinthians 16 : 2. In Matthew it reads, "In the end of the Sabbath [Sabbaton], as it began to dawn toward the first [day, is a word supplied by the translators] of the week [Sabbaton], came Mary," etc. In Mark : "And very early in the morning, the first of the week [Sabbaton], they came," etc. "Now when Jesus was risen early the first of the week [Sabbaton], he appeared," etc. In Luke: "I fast twice in the week [Sabbaton], I give tithes," etc. Now upon the first of the week [Sabbaton], very early in the morning," etc. In John: "The first of the week [Sabbaton] cometh Mary Magdalene early," etc. "Then the same day, at evening, being the first of the week [Sabbaton], when the doors were shut," etc. In Acts: "And upon the first of the week [Sabbaton], when the disciples came together to break bread," etc. In 1 Corinthians: "Upon the first of the week [Sabbaton] let every one of you lay by him in store," etc. Now let us turn back to Matthew 28:1, and see if we can ascertain the true import of this word "week," as it has been thus found in the cases above referred to. It appears that the word Sabbaton, as found in this verse, occurs twice, and in both instances it is in the plural, form ; and this being the case, the true rendering of the passage requires us to read it, in substance, like this : At the end of Sabbaths, in the beginning of the first of Sabbaths, etc. Or as Mark has it: And very early in the first of Sabbaths (lit. of one of Sabbaths), etc. But Luke and John appear to have it still stronger: And in the first of the Sabbaths, etc; the definite article the being placed before the noun Sabbaton. Now it is evident that if the translators had transferred the word Sabbaton, in these nine cases just examined, as they did in the other fifty-nine instances above referred to, then we should have had less difficulty than we now have, and we should see that at the end of the seventh-day Sabbaths (or at the end of the Jewish Sabbath — which was given to the "children of Israel" to be a "sign" unto them "throughout their generations"-- there would be the beginning of the Lord Jesus Christ's day, or “Sabbath.” Or in other words, where one series of days ended, there another series of days began. And this change of days was marked by the most important events that ever transpired in the history of man. "The veil of the temple was rent in twain," "the middle wall of partition" between Jews and Gentiles, was "broken down," and thus they were "made both one."
Here are our observations:
DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE MANNA AND
SABBATH OBEDIENCE TESTS
J. N. Andrews, the first Advent Movement Sabbath scholar, theorized that some aspects of the “Manna Test” given to the Hebrews in the early verses of Exodus 16 suggest that the Israelites were already familiar with the Sabbath. He pointed out that God didn't seem to feel the need to explain His reason for the six days of work followed by one day of rest at that time. Our analysis of his manna argument resulted in these findings that are not favorable to this claim:
1. There is no indication in the Exodus 16 verses to specifically suggest that the people were familiar with the Sabbath concept. If the Israelites were familiar with the Sabbath, they would not need to have been told not to gather manna on the 7th day, since that would represent work.
2. The Hebrews had just come out of Egypt, which utilized a 10-day work week. This is probably the reason why the first mention of the Sabbath in Exodus 16 is the full form of the word, meaning: “a sabbatical celebration, a holy sabbath” (Dressler, “The Sabbath in the Old Testament,” Chapter 2 in D.A. Carson (ed.), From Sabbath to Lord's Day).
3. In Exodus 12, when God explained His instructions for the ordinance of the Passover, He did not mention the Sabbath Day when one would expect Him to have done so. He instructed them to continue preparing food on the seventh day of the Passover Week― a task forbidden by the Sabbath-keeping laws He gave them later:
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD -a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do. Exodus XII, 14-16 (NIV)
4. The Manna obedience test stands on its own without any dependence on the Sabbath because during the week the Hebrew people were instructed to gather no more than an Omer for each person. A significant number of the people broke this new law right away, gathered more than they needed for the next day, and found that the extra portions rotted.
Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. – Exodus 16:4
5. Andrews says this chapter suggests that the Israelites were familiar with the work-six-days/rest-on-the-7th-day pattern because they did not agitate for an explanation regarding it. Arguments from silence are among the weakest ones. Note that God seems to have chosen the 7 days of Creation because it was an easy formula to remember. It would seem that if God spoke something to any of us out of a cloud and it was readily understandable, we would not agitate for an explanation of it. God is a good communicator—the best ever.
6. The wording of the passage identifies the Sabbath requirement as an obedience test. If the Israelites were keeping the Sabbath up to that point, they would have had their obedience tested continually along the way. Perhaps a different kind of obedience test would have been appropriate in that case.
7. Recall the expert sources which indicate that there is evidence that the Egyptians, like many of the civilizations of the time, observed a pagan “sabbath” that was based on the four phases of the moon and elements of fertility rites. There is evidence that when God gave the Sabbath to Israel on Mt. Sinai, He took a cultural concept that they were already familiar with, cleansed it of its pagan and fertility connotations, and presented it to Israel in a newly redeemed and holy form.
BRENDAN KNUDSON’S OBJECTIONS TO THE MANNA OBEDIENCE TEST ARGUMENT
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Perhaps the clearest evidence that the Sabbath preceded the giving of the manna is the conversation God has with Moses at the start of the chapter which gives the reason for the giving of the manna.
Exodus 16:4 - "Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My Law or not.'"
AUTHORS: Because Brendan assumes that there was a Sabbath prior to the Exodus, he views Moses’ instructions regarding the Manna as primarily a Sabbath obedience test. Observe that at the beginning of the week, shortly after the Children of Israel arrived at the edge of the Wilderness of Sin and complained that God had called them out of Egypt to starve them to death in the desert, God gave Israel Manna, along with collecting and keeping instructions which included acquiring a double portion on the 6th day of the week. At this point God said nothing about the double portion having to do with a Sabbath that would occur on the 7th day. All week long the Israelites tested God by deviating from His Manna-collecting instructions, finding that if they collected more than an omer per person, and kept it overnight, the excess spoiled. It was not until the 6th day of that first “Manna week” that God explained that this double portion was in preparation for a new special day He called the “Sabbath.”
The Sabbath concept focused on the cessation of labor whereas the Manna collection instructions regulated a work process. Some of the Israelites collected excess Manna in defiance of God’s special instructions. Then, some of them gathered firewood on the Sabbath in defiance of God’s special instructions. There were two obedience tests, and Israel failed them both.
Combining both the Manna and Sabbath regulations, there was a number of rules, or “laws” that Israel could break and did break. He had commanded them to collect the manna and keep the Sabbath. Brendan’s claim that God was chiding them for breaking a Sabbath commandment that existed prior to the Exodus is completely unnecessary and has the effect to adding things to this passage of Scripture that is not there.
The plain sense of the use of the term “law” here would indicate that whatever God commanded of them or instructed them to do was “law.” It could also easily connote that which was to follow; a codified law to govern them. If, from the perspective of God, they could not follow the simple commands and instructions being given them regarding the manna and the Sabbath, He could hardly expect them to keep any other commands and instructions that were to follow. The example here revolving around the Sabbath and the manna “test” indicate that they were not going to walk in His law. It should be noted that Christians are called to walk in faith and that the Christian law is a law of faith (Rom. 3:27). The Old Covenant law is described by the apostle Paul to not be of faith. Romans 3:27 covers another relevant issue:
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. – Romans 3:27 (KJV)
In the law of faith, there is no boasting. In the law of works (do this, don't do that; keep this) one could conceivably boast, such as a boast in keeping the Sabbath. Do Sabbatarians boast in the Sabbath? Most assuredly. It is their distinctive. It is what they claim delineates a real Christian from a false one. One of the real issues here is whether Sabbath-keeping relates to faith, or a practice that has the potential for boasting.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: In the writings of the 10th and 11th centuries of the Current Era, some rabbis interpret some places in the account of Moses' experiences in Egypt, prior to the Exodus, as evidence that Moses attempted to bring Sabbath-keeping reform to the Hebrew slaves and that the resting that resulted from that attempted reform was the reason that Pharaoh decided to double-up on their work-load. They have written stories about this.
AUTHORS: There is nothing wrong with the Jews writing religious novels. Christian authors write Christian novels. We have never claimed that rabbis who have not had the rare and special advanced education in the Ancient Hebrew form of the Hebrew language have not viewed the Sabbath as a Creation ordinance. It is not strange that some of them would write imaginative accounts of what they conceived might have taken place during the period of Egyptian slavery. If a rabbi was not one of the chosen few to receive expert level training in Ancient Hebrew, but instead received only training in Modern Hebrew, the striking contraindication of a Creation origin for the Sabbath found in Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20 might be obscure to him. The word, “sabbath,” simply means rest. The fact that the Sabbath is introduced to the Hebrews as a totally new concept as well as a test of obedience in Exodus 16 seems to argue forcefully against a previous existence. Keep in mind that just like some of the people who discarded God's instructions regarding the collection of the manna prior to the introduction of the Sabbath, some of them chose to challenge the new Sabbath law almost immediately after God gave it to them.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: It can be seen here that God already considered the Sabbath His law which He intended to test/train them in by the giving of the Manna. Combined with the fact that the first reference to šabbāṯ is without the article and therefore considered an established proper name, it is evident that the Sabbath pre-existed the Manna as God's Law and as we have seen, that ordinance was established during Creation week. The first references by name to šabbāṯ in Exodus 16:23-26 lack the article not because something new is being introduced, but because even at this stage it was already considered a proper noun. In looking at the example given of the first explicit mention of an altar in Genesis 8:20 in light of the sacrifices implied in Genesis 3 and 4 and the mention of 7 of every clean animal being taken onto the ark, we can see that altars were implied to have existed from the fall of man. Indeed, the context of the passage, with the introductory reference by God that He was to "test them" according to His "Law". All of this fits with what we learned by studying the Hebrew of Genesis 1-2 in Creation week where God instituted the Sabbath as an example for His "Image" in Adam and Eve to keep to.
AUTHORS: We addressed Brendan’s theory earlier. To our rebuttal, we add the fact that all the other holy days given to Israel subsequent to the giving of the Sabbath reflect the fact that their first mention has anarthrous construction and every subsequent mention of it is preceded by a definite article. It is wrong to add words to Scripture. Where is the “Thus saith the Lord” for the idea that merely mentioning the Sabbath in the same story that discusses the fact that Adam and Eve were made in God’s image requires that man follow God’s example of resting? With this assumed license to add words to Scripture, Brendan can make God’s Word teach anything he wants. Here is an example of this kind of thinking taken to the level of the absurd. In the same New Testament story about how Jesus was taken prisoner in the Garden of Gethsemane, it states that Judas went out and hanged himself. Therefore, we illogically conclude that if a Christian leader is ever taken captive in the presence of his followers, they are to go out and hang themselves.
A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE
We introduced this subject to you at the very beginning of this paper. Here is more information, including documentation, for this key argument against a Sabbath prior to the Exodus, followed by Brendan Knudson’s objections and our rebuttals.
A theologian characterized by Cox as "pious and profoundly learned," Joseph Mede (died 1638), developed evidence that the Israelites did not keep the Sabbath on their way from the Dead Sea crossing to the camp at the Wilderness of Sin. Here is what he said, quoted by Cox in The Literature of the Sabbath Question, Vol. I, pages 155-156. Keep in mind, for the moment, that the entire context of Mede's comments is an argument that the Christians are obligated to keep one day out of seven, since the Sabbath was given at Creation Week, but that which day out of seven they keep doesn't matter, since the Sabbath was probably "re-set" to the day the Hebrews marched out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus. However, we are mostly interested in Mede's analysis of the time and events of the journey from the Red Sea to Mt. Sinai that proves that the Israelites did not keep the Sabbath during the first 31 days of their journey:
Certain I am the Jews kept not that day for a Sabbath till the raining of manna. For that which should have been their Sabbath the week before, had they then kept the day which afterward they kept, was the fifteenth day of the second month, and which day we read in the 16th of Exodus, that they marched a wearisome march, and came at night unto the wilderness of Sin, where they murmured for their poor entertainment, and wished they had died in Egypt. That night the Lord sent them quails; the next morning it rained manna, which was the sixteenth day, and so six days together; the seventh, which was the twenty-second day, it rained none, and that day they were commanded to keep for their Sabbath. Now, if the twenty-second day of the month were the Sabbath, the fifteenth should have been, if that day had been kept before; but the text tells us expressly they marched that day; and, which is strange, the day of the month is never named, unless it be once, for any station but this where the Sabbath was ordained, otherwise it could not have been known that that day was ordained for a day of rest, which before was none. And why might not their day of holy rest be altered as well as the beginning of the year was (Exodus xii.2), for a memorial of their coming out of Egypt? I can see no reason why it might not, nor find any testimony to assure me it was not."
Cox comments that if this argument is sound, it endangers the idea that the Sabbath was a Creation ordinance. To his credit, Cox demonstrates his commitment to balanced reporting by mentioning that an opponent of Mede by the name of Stopford (Scripture Account of the Sabbath, Section X) had challenged the validity of one element of Mede's day and time calculations– a point which was nonessential to demonstrate that the Hebrews did not keep the Sabbath weeks into the Exodus journey. Paraphrasing Stopford, Cox says of Mede's position:
He [Stopford] contends that Mede (with whom Heylyn and Bramhall agree) mistakes in supposing that quails were sent on the evening of the fifteenth day, and manna the next morning.
When studying excerpts like this, context is critical. In the next passage from Cox, the setting for his comment (that Mede might be totally mistaken) is in reference to Mede's belief that because the Sabbath was given at Creation Week, but “re-set” at the time of the Exodus, Christians are morally obligated to rest one day out of every seven days and that which day of the week they rest on is not important. Cox is not saying that Mede's theory that Israel did not keep the Sabbath on the way from the Red Sea to Mt. Sinai is wrong, and he did not necessarily agree with him that the Sabbath was given at Creation Week:
But there is a more vital question, the decision of which in the negative might leave the whole reasoning of Mede without any foundation whatever. Is it allowable to assume that Moses, professing to repeat to the Israelites the laws inscribed on the tables of stone, omitted a part of the Fourth Commandment there written, and substituted something else in its place; expressly telling them at the conclusion of the ten, that the words just repeated were those which the Lord had spoken to them in the mount– to which He had there "added no more"– and which He had written on the tables of stone and delivered to Moses? (See Deut. v.22.) In considering this question, it will not be overlooked by the careful student of the chapter [Exodus 16], that what it records is not a repetition of the Sabbath-law, in the sense of its re-enactment or re-imposition, but a retrospective narrative, orally given by Moses, of its enactment on the sole occasion at Sinai, in which narrative he included a historical repetition of the Ten Commandments which had been then and there proclaimed. [Emphasis supplied].
While it is interesting to know what kind of information was available to Adventist leaders regarding the keeping of the Sabbath during this part of the Exodus journey in the past, it is enlightening to know what is available to them now. A number of exhaustive studies have been done by modern scholars who have more information about Hebrew culture and better analytical tools than ever before. Calculations done by the staff at Bible.Ca conclusively demonstrate the non-observance of any Sabbath for the first few weeks of their Exodus journey. The Hebrews left Goshen in Egypt on Nissan 14, a Thursday, and a Passover, and arrived at the Wilderness of Sin 31 days later on a Saturday evening about 5 pm. That evening, God explained the Manna Obedience Test, and the Manna fell the next morning—a Sunday. It wasn’t until the following “Friday” that God gave them the Sabbath Obedience Test. He explained the Sabbath along with instructions for gathering twice the normal amount of Manna that evening. Therefore, the first Sabbath ever kept in the history of the world was observed on the 38th day after the Hebrews left Egypt.
Since they did not arrive at the Wilderness of Sin until late Saturday afternoon, they marched on the seventh day of that week the week before the first Sabbath was observed. No wonder the Jews have never believed that the Sabbath was a Creation ordinance! These calculations can be made with only a moderate level of knowledge about Hebrew history, culture, and calendars. These facts are especially compelling because the Hebrew people were led directly by God to treat all days the same for the first five weeks of their journey.
BRENDAN’S EXODUS TRAVEL RECORD OBJECTIONS
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: There isn’t enough detail in the travel record to determine what day of the week or month of most of the events recorded for the journey.
AUTHORS: Enough information is available to determine when they were at enough places to construct an itinerary with enough detail to conclusively demonstrate that God didn’t provide a day of rest every seventh day during their journey to Mt. Sinai. All it takes is a little knowledge of how the Hebrews labeled their markers of time to figure out that God didn’t provide a Sabbath or a Preparation Day until the 5th week of the Exodus.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The people at Bible.Ca utilized the lunar calendar. There is no evidence that the Hebrews used a lunar calendar. The Sabbath has always been fixed.
AUTHORS: We are as surprised as Brendan by the concept that the Hebrews probably used a lunar calendar to calculate their Sabbaths. Two highly authoritative Jewish encyclopedias have a number of articles each that document the fact that the Hebrews utilized a lunar calendar for calculating their sabbaths. Genesis Chapter One explains that God gave Earthlings the sun and moon to help them keep track of time. As William H. Hohmann points out, the biblical principle for determining a day is that a day is constructed from an EVENING and a morning. Why the evening first? He suggests that it is because it was the first appearance of the moon in the night sky that determined the new moon, which began each Hebrew month, the first week of that month, and the first day of that month. The literal translation of Genesis’s account of Creation is that God gave His human creatures the sun and moon to help them keep track of holy days. The research by the people at Bible.Ca is conclusive whether one uses a lunar calendar or a fixed one because the period of time involved is only a week or so longer than one month. There are enough time markers in the journey’s record to establish the fact that Hebrews did not keep the Sabbath without the benefit of a lunar calendar.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: The principle of “the ox is in the ditch” applies here if for some reason they were not keeping the Sabbath at this time.
AUTHORS: We are talking about God. It is difficult to imagine that God did not have complete control over the circumstances of the Exodus. This is Brendan grasping at straws. If there had been a Sabbath to keep, He could have struck the Egyptians (or whoever) with blindness beginning on the Preparation Day, and would not have released them from their blindness until the sun went down the next day.
COTTO: THE 4TH COMMANDMENT POINTS US BACK TO CREATION WEEK. THE QUESTION, "IS THE SABBATH IN GENESIS?" IS FULLY ANSWERED RIGHT HERE IN THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT ITSELF. He quotes Genesis 2:3, “and God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Then he quotes Exodus 20:10, “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God.” He says that the definite article, "the," indicates that the Sabbath has been present since Creation.
AUTHORS: Wrong! The definite article “takes us back” only as far as Exodus 16.
We thank Cotto for acknowledging that a definite article before a Hebrew holy day indicates that it was introduced previously and the reciprocal that the lack of an article (anarthrous construction) before it indicates that it had not existed previously. The use of the definite article here does indicate the previous existence of the Sabbath, but only back to the events of Exodus 16 where it was introduced for the very first time in the history of the world WITHOUT an article before it. Furthermore, Cotto seems unaware of the possibility that Moses might have been speaking about the blessing and hallowing of the 7th day in Genesis 2:2-3 in terms of prolepsis.
A few weeks later, Israel kept the Sabbath at the foot of Mt. Sinai. At this time the Sabbath ordinance was given formal status and codified into covenant law. It is no surprise after reviewing the chronology of the Exodus that Carson’s linguistic work would conclusively demonstrate that Moses, in his wording of Exodus 20, used a set of indicators to clarify that the Sabbath ordinance was merely MODELED after Creation week.
The MODELING of the Sabbath commandment after the seven days of Creation is a key point in comprehending why one cannot proof-text a Sabbath back into Genesis. A model is not the thing itself. The object used as a model and the model itself can have significant differences, just like a plastic model of a 1957 Chevrolet might not have a working motor. Since we are discussing a comparison between the real thing, (the Sabbath commandment) and a model for it (the structure of the days of Creation), whether God actually reposed on the 7th day of Creation is not a deal breaker.
Recall that in Exodus 20 Moses used a word that is closer to meaning "ceased" than "reposed." Some scholars do not accept the “reposed” reading. In either case the comparison does not have to be exact. On the 7th day of Creation, God “knelt down” on it. Perhaps, like an attorney, God might have been said to have “rested” [set down] His case after He summed up the events of His work in creating Planet Earth. The Bible tells us that God sits on His throne, and some day He may appear to us sitting on a throne so we can relate to His presence in a way that we can comprehend. But does God, Who created gravity, need that gravity to hold down the throne that He presents Himself sitting on to His created beings? All we really are told about the seventh day of Creation is that God stopped creating.
The 4th Commandment required the Israelites not only to stop their worldly activities, but to fully rest (in the sense of repose) for the entire day. Also, they must work for the previous six days. Also, they were not supposed to leave their dwelling places. If Sabbatarians kept the Sabbath according to its requirements, they would stay in their homes from sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night.
One Adventist apologist argues that some historical sources suggest that Egypt utilized a seven-day week during the Egyptian captivity. He suggests that we are picking the source that is most convenient to our point of view when we argue that the Hebrew people were accustomed to a 10-day week in Egypt. Chapter Two of Carson’s book, “The Sabbath in the Old Testament,” written by Harold H. P. Dressler, says, “Their sojourn in Egypt had taught them the ten-day week,” and quotes Egyptologist, Richard A. Parker, “The Calendars and Chronology, Legacy of Egypt (Oxford University Press, 1971, p. 17) where Parker adds, “The seventh-day was called “part day.” If Parker has identified the names given to each of the 10 days of the Egyptian week, he would appear to be knowledgeable.
At the same time we recognize that the Hebrews may have kept track of a 7-day week while in slavery, whether the knowledge of it came from oral history, astronomy, or both. We simply do not know.
These various Hebrew literary conventions are detailed by Carson and his associates in their 1982 book, From Sabbath to Lord's Day
COTTO: THE FACT THAT GOD BLESSED THE 7TH DAY IS EVIDENCE THAT HE GAVE EVERY 7TH DAY THEREAFTER A SPECIAL STATUS. Not only did He bless it, but he hallowed it.
How could blessing one single day bless multiple days thereafter? This idea makes no sense. Before every meal Christians ask God to bless their food. There is no doubt that He blesses it. But blessing the food for one meal does not bless every meal thereafter. Only by taking what we know about the model of the days of Creation (the Sabbath commandment of Exodus 20) and reading its characteristics back into what it was modeled after (the seven days of Creation) can we read a special status for every 7th day after the 7th day of Creation. This approach seems to put the cart before the horse.
The Hebrew language is known for its poetic qualities– particularly for its use of parallelism, or the saying of the same thing in two somewhat different ways. There are some differences between the meaning of “blessing” and “hallowing,” but in view of the fact that Moses is telling the story of what God did, and not what man was supposed to do, it is only speculation that Moses intended two separate theological distinctions in regard to sacredness of this one day. It is difficult to imagine how Cotto might support his idea that the blessing of the day plus the hallowing of it equals an evening and the morning for the 7th day.
The significance of the absence of the evening and morning suffix after the account of the events of the 7th day is that it applies the blessing and hallowing only to one 24-hour period of time and memorializes the memory of that one day for eternity. Every day that comes after it has this memory resting on top of it. There is no place to “put” any additional memorialization on top of any subsequent day because there is no room for it. Again, this fact is nothing profound in view of the fact that we are reading a story that simply tells us about what God did on one single day in the history of Planet Earth. Why is this so difficult to comprehend?
COTTO: THE SABBATH DAY IS PRESENT IN GENESIS 2 BECAUSE GOD USED A SIMILAR FORM OF WORD IN EXODUS 20 FOR THE SABBATH (SHABBATH) THAT MOSES USED FOR “REST” IN GENESIS 2. THIS PROVES THAT THE SEVENTH-DAY OF CREATION IS THE SABBATH OF THE MORAL LAW.
Yes, Moses used a different form of the same word in these places. However, Hebrew usage conventions give different meanings to these different forms of this word, so it is more like Moses used different words. The Hebrew word translated into English as “rest” is in the verb form of that word. It means TO CEASE. The verb form of the Hebrew word is not used here to mean REST. Moses said that God STOPPED on that day. It is far from accurate to say that the verb form of a Hebrew word and the noun form of it have the same exact meaning.
By contrast the form of the same word that is used in Exodus 20 is a noun, which can mean REST. Chapter Two of From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, pages 22-23, “The Sabbath in the Old Testament,” authored by Harold H. P. Dressler, Dressler observes the following: Footnote #30 is typed afterward because it provides additional clarification.) Also please observe that some sources appear to render the Hebrew characters from right to left as they would appear in a Hebrew manuscript, whereas other sources show them from left to right as they would be if they were written in English:
A question that must be discussed in connection with the origin of the Sabbath is the etymology and meaning of the word שַׁבָּת (Hebrew word translated “rest”). Lexicographers group it with the verb שָׁבַת (to cease, stop; to stop working, celebrate, to rest). Hehn emphasizes that the meaning “to rest” is foreign to this verb; the nature of sbt is “to cease, to be finished (J. Hehn, Siebenzahl und Sabbat, p. 101. Schmidt sees no original interdependence between the verb שָׁבַת and the noun “Sabbath”; there is only a very early connection (W. H. Schmidt, Die Schopfungsgeschichte der Priesterschrift (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1964), p. 156. From the etymology, Beer and Mahler understand the action of “being complete” (G. Beer, Schabbath-der Mischnatractat “Sabbath”, p. 13; E. Mahler, Der Sabbath, p. 239.) De Vaux points out that the noun formation from the verb שָׁבַת is irregular; “the regular form would be shebeth.” In its grammatical form it “ought to have an active meaning, signifying ‘the’ day which stops something, which marks a limit or division…” (R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, p. 476). The Sabbath would thus be a day that marks the end of the week or the ceasing of the week’s work.30
30(R. North, Derivation, p. 186, especially note 3: “sbt” has nothing to do with resting in the sense of enjoying repose . . . It certainly cannot be translated as “the day of rest.” This latter statement can be questioned [however] since it is based on the etymology rather than the usage of the word.
There is insufficient support for the idea that Moses meant that God indicated that He wanted the Hebrews to rest on the Sabbath because He had reposed on the 7th day of Creation. Most likely, in Exodus 20, Moses indicated that Israel was to repose on the Sabbath because God CEASED, or STOPPED creating Planet Earth on the 7th day of Creation. Once more, this distinction is not pivotal because Genesis 2:2-3 tells the story about what God did and says nothing about what man is to do– not even that Adam and Eve rested on it. Furthermore, God's cursory acknowledgment of the boundary characteristics of the 7th day of Creation, indicated by His kneeling down on it for a moment, does not favor the suggestion of a grandiose purpose for it. The day had minimal significance in itself, only becoming an icon when it became part of what God used as a model for the Sabbath commandment later. In an action language, as Ancient Hebrew is, it would seem that if God had wanted to elevate the 7th day of Creation to a momentous event that would affect the universe for eternity, He would have said something like, “God threw the 7th day up to the top of a mountain that reached above the clouds and touched the stars.”
Since there is no evidence that God reposed on the 7th day of Creation, the suggestion that God would be bound by His own law to keep His own Sabbath appears doubly incredible. We are talking about I AM, the Great Creator God Who is all powerful and omniscient. Christians have no trouble believing that God can meet privately with each one of us when we arrive in Heaven. If we worship a God Who can be everywhere at once and answer everyone's prayers at the same time, what sense is it to talk anthropomorphically about God as if He were chained to the time constraints of a day on Planet Earth? For all we know, God was creating ten billion universes at the same “time” He was creating Earth. We are not told that part of the story. Jesus tells the Jewish Sabbath keepers that He and the Father work on the Sabbath. Jesus called what he was doing "work."
John 5:17-18 - In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Notice that John observes that Jesus did, in fact, break the Sabbath. Clearly the Sabbath can't be a moral law if God Himself violated it. Kerry Wynne tells the following story about God’s ability to be everywhere:
Some years ago my step son, Kevin, began to attend the independent Bible church my wife and I had joined after leaving Adventism. After attending several Sunday services he gave his heart to Jesus. After a few more months, the sermon on a particular Sunday morning was about healing. It was not a healing service. After the pastor finished his sermon, he suddenly paused and said, “I seem to be impressed that there is a person in this room who has a problem with his arm– perhaps his wrist or shoulder. Let us raise our arms to Jesus and ask Him to heal that person.” Years earlier Kevin had broken his right elbow in five places, having one of the most severe fractures his doctor had ever seen, but Kevin had no money for surgery. The result was his arm had only 30% of its normal range of motion. It was pitiful to see him bowling or playing any kind of sports, and hundreds of people were daily witnesses to his severe handicap. Kevin, seated beside me, raised his crooked arm and prayed that the person the speaker was referring to would be healed. Since the pastor had suggested a problem with the wrist or shoulder, Kevin wasn’t thinking that his elbow was included. He remembered praying something like, “Lord, please heal that person, and if You aren’t too busy, You might think about healing my elbow also. My life would be so much easier if you did.” Nothing seemed to happen in the sanctuary, but when we got out to the coffee bar in the lobby, Kevin came running up to me, shouting excitedly, “Kerry, Kerry, I’ve been healed! Look at my arm! I can touch my shoulder now!” To my utter astonishment he reached up and put his hand on his shoulder—something that was impossible only moments earlier! This miracle required the creation of new bone, sinews, and ligaments out of nothing—ex nihlo. As a result of this undeniable miracle, many individuals came to Christ, including a number of people who were about as un-churched as a non-believer could be. If God could not be everywhere at once and could not do everything at once, it is too incredible to believe that the only thing in the Universe He was doing at that moment was healing Kevin’s elbow?
One of the unfortunate effects of the development of the Sabbatarian heresy is the harboring of a highly anthropomorphic concept of God. God spoke to humans in ways that they could understand Him. It is profitable for God to speak of Himself in terms that his human creatures can understand, but it is dangerous for humans to limit God by ascribing human attributes to Him that He does not possess. Not only do we have the problem of translating Ancient Hebrew into our modern languages, but we have the challenge of avoiding the error of finding anthropomorphic statements in Scripture and throwing them back at Him under conditions that do not apply. God can CEASE but He cannot REST because He never becomes weary. Therefore, there are limitations to how far one can take God’s analogy between the ceasing on the 7th day of Creation and the Sabbath rest of the 4th commandment. Kerry Wynne provides the following illustration of the limitations of anthropomorphic analogies:
My wife and I have a little Cockatiel. When Sunny the Cockatiel gets on top of a chair, he thinks he’s king of the roost. If anyone walks by him, he spreads out his wings and flaps them at the “challenger.” Sometimes I show him that I am the alpha bird by putting my arms at my side and flapping my elbows at him. He acknowledges my challenge by flapping his wings at me with even greater force. I have gotten down to the bird’s level of communication, but I am not an “Alpha Bird”, and I don’t have real wings any more than God needed to repose after creating Planet Earth.
Please note that, as conceded by our quoted linguistic expert, his argument against this key word meaning, “repose,” is based not on word usage, but on its etymology, and therefore is subject to some question. For this reason we do not claim that this argument settles the case against proof-texting the Sabbath back into Genesis was Exodus 20 by itself. We present it as one of a set of arguments from the Hebrew linguistics of Genesis 2, Exodus 16, and Exodus 20 that all work together to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Sabbath ordinance is not to be found in Genesis.
COTTO: THE FACT THAT GOD GAVE THE SABBATH FROM MT. SINAI WITH THUNDERINGS AND LIGHTENINGS SHOULD BE ENOUGH EVIDENCE FOR ANYONE THAT CHRISTIANS MUST KEEP THE SABBATH. THIS IS SO EASY TO UNDERSTAND THAT EVEN A CHILD CAN GRASP IT. He quotes Psalm 119:89: “For Ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”
Cotto again resorts to a logical fallacy; a “Non Sequitur” if you will. It is quite a leap here to conclude from the thunderings and lightenings of this event in turn signaled God’s requirement of these commandments as binding on all mankind, but it is common for falsehoods to be propagated in this fashion. As William Hohmann observes, Cotto’s conclusion also ignores the context leading up to this momentous event, where God said it was all for the purpose of insuring the people believed and followed Moses! Do we believe God, or Cotto?
God's children, the Jews, have always understood that the Sabbath was given as a sign to set them apart from every other nation. They were a very stubborn, idolatrous people devoid of the spirit of God and had been immersed in a heathen culture for hundreds of years. As a people, the Children of Israel came directly out of heathenism even as when God directly intervened and called Abraham to learn about the Real God. A good show of power and fireworks was just what they needed. Down through time our Jewish brethren deserve credit, however, for being able to take into account not only what God said, but to whom He said it– as well as to consider the context of time, place, and circumstances of the occasion—to figure out that the Gentiles were not a party to Sabbath observance. The other nations of the world were accountable to the Law of the spirit; intent of heart or conscience:
Romans 2:14-15 - For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.
Once an expert in the law wanted Jesus to tell him what he must do to have eternal life. Jesus questioned him as to what was written in the law and how he read it. He responded saying to love the Lord with all your heart, strength, and soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus then told him to "do this and live."
Luke 10:25 - 28 (NIV) 25On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
If the Jews had been willing to obey these two commands God would not needed to give them even the Ten Commandments. Even having the Ten Commandments, the Old Covenant Jews broke all Ten throughout their history. They did not have the “heart” to follow God.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever! – Deuteronomy 5:29
COTTO: PROOF THAT THE SABBATH IS IN GENESIS IS FOUND IN THE FACT THAT GOD BOTH BLESSED AND SANCTIFIED THE 7TH DAY OF CREATION WEEK. IN FACT, GOD KEPT THE 7TH DAY OF CREATION WEEK AS THE FIRST SABBATH BECAUSE HE STOPPED THE SECULAR WORK OF CREATING THE WORLD AND PERFORMED SPIRITUAL WORK ON THE FIRST 7TH DAY IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.
God is a Spirit. Everything He does would seem to be “spiritual.” This distinction is embarrassingly anthropomorphic. Cotto implies that God was forced by His own new “rule” to keep His own Sabbath. An Omnipotent God who can do anything can't work on the Sabbath. If you follow what we have learned about the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “rest” in Genesis 2, you will recall that the word is in its verb form means “ceased.” Moses identified the 7th day as the day that separated God's period of creative activity from His subsequent inactivity in that regard.
We must keep in mind two key points about what Moses said in reference to this 7th day of Creation week: (1) He is telling his readers about what God did– not what Man should do. It was His celebration. (2) He left off the suffix phrase, "and the evening and the morning were the 7th day," after his account of the events of the 7th day. Cotto says that this omission is compensated for in other ways, but his argument is invalid. We Anti-Sabbatarians thank him for admitting that the non-inclusion of this meaning suffix is a serious danger to his position, but we can’t “compensate” him in this regard. The blessing and hallowing does not substitute for the absence of the “evening and morning” suffix.
As we have discussed a number of times previously, the absence or presence of this after-clause (suffix) is a specific Hebrew literary modifier, and its absence or presence after a day, or yom, is designed to indicate whether its attributes are restricted to its boundaries or whether license exists to extend the implications of those events beyond it. There is no comparable meaning indicator in the English language because the two languages have fundamentally different structures. The blessing and hallowing of this one 24-hour period of time has, by the use of this literary device, been indicated to have no boundaries. The memory of these attributes—not the day itself– continue forever. Because these attributes are already there, and will always be there, they cannot be specially placed or transferred to a 7-day interval thereafter, or to any other interval, or at ANY other time thereafter. The blessing and hallowing of that particular day is a “done deal.” In no way does this concept imply that God did not cease his creative activities on the literal 24-hour period of the 7th day of Creation, or the possibility that he rested in a literal way by celebrating the completion of His work with Adam and Eve.
The author of Genesis knew that his readers would not question the idea that God spent less than 24 literal hours refraining from creative activity, but he seemed to have “worried” that some of them might try to turn his story of one celebration day into an unlimited number of them. The Holy Spirit led the writer of Genesis to go out of his way to clarify this point. Sabbatarians represent a small minority of Christians who have chosen not to get this point.
COTTO: THE FACT THAT GOD BLESSED THE SABBATH DAY IN GENESIS 2 PROVES THAT THE SABBATH LASTS FOREVER BECAUSE THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT WHATEVER THE LORD BLESSES IS BLESSED FOREVER.
He then quotes a number of proof-texts to support this concept, including I Chronicles 17:27.)
God blessed Judas Iscariot in many ways when he was in the presence of Jesus. Just getting to be with Jesus—the Creator of the Universe—was a blessing, but the blessing did not last very long.
Adventists should be especially familiar with the fact that Bible writers often used the term “forever” in relative ways. For example, they seem to understand this fact when it comes to how they handle what they want the Bible to say about Hell fire lasting “forever.” They teach that the Hebrew word in these cases translated "forever" means something like “to keep going until the process reaches its completion.” Adventists do not want to believe that the wicked spend eternity in an unpleasant place because their critically important Doctrine of the Investigative Judgment would not work. There are a number of examples of the relativity of “forever” in Hebrew usage.
Meredith G. Kline discovered that the Mosaic Covenant was modeled after the covenant treaties of Israel’s neighbors. The language of these covenants featured pronouncements that their provisions would last “forever”, but these "forever" provisions were subject to revision as future circumstances would dictate. Quoting Kline, A. T. Lincoln, cited in the D.A. Carson (editor), From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, in his chapter entitled, “From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: a Biblical Perspective,” pp. 352-353:
Kline has pointed out similarities in this aspect of permanence between ancient near eastern treaties and the biblical covenants. Such treaties often spoke of their term as being valid down through following generations “forever,” and yet these treaties were subject to the revision of the suzerain because of changing circumstances. Kline points out that the biblical covenants and these various aspects can similarly be said to be “forever” and yet subject to change according to God’s sovereign purposes in accomplishing redemption in the midst of the historical process. In later Judaism, with the increasing emphasis on Torah, any such notion of change was lost sight of and the law was held to be permanent and eternal, continuing into the age to come. But as part of the Mosaic covenant, and like the elements of the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the offerings, the Sabbath itself can be seen to be eternal and to have continuing validity through the fulfillment of the type. In particular, in Hebrews 4, the resting place of the land and the physical rest of the Sabbath are seen to be types of God’s eternal rest from the beginning.
COTTO: EVEN AFTER THE ENTRANCE OF SIN, THE SABBATH REMAINED BLESSED.
AUTHORS: This is another logical fallacy– circular reasoning– because it assumes that there was a Sabbath in existence at the time of Creation to be blessed. We have PROOF from Hebrew linguistics that the Sabbath did not exist until the Exodus. We have EVIDENCE from Exodus 20 that this is the case, and we have the suggestion from the text of Genesis 2:2-3 that there is no Sabbath mentioned therein. The Abrahamic Covenant did not include it, and the Sabbath was not kept until the 38th day of the Exodus journey. The Abrahamic Covenant was limited to circumcision and the promise that if his descendants were faithful to God, they would possess the Land of Canaan forever. Even after the Sabbath ordinance was placed in the Mosaic Covenant, it remained subject to and dependent upon the observance of the Ordinance of Circumcision. The Law of Moses is a fully integrated whole. If you break one of the laws, you have broken them all. If for no other reason than this, there can be no Sabbath-keeping without circumcision. The Law of Moses contains 613 laws that many Jewish scholars view as fully equal in importance. Textual studies of both the Old Testament and New Testament prove the subordination of the Sabbath to the ordinance of circumcision– a fact which is one of the three key fatal flaws of the Sabbatarian belief model.
COTTO: ANOTHER CONNECTION BETWEEN THE SEVENTH-DAY OF GENESIS AND THE SABBATH COMMANDMENT OF EXODUS 20 IS THAT MOSES SAID IT WAS THE 7TH DAY THAT THE LORD “BLESSED” BECAUSE HE HAD RESTED ON THAT DAY. HOW IS IT THAT THE ANTI-SABBATARIANS CONTINUE TO SAY THAT THE SABBATH OF THE 10 COMMANDMENTS IS NOT THE 7TH DAY “SABBATH” OF CREATION WEEK WHEN THE WORD OF GOD ITSELF SHOWS THAT THE BLESSING OF THE 7TH DAY OF CREATION WEEK ENDURED TILL THE SABBATH COMMANDMENT WAS GIVEN? AS I HAVE POINTED OUT BEFORE, I CHRONICLES 17:24 SAYS THAT WHAT THE LORD BLESSES IS BLESSED FOREVER.
Cotto is still working from the false premise that every seventh day from Creation Week was a blessed Sabbath day. He now claims, based on this premise, that whatever God blesses remains blessed forever. There is no Bible text that says this. Cotto is implying this from the text:
Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified forever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee. 25For thou, O my God, hast told thy servant that thou wilt build him an house: therefore thy servant hath found in his heart to pray before thee. 26And now, LORD, thou art God, and hast promised this goodness unto thy servant: 27Now therefore let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant-- that it may be before thee forever: for thou blessest, O LORD, and it shall be blessed forever. – 1 Chronicles 17:24-26
The blessing “forever” is a request in this prayer. We can ask the logical question that comes from this; in what way or manner was this house blessed “forever”? If it were blessed forever, would it not still be standing?
Cotto must find a credible biblical principle that indirectly supports his desired view. He goes to an unrelated text to acquire a general principle that he hopes will provide this INDIRECT support. The indirect support he attempts to use is the illogical principle that everything God blesses is blessed forever. For example, after the flood God blessed Noah and his three sons. Ham saw Noah's nakedness while he was sleeping off being drunk with wine. Noah cursed Ham to be the slave to his brothers. Obviously Ham was not blessed by God forever unless being a slave to your brothers is a blessing!
Gen 9:24 - 27 (NIV) 24When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” 26He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. 27May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.”
Cotto faces two barriers with his claim. First, as we have noted earlier, Moses’ purposeful non-inclusion of the phrase, “and the evening and the morning” after the 7th day, serves to give this one day attributes that were to be remembered (memorialized) forever. Second, Exodus 20 clarifies that the Sabbath commandment was only a model of Creation week. A model is not the thing itself. Even as a model, the Sabbath ordinance was not a full representation of the days of Creation Week. Genesis 2 says God simply ceased or stopped creating. Man could not create. God had worked/created for six days before the 7th day. Adam and Eve could only “work”, if at all, a small part of the week– perhaps not even a full day– but the 4th Commandment requires a full six days of work before any resting is permitted. Therefore, Adam and Eve could not have kept the Sabbath even if there had been one to keep.
Two different things got blessed between Genesis 2 and Exodus 20: (1) In Genesis 2 a single day to be remembered forever. In this regard, that seventh day was indeed blessed forever. (2) In Exodus 20, a “cultic” ordinance given by God to Israel, modeled after the structure of the days of Creation, designed to set them apart from every other nation on the face of the Earth. (The possible use of the literary principle of PROLEPSIS suggests that this seventh day may not even have been blessed until the 10 Commandments were given at Mt. Sinai.)
The concept that the Sabbath commandment is a MODEL is the key to understanding the relationship between Creation week and the Sabbath commandment. Moses used several Hebrew literary conventions in Exodus 20 to clarify that the Sabbath ordinance was a MODEL of the days of Creation. A.T. Lincoln, the author of Chapter 12, “From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: A Biblical and Theological Perspective,” of D.A. Carson’s book, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day, page 349, comments on the linguistic aspects of Moses’ account of the 4th Commandment in Exodus 20:
The last clause of Exodus 20:11 gives the reason for the Mosaic institution and takes up the terminology of blessing and hallowing from Genesis 2:2-3, now specifically applying these terms to the “Sabbath” rather than the seventh-day, and is not to be taken as implying that the seventh day of Genesis 2:3 was already the Sabbath set aside by God for humanity. As H.H.P. Dressler points out, the present commandment is based on a previous event, and the significance of the Hebrew construction translated as “therefore,” עַל כֵּן, is crucial to this interpretation, as it often functions to connect causally an event in the past with a situation some time later. [See first also R. Frankena,“Einige Bemerkungen zum Gebrauch des Adverbs ‘al-ken im Hebraisehen,” Studio Biblica et Semitica (Wageningen, 1966, pp. 94-99)] In fact scholars often speak of an “etiology” when a present name or practice is explained on the basis of a previous event or story, and עַל כֵּן is one of the markers by which an etiology is recognized. Exodus 20:11 indeed contains in addition to this introductory formula a further feature typical of an etiology—the word play between “the seventh day” and “the Sabbath day.” Such etiological passages, after the introductory “therefore” or “consequently now,” can have the verb in the past tense without implying a strictly past meaning. The presence of the features in Exodus 20:11 suggest that it too is to be seen as providing an explanation of a present institution, the Mosaic Sabbath, by reference to a past event, God’s seventh-day rest after the creation, utilizing the terminology of Genesis 2:3 and a play on words to make its point.
Again, note that one source renders the Hebrew characters from right to left and the other from left to right. You will need to scroll down to the beginning of the next page since the image will not fit on the bottom of this page. It seems that the Hebrew characters are like a combination of two Hebrew words which would be literally translated “ON-SO:” Strong’s #H5921 (used as a preposition (in the singular or plural, often with prefix, or as conjugation with a particle following); above, over, upon, or against (yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect) in a great variety of applications:—above, according to (-ly), after, (as) against, among, and, X as, at, because of, beside (the rest of), between, beyond the time, X both and, by (reason of), X had the charge of, concerning for, in (that), (forth, out) of, (from) (off), (up-) on, over, than, through (-out), to, touching, X with.), and Strong’s #H3651 (From H3559; properly set upright; hence (figuratively as adjective) just; but usually (as adverb or conjugation) rightly or so (in various applications to manner, time and relation; often with other particles):— + after that (this, -ward, -wards), as . . . as, + [for-] asmuch as yet, + be (for which) cause, + following, howbeit, in (the) like (manner, -wise), X the more, right, (even) so, state, straightway, such (thing), surely, + there (where) -fore, this, thus, true, well, X you.) [Emphasis from the author, credit to Strong’s.]:
The Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible posted at www.Scripture4All.org translates Exodus 20:11 literally to indicate that God commanded the Hebrews to rest on the Sabbath because He stopped on the 7th day of Creation:
All of which in them and·he-is-stopping in·the·day the·seventh on so He blessed Yahweh.
Exodus 20, therefore, does not provide any definite support for the claim that God actually reposed on the 7th day of Creation. God also told Israel to rest on the Sabbath to help them remember that He had rescued them from slavery. The Jews were required to rest every 7th day as much to help them remember their Exodus from Egypt as to remember that God stopped creating on the last day of Creation. Unless we are presumptuous enough to step into God’s place and determine which reason was the most important for keeping the Sabbath, we must regard both reasons as equally important. Christians, therefore, cannot remember the Sabbath for one of these reasons, so Sabbath-keeping cannot possibly apply to them.
In summary, Genesis 20 utilizes four aspects of the Ancient Hebrew language to clarify that the Sabbath commandment was merely modeled after Creation Week: (1) the word translated, “therefore," indicates that something in the present is about the be explained by something that happened in the past, (2) the explanation of a present event is accomplished by comparing it with an older event, and (3) the word play between the “seventh-day of Creation Week and the “Sabbath day” of the 4th commandment, which gives further evidence that an etiological explanation has just taken place. (4) As discussed in an earlier section, the form of the word translated "rest" is an irregular form of the verb, which is more closely related to the concept of CEASING rather than that of repose.
BRENDAN KNUDSON OBJECTIONS TO THE HEBREW LINGUISTICS
THAT LINK GENESIS 2 WITH EXODUS 20 AS A MODEL
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: In regard to the “etiology” argument, note that the Hebrew word translated “therefore” is used 746 times in the Old Testament and is a variety of functions. No Hebrew grammar or lexicon I could find mentioned any etiological uses. Until additional evidence is supplied for this assertion, it should be treated as a convenient fabrication.
AUTHORS: In order for the word, “therefore,” to signal an etiology, it has to come between something like an older thing that a newer thing that it is being compared to. The combination of the word, “therefore,” with the fact that it comes between something that could serve as a model and something that could be modeled after it is what provides the word, “therefore,” in this case with the ability to create an etiology. Brendan boldly discards the opinion of four highly regarded biblical scholars, whom A.T. Lincoln cites. Lincoln himself is an excellent biblical scholar.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Moses used the same word to say that God MADE the 7th day that he used to say that God MADE the things He made on each of the previous six days of Creation Week.
AUTHORS: What God made was a boundary day that separated the days of His creating Planet Earth from the days after it in which He would not be creating it any more. He made this one 24-hour period of time a day to be remembered forever as the day when the creation of Planet Earth was finished. By the absence of the evening and morning suffix after the account of the events of the 7th day, God imbued it with the unbounded qualities of being blessed and set aside as a memorial to be remembered forever. Once this one day has been blessed forever, it cannot be blessed again. Once it has been set aside to be remembered forever, it cannot be set aside again. Nothing is said about the memorialization of this one day repeating itself every seven days thereafter. At Mt. Sinai, God used the 7th day of Creation as a MODEL from which He designed a cultic ceremony, called the Sabbath, to help Israel remember Creation and the rescue from Egypt.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Because the noun, Sabbath, is not explicitly in Genesis 2 does not mean that it isn’t there. It is not imperative that it be there because it is represented by the verbal form of the word.
AUTHORS: There are several reasons why the absence of the noun, Sabbath, is a problem for Sabbatarians. The Sabbath is a formal Hebrew cultic ritual with a specific set of rules and regulations. The Hebrew word means cessation of activity or rest. At its most favorable-to-Sabbatarian rendering, it can mean no more than generic rest. The Sabbatarian is obligated to demonstrate that there IS a Sabbath in Genesis 2. If God states that something is blessed forever, we should cautiously believe that it is blessed forever, considering context and other relevant factors. Israel was promised God’s blessings only for as long as it was faithful to Him, but those blessings stopped when they crucified Jesus. Similarly, the Sabbath, since it was a sign of the 10 Commandment covenant between Israel and God, could not be blessed after Israel killed the other Party to the contract, just like God cannot continue to bless a marriage after the wife murders her husband.
In this debate the Anti-Sabbatarian needs only demonstrate that the Sabbath is NOT there. The presence of the cultic Sabbath ritual is not created by the mere telling of the story of how God stopped creating on the 7th day and set it aside to be remembered forever.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: Because the author of Genesis had a choice of either the noun form of the word or the verb form of the word, and he chose to use the verbal form, this statement of action through it is not only sufficient to stand in the place of the noun form of the word, but it confirms that the author was clarifying that God RESTED on this day, rather than merely CEASED on it.
AUTHORS: What rule of linguistics, English or Ancient Hebrew, enables a verb to “stand” in the place of a noun and mean the same thing as the noun? Think of the sentence, “I will gun you down.” The assailant might not have a gun at all. He might be using a water pistol or water cannon. A verb cannot reliably stand in the place of its associated noun. Recall from our Hebrew definitions from Brown-Driver-Briggs that REST is an alternate reading of a “secondary” meaning of this word. It is labeled “God’s rest” through context—not from its root meaning—since the context of the statement is labeled as being an action of God. The Qal primary meaning is CEASED:
Qal 27 Perfect3masculine singular ׳שׁ Genesis 2:3 +; 3 plural שָׁבָ֑תוּ Lamentations 5:14, etc.; Imperfect3masculine singular יִשְׁבּוֺת Hosea 7:4; יִשְׁבֹּת Proverbs 22:10 2t.; 3 feminine singular תִּשְׁבֹּת Leviticus 26:35; תִּשְׁבַּת Leviticus 26:34; Nehemiah 6:3 +, etc.; —
1 cease: (absolute 13 t.) of seasons Genesis 8:22 (J); manna Joshua 5:12 (P), etc., Isaiah 14:4 (twice in verse); Nehemiah 6:3 +; with מִן Hosea 7:4 3t. [Ed. Note: First, original meaning of the Qal form.]
2 desist from labour, rest: [Ed. Note: Second meaning of the Qal form.]
with מִן (of God) Genesis 2:2,3(P). [Ed. Note: The ceasing of God.]
The noun, "Sabbath," is the term for a cultic ritual characterized by a cycle of six days of work followed by one day of rest. The penalty for violation of this cultic ritual is death. Brendan is doing what every other Sabbatarian attempts to do, and that is to take a ritual that was given to Israel at the time of the Exodus and assumes it back into Genesis.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: We have proof from Exodus 20 that the writer of Genesis 2 intended to mean REST (that God rested on the 7th day of Creation) because the writer of Exodus quotes God using a very different word—nuach—to indicate that He had rested [or literally reposed] on the 7th day of Creation week. The word, nuach, does not have a wide enough meaning range to be extended to indicate STOPPING or CEASING. Instead, its Qal stem meanings include “to repose,” “to remain,” “to settle down,” and “to be quiet.” This fact deals a final blow to Anti-Sabbatarians who claim that the writer of Genesis 2 intended merely to say that God STOPPED or CEASED on the 7th day.
AUTHORS: A significant number of authorities disagree with Brendan. We have touched on this subject a little so far. Note that The Hebrew-Interlinear Bible at Scripture 4 All translates Exodus 20:11 word equivalent as follows:
That six of days he-made Yahweh the heavens and the earth the sea and all of which in them he-is-stopping in the day of the seventh on so he blessed Yahweh.
One possible reason why the secondary reading of CEASE is be preferred by some scholars is that this word is of Late Hebrew derivation. The “original” text of Exodus 20 is in Ancient Hebrew. While this question can only be settled by a scholar who is truly an expert in Ancient Hebrew, we present this possibility for your consideration. Notice this entry from Brown-Driver-Briggs for Strong’s Hebrew word #5117, which can be located at: http://biblesuite.com/hebrew/5117.htm:
נוּחַ verb rest (Late Hebrew id.; Aramaic נוּחַ, ; Phoenician נחת noun rest; possibly also verb ינח (Iph. Perfect), compare Levy cited CISi. 118 Lzb322; Assyrian nâhu, rest (inûh), and derivatives; Ethiopic: be extended, long, rarely rest; Arabic IV. is make camel lie down on his breast; resting-place of camel, compare DoughtyArab. Des. i, 397, ii, 63, 486, 642);
Elsewhere we provided two other sources which prefer the stopping/ceasing meaning to the repose meaning. The fact that several expert sources prefer the stopping/ceasing meaning suggests that there may be textual indicators that have led them to prefer the secondary meaning over the primary meaning in this context. Again whether God actually rested on the 7th day of Creation is not a pivotal issue because the Genesis passage in question tells us about what God did. As called to your attention so many times before, it does not even tell us that Adam and Eve rested with God or that they were supposed to do so on subsequent multiples of 7 days. Furthermore, God gave the Sun and Moon to help humans keep track of time. If there had been a Sabbath for them to keep, it would most likely have been kept according to the lunar calendar. All Sabbatarians except for Lunar Sabbatarians would be keeping the wrong day by now, and would have no clue which day was an exact multiple of seven days to the 7th day of Creation.
APOLOGIST BRENDAN: We note a number of identical key terms when we compare the wording of Genesis 2:1-4 with that of Exodus 20:8-11. Why, then, did God break this pattern of using identical terms and use nuah in Exodus 20 instead of sabbat like He did in Genesis 2:2-3? If God had used the verb sabat in Exodus 20, He would have created a more natural link, via comparison, to the sabat in Genesis 2. However, by using the word nuach He made certain that the proper name for the Day in Exodus would be linked to His action in Genesis 2.
AUTHORS: There is a link between these terms, but it is not the kind of link Brendan needs. It links a model (the Sabbath commandment of Exodus 20) with the real thing (the 7 days of Creation). Since there are four textual concepts in Exodus 20 that provide solid evidence (but not absolute proof) that the cultic ordinance of the Sabbath commandment is merely MODELED after the pattern of Creation Week, the existence of a link from the proper name of the cultic ordinance—Sabbath—to God’s action of stopping/ceasing, or even “resting,” in Genesis 2 is reasonable. However, this link gets Sabbatarians nowhere because a verb cannot stand in place of its associated noun without assumptions that may or may not be warranted.
COTTO: IF THE SABBATH IS A TEMPORARY INSTITUTION, WHY DID GOD BLESS IT [THE SABBATH] TWICE-- ONCE AT CREATION AND THEN AGAIN AT MT. SINAI?
Again, circular reasoning! He didn’t. There was no Sabbath to bless until the Exodus, and God blessed it then, for the duration of the Old Covenant only.
AUTHORS: Consideration of the writer’s possible use of the literary device of prolepsis suggests that it might be that the 7th day of Creation was not even blessed or sanctified on the actual 7th day of Creation– that the author of Genesis 2:2-3 was looking at it from the perspective of when it was blessed at Mt. Sinai as he recalled his knowledge of both events. In any case, the blessing and hallowing were applied to one single day. By their very nature, these attributes would continue forever without boundaries. Once blessed by God FOREVER, always blessed by God forever. Once set aside to be remembered, always set aside to be remembered. It is impossible to add these qualities to any day subsequent to it any more than a Hebrew birthright can be bestowed on the same eldest son every week by holding a self-invented ritual that Hebrew society had not mandated.
At Creation, one single day was blessed and set aside to be remembered forever. At Mt. Sinai, a cultic ritual was established, based on the days of Creation as its model, and multiples of seven days were set aside and blessed.
COTTO: THE FACT THAT GOD BLESSED THE SABBATH IS SUFFICIENT TO PROVE IT LASTS FOREVER.
AUTHORS: We covered this one before. Don’t be ridiculous. However, it is interesting to note how incomplete the Ten Commandments are. It does not tell us it is a sin to abuse your wife or children, to own slaves, lose the family money gambling, not caring for the family needs, not helping people in dire need, kidnap people and hold them hostage, lie to others, hate those you do not agree with, drunkenness, gluttony, immodest dress, and the list can go on. Jesus gave a whole set of new “laws” on the Sermon on the Mount, and St. Paul listed 23 sins that would keep a believer out of Heaven. The 10 Commandments were not complete or flexible enough to meet the needs of His people forever.
COTTO: THE FACT THAT GOD SANCTIFIED THE 7TH DAY OF CREATION INDICATES THAT IT WAS SET ASIDE FOR SACRED SERVICES, WHICH REPRESENTS STILL MORE EVIDENCE THAT THE SABBATH ORDINANCE BEGAN AT CREATION. “THE REASON WHY HE BLESSED THE SEVENTH DAY BUT DID NOT BLESS THE PREVIOUS SIX DAYS WAS BECAUSE HE HAD A SPECIAL PURPOSE FOR THE SEVENTH-DAY, AS WILL NOW BE SEEN BY HIS USE OF THE WORD, “SANCTIFIED."
AUTHORS: To follow is a Hebrew word study that demonstrates conclusively that the Hebrew word here for “set aside” cannot mean “set aside for sacred services.” The special purpose is only in a manner of speaking. The day that God created Eve was infinitely more special than the 7th day by almost any standard, human or divine. The 7th day of Creation did not become the focus of attention until the giving of the Sabbath commandment at Mt. Sinai called attention to it as its model.
Now is a good time to review the mechanical translation of the passage once more. Notice, again, that the passage merely reports what God did. There is no mention of a Sabbath ordinance, much less any indication that God gave man an institution involving sacred services at this time. When God did give the Sabbath to Israel at the time of the Exodus, the sacred services associated with it included animal sacrifices and circumcision as specified in the Law of Moses. Note also that God never set aside a day for sacred services for his New Covenant believers:
GENESIS 2:2 AND 2:3
And He will much-FINISH (verb) Elohiym in the Day the SEVENTH BUSINESS-him WHICH he did DO (verb) and he will CEASE (verb) in the DAY the SEVENTH from ALL BUSINESS-him WHICH he did DO (verb).
And he will much KNEEL (verb) Elohiym AT DAY the SEVENTH and he will much SET APART (verb) AT him GIVEN THAT in-him he did CEASE (verb) from-ALL BUSINESS-him WHICH he did-FATTEN (verb—in the sense of “to fill up”) Elohiym to DO (verb).
You may recall that Cotto references the Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of the word, “sanctified,” noting that in English it can mean (a) made holy or consecrated, or (b) set apart for sacred services.
The word, "sanctified," came into the English language thousands of years after humans began having sacred services. The English meaning of the word, “to set aside for sacred services,” is only a secondary meaning of it, and would only likely have come into English usage as a result of the Judeo-Christian culture that English speaking peoples adopted after the spread the Gospel throughout Europe. Therefore, the English definition means nothing to us in our quest for the answer to the meaning of the Ancient Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:3.
You may recall that he cites the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions for the Hebrew word, qadash, which is translated as “sanctified,” to mean (a) to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate, to be set apart, be consecrated.
We can accept the meaning of “set aside for a holy purpose,” which is what consecration means, as long as we remember that what got consecrated was one single day. When the American astronauts returned safely from their mission to the Moon, there was a ticker-tape parade for them in New York City. That one and only day in the history of the United States was set aside to memorialize the great accomplishments of these brave men. It was likely the only parade ever given for them, and we don’t have parades to memorialize their accomplishments every week, or even every year.
Additionally he cites Strong’s Hebrew-Greek Concordance’ definition of the Hebrew word, qadash, as (a) a primitive root; to be (causatively make, pronounce, or observe as) clean.
As we mentioned before, Anti-Sabbatarians have no problem with this one day being made holy and set aside to be remembered forever.
Finally, recall that neither Brown-Driver-Briggs nor Strong’s reference defines Moses’ Hebrew word, qadash, as “to set apart for sacred services." Brown-Driver-Briggs lists the secondary meaning of one of the forms of the word, qadash, to mean “to observe as holy, keep sacred,” but you can see from a review of this reference that this form of the word was not the one used in Genesis 2. Even if it was, it is only the secondary meaning of this form of the word that can be used in reference to the keeping of other kinds of religious services.
observe as holy, keep sacred: feasts, Sabbath Exodus 20:8 = Deuteronomy 5:12 (Decal.), Jeremiah 17:22,24,27; Ezekiel 20:20; Ezekiel 44:24; Nehemiah 13:22; fast Joel 1:14; Joel 2:15; year of Jubilee Leviticus 25:10 (P); so עצרה לבעל 2 Kings 10:20. [Ed. Note: Observe once more than Genesis 2:2-3 is not listed for this form of the word, but Exodus 20:8 is.]
COTTO: THERE ARE SEVERAL OLD TESTAMENT TEXTS THAT SUPPORT THE IDEA THAT “SANCTIFY” MEANS TO SET ASIDE FOR A HOLY PURPOSE, OR EVEN “SET ASIDE FOR SACRED SERVICES.”
AUTHORS: As we review these texts, keep in mind that the Hebrew definitions of the word qadash allow for “set apart” or even “set aside for a holy purpose.” But not “set aside for religious services.” A linguistic analysis of Genesis 2:2-3 allows for reading the passage that this one, single day was set aside for a holy purpose, but it does not allow for the Sabbatarian-friendly reading that the day was set aside perpetually for recurring sacred services. Sabbatarians like the idea of the sacred services reading because such a reading would make it a little easier to extend the idea of days with intervals of seven from the 7th day of Creation being set aside for sacred services also.
TEXT #1: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (2) Sanctify [qadash] unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. ― Exodus 13:1-2
Cotto says, “Notice the word here is used in the context of sanctifying, or dedicating "all" the firstborn. It was announced by God that all the children be sanctified unto Him, and this demanded "all" the people to be involved, for they had to obey the Lord and bring in their children for dedication. All were to know that God was the owner of every firstborn, whether of man or beast.”
Unfortunately, qadash is merely used here to means only to “set apart.” The first born were to be set apart, but they were not set apart for ceremonial use. The first born had a special position in the family, but they were not required to serve in the Tabernacle for the remainder of their lives. They lived ordinary lives except that the first male child got the birthright inheritance– hardly an example of “holy use.” It is acceptable to render the meaning of qadash as set aside for holy use, but not as set aside for sacred services.
TEXT #2: And Jehu said, Proclaim [qadash] a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it. ― 2 Kings 10:20
Cotto says, “When used here in the context of proclaiming a solemn feast, "all" the Baal wor-shipers of Israel were to be informed of this event and to attend it.”
This is Cotto’s only observation about this text. What is his point? Both Sabbatarians and Anti-Sabbatarians agree that the 7th day of Creation Week was set apart from the others. By its very nature, it was different than the other days. It is clear, once again, that qadash fits its Hebrew meaning of simply “set aside.” The fact that the sentence conveys the idea that the day was set aside for a religious service is the result of the context in which the word was used and not a function of the specific meaning of the word, qadash, itself.
TEXT #3: And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify [qadash] me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. ― Numbers 20:12
Cotto comments further:
“According to this verse, Moses and Aaron were to sanctify God "in the eyes of the children of Israel." So we see that when the word "qadash" is used, it is to publicly announce or proclaim that something is set apart for holy use. All those involved were to be made aware of this announcement.
Again, it is okay to interpret qadash as to set aside for holy use. The above passage means that Moses and Aaron were to set God apart for receiving the honor and glory that was due to Him. We maintain that this word cannot mean “set aside for sacred services.”
TEXT #4: Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’” ― Exodus 19:23
A review of the Piel variation of the verb qadash is helpful in this case:
Pi`el – Perfect 3 masculine singular קִדַּשׁ Numbers 6:11; 1 Kings 8:64, etc.; Imperfect 3 masculine singular יְקַדֵּשׁ Genesis 2:3 +, etc.; Imperative masculine singular קַדֵּשׁ Joshua 7:13; קַדֶּשֿׁ Exodus 13:2, etc.; Infinitive construct קַדֵּשׁ Exodus 29:1 +, etc.; Participle מְקַדֵּשׁ Exodus 37:28; suffix מְקַדִּשְׁכֶם Exodus 31:13 +, etc.; — [Note Genesis 2:3 uses this variant of the Pi’el form, which means, “be consecrated, dedicated, by] 4
1. set apart as sacred, consecrate, dedicate:
a. places: Sinai Exodus 19:23 (J), alter, etc., Exodus 29:36,37; Exodus 30:29 (P), tabernacle, etc. Exodus 40:9,10,11; Leviticus 8:10,11,15; Numbers 7:1 (twice in verse) (P); tent of meeting Exodus 29:44 (P); place of sacrifice 1 Kings 8:64 2Chronicles 7:7; gate Nehemiah 3:1 (twice in verse); — Ezekiel 7:24 see מִקְדָּשׁ below.
Here, Cotto attempts to draw a parallel between the setting aside of Mt. Sinai and the so-called setting aside of the 7th day of Creation for the Sabbath ordinance. The comparison works much better between the setting aside of Mt. Sinai for a one-time sacred event and the setting aside of the 7th day of Creation for a one-time sacred event. In regard to the 7th day of Creation, one and only one day was set aside—not multiples of it.
In Exodus 19:23, the word qadash is used only to mean “set aside.” In fact, in the Hebrew sentence, the “setting aside,” represented by the pi’el form of qadash, acquires its specific meaning of, to be SET ASIDE for a holy purpose, by a Hebrew word that follows it, and that modifies it, and conveys the concept of holiness– u•qdshth•u. Therefore, in this case the word qadash is dependent on the CONTEXT of the sentence to acquire any meaning that extends beyond simply “set aside.” Our reference here is available at the following link to this passage in the Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible at Scripture4All:
COTTO: THE SIMILARITY OF THE HEBREW WORDS FOR “REST” IN GENESIS 2 AND EXODUS 20 PROVIDES EVIDENCE THAT THE WORD TRANSLATED “REST” IN GENESIS IMPLIES A SABBATH REST.
As we have pointed out previously, in Genesis 2, the word translated “rest” is the verb form of the word, and it likely does not mean “rest” in the form of repose. It simply means “cease” or “stop.” Also, as we have out-lined earlier, the form of the verb translated "rest" in Exodus 20 is the irregular form, which implies CEASING rather than REPOSE. Some authorities reject the idea that this passage in Exodus 20 means that God wanted the Israelites to rest on the Sabbath because He reposed on the 7th day of Creation.
What Cotto must do here, but cannot do, is to show that in Genesis 2:2-3, God told Adam and Eve to rest along with Him– impossible since the text does not even say that God Himself rested. Cotto comes up short again because the passage just says what God did. God had worked for six days, whereas Adam and Eve had existed and perhaps worked for one day. The 4th Commandment specifies that humans must work for six days, apparently just as God had worked for six days before He ceased working on the 7th day of Creation Week. Were the Sabbath commandment to have actually existed at the time of Creation, the six day work requirement would still have applied. There is no statement that Adam and Eve rested, ceased, or reposed on the 7th day of Creation as God did.
If there had been a Sabbath in Eden, and if God had rested on it, and if His resting had been intended as an example for man, the Hebrews would not have been directed by God to march across the desert without keeping every seventh-day as a Sabbath rest. If this were the case, God would have forced them to break a law that Sabbatarians claim represents an eternal, moral principle established at Creation.
Recall once more that in Exodus 20, the Ancient Hebrew word usually translated “rest” in the sense of repose can mean either to “cease” (as in stopping) OR “rest” (as in the sense of repose). Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible makes this comment about the nature of God’s “rest” in Exodus 20:11, and cites a text in Isaiah that points out that God never becomes weary:
and resteth the seventh day: which does not suppose labour, attended with weariness and fatigue; for the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary, Isaiah 40:28 nor ease and refreshment from it, but only a cessation from the works of creation, they being finished and completed, though not from the works of Providence, in which he is continually concerned: now this circumstance, before recorded in the history of the creation, is wisely improved to engage an attention to this command, and to the observation of it; there being an analogy between the one and the other, that as God worked six days, and, having done his work completely, ceased from it and rested, so it was fit and proper, that as the Israelites had six days allowed them to labour in, and do all their work, they should rest on the seventh, they and all that belonged to them, or had any connection with them:
God is making an analogy in anthropomorphic terms His people can understand. The reality of the matter is that God never wearies or needs rest. What He could do, as the Great I AM, was to cease creating, and that is exactly what He did. The multiple literary devices Moses used in Exodus 20 to clarify that the Sabbath commandment was merely modeled after the seven days of Creation suggest that Moses was comparing the two events loosely and that the preferred “reading” of the word is “ceased.” The Children of Israel were to cease their daily labors and rest on the Sabbath day.
It is okay when God chooses to speak to humans in anthropomorphic terms, but it is not okay for humans to impose anthropomorphic limitations on God.
COTTO: THE HEBREW WORD FOR “SANCTIFY” IN GENESIS 2 CAN HAVE THE MEANING, “TO KEEP OR OBSERVE THE SABBATH.” THIS IS ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE THAT WHEN GOD SANCTIFIED THE 7TH DAY OF CREATION, HE WAS INDICATING TO ADAM AND EVE HOW THEY WERE TO MAKE USE OF THAT HOLY DAY. "So while the Hebrew word "shabbath" is not found in Genesis, the Hebrew word "shabath" is, and its close connection and nearly same meaning is but more proof that a "Sabbath day" rest is what is intended in Genesis 2:1-3.”
We looked at this issue in a previous section. Cotto is attempting to use a secondary meaning of the word, and on top of that he twists it by trying to apply it specifically to Sabbath observance. The Hebrews used their word for “sanctify” in conjunction with other sacred days and events that were “observed.”
Secondary meanings evolve within a language as it develops a history. Eventually a word that meant “set aside for sacred use” would come to be associated with the term, Sabbath, but it is pure assumption to think that the word “Sabbath” became associated with this form of the word, “sanctify,” at any time prior to the Exodus. Proof– not just evidence– is found in Exodus 16 that there was no Sabbath prior to the giving of the Manna and the Exodus.
The first meaning of a word is always the earliest definition which was created by the earliest common use of the word. Here are the two definitions given for this Hebrew word by Brown-Driver, and Briggs. In this case, the word “shabbath” is in its “pi’el” form:
1) Set apart as sacred, consecrate, dedicate:
2) Observe as holy, keep sacred
Note that Strong’s does not list this secondary meaning for “shabbath” at all. Again, we have a problem with reading something back into Genesis 2 from later influences.
COTTO: THE FACT THAT THE LINGUISTIC SUFFIX, “THE EVENING AND THE MORNING,” IS MISSING FROM MOSES’ ACCOUNT OF THE EVENTS OF THE 7TH DAY DOES NOT INDICATE THAT SEVENTH DAY WAS MEANT TO CONTINUE FOREVER WITHOUT AN END. MOSES PUT THE MEANING OF THE EVENING AND MORNING INTO THIS PASSAGE IN TWO DIFFERENT WAYS, AND THIS PROVES THAT THE SABBATH REST TALKED ABOUT IN THIS PASSAGE DOESN’T SIMPLY MEAN ONLY THAT GOD’S REST WOULD LAST FOREVER LIKE THE ANTI-SABBATARIANS WOULD LIKE TO CLAIM: (1) “In other words, the phrase "evening and morning" and the word "sanctified" parallel each other, for both do the same thing. They "set apart." It would have been redundant for Moses to use the phrase, “evening and morning,” when this is already implied by his use of the word "sanctified." (2) The Hebrew word translated "day" is the Hebrew word "yom," and is "defined by evening and morning in Genesis 1," says Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew definition. If the combination of the "evening and morning" makes up the "yom" or day, take note, that this same word "yom" is also used in reference to the seventh day.”
The lack of the evening and morning suffix memorializes the memory of this one single day forever by giving it the attributes of blessing and hallowing that can have no boundaries. The actions described by the narrative took place within a 24 hour period of time, but the memory of the blessing and setting aside of that one day would last forever. Once this one day has been blessed and set aside, it doesn’t need a weekly cultic ritual to keep it blessed and set aside.
We thank Cotto for acknowledging that the problem of the missing “evening and the morning” suffix is dangerous to Sabbatarianism. He must convince us, therefore, that his effort to explain this problem away is credible, or he has lost the case. He has tacitly agreed to meet the Anti-Sabbatarians at this battle field and conceded that this territory is the key to winning the “war” over the question of whether there is a Sabbath in Genesis.
As we reviewed earlier, the Hebrew word translated as “sanctify” can mean “set apart,” but not “set apart for sacred services.” Therefore, the recognition that one 24-hour period of time in the history of Planet Earth included the concrete action of God setting down His creative “wand” and walking away from it, and kneeling down briefly on the day, does not imply the imposition of a weekly Sabbath ritual by any stretch of the prudent imagination. God’s assignment of unlimited blessing and the reservation of this one 24-hour period of time in the history of Planet Earth to be memorialized without boundaries prevents the possibility that this blessing and setting aside could be applied to any future date in the future, whether an exact interval of the 7th day of Creation or not. Even if the Hebrew word for “set aside” could have the meaning of “set aside for sacred services,” which would indicate that there was a sacred service on the 7th day of Creation, no linguistic justification would exist for reading it to mean that there were to be religious services every seventh day thereafter.
Cotto emphasizes that the Hebrew word, “yom,” is used in conjunction with a description of all the seven days of Creation since he is focused on demonstrating that the 7th day did not last forever. However, the word “yom” functions as a separator to differentiate 24 hour periods of time from one another. The non-inclusion of the suffix, “the evening and the morning” after the 7th day, does not function as a separator of 24-hour periods of time. Rather, it specifies that this time period of 24-hours has the abstract attributes of being blessed and set aside to be remembered forever and without boundaries. In doing so, it prevents the specific application of these attributes to any day beyond its 24-hour boundaries, whether recurring or not.
COTTO: ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CREATION; GOD CREATED THE SUN; MOON; AND STARS SO THAT MAN WOULD BE ABLE TO READ "DAYS:" GOD SAID IN GENESIS 1:14, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divine the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years."
“After man sinned, these time-telling elements did not cease to exist. If therefore they were established to tell "time" and "days," and their existence continued on through the creation of man until today, then obviously the Bible does not really have to mention "days" after man sinned, for the existence of "days" is already implied through the testimony of these elements. This shows that the seventh day could not possibly have been created to be an unending day of rest, and therefore must have always been a 24-hour day, for these heavenly elements, which were created to read "days," existed even while Adam was in perfect harmony with his Creator.”
Of course this celebration day was limited to 24-hours. It was the memory of its special significance that lasts forever.
William Hohmann points out that the author of Genesis explains what a day consists of as an EVENING and a morning, the evening listed first, which suggests that the movement of the moon, best visible at night, was used to indicate the starting boundary for each day.
We have examined the subject of the lunar calendar earlier in this book. We will expand on the subject now. Let us review the New International Version's translation of Moses’ account of the events of the fourth day of Creation:
14And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
The Hebrew word translated “as signs to mark sacred times” is “mow’ed,” Strong’s word #4150, which means an appointed place, time, or meeting. It would seem that if the Sabbath had been given to Adam and Eve, such a “sacred time” would have been synchronized to the Moon.
Once again by way of review, God gave the Sabbath to Israel from the Mountain of the Moon which borders the Wilderness of the Moon. The Semitic word for moon is “sin,” so both the wilderness and the mountain were named after the Moon. Here is the history of the word's derivation from the Wikipedia article on “Sin (Mythology). It is interesting to note that the association between the word “sin” and the moon originated in the Land of Ur, the place where Abraham was dwelling when God called him to be the father of His special people. It is also significant to note that one of the Hebrew words for “moon” is equivalent to the word “sin”:
The original meaning of the name Nanna is unknown. The earliest spelling found in Ur and Uruk is DHYPERLINK "file://vhadayclu4/wiki/Liste_der_archaischen_Keilschriftzeichen"LAK-32.NA (where NA is to be understood as a phonetic complement). The name of Ur, spelled LAK-32.UNUGKI=URIM2KI, is itself derived from the theonym, and means "the abode (UNUG) of Nanna (LAK-32)".
The pre-classical sign LAK-32 later collapses with ŠEŠ (the ideogram for "brother"), and the classical Sumerian spelling is DŠEŠ.KI, with the phonetic reading na-an-na. The technical term for the crescent moon could also refer to the deity, DU4.SAKAR. Later, the name is spelled logographically as DNANNA.
The Semitic moon god Su'en/Sin is in origin a separate deity from Sumerian Nanna, but from the Akkadian Empire period the two undergo syncretization and are identified. The occasional Assyrian spelling of DNANNA-ar DSu'en-e is due to association with Akkadian na-an-na-ru "illuminator, lamp", an epitheton of the moon god. The name of the Assyrian moon god Su'en/Sîn is usually spelled as DEN.ZU, or simply with the numeral 30, DXXX.
He is commonly designated as En-zu, which means "lord of wisdom". During the period (c.2600-2400 BC) that Ur exercised a large measure of supremacy over the Euphrates valley, Sin was naturally regarded as the head of the pantheon. It is to this period that we must trace such designations of Sin as "father of the gods", "chief of the gods", "creator of all things", and the like. The "wisdom" personified by the moon-god is likewise an expression of the science of astronomy or the practice of astrology, in which the observation of the moon's phases is an important factor.
Nomadic people, like the Children of Abraham, before migrating to Egypt would have had no other way to keep track of time than the Moon and solar year. It seems unreasonable to think that nomadic people would have the ability over thousands of years to keep track of an exact 7-day interval to the 7th day of Creation, although this is a remote possibility. Is it possible that God synchronized the Jewish Sabbath to the Moon as a way of giving Israel something they could relate to as part of their culture? Israel’s neighbors kept track of time with lunar calendars, so far as we can tell. It would seem that virtually all ancient cultures did. If this is the case, it was similar to how God modeled the 10 Commandments after the treaties that were common to neighboring countries, by putting a ceremonial law in the middle of the operational laws.
Lunar Sabbatarians claim that there are 72 instances in Scripture where it can be reasonably deduced from near-by time indicators that these Sabbaths occurred on one of the fixed days of the lunar month upon which the lunar Sabbath days would fall. We could not verify the accuracy of this claim and remain skeptical of its reasonableness. However, as we mentioned before, the most respected Jewish authority, the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), states that the Hebrews used a lunar calendar for the largest part of their early history. The scholarly respect it enjoys adds credibility to its position that Israel most likely determined its weekly Sabbath days by the lunar calendar. A later Jewish encyclopedia, The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (1943), strongly supports the fact that Israel determined its Sabbaths according to the lunar calendar until sometime after the building of the Second Temple. Additionally, these encyclopedia articles provide a number of Old Testament texts that provide evidence that Israel kept its Sabbaths according to a variable lunar calendar. These texts will be presented as parts of quotes from those encyclopedia articles. At the same time, just like unauthorized Catholic officials have claimed in error that the Mother Church changed the Sabbath by ecclesiastical authority alone, so it is possible the find Jewish authorities who mistakenly claim that Israel always used a fixed calendar to determine its Sabbath days as a result of a lack of proper research and knowledge. Robert K. Sanders observes that one Catholic apologist he has communicated with had this to say when asked the name of the Pope that changed the Sabbath to Sunday. He said, "If the Sabbath was changed to Sunday it would have had to have been Peter as he is the first pope." Robert Sanders observes that it is impossible for any church or person to alter a covenant made by God. Thus, neither Peter nor a pope changed the Sabbath to Sunday. The Sabbath just ended with the Old Covenant.
The first volume of the Jewish Encyclopedia was published in 1901 with the remaining volumes published by 1906. It is an authority of the highest level, so I find it difficult to dismiss the possibility of a movable Sabbath in Israel:
The origin of the Sabbath, as well as the true meaning of the name, is uncertain. The earliest Biblical passages which mention it (Ex. xx. 10, xxxiv. 21; Deut. v. 14; Amos viii. 5) presuppose its previous existence and an analysis of all the references to it in the Canon makes it plain that its observance was neither general nor altogether spontaneous in either pre-exilic or post-exilic Israel. It was probably originally connected in some manner with the cult of the moon, as indeed is suggested by the frequent mention of Sabbath and New-Moon festivals in the same sentence (Isa. i. 13; Amos viii. 5; H Kings iv. 23). The old Semites worshiped the moon and the stars (Hommel, "Der Gestirndienst der Alten Araber"). Nomads and shepherds, they regarded the night as benevolent, the day with its withering heat as malevolent. In this way the moon ("Sinai" = "moon ["sin"] mountain") became central in their pantheon. The moon, however, has four phases in approximately 28 days, and it seemingly comes to a standstill every seven days. Days on which the deity rested were considered taboo, or ill-omened. New work could not be begun, nor unfinished work continued, on such days. The original meaning of "Shabbat" conveys this idea (the derivation from "sheba'" is entirely untenable). If, as was done by Prof. Sayce (in his Hibbert Lectures) and by Jastrow (in American Journal of Theology, April, 1898), it can be identified in the form "shabbaton" with the "Shabattum" of the Assyrian list of foreign words, which is defined as "um nuḥ libbi" = "day of propitiation" (Jensen, in "Sabbath-School Times," 1892), it is a synonym for "Aẓeret" and means a day on which one's actions are restricted, because the deity has to be propitiated. If, with Toy (in Journal of Biblical Literature xviii. 194), it is assumed that the signification is "rest," or "season of rest" (from the verb "to rest," "to cease [from labor]"; though "divider" and "division of time" are likewise said to have been the original significations; comp. also Barth, "Nominalbildungen," and Lagarde, "Nominal-bildung"), the day is so designated because, being taboo, it demands abstinence from work and other occupations. The Sabbath depending, in Israel's nomadic period, upon the observation of the phases of the moon, it could not, according to this view, be a fixed day. When the Israelites settled in the land and became farmers, their new life would have made it desirable that the Sabbath should come at regular intervals, and the desired change would have been made all the more easily as they had abandoned the lunar religion.
The following quote from the article, "Festivals," in the Jewish Encyclopedia gives us further insight regarding the concept of the "movable" Sabbath in early Hebrew culture:
The moon was the beneficent deity of the shepherds in the region and climate where ancient Israel had its ancestral home. Hence the many traces of lunar institutions in even the latest Israelitish cult and its phraseology; e.g., the "horn" (crescent), the "face" (of YHWH) in the benedictions, etc. The Sabbath, as marking the end of the week, reveals its lunar origin; the phases of the moon having taught the shepherds, whose weal or woe depended so largely upon the benevolence or malevolence of the night season, to divide the period elapsing between two new moons into four equal groups (weeks), the last day of each—in imitation of the moon's coming to rest, as it were—becoming the day of rest. Indications are not wanting that at first the New Moon festival was not counted among the seven days of the week (see Week); but after 7✗4 (=28) days had elapsed, one or two days were intercalated as New Moon days, whereupon a new cycle of four weeks began, so that the Sabbath was a movable festival. Later the week and the Sabbath became fixed; and this gradually resulted in taking away from the New Moon festival its popular importance.
As you will note from the emphasized content below, the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia presents some Old Testament texts which appear to allude to the existence of a movable Sabbath. The Jewish Encyclopedia article, “Festivals,” states:
Dissociated from the moon, the Sabbath developed into a day of rest for the workers and animals on the farm (Deut. v. 14; Ex. xx. 10). Traces of the old taboo are, however, still found. In Amos viii. 5 it is the fear of evil consequences that keeps the impatient merchants from plying their wicked trade. The multitude of sacrifices (Isa. i. 8; Hosea ii. 11) on Sabbath and New Moon indicates the anxiety on those particular days to propitiate the deity. Closer contact with Assyrians and Babylonians from the eighth to the sixth century BCE probably revitalized the older idea of taboo. The assumption that the Hebrews borrowed the institution from the Babylonians, which was first suggested by Lotz (Quæstiones de Historia Sabbati), is untenable; but that the Exile strengthened the awe in which the day was held cannot be denied. It having become a purely social institution, a day of rest for the farmers, the taboo element in course of time had lost its emphasis. The Assyrians and Babylonians may have had similar days of abstinence or propitiation (the 7th, 14th, 19th, 21st, and 28th of the month Elul), and contact with them may have served to lend the Jewish Sabbath a more austere character. The Assyrian calendar seems to disclose an effort to get rid of the movable Sabbath in favor of the fixed. If after the twenty-eighth day two days are intercalated as new-moon days, the 19th day becomes the 49th from the beginning of the next preceding month, as in the Feast of Weeks, in connection with which the emphasis on "complete Sabbaths" ("sheba' Shabbot temimot"; Lev. xxiii. 15) is noteworthy. At all events, in the Priestly Code, Sabbath violation is represented as entailing death (Num. xv. 32-36). The prohibition against kindling fire (Ex. xxxv. 3) probably refers to producing fire by the fire-drill or by rubbing two sticks together; this was the crime of the man put to death according to Num. xv. 32-36, the "meḳoshesh" (see also Beẓah iv. 7), the presence of fire being considered, if the analogy with superstitious practices elsewhere is decisive, a very grave sign of disrespect to the deity.
In the article, “Holidays,” from the 1943 The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, the writer stated:
1. Sabbath and New Moon (Rosh Hodesh), both periodically recurring in the course of the year. The New Moon is still, and the Sabbath originally was, dependent upon the lunar cycle. Both date back to the nomadic period of Israel. Originally the New Moon was celebrated in the same way as the Sabbath; gradually it became less important, while the Sabbath became more and more a day of religion and humanity, of religious meditation and instruction, of peace and delight of the soul, and produced powerful and beneficent effects outside of Judaism.
(See The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia ...: an authoritative and popular presentation of Jews and Judaism since the earliest times, Volume 9, page 410, Edited by Isaac Landman, 1943.)
In Landman's article, “Week,” (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume 10, page 482), he says this:
With the development of the importance of the Sabbath as a day of consecration and EMPHASIS laid upon the significant NUMBER SEVEN, the week became more and more divorced from its lunar connection, so that by the time of the second Temple it was merely a period of seven days and no longer depended on the new moon.
At the same time your authors concede that some Jewish authorities deny the concept of a lunar Sabbath, as in the following reference. Here, the historian states what is currently true about the way the Jews keep the Sabbath. He fails to tell his audience, however, that this was NOT the case prior to the building of the second temple:
“[The] Sabbath day does not depend on any calendar. It occurs every seventh day regardless of the lunar or lunar-solar calendars.”
שְׁלֹמֹה צײטלין – Solomon Zeitlin, 1952, Jewish Historian, cited from
Thus, Brendan evidences only a partial understanding of the history of the lunar calendar in Jewish history.
Our research suggests that the affinity for a 7-day week among various early civilizations does not depend on a “dim” memory of the seven days of Creation as passed down through the earliest ages of human history, although such is possible. Since the moon seems to come to a standstill for 7 days at a time during its 28-29 day cycle, a seven-day week would be more likely to develop and/or maintain its widespread usage in ancient cultures for astronomical reasons. How else could nomadic people keep track of time? It is extremely unlikely that the nomadic Hebrews had a written calendar to follow prior to being enslaved by the Egyptians. The phases of the moon provided the only way these nomadic people could keep track of time. Quoted in the Book of Jude, The Book of Enoch discusses the four 7-day phases of the moon. Supposedly written by Enoch, the 7th from Adam, most scholars believe it was put together from a number of sources about 200 BCE.
Aside from its calendar implications, the Book of Enoch is interesting because it makes no reference to the Sabbath or the Mosaic Covenant. Whether it was recorded in writing from an oral history passed down from pre-Flood times, or whether it was put together around 200 BCE, it demonstrates, in either case, that the Jews did not see a Sabbath or a Decalogue in existence prior to Mt. Sinai.
The evidence from the history of the calendars used by ancient civilizations in South America, China, and the Middle East that a major solar system event caused the lunar and solar calendars to get out of sync with each other between the 8th and 7th century BCE reconciles everything we know about Israel's abandonment of the lunar calendar after the building of the Second Temple. Suddenly the lunar calendar didn't work. Israel's ancient neighbors developed fixed calendars as a result, and after one or another of them took Israel captive, they forced the Jews to use the fixed calendars they had devised. The Jews acquiesced to this imposition because their lunar calendar didn't work right any longer. The lunar sabbath feast days were out of sync with the weekly Sabbaths whereas in ancient times all the Sabbaths related to each other in 7-day intervals fixed to the new moon.
COTTO: "The most disturbing verse in the Bible for our critics is one they have no choice but to acknowledge. They have tried their very best; everywhere from saying it is all symbolic to saying that it is only applicable to the past. Some have gone to the extreme to, after finding no other way to escape this reality, accuse us of claiming or somehow supporting new moon observance.”
Cotto refers to Isaiah 66:22-23.
Just saying the words doesn’t change the reality of this text. Non-scholarly writers would refer to this claim as a “whopper.” To the contrary, this passage is one of the easiest Sabbatarian proof-texts to refute. Anti-Sabbatarians do demonstrate that if this passage is really about the Heaven of the Hereafter, it would unavoidably teach that both weekly and monthly Sabbath-keeping will be mandatory in Heaven. It would also teach that Levites will serve in the heavenly Temple, and that anyone who doesn’t live to age 100 is an accursed sinner. It would not be Heaven in the sense of an eternal Paradise. Isaiah 65 and 66 transcend chapter boundaries in a discussion of the future of Jerusalem. For an increased understanding of this prophecy, please read both chapters together. The question is, which Jerusalem– the capital city of Israel or the Holy City of Heaven? Among other lapses of logic, Sabbatarians have ignored a key word in this proof-text example– the word -AS-. Something that is COMPARED TO something else cannot be the thing itself. And, would accursed sinners be in Heaven?
COTTO: Yet no matter what the claim might be, the following verse is clear even to the eyes of a child, and is piercing through the hearts of the Sabbath’s most valiant opponents. These verses are found in the book of the ancient prophet Isaiah:
(22) For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
(23) And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
The argument is brought forth, that Isaiah uses common idioms to simply say that in the New Earth there will be constant worship, from week to week, and from month to month.
The key word, AS, makes Isaiah's statement into a comparison and signals the reader that the topic is NOT what happens in the new earth. Let us analyze the passage to find out what Isaiah was talking about.
COTTO: "Little do they realize that by such a claim they actually debunk their own reasoning of the seventh day of Genesis 2:2-3. Let me explain. If the "Sabbath to Sabbath" reference in Isaiah 66:23 is merely to show how worship will be "from week to week" one has to admit that a week necessitates the seventh day, for without the seventh day, there could not logically be a "week." A week consists of "seven" days, and as much as there has to be a first day to begin a week, there must also be a seventh day to end it." Now, our opponents tell us that God will restore the "eternal rest" that our first parents experienced in the Garden, which means there will be no "weekly cycle," for, every day will be an eternal day of rest.
William Hohmann responds: What is happening here is that Cotto is engaging in some obfuscation, which unfortunately we find Sabbatarians doing historically as a matter of habit. Sabbatarians, such as Cotto, cite Isaiah 66 as being situationally, the time frame of the New Heavens and New Earth; a time after all else has happened in relation to physical mankind. Cotto is also saying that the position of the “Anti-Sabbatarian” is based on their time frame, which it is not!
If the case could be made that “people” even after the culmination of all things are keeping the Sabbath, then what excuse could there possibly be for not keeping it now? But Isaiah 66 is not about the time extant after the establishment of the New Heavens and Earth. The reference here uses the future event as something sure to occur; something well established prophetically that without doubt will come about. What then is sure to occur? First, God's people and their offspring will endure in the same way; their “names” will endure.
Now, whether what follows also relates to v. 22 is irrelevant. The statements stand firm as declarations of what God will do, without question. All mankind; all “flesh” will come before God to worship Him. Where? When? The context would indicate this is shortly after the return of Christ and His battle with those nations assembled to oppose Him. Reference is made to “My holy mountain, Jerusalem” in v. 20. Those who opposed Him at his return are there, lying dead for all to see.
Finally, Cotto claims the validation of the Sabbath as a result of the weekly cycle being referenced in the passage. In order for there to be a week, there must be a Sabbath at the end of it. Taking this line of logic out to its logical conclusion, Cotto has validated the observance of New Moon observances. Regardless, a seven day week without the seventh day being a sanctified day, and a seven day week with a sanctified seventh day still results in a seven day week. What Cotto apparrently cannot fathom is a seven day week where the seventh day is not, and was not, a holy day to be observed by all mankind. His paradigm forces him to see no other possibilities other than his own.
Kerry Wynne responds: The structure of a 7-day week is self-evident. The problem is that the Book of Revelation tells us in relation to the New Heavens and Earth that there will be no night “there.” If there is no night, there are no “days,” because a day consists of both a period of daylight and a period of night time– an “evening” and a “morning.” Isaiah could not be talking about the Heaven of the Hereafter. Back on Earth, in the Jerusalem of Israel, there are real 24-hour days.
The “eternal rest” we are told will exist in Heaven is the rest from the nightmare of sin—not from activity, enjoyable labor, and adventure. Cotto is thinking about rest as a cessation of labor. It does not follow that a cosmic rescue from sin through redemption would have anything to do with a weekly cycle.
COTTO: However, if Isaiah tells us we will have a week to week worship experience, how can you have an eternal day, while at the same time you have a weekly cycle where one 24 day follows the next? It’s impossible and illogical! You can’t have on the one hand an eternal rest where the rest-day will never end, and in the other hand a "week to week" where by definition you must have each consecutive day end at the same time!"
Kerry Wynne responds: No such conflict exists. The 7th day of Creation marked the beginning of God’s eternal rest from creating Planet Earth. Since there is no night in Heaven, there can’t be “days” as we think of them; so there can be no “weeks” as we think of them now. For the purpose of analysis, note that God’s rest from creating Planet Earth is eternal whether our perspective is the Jerusalem of Israel or the Heaven of the Hereafter.
William Hohmann responds: The impossible and illogical situation is the creation of the SDA to begin with. It is a classic straw-man argument. It is the Sabbatarian that insists this is a post- New Heavens/ New Earth premise. The temptation here is to chide Cotto for being unable to comprehend something spiritual in nature. The author of Hebrews speaks of God's rest that God entered into on that seventh day of Creation Week, and associates this “day” as “another day” in chapter 4 besides the weekly sabbath, which day is designated as: “To day”. “To day” (today) one can enter into God's rest. Tomorrow becomes “To day” when we are in that day, and the same condition remains extant regarding God's rest and entering into it. God will still be in His Rest tomorrow. People will still have the opportunity to enter into His Rest, through faith, tomorrow, when it is known then as “To day”. This concept is irrelevant to any association regarding a seven day week and worship of God during that week. Perhaps the problem with Cotto's comprehension is the association his church makes between “rest” and “worship”, having historically blurred the concepts together so much so that they no longer see a distinction, having redefined the sabbath in this manner.
COTTO: “No doubt we will enter into the rest of the true heavenly Canaan, as taught in Hebrews 3 and 24, but the weekly rest, the memorial of God's Creation, will continue from week to week, only this time it will be a memorial of God's "new" creation of the heavens and earth, for, says the apostle, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth… I make all things new." Revelation 21:1-5.
We are hoping Cotto is not trying to get any support for Sabbatarianism from Hebrews 3 and 4. The author of Hebrews is comparing the rest of the saints from the agony of sin and a vain life to the rest from physical labor the Jews enjoyed on the Sabbath day. Heaven provides a wonderful rest from sin and its consequences, but this passage in the Book of Hebrews has nothing to do with a cultic Sabbath ritual requirement for Christians.
Isaiah and St. John are using the term “new heavens and earth” in different ways. Isaiah is using it as a COMPARISON to demonstrate how long the memory of the valiant and faithful Israelites will last—forever. St. John is referring to the thing itself—a REFERENCE.
Is Cotto using Revelation 21:1-5 as evidence that the Sabbath, which he refers to as the “weekly rest,” will be observed in the New Earth? If so, this point of view betrays a very primitive view of the cosmos. If God is going to make both a new “heavens” and a new “earth,” He might make them in a different dimension, or in a different galaxy. He might make them in some way that we have no capacity to understand now. Our sun has a limited lifespan, and so does Planet Earth. Our solar system will eventually burn out during our unlimited lifetime in Heaven. Perhaps Heaven is in a dimension that does not have much in common with the way we perceive things now. God is probably chuckling at our own ideas about the cosmos and thinking to Himself what a big surprise we will be in for later. When you read the description of the New Jerusalem, it is difficult to conclude the New Earth it resides upon is an actual physical planet.
Additionally, where is the biblical authority to declare that the significance of the Sabbath will be expanded to represent something far beyond its original purpose? The Sabbath was given only to Israel and to distinguish the Jews from all other nations on the face of the Earth. It was a “shadow” of Christ which lost its meaning entirely when Christ appeared. Apart from the Nation of Israel, the Sabbath has no meaning. The Sabbath is a sign of the Old Covenant—a contract between God and Israel—which was broken when the Jews rejected Christ and crucified Him. Just like a marriage contract is null and void if a wife murders her husband, so the Old Covenant ceased to exist when Jesus was nailed to the cross. Sabbatarians however must expand and increase the overall concept of the Sabbath in order to continue justifying its observance. They must make it out to be much more than it really is. Imagine the results should the SDA Church, for example, admit the Sabbath was of no consequence in Christianity. No, their collective egos cannot accept the possibility. Therefore, the Sabbath will be defended and promoted at all costs and by any means, including unscrupulous ones.
COTTO: Isaiah 66:23 is very difficult for Anti-Sabbatarians to deal with. If Isaiah is depicting an event not too far from his time, but before the time of Christ, then why does he reference the same "new heaven and new earth" that John the Revelator cites?
When you are using something as a COMPARISON, any time or distance works. Both writers mention the same Heaven of the Hereafter, but Isaiah is using as a COMPARISON, whereas John is referencing the place itself. John does not compare it with anything.
Read this passage again and again notice the word, AS.
(22) For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
COTTO: And if that is symbolic, John's must also be symbolic, and there will not really be a new heaven or new earth.”
John makes no claim to be using his reference to the new heavens and the new earth as a comparison. Isaiah warns his readers that a COMPARISON is about to follow by prefacing his phrase with the word “AS”. By contrast, Isaiah used his reference to the New Heaven and the New Earth to compare the length of time that Israel’s faithful heroes would be remembered to how long the new heaven and new earth would exist. A COMPARISON is not like a SYMBOL.
If we take the prophecies of Isaiah 65 and 66 and relate them to what things would be like for the Jerusalem of Israel, everything he said makes sense whether the prophecy is symbolic or literal. On the other hand, it we try to apply these chapters to the New Jerusalem in Heaven, nothing seems to work whether the thing is taken symbolically or literally. The Old Covenant provided for days of rest governed by the appearance of each new moon. However, by the time of Christ the importance of the reckoning of the new moon for Sabbath-keeping had virtually disappeared from mainstream Judaism. Not even Israel was keeping the biblical Sabbath. By contrast, the New Covenant provided for no rest days whatsoever, and certainly not ones determined by the movements of the sun and moon. Thus, no reckoning of the movements of the Sun and Moon, no Sabbath-keeping!
COTTO: “The accusation is hurled at us, that if it is all literal (and we don't subscribe to the entire chapter being literal), then there will be carcasses in the New Earth according to verse 24. But this does not move us, for the verse says that they "will go forth, and look upon the carcasses…" and we know that this will literally take place, for as New Jerusalem descends from heaven, God destroys the wicked (Revelation 20:9) and those inside the city walls will obviously be able to look outward at the transpiring event. This does not mean that their dead bodies will abide there forever, for the very word "carcasses" implies a "decaying body" that will soon disappear, as Malachi alludes to, "ye shall tread down the wicked, and they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet." Malachi 4:3.
Nothing is said about the New Earth other than to use is at a COMPARISON to demonstrate how long the memory of the faithful of Israel would be remembered. It is not obvious that in the Holy City of the Hereafter there would be any dead bodies lying around to observe from the city walls. In Revelation 20 John says that fire comes down and burns the wicked up. Fire destroys things quickly. There would be no dead bodies left to see for more than a few seconds after the destruction of the wicked. The application to the Heaven of the Hereafter doesn’t fit. If we are talking about the Jerusalem of Israel on Earth, it is easy to visualize Israel’s neighbors attacking Jerusalem and losing the battle. In this case it is easy to visualize dead bodies lying around outside the city wall and people looking down on the sordid scene.
COTTO: Both the "it is all literal" and the "it is all symbolic" positions are faulty, which is why we take up the "double application" position of this chapter, explained in more detail at another web page at this site titled: Isaiah 66:23: New Moon observance.
The primary symbolism of this passage is Isaiah’s use of the enduring qualities of Heaven to represent how long those true to God would be remembered. There is nothing in the text or the context of Isaiah’s statement that requires a double application. There is no possible way to link Isaiah’s statement to Sabbath-keeping in Heaven or a New Earth. There is no harm done in thinking about this passage as a symbol of God’s eternal victory as long as we keep in mind that almost any noble victory can be stretched to be used as a symbol of God’s final victory over sin.
Biblical scholars tend to view Isaiah as a Messianic prophet. Many of his prophecies about the life of Christ were amazingly detailed. Theologian James Burton Coffman sums up the work of various biblical scholars in regard to chapters 65 and 66:
A summary of this chapter must be especially heeded in the interpretation of it. Adam Clarke declared that, "These last two chapters relate to the calling of the Gentiles, the establishment of the Christian church, the reprobation of the apostate Jews, and their destruction executed by the Romans."(Adam Clarke's Commentary, Vol. IV, p. 244.) Lowth concurred in this analysis. (Robert Lowth's Commentary, p. 402). "This final chapter points to the final days of Judah and the coming glory of Zion in the new dispensation." (Homer Hailey, A Commentary on Isaiah: With Emphasis on the Messianic Hope, p. 521)
http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=isaHYPERLINK "http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=isa&chapter=066"&HYPERLINK "http://www.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=isa&chapter=066"chapter=066
As we mentioned before, it is entirely possible that all these things would take place somewhere else in the universe, perhaps in a different dimension, where there is no night. Since it takes both nighttime and daytime to equal a "yom" day, there would be no days there. The idea of having a moon that rotates around Heaven just like the one that revolves around Planet Earth is unlikely. An interpretation like Cotto’s does not follow the accepted principles of literary interpretation.
COTTO: Adam and Eve essentially broke the Sabbath commandments. … Let us face the facts and see clearly that when James said that when we break even one of the commandments we have in essence broken them all (James 2:10), he was not lying. Now the Law of God, says the Psalmist, is "perfect" -Psalm 19:7. It is also "holy" and perfectly "just" -Romans 7:12. Paul also says that where ever there is sin, there must also be a law, for "where no law is, there is no transgression" - Romans 4:15. He clearly said that, "by the law is the knowledge of sin" -Romans 3:20. So, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, how did they know they actually sinned? Paul answer's that we have knowledge of sin by "the law." There must have therefore been a law in place when Adam and Eve sinned, for they clearly acknowledged their sin (Genesis 3:2, 3, 7).
Authors: There was only one formal law in the Garden of Eden, and they knew EXACTLY what it was. They were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It seems incredible that our first parents could not even “keep” one law.
The burden of proof is on Cotto to demonstrate from Genesis 2:2-3 alone that there were other formal laws imposed upon them, including Sabbath-keeping. Adam and Eve were not fallen beings in the beginning. They had no innate tendency toward evil. It is only speculation that pre-Fall beings or angels would need formal laws. No one can escape natural law, however, and it would seem that Adam and Eve would have a native understanding of cause and effect relationships which create the difference between right and wrong. Cotto speaks a certain kind of spiritual truth, but the application of it leads him to circular reasoning and dangerous assumptions.
The Adventist understanding of the concept of the LAW is simplistic. It ignores the multifaceted view of the term LAW held by the Jews. Since the Bible was written by Jews, a failure to understand the way its Jewish authors thought about the LAW leads to a comedy of errors.
William Hohmann responds: Cotto has just made a lot of claims, proof-texting his way through his claims. I'm going to break it all down, and address the individual points:
“Adam and Eve essentially broke the Sabbath commandments. …Let us face the facts and see clearly that when James said that when we break even one of the commandments we have in essence broken them all (James 2:10), he was not lying.”
James is referring to the Old “Covenant” Law. In a covenant, all conditions/requirements must be complied with or fulfilled, or the covenant is violated. Covenants also have legal parties to them, and the legal parties of that covenant were God and the Israelites. Cotto carelessly (?) slips the “we” in as parties to that covenant. He also implies Adam and Eve were party to that covenant! That covenant law required one not born of Israel to undergo circumcision in order to enter into that covenant with Israelites and God. Were Gentile converts to Christianity required to undergo circumcision and keep the law? Not according to Acts 15. Was Adam circumcised? These facts of the law does not deter Sabbatarians. They simply redefine what the Law is for Christians, as well as Adam and Eve on the fly, here insisting that this law is the Ten Commandments, they being a separate law of sorts; a second or separate covenant, thereby chopping up the Law into the “Law of Moses” and the “Law of God” being the “Big Ten.” What gets conveniently overlooked is James statement from James Chapter Two that relates to the “whole” law that Cotto words as “them all” above. “Them all” refers to the entire Law—at least to the 613 laws of Moses, or the Torah, and perhaps the whole of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. It appears Cotto just violated the biblical admonition against adding to or taking away from Scripture! He has added Christians as well as Adam and Eve to that covenant law, and took away a lot of that law in this process also so as to leave standing the Ten Commandments for all mankind for all eternity. When James was speaking about breaking one point in the law he was not only quoting from the Big Ten but also a point from the rest of the law of the Old Covenant (James 2:8 - “Love your neighbor as yourself.”) James was speaking to Jewish converts who prided themselves for keeping the law while they were actually breaking major portions of it, including the spirit of the Law, in a similar manner to many Seventh-day Adventists and other Sabbatarians.
Then there is the matter of what was actually ratified as the Old Covenant. It was the Book of the Law that was sprinkled with blood, along with the people, that made up the Old Covenant. There is nothing in either the Old Testament writings or the New Testament writings that treats the law as being two laws, or the Ten Commandments as a separate law. Again, it demonstrates the carelessness Sabbatarians resort to in order to hold to a false theology and belief system.
The “whole” Law is just that; the whole law – circumcision to sacrifices – 613 points of law of which only a fraction do Sabbatarians attempt to keep. I say “attempt” because even when it comes to just the Ten Commandments, especially the Sabbath commandment, they do not truly keep or comply with it according to Scripture.
Cotto cites part of Psalm 19:7 –
“The law of the Lord is "perfect.”
By omitting the rest of the sentence (an example of “taking away”) a desired interpretation and claim is made other than what the sentence actually supports.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
If one is careless, working from assumptions, they may well assume this is referring to the Old Covenant law, or perhaps as Sabbatarians would prefer, the Ten Commandments. But it begs a logical question. When did the Old Covenant law, or the Ten Commandments, ever “convert” a soul? Never! Conversion is the process by which one receives the Holy Spirit. They are “converted” into a son or daughter of God. Their minds are converted to conform to the will of God. God's Spirit is referred to in Scripture as a “law” which God places within the true believer who believes the true gospel. Sabbatarians, by the very fact they are Sabbatarians, buy into a false gospel of works, and as a result, refuse to acknowledge God's Holy Spirit as possibly being a guiding force and light in their lives, opting instead on the Old Covenant letter of the law, where they try to find justification for “keeping” the Sabbath. The distinctions made between the Old Covenant ministration of death and condemnation are blurred with the New Covenant law of faith; law of Christ; law of liberty; law that leads to life. The Holy Spirit is relegated to being merely a force of God, and not literally God. God in the form of the Holy Spirit must be diminished in order to magnify the Old Covenant law and Sabbath. The Sabbath is elevated above God.
The following text is a favorite of Sabbatarians:
Romans 7:12 (NIV) - So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
I would simply point out that the sacrifices were holy, and the Law indeed was perfectly “just”, justly condemning those who broke the law to death. If you want justice, the Old Covenant law is for you. Personally, I prefer the grace, mercy and pardon from condemnation available in the “new” law of the Spirit, made possible by the substitutionary death and sacrifice of Christ.
The apostle Paul points out another quality of that Old Covenant law in II Corinthians Chapter 3. That law had a glory to it; but its glory was seen as waning; fading away and when contrasted to the New Covenant Law of the Spirit, which has a glory far superior to that glory of the Old Covenant engraven in stones. The glory of the new does not fade away, and when compared to the glory of the Old Covenant Ten Commandments possessed it hardly had any glory at all. He also says that where ever there is sin, there must also be a law, for "where no law is, there is no transgression" - Romans 4:15.”
What accompanies transgression? Condemnation! A remembrance of sin. Paul, in Romans 8, informs us that there is no longer condemnation for the believer. Why? How? Because the believer is removed from the Law that was associated with sin and condemnation! Christians are not under the Law; freed from the law; dead to the Law. Sabbatarians work very hard at resurrecting Christians back to the Law, putting them under the Law; chaining them to the Law, all so that they can justify once more their adherence to the Sabbath. Christian Liberty under the Law of Christ and the Holy Spirit is perceived as an unreachable Orwellian utopia from which they are forever barred. To them there is no true freedom in Christ.
Cotto: “He clearly said that, "by the law is the knowledge of sin" -Romans 3:20. So, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, how did they know they actually sinned? Paul answer's that we have knowledge of sin by "the law." There must have therefore been a law in place when Adam and Eve sinned, for they clearly acknowledged their sin (Genesis 3:2, 3, 7).”
After eating from the forbidden tree Adam and Eve's "eyes were opened". They then knew that they sinned by breaking God's command not to eat from the forbidden tree. Cotto in his haste twists the scriptures to defend the old covenant law. He attempts to "stuff " it back into the Garden of Eden so as to establish the sabbath ordinance:
Gen 3:7 (NIV) - 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Whereas before, Cotto tried to establish the Law as extant and in force after Christ's sacrifice ended it, he now tries to establish it as extant and in force before Moses even gave it, all for the sake of trying to help establish the Sabbath as a Creation ordinance. There indeed was a law to transgress for Adam and Eve, but not the law Cotto desires. It was, and is, the same law that has always existed as the base law to the Old Covenant law; a law of faith and the spirit.
Galatians 3:19 (KJV) - Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. – Galatians 3:19
Sabbatarians insist this “law” that was added “couldn't possibly be the Ten Commandments”, so “law” gets redefined on the fly, as need sees fit. Yet, we never see examples of Israel, or Jesus in the New Testament writings make any mention or reference to there being but one Law.
This law of faith and the spirit deals with the heart and intent of heart. Here then, as they say in a mystery novel, the plot thickens. Adam was commanded not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that should he do so, in that day, he would die. He and Eve decided to eat of that fruit anyway, and the rest, as they say, is history. But WHY did they eat of that tree, even after being told it would result in death? The answer is of great importance, and addresses a LAW much greater in every way than the Ten Commandments and Sabbath. That law of FAITH. Adam and Eve, first and foremost, violated the law of faith. They did not believe God. They doubted God regarding what He said about that fruit and that tree.
Cotto makes mention of the Law making known good and evil; being a source of knowledge in this regard, but does not put two and two together, due to his Sabbatarian bias. The law of the Old Covenant is representative of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Like that tree, the fruit of the law is death. That law was given to faithless Israelites. It was, according to Moses, to be a witness against them, proving them to be faithless. But here's the “rub”. Keeping the Law does not prove one faithful, or righteous. You can refrain from murdering someone, yet still have hatred in the heart, therefore being in violation still of the law of faith and love. It is God's Spirit within the believer that makes all the difference here. Only with God's Spirit are we capable of living a life of love and faith; true faith, in God. All else is a shadow, or a counterfeit, including the Ten Commandments. Why would Christians, with the very Spirit of God in them, need to be told not to have other gods besides God, and be told – commanded – not to worship other gods? Why would they need to be commanded not to murder – an act of hatred? And why, WHY therefore, having this knowledge and understanding, would we need to be told to keep the Sabbath? The Sabbatarian puts the Ten Commandments above all else solely for the purpose of justifying Sabbath observance. But if you understand the above, and understand the “law” of faith and the Spirit, which necessitates love, then you can see why the apostle Paul refers to the law engraven in stone as being obsolete. It was a law for the faithless, and not the faithful.
Cotto might as well have gone one step further and claimed the devil sinned by transgressing that law also, which would back the Sabbath commandment up to even before that seventh day of Creation Week, but then he would have to deal with the obvious absurdity of the conflict of having the Law, with the Sabbath extant before that seventh day they claim instituted the Sabbath. Yet the devil did sin.
This law is the law of faith-- the New Covenant law of faith that is associated directly with Christ, for you see, there were two trees in the Garden of Eden, and not just that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was that tree of life, representative of Christ and His law of faith-- His law that leads to life; whose fruit is life, and not death.
"GARDEN OF EDEN" LAW
The last few verses of the last book of the Bible forbid us to add or take away words from it. In two places of the old covenant writings, the same prohibition is given regarding God's inspired Word, the Scriptures. One can make the Bible appear to teach anything by adding or taking away words to Scripture. We only know of one command God gave to Adam and Eve at Creation. They were forbidden to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Since there was no sin and no tendency toward evil, it is not productive to read back into the Garden of Eden the same set of rules and regulations that God needed to keep the stubborn and degenerate Hebrews under control. Take the command, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Adam and Eve had only themselves, so there was no one else to tempt them. Also, think of the absurdity of trying to apply the command, “Thou shalt not covet" in relation to the property of others? What about the commandment to honor your father and mother? God was the Father of Adam and Eve. Did God have a wife, like the Mormons teach?
The Ten Commandments, with the exception of the Sabbath commandment, are explanations of natural cause and effect. It would be absurd to say that Adam and Eve were not subject to natural law. If you steal something that belongs to someone else, that person may fight you to get the item back, and one or both of you might die. St. John says that everyone who is born into this world is enlightened by the Holy Spirit. A Heathen born in the middle of the jungles of Africa has an innate sense that killing, stealing are wrong, and may even have a dim sense that sex outside of a committed relationship is wrong. However that same person will never conclude on his own that he or she must rest one day out of seven, much less figure out which one of those seven days is the “right one.”
Recall that about a month prior to reaching that camp, the Hebrews had left Egypt on a Thursday night around 5 pm. They traveled on Friday night and Saturday, and then for the next month, marching across the wilderness, camping along the way with no thought of Sabbath observance. About a month into their journey, they marched from a camp at the Red Sea until they arrived, about 5 pm, at the edge of the Wilderness of Sin, on a Saturday evening. They had marched on Friday, Friday night, and most of the daylight hours of Saturday at God’s express command. That Saturday evening, God gave the Israelites the rules and regulations governing the collection of the Manna, but there was no mention of the Sabbath at that time. The manna fell the next morning and every morning. What we would think of as Friday night of the week that followed their arrival at the Wilderness of Sin, God introduced the Sabbath to them. Now the reason for gathering a double portion the day before became apparent. They were to gather an extra supply for the Sabbath, as there would be none found on that day. Unlike the other days of the week, where any that was left overnight rotted and bred worms, this would not happen overnight when the Sabbath was the next day.
Among other things that indicate that the Hebrews knew nothing about the Sabbath until that Friday night, if they had been familiar with the Sabbath, they would not need to be told not to gather Manna on the Sabbath day.
As we have pointed out several times before, Genesis 2 tells us what God did in regard to resting on the 7th day of Creation, and the telling of what God did says nothing about what Adam and Eve were to do. Just because God did something doesn't mean He was setting an example for Adam and Eve. For example, we are not instructed to follow the example of Jesus by refraining from marriage. None of us would be here if we did!
The people before the flood were guided in their morals by the laws that were a matter of conscience. God told Noah His Spirit would not always strive with man:
Genesis 6:3 (NIV) - 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” (Bible Gateway)
God never sent a prophet to threaten the pouring out of God’s wrath on a Heathen nation or city for Sabbath breaking. And also as we mentioned earlier, the Book of Enoch, which purports to have been written before the Flood, makes no mention of the Sabbath or the Decalogue, and whether it was written before the Flood or just a few hundred years before the birth of Christ, this fact still provides evidence that the Jews understood that there was no Sabbath prior to Exodus 16.
When you study the Bible and consider the topic of the LAW, you have to understand how the Jews thought about Natural Law versus Torah Law before you can grasp what they meant when they mentioned The Law in their writings. If you want to understand the Bible properly, it is a good idea to understand how the Bible writers thought about things, as well as the culture in which they wrote.
The Jews taught that the LAW consisted of 613 equally important commandments, which included the 10 Commandments. It was the book of the law that was ratified as the old covenant, which book contained the Ten Commandments. If the 10 Commandments had been a morally complete set of laws, God would not have given Israel 603 additional laws which included moral laws that are not found in the 10 Commandments. If the 10 Commandments had been complete, St. Paul would not have given us several extensive lists of sins that will keep a person out of Heaven without ever mentioning Sabbath-breaking. In the Torah, Jewish tradition, and Jewish culture the term “adultery” is very specific and cannot be generalized to be equated with other sexual sins such as fornication and homosexual activity. Evidence that this is true is that God chose to add prohibitions and additional sexual sins in the Law of Moses.
Cotto is attempting to apply a meaningful principle to the wrong situation. He demonstrates that Adam and Eve broke law, but he misses the mark in that there was no letter-of-the-law Sabbath at the time to break.
COTTO: JESUS’ STATEMENT IN MARK 2:27-28 THAT THE SABBATH WAS MADE FOR MAN AND NOT MAN FOR THE SABBATH PROVES THAT THE SABBATH WAS GIVEN TO EVERYONE.
So far, we have witnessed Cotto make a number of claims of proof for Sabbath keeping that relied on dubious rationalizations and logical fallacies. Here, Cotto avails himself to a classic case of eisegesis [an improper textual study method] and insists it also is proof. Let us examine his claim critically.
We have already discussed the historical and cultural aspects of this passage, that Gentiles were considered to be “dogs” and as such, subhuman as compared to the Jews. If Jesus were indeed claiming the Sabbath was made for all mankind, such a declaration would have elicited an angry response from those present. Along with this, we have the understanding of how “man” is used in regards to the Greek word man is translated from: Anthropos. Cotto attempts to assign “all mankind” as the interpretation of the word in that context, when in fact the word anthropos, even elsewhere in the same narrative of Mark, shows how this word can mean anything from one man, as with the man with a withered hand whom Jesus healed, to any subset of men, to all mankind. Sabbatarians opt for all mankind, not based on any proper examination of the text, the text's context, or the culture that determined the connotative meanings connected with the term's use in the Israel of Jesus' day, but simply and only because it dovetails into their theology. This is a good example of how anyone can treat a passage of Scripture eisegetically instead of using proper methods of textual exegesis.
The word "made" takes us back to Creation Week. In Exodus 16 the Sabbath was not "made." It was revealed and given as a commandment:
This ploy is just playing with semantics. We find some logical problems with this concept:
1. If Cotto concedes that God waited till Exodus 16 to “reveal” the Sabbath to the Hebrews, he also concedes that under God’s direction His people broke the Sabbath for the first 38 days of their journey. Why didn’t God reveal it to them before they left Egypt and promise to help them keep it faithfully during their travels? If He is right, we have some serious questions about God’s character and the importance of the Sabbath commandment. It appears we don’t have to keep the Sabbath unless it is convenient to do so.
2. If the Hebrews didn’t know about the Sabbath until Exodus 16, it is unlikely that they ever knew about it. It is unlikely that they would forget completely about the Sabbath evening during 400 years of slavery in Egypt. Moses told the story of the Exodus with the Jewish calendar, and his dates for different events of the Exodus that prove that the Hebrews didn’t keep the Sabbath until several weeks after their journey out of Egypt. This possibility by itself creates doubt about a Creation origin for the Sabbath.
3. If the Hebrews didn’t know about the Sabbath till Exodus 16, and God gave Adam and Eve the Sabbath, at what point did mankind forget completely about it? Had it been forgotten about by the time of Abraham? Moses makes no mention of Sabbath-keeping by any party from Genesis 1 to Exodus 16.
4. Pioneer SDA Sabbath scholar, J.N. Andrews, explained what he thought the evidence was that the Hebrew people were familiar with the Sabbath when it was “reinforced” to them in Exodus 16. If Andrews is wrong, questions 1-3 continue to nag at us. (We evaluated his arguments earlier in this paper.)
5. If something has to be REVEALED, by the very way the word is used in the English language, those to whom it is revealed must know nothing about it. If it was revealed to Israel at the time of the Exodus, they could not have known about it before. In the particular case of the Sabbath, even if by some incomprehensible provision the Sabbath had existed previously, and God hadn’t yet told anyone about it, it would be meaningless for the sake of this argument. If they didn’t know about it, regardless of why they didn’t know about it, they couldn’t be expected to keep it and they couldn’t be held responsible for not keeping it.
Only important things are generally spoken of in terms of revelation, and the expectation is that when something is revealed to someone, that person will respond with a certain amount of awe and reaction. For example, if I reveal to a friend that his wife has been cheating on him, I would expect him to act with surprise, wonder, and anger– something that would not be genuinely possible if he already knew about her affair.
THE DEFINITE-INDEFINITE ARTICLE PROBLEM
It is when one gets into the original Hebrew that Cotto runs into a formidable barrier when he tries to make the Sabbath exist prior to Exodus 16. When the Old Testament is read in Hebrew, every time God reveals a new festival or ordinance to Israel, it is introduced with an indefinite article, but each subsequent mention is introduced with a definite article. English translations are not always consistent in maintaining this usage designation, but the original Hebrew is virtually always consistent. I say virtually always because I have not found any report of exceptions in the original Hebrew. Notice that Moses introduces the first mention ever of the Sabbath in the Bible with the indefinite article, "a" Sabbath. The following is from the King James Version:
(25) And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
(26) Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
(27) And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
(28) And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
(29) See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. (King James Version)
Notice that in Exodus 20:8-10 in the NIV version, the definite article is used, signaling the reader that the Sabbath has existed previously. There is no textual license in the Pentateuch to take this pre-existence any further back than Exodus 16. The passage is quoted in the NIV:
Exodus 20:8-10 (NIV) - Remember THE Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is A sabbath to the Lord your God.
Notice also that the indefinite article before the second reference to "a sabbath" is not in the indefinite form to signal the reader that it is a subsequent mention of the Sabbath. Instead, the second word, sabbath, in this passage is equivalent to the generic word for rest. It means something that could be compared to saying, “The Sabbath is a rest to the Lord your God.”
COTTO: In Exodus 20 it [the Sabbath] was not "made" either. There it was also “given,” but this time as part of the Ten Commandments. The only place we are left with is Genesis 2:1-3.
Cotto’s logic, or lack of it, seems to go like this. The Sabbaths mentioned in Exodus 20 and Exodus 16 were “given.”—not MADE. The Sabbath had to have been MADE somewhere, and the only place left for it to have been MADE is Genesis 2. This assumption represents a concession that it is not easy to find a Sabbath in Genesis 2, so the only way you can get one into it is to declare that it is the only place left for it to have originated. The Sabbath is not something that one would talk about in terms of coming into existence through being made. I can see God in the process of sculpturing Eve. However, in thinking of the words to describe how the Sabbath ordinance came into existence, one would tend to think of it in terms that is was “initiated” by Him or “implemented” by Him. It is unreasonable to think that you can get a Sabbath into Genesis 2 by the process of elimination. Regardless, the theological sleight of hand here does not eliminate the fact that the Sabbath indeed was “given”, and it was given to the children of Israel, via a covenant no others being a legal party among men.
In taking this line of logic out a bit further, we wonder about the commands that revolved around sacrifices. Were they “given” and “made” also? Unlike the sabbath commandment, we find evidence from the beginnings of Genesis up to Exodus 16 of people practicing and partaking of sacrifices, before they were incorporated into the law. God sacrificed animals to provide Adam and Eve with coverings after they sinned, and sacrificed continued as a representation of Christ and His sacrifice for all mankind. Cotto would no doubt insist Christ's sacrifice signaled an end to animal sacrifices, seeing as they pointed to Christ's sacrifice. But, when confronted with the concept of the sabbath as a shadow of Christ and the rest found in Him, there is a logical disconnect.
COTTO: SINCE I HAVE JUST PROVED THAT THE SABBATH WAS MADE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, JESUS LINKED THE MAKING OF THE SABBATH IN GENESIS TWO TO THE PRESENT WEEKLY SABBATH OF HIS DAY BY SAYING THAT THE SABBATH WAS MADE FOR MAN AND NOT MAN FOR THE SABBATH.
The word Jesus used, man, to the great disappointment of our opponents, does not mean "Jew." Thayer's Greek New Testament definition tells us what this word means: anthropos (man): a human being, whether male or female, generically, to include all human individuals, in the plural, people. The word "Jews" or "Israel," are not included in the definition of the word, “man,” translated from the Greek word, anthropos. The word simply means "mankind." This provides more evidence that the Sabbath existed in Genesis. Not only does Jesus direct our minds towards Creation Week, but He tells us that it was made for "man.”
Then Cotto waxes eloquently, and I quote:
Who was the "man" back then, in Creation Week? You guessed it, Adam and Eve! Jesus was clear enough on this issue. Want to find the Sabbath in the book of Genesis? See what Jesus says! I'm sure our critics won’t disagree with Him. Or would they?
A study of Jewish culture and thought, gathered from the Four Gospels, rabbinical writings, and Jewish historical sources makes it clear that Jesus went out of His way to clarify to his Jewish audience that the Sabbath was only for Jews by excluding the Gentile "dogs" at the same time he said that the Sabbath was made for the Jewish humans. To the Jew, the Heathen were dogs. The Heathen who lived amongst the Jews were painfully aware of this attitude. The Jews thought about them as dogs, spoke about them as dogs, and wrote about them as dogs.
Since Jesus did not wish to start a riot when he sought to explain the true nature of their Sabbath to them, He excluded the Heathen "dogs" from the Sabbath requirement. If Jesus had not excluded the Heathen "dogs" from the Sabbath ordinance, the Jews would have attempted to stone Him for blasphemy. Whether Jew or Gentile proselyte, neither could keep the Sabbath without first being circumcised. This fact clearly illustrates the subservience of the Sabbath ordinance to the Ordinance of Circumcision. The heathen "dogs" were referred to as the "uncircumcised" by the Jews, which was another way of saying that they were excluded from Sabbath-keeping and other aspects of Torah Law.
Please study Matthew’s account of the healing of the Canaanite woman’s daughter in the NIV translation, Chapter 15:
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Note that Jesus Himself tested her faith by referring to her as a “dog.” Her reply indicates that she understood that the Jews thought of non-Jews as dogs.
Further, Cotto claims anthropos means “mankind”. If this were true, then Scripture should reflect it as such, however:
Mark 3:1-3 (KJV) - And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
The Greek word here translated “man” is anthropos. Was all mankind standing there before Christ with withered hands? No? How can this be, when Cotto just claimed above that anthropos means all mankind?
COTTO: ABRAHAM ALSO KEPT THE SABBATH. HE QUOTES GENESIS 26:5: Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
Let us examine Cotto’s claims to support this notion.
The covenant God made with Abraham is the same covenant that God made with Israel.
He quotes 1 Chronicles 16: 15-17:
1 Chronicles 16:15-17(15) - Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; (16) Even of the covenant which he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; (17) And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant. (King James Version)
First we must ask ourselves the question, is the reference to “Israel” in this passage a reference to the nation of Israel during and after the Exodus, or is it Hebrew parallelism that refers to Jacob’s alternate name of Israel:
Genesis 35:10 (NIV) - God said to him, "Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel." So he named him Israel. Genesis 35:10 (NIV)
Moses does not need much of an excuse to throw in a poetic parallelism in the passage that Cotto quotes. There are two possible excuses for doing so– (1) general parallelism for the covenant and oath similarity, and (2) God’s blessings to Jacob in the life he had before his name change and God’s blessings to him after his name change. All appearances suggest the author of Chronicles is talking about various laws and covenants God has given to the Children of Abraham over thousands of years. The parallelism between the LAW for Jacob and the COVENANT for Israel is unmistakable; even a covenant with Isaac gets honorable mention. Again, we have the parallelism of the COVENANT with Abraham and the OATH with Isaac. What a hodgepodge of information here! But let us say for both the sake of argument that the reference is, indeed, to the Nation of Israel which came out of Egypt. We concede that such is a likely reading. However, the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant SHARED only two components– (1) the promise that if His people were faithful to Him, He would give them and their descendants the Land of Canaan to dwell in forever, and (2) the Ordinance of Circumcision.
Cotto quotes Genesis 17:7-11, but the simple meaning of the passage seems to have evaded him:
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. 8And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
There is no license within this text or its context to see the Sabbath as a component of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants share the promise that their faithfulness will give them the land of Canaan forever, but not the Sabbath ordinance. Abraham had natural law. He had the Law of the Spirit, but he did not have the 10 Commandments. Nor did he have the sign of the Mosaic Covenant—the Sabbath.
There is one other item that Cotto's declaration forces as a conclusion if he were correct, and that is we would also, as a result of them having the same covenant sharing the Sabbath, be required to share in circumcision.
COTTO: THE FACT THAT MOSES USED THE TERM, “DECLARED,” IN DEUTERONOMY 4:13 TO DESCRIBE THE COVENANT AS BEING THE 10 COMMANDMENTS IS EVIDENCE THAT IT WAS NOT GIVEN FOR THE FIRST TIME, BUT RATHER HAD BEEN IN EXISTENCE PRIOR TO THE GIVING OF THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ON SINAI. THE HEBREW WORD, “NAGAD,” TRANSLATED “DECLARED” IN THIS PASSAGE, IS USED THROUGHOUT THE OLD TESTAMENT IN MOST CASES IN THE CONTEXT OF DECLARING OR MAKING SOMETHING KNOWN THAT HAS ALREADY EXISTED.
Deuteronomy 4:13 (KJV) - And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Quoting Cotto: “Take note, dear reader, that Moses said God "declared" His covenant. The word "declared" implies it was not given "for the first time," but rather, as it has already existed, it was "declared" to them for their benefit. This is made more evident by the Hebrew word "nagad," which in the majority of times throughout the Old Testament is used in the context of declaring or making known something that already existed.
This claim would be labeled a “whopper” in common circles. A careful study of the linguistics of this word tells a very different story.
Here is the definition of the Hebrew word, “nagad:”
Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions
1. to be conspicuous, tell, make known
a. (Hiphil) to tell, declare
1. to tell, announce, report
2. to declare, make known, expound
3. to inform of
4. to publish, declare, proclaim
5. to avow, acknowledge, confess 1a
b. messenger (participle)
c. (Hophal) to be told, be announced, be reported
Origin: a primitive root
Parts of Speech: Verb
Our research indicates that Cotto is not correct in stating that the Hebrew word, “nagad,” is frequently used to refer to something that previously existed. In fact, Moses used a FORM of this word that never seems to be used in connection with the revealing of mysterious things not known.
We studied an exhaustive listing of the use of this word with the help of The Englishman’s Concordance at Bible Suite.Com—via its Hebrew-English translation. It suggests that a better rendering of it would be that “nagad” is used when someone is telling someone about an interesting event that happened in the past. The idea of that thing being mysterious, concealed, or not understood is foreign to the use of this word. Since the past begins the very instant the present is over, this word is used when things happened all the way from moments ago to many years ago. The use of this word in this passage is not significant and is of no use to Cotto’s argument.
The form of this verb, “nagad,” that is often used to make known something from the past that is not understood, has been concealed, or is mysterious, is the Hiph`il  form.
Please note that even if the Hebrew word in Deuteronomy 4:13 had been Hiph`il , it is only its second meaning that is often used to make known something mysterious that existed in the past. Here is a complete listing of all the places in the Old Testament where Hiph`il328, is used, and note that Deuteronomy 4:13 is not included in either list. It would have to appear in the second list to be of any help to Cotto’s argument.
1. tell, announce, report, usually human subject: Genesis 9:22; Genesis 24:23; Genesis 32:6; Leviticus 14:35; Judges 13:6; 1 Samuel 3:18; 1 Kings 1:23; Nehemiah 2:12; Esther 2:10 (twice in verse); Job 12:7; Psalm 142:3; Isaiah 19:12; Jeremiah 5:20; Ezekiel 24:19 +.
2. declare, make known, expound, especially of something before not understood, concealed or mysterious: Genesis 3:11; Genesis 12:18, etc.; 1 Kings 10:3 2Chronicles 9:2; a riddle Judges 14:12,15,16 (3 t. in verse); Judges 14:19; dream Daniel 2:2; secret Job 11:6, etc.; of ׳י as revealing, Genesis 41:25; 2 Samuel 7:11; 2 Kings 4:27; Micah 6:8; Jeremiah 42:3; Psalm 147:19; of declaring by ׳יs agents Deuteronomy 5:5; Micah 3:8; 1 Samuel 15:16; 2 Samuel 24:13; Jeremiah 50:28; Isaiah 58:1; by divine. Hosea 4:12.
At the above source you can find a list of over 300 references to the word, “nagad,” and its meaning always seems to be that someone is telling someone else about an interesting but non mysterious event that happened in the past– even minutes ago, hours ago, or days ago. It appears that there are serious problems with Cotto’s effort to extract a Sabbatarian-friendly interpretation of Deuteronomy 4:13.
COTTO: IN THIS TEXT GOD REFERS TO THE COVENANT THAT MOSES IDENTIFIES AS THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AS “HIS COVENANT” RATHER THAN “THEIR COVENANT.” THIS DISTINCTION IS EVIDENCE THAT THIS REFERENCE WAS THE COVENANT GOD HAD MADE WITH ABRAHAM.
Then notice that it reads, "His covenant." God made known "His" covenant to them. It is not "their" covenant, as our opponents would have us believe. No, it was "His" covenant, because this covenant of His was His before he declared it to the children of Israel, it was first a covenant between Him and Abraham!
It is also possible that “their” covenant” could have gone back to the past. A covenant is a formal agreement between two parties. Here is an example. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had an agreement a couple of decades ago that Bill would loan Apple Computer millions of dollars and allow Apple to have a Mac version of Microsoft Office. Their agreement way back then set the stage for something no one would have predicted at the time. Who could have ever guessed that Apple Computer, which was nearly bankrupt when Bill lent Steve a hand, would eventually pass up Microsoft and become many times larger? His agreement would cost Bill more than he ever could have guessed at the time.
Cotto’s manipulation of Scripture is highly imaginative, but there is no way he can make this argument credible. All the covenants were His. He tailor-made them for the benefit of each party He offered them to at various times. There is no basis in logic to make this leap of application other that Cotto’s need to make it happen—that is, to somehow get a Sabbath to appear before the Exodus. “His” and “Theirs” are not terms that are designed, either in Hebrew or English, to establish a time relationship between events.
Furthermore, Deuteronomy 4:13 is not a good text for Sabbatarians to mention under any circumstance. It is the Achilles Heel of the Pro-Sabbatarian teaching that the Old and New Covenants are essentially the same. This text equates the 10 Commandments with the Old Covenant. Scripture says that the Old Covenant was to be done away with, that it was faulty, and that it would be replaced with a new covenant that would not be like the old one. The Old Covenant did get replaced with the New Covenant, and the Sabbath is conspicuously missing from the new contract between God and His Christian believers. Even St. Paul’s list of 23 sins that he said would be certain to keep someone out of Heaven does not include Sabbath breaking. Sanders observes that it was the same God (Jesus) who gave His people, in one dispensation, the Old Covenant, which included the Sabbath, and the New Covenant, which did not. He reasons that Jesus was not exhibiting forgetfulness when He failed to place the Sabbath commandment in the New Covenant. If Jesus had wanted His followers in the New Covenant dispensation to keep the Sabbath, He would have given them a clear command to do so, just like He did to Israel. In that case, the apostles would have expounded on it and preached its importance. Instead, we find, in the New Covenant dispensation, the apostles telling the Gentiles that they did not have to keep the Law of Moses and St. Paul commanding the church not to require the Gentiles to keep the Sabbath.
Where there is no law there is no sin. The fact is obvious that there is no Sabbath keeping command in the New Covenant. Sabbatarians by preaching a dead law are preaching a false gospel—a “gospel” that is not taught by the Apostles. We challenge any student of the Bible to provide a “thus saith the Lord” text to support a New Covenant Sabbath Commandment!
COTTO: WHEN GOD SAID THAT THE MOSAIC COVENANT WAS NOT MADE WITH THE FATHERS OF THE HEBREWS, HE ONLY MEANT THAT IT WAS NOT MADE WITH THEIR ANCESTORS WHO LIVED DURING THE 400 YEARS OF SLAVERY IN EGYPT. THIS WOULD CONTRADICT I CHRONICLES 16:15-17, WHICH SAYS THAT THE SAME COVENANT THAT WAS MADE WITH ABRAHAM WAS MADE WITH ISRAEL ON MT. SINAI.— IN OTHER WORDS, THE 10 COMMANDMENTS.
He quotes Deuteronomy 5:3 (KJV):
The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
Common sense tells us that Moses knew that God had made various covenants with his people previous to the one He made with Israel at Mt. Sinai. If it was the same covenant that God had made with Abraham, by the process of elimination, there is no other reason to explain why Moses would explain to the people that the covenant they had with God was not the same covenant that was made with their ancestors. One only need read the context of I Chronicles 16 to see what covenant is being referenced– the one that related to the promises revolving around the land Israel would eventually inhabit. See especially verses 18 and 19.
Again, the covenant made with Abraham and the covenant made with Israel at Sinai shared two components, but neither one was the Sabbath. What license does Cotto have to limit the “fathers” back only as far as 400 years? There is nothing in the text itself and nothing in its context to suggest that any provision of the Hebrew or the English translations of this passage would permit such a thing. You might as well invoke magic to intervene wherever you need it to bring about your desired result. Nothing is said about limiting it to a certain number of generations,” much less to the generations of four hundred years. This mistake is the result of his assumption that there was a Sabbath prior to their enslavement by the Egyptians. It is an error of logic created by circular reasoning. It is adding words to Scripture that are not there. Robert Sanders observes that Moses knew good and well who the Fathers of the Israelites were and these “fathers” started with Adam. If Moses intended to refer only to the Fathers starting with those who entered into Egypt, he would have said so and identified them as such. Furthermore, Moses knew The Law started with the Israelites.
We have seen that 1 Chronicles 16:15-17 talks about the fundamental covenant God made with both Abraham and Israel. If they were faithful to Him, He would give them the land of Canaan for a possession forever. Cotto’s limitation to 400 years is unacceptable because it demands a high degree of interpretive imagination. If Anti-Sabbatarians used similar license in interpreting a far-fetched idea like this to their advantage, the Sabbatarians would be howling. Unfortunately, Cotto is adding words to Scripture that are just not there. "Not with our Fathers" means exactly that. There is no biblical record of any person or nation having the Ten Commandment covenant before they were given through Moses to the Israelites.
ELLEN G. WHITE AND
Part II has been researched & written by:
Kerry B. Wynne
B.A. English and history, Pacific Union College (1970)
M.A., educational administration, Andrews University (1978)
William H. Hohmann
B.A., theology, Ambassador College (1976)
Robert K. Sanders
Founder, Truth of Fables Website
Independent Bible Researcher and Author
The Unmasking Of Ellen White, Part I
By Kerry B. Wynne
"We put on a sort of holy mask, and say things that we ourselves know were not exactly, true; and the brethren look soberly in our faces, and know that we are not saying it exactly as it is, and we keep looking soberly at one another, and saying things that we know are not exactly right; and the chairman makes explanations that he knows are not exactly true; but it would hardly do to say it exactly as it is, and so the smiling is up the sleeve, and not on the countenance, and we go on with it."---- General Conference vice president, W. W. Prescott, quoted speaking at a General Conference session and reported in The White Elephant of Adventism?, published by Vowless in 1933.
For the Seventh-day Adventist Sabbatarian, there is no way to separate the Sabbath-Sunday Question from Ellen G. White, the Church's prophetess and one of its three primary founders. Her “Halo Vision” bonds the issue of Sabbath-keeping with the question of her prophetic inspiration:
EGW wrote a letter to Joseph Bates April 7,1847 the following.
“In the holiest I saw an ark; on the top and sides of it was purest gold. On each end of the ark was a lovely cherub, with its wings spread out over it. Their faces were turned toward each other, and they looked downward. Between the angels was a golden censer. Above the ark, where the angels stood, was an exceeding bright glory, that appeared like a throne where God dwelt. Jesus stood by the ark, and as the saints’ prayers came up to Him, the incense in the censer would smoke, and He would offer up their prayers with the smoke of the incense to His Father. In the ark was the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of stone which folded together like a book. Jesus opened them, and I saw the ten commandments written on them with the finger of God. On one table were four, and on the other six. The four on the first table shone brighter than the other six. But the fourth, the Sabbath commandment, shone above them all; for the Sabbath was set apart to be kept in honor of God’s holy name. The holy Sabbath looked glorious–a halo of glory was all around it. I saw that the Sabbath commandment was not nailed to the cross. If it was, the other nine commandments were; and we are at liberty to break them all, as well as to break the fourth. I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week; for he was to change times and laws.” --- A Word to the Little Flock, p. 18- Spirit of Prophecy Vol. 1, p. 349.
As Robert K. Sanders points out, there are definite problems with this so-called “vision.” Exodus 32:15-24 says the two tablets were inscribed on both sides. What she “saw” contradicts the Bible's description of them. When Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important, He taught that it was the one that instructed Israel to love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves. Colossians 2:14-17 teaches that the Law was, indeed, nailed to the Cross. Her statement that the pope was the one responsible for changing the Sabbath was both historically impossible and conceptually irrelevant since the original Bible Sabbath-- the lunar Sabbath-- was a moving target that wandered through the days of any fixed week calendar scheme. With these problems as starters, it is remarkable that Adventism escaped any significant challenge to its Sabbath doctrine until the 1980's-- with the single exception of the largely ineffective efforts of D. M. Canright, who apostatized in 1887.
The blame for the existence of the highly articulate anti-Sabbatarian, anti-Ellen White movement of today lands squarely on the shoulders of one Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath scholar, the late Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi. In his 1977 book, From Sabbath to Sunday, Bacchiocchi tried to explain away the most threatening anti-Sabbatarian passages in the entire Bible-- Colossians 2:14-17. This passage labels the Jewish sabbath system as an obsolete “shadow” and indicates that it received this status when Christ died on the Cross. Bacchiocchi astonished both Seventh-day Adventists and Evangelicals by claiming that these “shadows” merely represented the extra man-made rules and regulations the Judaizers had added to the requirements for observing these ordinances. By doing so, he turned this dangerous anti-Sabbatarian “gun” around and pointed it back into the face of the opponents of the Sabbath. In an attempted feat of theological gymnastics he proposed that by condemning the ABUSE of these ordinances, Paul actually validated the continuance of these Jewish institutions into the Christian disposition. This ploy back-fired on him because this concept flatly contradicted at least two of Ellen White's “inspired” statements. First, he conceded that the sabbath in the third position was, indeed, a reference to the weekly Sabbath of the Decalogue and that it could not possibly refer to anything else (From Sabbath to Sunday, page 360). Ellen White cited direct, divine inspiration for claiming that it represented only one of the “ceremonial” sabbaths. Second, he conceded that Sabbath could not possibly have been changed by the Roman Catholic Church because it happened too early. Ellen White, again citing inspiration, had taught that the papacy had “changed” it.
The up-shot of all this was a focus on the Sabbath-Sunday Question the likes of which had not been seen since England during the reign of Charles I. This book tells the fascinating story of this pivotal development in the history of the Christian Faith.
Although Dr. Bacchiocchi lived long enough to have to fight the “fire” that he himself inadvertently started, he never abandoned these views, although he refined them a time or two. In the later years of his distinguished career as a Seventh-day Adventist theologian, he published a series of books that offered instruction to Christians on which of the Jewish festivals should be kept and how to keep them. Here is a representative statement from one of them:
“A fourth surprise was to discover that I was wrong in assuming that the annual Feasts came to an end with the sacrifice of Christ, simply because they were connected with the sacrificial system of the Temple. I came to realize that the continuity or discontinuity of the Feasts is determined not by their connection with the sacrificial system, but by the scope of their typology. If the Feasts had typified only the redemptive accomplishments of Christ’s first Advent, then obviously their function would have terminated at the Cross. But, if the Feasts foreshadow also the consummation of redemption to be accomplished by Christ at His Second Advent, then their function continues in the Christian church, though with a new meaning and manner of observance.” (From the book, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, Volume I: The Spring Festivals, from the chapter, “Preview of the Book,” by Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi)
By 1995, with the publication of The Sabbath in the New Testament, he seemed have opened to the possibility that the Sabbath in the third position might be a reference to a ceremonial sabbath feast day, perhaps an annual one, thus returning more closely to the traditional SDA interpretation. Several years later He added the possibility that it might represent a reference to ceremonial events that lasted an entire week (Sabbath Under Crossfire, 1998).
Fatefully, Bacchiocchi decided to aggressively market his 1977 book, From Sabbath to Sunday, to the clergy and religious leaders of the Christian world. Bacchiocchi's outstanding credentials gained him an audience for this old controversy. (He was the first Protestant scholar to graduate from the Gregorian Pontifical University at the Vatican in a thousand years, and his doctorate was in church history.) Eventually his book landed in the hands of Evangelical scholar, D. A. Carson.
It so came to pass that some years prior to 1977, Carson and some of his colleagues had been working on a research project to get to the bottom of the Sabbath-Sunday Question. Their interest in this subject must have resulted from general theological curiosity because there was little interest in this subject in the early 1970's. The attack of Dr. Bacchiocchi's book release kicked Carson into action. He and his associates quickly turned their efforts into a “Manhattan Project” like operation, and their research efforts were kicked into high gear. By 1982, their work was ready for publication, and it was released in a book with a title that was named to indicate that it was a rebuttal to Dr. Bacchiocchi's 1977 book-- From Sabbath to Lord's Day. Each chapter was written by an Evangelical scholar who had specialized knowledge in each respective area of Dr. Bacchiocchi's work. The advanced Hebrew linguistics work was definitive, and his various Sabbath abandonment conspiracy theories were refuted with elements from the better understanding of the history of the early church that had come to light by the late 1960's.
One of the Seventh-day Adventist theologians to consider the implications of Bacchiocchi's teaching for Adventism was the independent and controversial Australian Adventist theologian, Robert D. Brinsmead. A man of means, Brinsmead was afforded the leisure time to pursue his own research projects. Four years later he published his landmark 1981 essay, “Sabbatarianism Re-examined,” and in his 1982 sequel, “A Digest of the Sabbath Question.” Both papers were extensively researched and well-documented anti-Sabbatarian documents, and they were widely circulated among Adventist leadership. Despite the fact that Brinsmead drew from relatively recent developments in the historical understanding of the Early Church Era and Hebrew linguistics, Adventist leaders ignored his work, continuing on with their business-as-usual determination.
In a very big way, then, the Seventh-day Adventist Church had a strong moral obligation to implement fundamental doctrinal reform by no later than 1983. Not only was the Sabbath-Sunday Question settled by Carson, but also in 1982 an SDA researcher, Dr. Walter Rea, proved that Ellen White had copied large volumes of information from other writers while claiming that she got that information from God. He stumbled across this sensitive information while doing research in her personal library, which had been preserved after her death by the Church. Rea published findings in his New York Times best-seller, The White Lie. The church fired Dr. Rea, who was on the verge of retirement age, and took away his retirement benefits. He took the Church to court and got his pension back by threatening to publish his next book, Pirates of Privilege, which exposed Adventist financial corruption in conjunction with the Davenport Scandal-- a Ponzi scheme which had bilked mega millions of dollars from various SDA organizations and the leaders who made privileged private investments in Dr. Davenport's program. That book was not published until the statues of limits expired, but it is now available to read on the Internet.
Also, in 1983, a crazy set of circumstances came together which placed, into the hands of key Adventist leaders all over the world, an astonishing document that provided incredibly powerful evidence that Ellen White was a fraud. The source of this unsavory information was none other than the associate secretary of the White Estate, Ron Graybill. Graybill had spent nearly a dozen years at the White Estate with unbridled access to every word-- including many of the stupid words-- that Ellen White had written. Perhaps no one else alive at the time knew more about the fraudulent prophetic claims of Ellen White than he did. He had been working on a doctoral dissertation at a non-Seventh-day Adventist University. He secured an agreement with that university to seal that document up and make it inaccessible to anyone for a period of five years after his graduation. The dissertation included a vast wealth of evidence that Ellen White was a fraud. Unfortunately, someone acquired a copy of it, duplicated it, and sent it to key SDA leaders all over the world without his knowledge or consent. After being presented with proof that Ellen White was a deceiver from a top official at the White Estate, one would expect a subsequent repudiation of her by the Church. No such thing happened. Graybill had documented the evidence for these problems:
1. She made fraudulent claims.
2. Her personal character was seriously flawed.
3. She appeared to have produced her so-called “visions” when necessary to defeat her opposition.
Nearly a decade earlier, the 1974 theft and later unauthorized publication of the secret transcript of the minutes of the 1919 Bible Conference proved that the delegates clearly understood that Ellen White’s was a fraud. For example, the transcript exposes them discussing how to keep the truth about her from the seminary students. Equally interesting is their tacit admission that her claim that God showed her that the Roman Catholic Church changed the Sabbath did not square with the facts of history or the specifications of the prophecies of Daniel. In fact these delegates conceded that the specifications of the prophecies made it impossible for the Catholic Church to be the culprit. Later we will take you right into the midst of this top-secret meeting via the stenographer's transcript and you will learn for yourself what the delegates to the conference knew about these problems no later than 1919. It is easy to reason from probable cause to likely effect that this sordid revelation may have influenced Graybill to take advantage of his access to the writings of Ellen White, unreleased to the public, which betrayed the fact that she lied to cover-up earlier blunders.
It is not surprising, then, knowing the determination of Adventists to protect the institution of Adventist at all costs, that no Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath apologist has ever, to our knowledge, even acknowledge the existence of Carson's Hebrew linguistics arguments, much less attempted to refute them. Some decades ago a well-respected Seventh-day Adventist Hebrew professor, Dr. Jerry Gladson, left the Church and began to teach against Sabbatarianism. Two Sabbatarian apologists have challenged our presentation of the Hebrew linguistics problem. We have asked them to bring forth a Hebrew language expert to refute our findings, but years have passed by and no one has come forth.
ELLEN WHITE AND THE OCCULT CONNECTION
With these facts in mind, what do we make of Ellen White’s outlandish claim, made a century and a half ago, that God showed her a vision that the Sabbath was given to Adam and Eve? We can take it with a grain of salt! She also told us that England would come over and fight with the South against the North in the American Civil War and that the main-line Protestant churches would soon be promoting Spiritualism and having séances! A prophet whose predictions fail is a false prophet. Moses wrote in such a manner as to prevent his Hebrew readers from concluding that the Sabbath ordinance was instituted at Creation, and his wording of these Sabbath-related passages was directly inspired by God. Therefore, Ellen White's Sabbath visions could not possibly have come from God. But if she didn't get these non-biblical ideas about the Sabbath ordinance from God, where did she get them?
A critical review of the 7th Edition of Lying for God chastised us for continuing to label Ellen White a false prophet after conceding that a wide range of both her supporters and opposers acknowledged the supernatural nature of many of her visions.. If God were the only source of supernatural phenomena, the reviewer's objections would be determinate. However, this argument ignores the fact that Satan can also produce supernatural phenomenon. Here are the possibilities for your consideration:
(1) While she may have have created in her own mind the things she attributed to visions—and she probably did—the evidence is that many of her visions had an undeniable supernatural element.
(2) Since many of her visions were conceded by her contemporary supporters and critics alike, we must concluded that her visions came from the Dark Side because so many of the prophecies she obtained in this way turned out to be false and/or taught ideas that contradicted the Gospel teachings of the Bible. She claimed that she got a lot of her information from her “angel” guide who had presented himself to her in the guise of a young man for over 26 years. An eye-witness account of the phenomenon of table-tipping at one of her public visions is about all the evidence anyone would need to conclude that her visions were from Satan. At the time, table-tipping was synonymous with Spiritualism. (There will be more about the table-tipping later.) A later chapter will amplify her occult connections.
If Ellen White hadn’t had public visions that were accompanied by supernatural phenomena, and if she hadn’t had a so-called angel guide, we could dismiss her error as the result of either poor Bible study methods or an over-stimulated visual cortex caused by her childhood head injury. But Ellen White claimed that her angel companion showed her that the Sabbath Commandment was the most important one of all and that Christians would be keeping it in Heaven. (Recall that she documented this claim in her “Halo Vision”, which is recorded her early publication, A Word To The Little Flock.) At the same time her “angel” guide sometimes gave her information that only a supernatural being could have known, such as knowledge of the secret sins of Church members, while at the same time feeding her information and predictions that turned out to be highly inaccurate. In fact, her “angel” companion exhibited all the characteristics of a spirit guide who enjoyed playing her for a fool.
The biblical standard for a prophet is 100% accuracy. The standard for Spiritualist mediums is considerably lower. Mediums have to be right a great deal of the time to be considered a gift Spiritualist. How many times has a medium been able to help the police find a missing body under humanly impossible circumstances only to have his or her next prediction turn out to be a ruse?
We have discovered a substantial body of evidence that demonstrates that Ellen White met all the standards of a Spiritualist medium. At the same time she failed six of the seven tests of a biblical prophet. We have also observed that what Ellen White taught about the process of salvation, known to theologians as Progressive Sanctification, is remarkably like what Spiritualists teach about the progression of the reincarnated soul to higher levels. Both are based on human effort. Only the players are different. With Ellen White’s “Christian” version of salvation by Progressive Sanctification, the players are God, angels, and humans. In the Spiritualist version,, the players are Satan, fallen spirits, and humans.
Our Seventh-day Adventist readers have been taught the idea of Progressive Sanctification all of their church lives, so our criticism is thought to be in error. However, while Progressive Sanctification is a good way to explain the natural progression of the Christian life, it represents a false gospel (“another gospel,” as St. Paul would say), when it is used to describe the process of salvation.)
All the evidence we discovered suggests that Ellen White was a Spiritualistic medium who thought she was a Christian. It is also interesting to note that Ellen White copied portions of the writings of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, and claimed God as her source for this information. To read about her copying of the visions of Joseph Smith, do an Internet search for “Joseph Smith+Ellen White+Plagiarism.”
The Mormon Temple has many Masonic and occult symbols on its edifice. By the early 1840's the Latter Day Saints were deeply involved in Freemasonry. Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, became members. At its height, there were 1,500 L.D.S. members practicing Freemasonry in the city of Nauvoo, Illinois where Joseph Smith grew Mormonism into a mighty cult. (See Wikipedia article, “Mormonism and Freemasonry.”) This question should burn in the mind of inquiring Adventists: Why, if Ellen White knew she had a direct line to God, was she snooping around in the writings of a rival prophet, looking for information she could adopt, re-word, and present to her own flock as words she received directly from the throne of God?
We will demonstrate that despite the increasing lip service she gave to the concept of Righteousness by Faith in her later writings, it appears that she believed that it was mustered up faith that saved a person rather than unmitigated Grace taught by St. Paul and widely understood by Evangelicals. As if she had no clue about what she really was teaching, she once wrote that all religious systems that are based on human effort are from the Devil. She condemned herself with those words.
Let us recall an important chapter of SDA history. When the topic of Righteousness by Faith was introduced to Adventism for the first time by Jones and Waggoner in 1888, church leaders rejected their message, despite Ellen White’s “testimony” that these men spoke the truth. They rejected the message of Righteousness by Faith because what Waggoner and Jones taught appeared to disagree with her earlier “inspired” writings! It is also noteworthy that even Waggoner and Jones fell painfully short when it came to teaching the full Gospel as articulated by St. Paul, although they were definitely headed away from the legalism of historic, early Adventism.
A string of prophetic blunders, such as her prediction that England would come over and fight with the South against the North, combined with the prominent supernatural features of her public visions, appear to have influenced several of her prominent followers to leave the Christian faith and join the ranks of the Spiritualists. In fact there is good reason to believe that during the decades that she was having public visions that featured paranormal activity, hundreds of her followers may have flocked to the ranks of the Spiritualists. Moses Hull may have been one of them, as we will explained shortly.
During these years of public visions she continued to reveal remarkable secret knowledge, such as the private sins of individuals, along with predictions that turned out to be impossibly wrong. (At the same time she used human detective work to find out about the secret sins of Church members and then pawned off this knowledge as something God “showed” her.) A well-known Adventist preacher, Moses Hull, was the most prominent Adventist leader to become a Spiritualist. In the camp of the Spiritualists He became so notorious for his wickedness that he was shunned even by the movement he joined. Ellen White predicted that God would catch up with him very soon and that he would come to an untimely death. Mocking her prophecy, he lived to a ripe old age and squeezed every possible ounce of sinful delight from his earthly life before he died.
In an uncanny comparison, a Battle Creek physician and former devoted follower of Ellen White, Dr. William S. Sadler, left Adventism after her bizarre Chicago Buildings Vision and started a Spiritualist “church,” the Urantia Movement, which he modeled after Adventism in two striking ways. The Urantians have a body of writings which they claim were imparted to them by spirits through a sleeping medium, very much like Ellen White’s voluminous writings that were largely imparted to her by a young-appearing male “angel” who gave thousands of pages of information to Ellen White through visions. Adventism has its White Estate, which controls the release of her writings to the public. Similarly, the Urantians have their Urantia Foundation which controls the release of these thousands of pages of spirit-dictated writings to the public. Additionally, the Urantians have a “Bible” developed from these writings, The Urantia Book, which begs to be compared with the new Adventist “bible,” the Clear Word, which mixes the spirit-dictated writings of Ellen White with the words of the Holy Bible together, confusing readers, at times, in regard to whether a Bible writer wrote it or whether it originated in the thoughts of Ellen White.
ELLEN WHITE AND FREEMASONRY
Amazingly, an obscene obelisk violates the virgin sky above the grave of James and Ellen White. This obelisk, which now forces its way skyward in a lewd gesture of phallic power above their grave, was erected during the lifetime of Ellen White after James’ untimely death. The obelisk is a key symbol in Freemasonry and numerous heathen religious systems that utilized sexual orgies to “worship” their deities. It was first used by Nimrod, who is symbolized by the constellation Orion. There is little possibility that the Whites didn’t know this. Both William Miller and Captain Joseph Bates had been deep into Freemasonry at least during the earlier years of their lives, and these men had a profound influence over Ellen. Her own husband, James White, was a Mason, and one of their sons became a Mason as well. As a result, she had an intimate knowledge of practices of Freemasonry. Later we will tell you the story about how she used this knowledge to fool a Church leader who was involved with Freemasonry into thinking that God showed her what happened in a high order meeting in the Masonic temple that he had recently attended.
She used New Age terminology in her writings, such as “vital force,” almost before there was an organized New Age movement. She quoted poets who used terminology such as “Mother Earth,” without a word of condemnation, and her spirit guide (angel guide?) showed her that God would speak through a special opening in the constellation of Orion and send the Holy City down from Heaven through it at the Second Coming. Again, we are faced with the occult connection, as Orion-Nimrod became the enemy of God and established the use of fertility rites in false systems of worship. It was Nimrod who first utilized the obelisk as a symbol of this rebellion. The connection between the obelisk and Orion is a firmly established link in occult tradition. We are also faced with the stark reality that since Ellen White had no significant body of New Age sources at the time from which to borrow, her New Age concepts must have come from the spirit guide who appeared to her as a young, male angel.
Not only did Ellen White have an “angel” spirit guide, but she writes about how her dead husband, James, appeared to her. They went for a carriage ride together after his death, and he gave her counsel for the future. While she presented this account of her contact with James as a vivid dream or vision, she put credence in what he told her, accepting the prophecy of her dead husband as valid. As a result of his counsel, she altered her plans for the future.
In Chapter 16 we will document how Freemasonry influenced Adventism from the beginning and played an important part in shaping it for more than half of its first century. Once more we find that Adventist leaders have always known about this dark side of the Church’s history but have deliberately kept this fact hidden. Since Freemasonry is based on Jewish mysticism and the subsequent cult of Gnosticism that grew out of it, the fact that Adventism was shaped by it explains much about the denomination’s emphasis on Sabbath-keeping and works-oriented law-keeping. We document these shocking facts largely from the biographies of William Miller, other contemporaries of James and Ellen White, and Adventist historical writings. Please save your judgment until you see the compelling evidence for yourself. Imagine this! One of James and Ellen White’s sons was a Freemason. If the son joined the society in his early 20’s, logic tells us that his father must have been involved with the society for a good while.
The Unmasking Of Ellen White, Part II
“She [the Eastern Church] is the Mother and Rome the daughter (page 66)." All the first founders of theology were Easterners. Till the time of Augustine (355-430) no divine had arisen in the West; till the time of Gregory the Great (596-604) none had filled the papal chair. The doctrine of Athanasius [the Trinity] was received, not originated, by Rome" (pages 71, 72). This indicates how dependent Rome was for centuries on the East and how far behind the East Rome was in learning and influence.” – D. M. Canright (The Lord's Day from Neither Catholics nor Pagans: An Answer to Seventh-Day Adventism on This Subject) quoting Dean Stanley [1815-1881], Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Oxford, in his History of the Eastern Church.
ELLEN WHITE UNMASKED BY THE CHICAGO
BUILDINGS VISION FIASCO
Earlier we covered the subject of how SDA Sabbath scholar, Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, in his 1977 book, From Sabbath to Sunday, tacitly contradicted several statements Ellen White had made for which she claimed direct, divine revelation from God. He became the first Adventist theologian to do this without losing his job. The courage to contradict her did not likely come “out of the blue.” As a top SDA theologian, he was in a good place to be privy to developments within the Denomination that would be witheld from almost everyone else. We theorize that he learned of the 1974 discovery of the transcripts of the 1919 Bible Conference. In these stolen documents, which were published by an independent source several years later, the delegates were shown to have agonized over the extreme difficulties of reconciling Ellen White's claims about the role of the papacy in Sabbath abandonment with the facts of history and the specifications of the prophecies of Daniel. The transcripts also revealed that the delegates discussed her fraudulent prophetic claims and how they were going to keep the truth about her from their theology students. Additionally, the Minutes revealed the delegates' determination to keep the truth about the impossibilities about her prophetic 1844 interpretations of Daniel's key prophecies a secret.
The delegates to the 1919 Bible Conference had lost their belief in Ellen White for good reasons. Tracing from cause to effect, we have to go back to the turn of the twentieth century and examine Adventism's Battle Creek Crisis, which came to a head as a result of her Chicago Buildings Vision. At the time, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was located in Battle Creek, and Ellen White was in residence there. She claimed to have had a vision from God which showed her that a prominent physician at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Dr. Harvey Kellogg, had diverted funds intended to be used at the “San” to construct some buildings in Chicago. All of these accusations turned out to be untrue. It was this bizarre “vision” that would have destroyed Adventism during the Battle Creek Crisis near the turn of the nineteenth century had it not been for the skillful damage control techniques of the General Conference and Ellen White herself. Unfortunately, she had rebuked Kellogg in the form of a testimony she had sent to him in 1899. She was wrong about her accusations, and many individuals knew it was a farce! The knowledge of this fiasco somehow got suppressed to a great degree over time until attention was re-focused on it by the troublesome revelations of the problems of Adventism that developed during the 1970's and 1980's.
As more and more revelations of her prophetic blunders surfaced and needed more and more explaining away, Ellen White prophesied that a sword of judgment hung over Battle Creek because her followers were straying from her counsels. A set of suspicious fires began which, over a course of nearly two decades, burned down all most all the major buildings associated with the Adventist “work” in Battle Creek one by one. Perceptive Adventists would have to ask whether or not God would burn these buildings down in punishment, or would Satan be allowed to do it? Or was it simply a mentally disturbed follower of Ellen White who wanted to make sure that her predictions would be fulfilled and acted on his “own?” If it was her spirit guide rather than just her own vivid imagination that gave her the Chicago Buildings Vision, that spirit guide played her for a fool.
The Battle Creek Crisis was multi-faceted, but the single most important contributing factor was her Chicago Buildings Vision. Between the Battle Creek Crisis at the turn of the century and her death in 1915, a string of prophetic blunders continued unabated. Our historical time-line tells this story. Thus, the stage was set to force the delegates to the 1919 Bible Conference to address what should be done, if anything, about her fraudulent prophetic claims.
The confusion ensued in Battle Creek in 1899 when she accused the CEO of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Dr. John H. Kellogg, of constructing buildings in the Chicago Area to serve the unworthy poor with funds he had supposedly diverted from the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The accusation came in the form of a “testimony,” which was understood by the followers of Ellen White to mean that the information had come to her by direct, divine revelation. The accusation was bizarre, inappropriate, and baffling, not only to the staff of Adventist physicians who were associated with Dr. Kellogg at the Sanitarium, but to other Adventists who were involved with the “Work” in Battle Creek, and to Ellen White herself, who stated in the heat of the fallout from the trouble she created by saying that she did not understand the vision herself when it was given. Also, Battle Creek was the denominational headquarters for the Seventh-day Adventist Church at that time. Ellen White possessed Clintonian intellect and evasiveness, and she had managed to get herself out of many a tight spot. However, as smart as she was, she was no match for the genius IQ levels of this group of world-class physicians. As we noted in Chapter I, they had no trouble figuring out that the whole thing was a sham. She met her Waterloo at Battle Creek in the form of this group of very smart physicians and professionals whose incomes were not dependent on the Church and whose IQ’s exceeded even the brilliance of Ellen White’s.
This bizarre incident could not exactly be characterized as the straw that broke the camel's back. It was more like the elephant that leaned against the side of a dilapidated shack and caused the whole thing to collapse. Her blunder made her the laughing stock of Battle Creek. For over a decade prior to the crisis, the Battle Creek physicians had been identifying a lot of areas where Ellen White failed to meet the tests of a biblical prophet, and they had been bombarding her with requests that she explain herself– requests that went unanswered. It was the 1899 letter from White to Kellogg about the Chicago Buildings Vision that caused the Battle Creek physicians to step up their campaign to get answers from her. At first Ellen claimed she received a vision from God that she should answer their questions, and she invited all who had such questions to submit them to her in writing. After the questions started rolling in, she was “shown” that she was not supposed to answer questions related to her prophetic claims. By 1907, Dr. Charles E. Stewart, frustrated with her refusal to answer their questions, put them together in booklet form and published it for what he intended to be for a very small audience. Demand for copies of the little publication grew, and it received a much wider circulation than he had envisioned.
These were some of his concerns: (1) the influence of others in writing her books when she claimed that God helped her choose the very words she wrote, (2) the Chicago Buildings Vision, (3) plagiarism in regard to her wholesale copying from the book by British authors Conybeare and Howson on the life of St. Paul– Sketches From the Life of Paul, (4) her copying of the health writings of Dr. Cole while presenting the information as having come to her from God in vision, (5) continuing to eat meat and unclean meats like oysters for decades after she began to preach the importance of a vegetarian diet, and (6) her crazy statements about medicine. The fact that she had opened herself up to these kinds of questions is, in itself, a condemnation of her prophetic claims. She lied about where she got the information for her book on the life of Paul. It was clear to the Battle Creek physicians that the main issue was not the plagiarism itself– which was bad enough– but the lying.
The timing of her Chicago Buildings Vision could not have been worse. Not only were the Adventists in Battle Creek finding a variety of reasons to question her prophetic claims, but the “vision” came at a time of political up-roar that was already threatening to destroy Adventism. The General Conference had been working to break the power of Dr. Kellogg, who had already succeeded in wresting control of the newly re-built Battle Creek Sanitarium from the Church and minimizing its control over the American Medical Missionary College in Chicago. Sensing that her credibility as a prophetess was sinking quickly– even before the Chicago Buildings Vision– she had begun agitating to get the Battle Creek College moved to a rural location and the General Conference headquarters moved somewhere else. As you may recall, she had claimed that God showed her that a “sword of judgment” hung over the “Work” in Battle Creek, and a series of tragic fires had already destroyed a number of key Adventist institutions, including the old Battle Creek Sanitarium building. By 1922, when fire destroyed the Battle Creek Tabernacle Church, there were no significant Adventist buildings left standing that had been associated with the Adventist Work when Ellen White and the General Conference were there. It did not take any special revelation from God to understand that she and Adventism were doomed if its main hub remained in Battle Creek.
Interestingly, Ellen White continued to assert that these fires represented judgments from God until Pacific Press, a California Adventist publishing house, burned to the ground some years later. In this fire she lost many thousands of dollars of printing plates and precious art work that she had purchased from New York artists to illustrate her books.
Ellen White's Blunders “Launch” The
Spiritualist Movement Of The Urantians
So far as we can tell, all of the Adventist doctors and business associates of Dr. Harvey John Kellogg, perhaps with the exception of Dr. David Paulsen, who pioneered the Hinsdale Sanitarium for Dr. Kellogg in Chicago, left Adventism because they finally grasped the fact that she was a fraud. Dr. Paulsen seemed to have decided that her prophetic claims were not genuine, but he remained in the Adventist fold by keeping his views of Ellen White to himself. In a key letter to Ellen White he expressed his doubts about her prophetic gifts and told her that he no longer believed her claim that she was inspired by God at the verbal level. Since she claimed inspiration at the verbal level, and since she never answered him on this point, we have to understand that he was, indeed, accusing her of lying about her gifts. Wilfred Custer Kellogg, a relative of J. H. Kellogg and a successful Battle Creek businessman, joined Dr. William S. Sadler in a journey into spirit channeling, founding a new religion modeled after Adventism, based, supposedly on thousands of pages of information written by “channeled” spirits who were on their way from one universe to another. Dr. Charles E. Stewart, the author of A Response To An Urgent Testimony, or the “Blue Book,” as it is now called, is listed by ex-SDA, Monica Vowless, of New Zealand, as a prominent former SDA physician who had either left Adventism or had been expelled by the Church (See “My Defense,” by Monica Vowless, who passed away in 1935, available at www.ex-sda.com.)
Information available from the Urantia organization indicates that Dr. Sadler never gave up his belief that Ellen White's visions were supernatural in origin. He maintained that she was a spirit medium. Earlier in Ellen White's ministry, another Adventist leader, Moses Hull, who was familiar with the supernatural component of her visions, also had joined the ranks of the Spiritualists. There is a strong suggestion here that these men understood that spirit guides can appear to be good, can be thoroughly bad, and that some of them seem to enjoy playing tricks on their human mediums. Apparently Dr. Sadler, understanding that spirit mediums did not have to meet a 100% accuracy rating, simply made an “adjustment” to his thinking about the prophetic gifts of Ellen White.
Ellen White claimed that God showed her that Dr. Kellogg was a Pantheist. She based this claim on some of the statements he made about the power of God being in living things in his book on healthful living, The Living Temple. Our research shows that his statements about the power of God being in living things are not particularly different from statements that Ellen White made in her own books on nature and healing. By its very definition, Kellogg was never a Pantheist, and Ellen White's accusation was ridiculous. A Pantheist does not believe in a personal God and believes that Nature is god and god is Nature. Kellogg taught that it was a personal God– in fact Jesus Christ– Who imbued living things with the energy of life. Later we will have more to say about Ellen White’s quoting of New Age authors, including the concept of Mother Earth, and language that is characteristic of Freemasonry. To the total discrediting of Ellen White's prophetic claims, Dr. Kellogg remained a Christian and a Sabbath-keeper until the day he died.
SDA Church leader and historian, Alonzo L. Baker, was closely associated with John Harvey Kellogg from September 1939 to June 1942, serving in the dual capacity of field secretary for his eugenics and genetics organization, the Race Betterment Foundation, and associate editor of his monthly journal, Good Health. Baker's SDA denominational career included the shared editorship of the SDA publication, Health, a monthly publication of Pacific Press, with Percy T. Magan, one-time president of the College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University School of Medicine), who was a graduate of Dr. Kellogg's American Medical Missionary College. In an article published in the autumn, 1972 edition of Spectrum, an ultra-liberal independent journal that reviews issues related to Adventism and is barely tolerated by the Church, Baker said:
Kellogg kept the Sabbath right up to the last Sabbath of his life. His two institutions, one in Michigan and one in Florida, always observe the seventh-day Sabbath. When I was in his employ, he would ask almost every Sunday, “Baker did you go to church yesterday? What did the preacher talk about? Did you get a blessing from the service?”
One Sunday morning in Battle Creek after his usual inquiry about my attendance at church on Sabbath, I asked, “And just what did you do all day yesterday, Doctor, if I may ask?”
“In the morning,” he replied, “I read from my Bible in John’s story of the life of Christ. John, as you know, Baker, was closer to Christ than any other of the twelve.” In the afternoon I had Freddie [his masseur and chauffeur] drive me out to the cemetery, for I wanted to pray beside Mrs. White’s grave there. After I read from the book of John in the morning, I took down The Desire of Ages and read a chapter there which dilates on what I had read from John. You know, don’t you, Baker, that Mrs. White’s book on the life of Jesus is the greatest ever written?”
In Kerry Wynne's book, The Chicago Buildings Vision Fiasco, which is devoted exclusively to the Chicago Buildings Vision, he cites Alonzo L. Baker’s statement that Dr. Kellogg showed him the actual testimony (letter) that Ellen White sent to him in which she told him that God had showed her that he was constructing buildings in Chicago with funds that he had siphoned from the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
So between the Chicago Buildings Vision at the turn of the century and the 1919 Bible Conference, Adventist leaders were forced to contemplate the effects of the aftermath of the Battle Creek Crisis that her prophetic blunders had created. They saw almost all of the SDA doctors at the Battle Creek Sanitarium leave Adventism as a result of a constant string of indicators that the prophetic claims of Ellen White were fraudulent– the Chicago Buildings Vision having been the elephant that collapsed the shack. They saw a number of important Adventists from the Battle Creek scene turn to Spiritualism because they concluded that Ellen White's supernatural visions did not come from God, and they were confronted with growing evidence that she had been plagiarizing the writings of other authors for her books while leading her readers to believe that the information came straight from God. By 1911, just four years before her death in 1915, the Church was forced to spend $3,000 to revise her book, The Great Controversy, because widely-read individuals were finding more and more examples of sources where she copied from other authors without giving proper credit. Alonzo Baker, as we will mention later, says that Ellen White got a lot of her medical information from Dr. Kellogg and passed it along to her readers as “inspired” information.
Ellen White’s explanation of the Chicago Buildings Vision was that God showed her a fully constructed building and that the interpretation of what that meant was hers. She argued that the vision served its purpose by actually preventing the construction of the building. Here is some interesting documentation:
Ellen G. White
April 2, 1906 MS 33, 1906
Copied from Dr. Steward's MSS June 5, '06
Sanitarium, California, March 20, 1906
Paragraph 3: Shortly after the meetings closed, Judge Arthur and his wife spent part of a day at my home. We had much pleasant and profitable conversation. Among other things discussed was the matter of the representation that had been given me of an expensive building in the city of Chicago, used for various lines of medical missionary work. I related how that when I was in Australia, I was shown a large building in Chicago, which, in its erection and equipment, cost a large amount of money. And I was shown the error of investing means in any such buildings in our cities.
Paragraph 6: Sometime after this, I was shown that the vision of buildings in Chicago, and the draft upon the means of our people to erect them, and their destruction, was an object lesson for our people, warning them not to invest largely of their means in property in Chicago, or any city….
A simple time-line of events easily exposes the comic elements of this rationalization. Prevented the construction of what building? One for serving the unworthy poor of Chicago, as she had stated in her testimony, or the new building for the American Medical College which she and her son had both voted for earlier in a meeting of the trustees of the San? Here are the elements of the Fiasco:
1. Ellen White shouldn't have needed any vision to tell her what Dr. Kellogg was doing in Chicago because he corresponded with her regularly about his work there.
2. No supernatural intervention was necessary to motivate her to look into his Chicago activities more closely because the old American newspaper article she read while in Australia, while inaccurate on certain points, painted a very good picture of what Dr. Kellogg was doing in Chicago. She didn't need a dream.
3. Kellogg never planned to build a building in Chicago for serving the poor. He learned about the work of a planning committee to build it when he returned from an extended trip of several months to Europe.
4. It was common knowledge in Battle Creek that there was a strong need to build a new building for the American Medical College, and this project was being widely discussed in the Church at the time when Ellen White had her Chicago Buildings Vision. In the 1901 General Conference session, Ellen G. White and her son, Willie C. White, had strongly supported the project to build this particular building. The Adventists involved with the project, upon hearing about Ellen White's testimony against building a building in Chicago, did not pay any attention to her message because they thought she was talking about some other project.
5. Ellen didn't know what building she was talking about, but if it was the one for the American Medical College, she should have rebuked each member of the planning committee that worked on it while he was away in Europe.
6. Those involved with planning the new building for the American Medical College did not think that her testimony against Dr. Kellogg had anything to do with their planning for this proposed building, since Ellen White had been all in favor of the project. In the confusion, they continued to plan for the building because they thought she was unhappy about Dr. Kellogg's plan to construct some other kind of building for a different purpose.
When someone claims he or she has experienced a supernatural event, the first thing we look for is evidence that there is no natural explanation that is better. The many letters that transpired between White and Kellogg in the years before 1899, alone, would explain her fear that he might be constructing a building in Chicago, and reading the old American newspaper article explained everything without any need for divine intervention. She didn’t need any vision from God to tell her that Kellogg might be up to something in Chicago. Furthermore, the idea that God cared more about building an expensive sanitarium in Australia more than He cared about the men and women who were perishing of starvation and disease in Chicago does not square with what we know about the character of God as exemplified in the life of Jesus.
The set of influences that we have traced from the Chicago Buildings Vision through D. M. Canright's apostasy to the 1919 Bible Conference to the discovery of the transcripts in 1974 of those secret meetings seems to have prepared Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi to challenge, in writing, several “inspired” statements of Ellen G. White.
THE SAD STORY OF FRANK M. WILCOX AND
THE 1919 BIBLE CONFERENCE MINUTES
By Kerry Wynne
I was stunned when I realized the significance of what I had just found in my library of SDA books! Could the author of this unabashed defense of Ellen G. White’s prophetic gift really be F. M. Wilcox? Was not Frank M. Wilcox unequivocal in his assertion that her claim to be an inspired prophet was fraudulent as recorded in the “leaked” stenographer’s transcript of the 1919 Bible Conference Minutes? Soon my amazement turned to anger! How could such a thing be possible? How could anyone do such a thing? What could possibly justify such whopping perfidy on the part of a man whose appearance of piety earned him the honor of serving as the editor of the official church paper of Seventh-day Adventists, The Review and Herald, from 1911 to 1944?
The book in my hands was his The Testimony of Jesus, published in 1934– just 15 years after he stated that he did not believe her writings were any more inspired than those of any other author. Had it not been for the 1974 discovery, theft, and later unauthorized publication (Spectrum magazine, 1979) of this “bomb shell” stenographer’s transcript of the secret 1919 meeting– one convened to decide what should be done about Ellen White’s fraudulent prophetic claims– we could look back on Frank Wilcox as an Adventist leader of the highest integrity. General Conference President, A. G. Daniells, who conducted the meeting, understood the danger to Adventism that this transcript represented, so he ordered it to be sealed for a minimum of 50 years. He put it in a plain paper bag and banished it to the furthest depths of the huge vault at the General Conference Headquarters in Washington, DC, where Dr. F. Donald Yost found it in 1974.
This smoking gun transcript shows the meeting's participants agonizing over the Ellen White problem. Should they repudiate her and deal with the havoc that would ensue, or should they continue trying to cover-up her prophetic blunders? If they decided to continue the present cover-up, how would they keep the truth about her from the Church’s seminary students? They discuss her prophetic blunders, biblical and historical errors, and blatant plagiarism in cautious terms. Each participant seems aware that saying too much could finish his or her denominational career. Yet, despite this fear, the hard facts spill out into the open and are addressed with painful caution. That even one of the participants was willing to risk his or her career to speak out on this explosive issue is, in itself, evidence that the Ellen White problem had become impossible to ignore.
Indeed, the transcript reveals that Wilcox was one of the most vocal participants in denouncing Ellen White’s prophetic claims. He declares his opinion that her writings are not any more inspired than those of anyone else:
I would like to ask, Brother Daniells, if it could be accepted as a sort of rule that Sister White might be mistaken in details, but in the general policy and instruction she was an authority. . . It seems to me I would have to accept what she says on some of those general policies or I would have to sweep away the whole thing. Either the Lord has spoken through her or he has not spoken through her; and if it is a matter of deciding in my own judgment whether he has or has not, then I regard her books the same as every other book published. I think it is one thing for a man to stultify his conscience, and it is another thing to stultify his judgment. It is one thing for me to lay aside my conscience, and it is another thing for me to change my judgment over some view that I hold.
Could he have changed his mind during those 15 years that followed?
We now turn to a consideration of how the problems with Ellen White as revealed by the 1974 discovery of the transcript of the 1919 Bible Conference Minutes might have influenced Dr. Bacchiocchi to challenge her prophetic claims with the publication of his 1977 book, From Sabbath to Sunday.
ELLEN WHITE'S HISTORY-DEFYING INTERPRETATION
OF DANIEL'S PROPHECIES
Since 1914 Adventism had been reeling from the publication of former Swedish SDA leader Aaron Nyman entitled Astounding Errors. This 419 page book demonstrated to the point of over-kill the comical, self-contradictory impossibilities of the SDA interpretations of the major prophecies of Daniel. Aaron was not only a former Adventist, but he was a brilliantly successful businessman who had amassed a small fortune. His book shows a solid command of the facts of ancient history. After he studied his way out of Adventism he challenged Chicago Area SDA leaders to public debates about these prophecies. This tactic garnered a lot of publicity, but the debates never took place. The Conference leaders backed down in the face of his evident command of biblical and historical knowledge, and they made a wise decision not to allow him to make fools of themselves. In a stunning move he offered his personal home, valued at over $5,000, to any Adventist who could prove that the 2,300 days began in 497 BC and that the 2,300 days began at the same time as the 70 weeks. He also challenged them to prove that the 2,300 day prophecy can be successfully utilized to make a day stand for a year to get it to 1844, which would mean they would have to disprove his interpretation that the prophetic period was 2,300 literal evening and morning sacrifices and that this period of literal days represented the number of days that Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. By 1919 the delegates to the Bible conference at the General Conference headquarters in Washington DC had every possible reason to understand that their prophetess suffered from extreme historical ignorance.
Since early Christian times many biblical scholars have understood that the little horn of Daniel 7 referred to the Roman Emperor, Nero. Nero persecuted Christians for exactly 1,260 days. Down through time, biblical scholars have also applied this prophecy to the persecuting activities of the papacy but without any need to link its persecuting behavior to the so-called “change” of the Sabbath as Adventists have done. Similarly, for a very long time scholars have known that the 2,300 evenings and mornings of the little horn of Daniel 8 work out to the exact number of days that Antiochus Epiphanes polluted the Jewish Temple before 161 BC. These prophecies have been so remarkable in their actual “a-day-stands-for-a-day” historical fulfillment, that higher critics of the Bible claimed they had to have been written after these events took place. Within a few years of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, the early authorship of Daniel was firmly established, refuting the skeptics. It is likely that at least a number of honest-at-heart unbelievers had their faith in the Bible established by the spectacular fulfillment of these prophecies regarding Antiochus Epiphanes and Nero. Ellen White’s interpretation of the 2,300 “year” and 1,260 “year” prophecies, therefore, destroys two remarkably accurate Bible prophecies and twists them it into ones that are highly imaginative and unprovable. If the thought has not already occurred to you, Ellen White's false use of these prophecies gives skeptics two more reasons to excuse themselves from believing in the Bible.
The entire concept of Adventism rests on the “foundation” of the 2,300 day prophecy of Daniel 8:14. If this “foundation” can be shown to be non-existent, then there is no Investigative Judgment that began in Heaven in 1844 and the Sabbath is not a “seal.” These two key points of SDA doctrine would be false even if Sabbatarianism were to be generally true. Nor would God have called Adventists after 1844 to take the Sabbath and Investigative Judgment doctrines to the world to rescue them from receiving the Mark of the Beast on their foreheads! Without the validity of the 1844 SDA prophetic time period, the SDA concept of 1844 would be nothing more than a huge theological joke played on the Christian world by none other than Ellen G. White herself, whose theological trickery shamelessly rescued the Millerite debacle of 1844 from the jaws of defeat.
The Investigative Judgment doctrine affects, to one degree or another, almost every aspect of the Church's teachings. Robert K. Sanders points out that God does not need to have some kind of formal judgment to know who will be saved and who will not. The doctrine of soul sleep is necessitated by the Doctrine of the Investigative Judgment. This doctrine also requires the unbiblical doctrine of annihilation—the concept that after the judgment the wicked will cease to exist.
It would seem that if God threatens to destroy the very existence of anyone who might dare to challenge His authority, there is no real freedom of choice in the Universe. In the Story of the Rich Man And Lazarus, Jesus taught that after death the wicked find themselves in a less-than-ideal existence of their own creation where they enjoy the results of their own choices. If the wicked are annihilated, they have essentially been told by God, “Do things My way, or I will blast you out of existence.” Orthodox Christianity has widely taught a picture of life after death that exonerates God’s commitment to genuine freedom of choice. Adventists, therefore, place themselves at odds with most Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox communities when it comes to these doctrines, and they seriously error when they try to excuse Jesus’ Story of the Rich Man And Lazarus by claiming that it was merely a parable. It seems unreasonable to think that Jesus would use a “parable” that taught long-term theological error as a “cheap” way to make a quick point at the moment, and there is textual evidence that the story was not presented in the form of a parable.
The Adventists of 1919 seemed greatly confused about these prophecies. The transcript of the 1919 Bible Conference Minutes suggests that Wilcox and the other delegates had mistakenly applied the 1,260 days of the little horn of Daniel 7 to Antiochus and were struggling to find solid ground upon which to base the 1844 date on the 2,300 evening and morning sacrifices of the little horn of Daniel 8 and 11. It is not surprising there was considerable confusion among SDA scholars regarding the 2,300 days of the little horn of Daniel 8, since they were trying incorrectly to apply the year-for-a-day concept where there was no scriptural warrant to do so in order to arrive at the desperately needed date of 1844. We will discuss this prophecy in detail later. The key point for now is that the delegates to the 1919 Bible Conference believed that the little horn of Daniel 7 related to a much earlier historical event that happened over 2,000 years before 1844; that they knew that this knowledge was dangerous to the foundation of Adventism, and that they wanted to withhold this damaging information from the Church. “Watch” the delegates in this revealing passage from the Minutes:
PROF. LACEY: In the career of Antiochus Epiphanes there is a kind of a little wheel within a wheel. There are events in his life which are very like what is predicted of the little horn– extremely alike, and I do not know why we could not consider this in the same way that Ezekiel expresses it– a wheel within a wheel. Just to illustrate: The things said about the little horn of Daniel 7 can apply to Antiochus Epiphanes in a small way. He is the 11th down the line, three were plucked up in his place [names were mentioned], he did speak great words against the Most High, he did wear out the saints of the Most High in a small way, he did change the law of the Most High; things were given into his hand for just a time, times, and a half in a literal sense, which was three and one-half years. And in a very small way Antiochus Epiphanes might have been the little horn. So, supposed you and I had been living in that day we would have thought that the prophecy met its fulfillment to us, and we should have been sustained through that hour of persecution. In a small way I think this can apply to Antiochus Epiphanes. But in verse 30 we pass on to Rome, the great anti-Christ, of which Antiochus was here the personal representative. (Mention was made of Josephus Book 12, Chapter 5, paragraph 3, but a question interrupted.)
ELDER DANIELLS: You would not want to say that that you have just said now to a class of students, would you?
The above section is taken from the July 8, 1919 transcript as posted at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist archives.
The portion of the transcript from the July 3, 1919 Bible Conference Minutes you are about to review is one of the most important keys to understanding what and when Adventists knew about this thorny problem. Older Seventh-day Adventist readers will immediately recognize that the Church made no attempt to correct these errant teachings in the Bible text books at any educational level. It is also important to understanding the problems with the “Resting Theory” of SDA Sabbath apologist, Bob Pickle, who seeks to rescue Ellen White’s blunder with a highly creative theory. He rationalizes that the Sabbath was not actually “changed” until resting became associated with Sunday observance, even though it took several additional centuries of Sunday observance and Sabbath-breaking to arrive at that point. According to Pickle, it matters not that Christians “kept” Sunday and broke the Sabbath from the first century onward. Instead, the Sabbath was not really “changed” until a series of edicts was successful in requiring a civil cessation of labor on Sundays. Nor does it seem to matter that this legislated “resting” was optional under many circumstances and was purely civil in its concept– not linked to the concept of day sacredness, as in the case of the Jewish Sabbath. You will see that the delegates to the 1919 Bible Conference did not attempt to excuse Ellen White's misstatement on this basis. We will analyze Bob Pickle's “Resting Theory” later.
Notice how the participants finally conclude that the only way Ellen White's claim can be reconciled with the facts of history is to consider her statement to be a vaguely like a type of symbolism called a prolepsis (the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished– Merriam-Webster's On-Line Dictionary)-- but only in reverse. The use of “reverse prolepsis,” which would be the presentation of a past act or development as if it existed in the past, is not a known or accepted literary device.