On Sabbaths (Pt II)

Genesis 2

A Sabbath for all Mankind?

Section II

Return to Part One

by Curt Wildy

What about the establishment of the seven-day week?

As mentioned above, some argue that the very existence of a seven-day week evidences the existence of a Sabbath rest. In regards to Genesis 8:10, 12 (“And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark…. 12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more”), Mr. Pink wrote the following (emphasis added):

These references (and to them may be added Gen. 29:27) afford further proof that back in Noah’s days the division of time into weeks was a recognized custom… it was God’s division of time; and there is only one way of accounting for it, and that is, the Maker of man set apart one seventh of his days for the worship of the Lord Almighty. And while time shall last-and it shall never end this will not be changed.

Pink yet again makes a “there is only one way of interpreting it”-type statement, and what a sad statement it is in light of the other possibilities. The seven-day week may very well have originated as a direct result of God declaring the seventh-day blessed and sanctified; I would not even attempt to refute this. However, the establishment of a seven-day week does not, by any means, equate to the establishment of a universally commanded seventh day Sabbath-keeping (let alone one punishable by death and destruction). Mr. Pink clearly overreaches here, and reads more into this text than what is at all justifiable. Although he argues “Is there not only one conclusion we can possibly draw from this,” it is clear that there are other legitimate conclusions that can be drawn. Notice the bolded portion above, and then consider it in light of his following statement (from the same work, bolded emphasis added):

“We quote now from the late B. H. Carroll, President of the S. W. Baptist Seminary: “I ask you to notice this strange historical fact, that for all other divisions of time we have a reason in the motions of the heavenly bodies. The revolution of the earth around the sun marks the division of time into years. The moon’s revolution around the earth gives us the month. The day comes from the revolution of the earth upon its axis. But from what suggestion of nature do you get the division of time into weeks? It is a positive and arbitrary division. It is based on authority. The chronicles of the ages record its recognition. But how did it originate? Here in the oldest book, in the first account of man, you will find its origin and purpose. Noah twice recognized it in the ark, when he waited seven days each time to send out his dove. Jacob in the days of his courtship found it prevalent when he looked for satisfaction in the laughing eyes of Rachel, and the stern father said, “fulfil her week” (Gen. 29:27). Why a week? How did he get it? It was God’s division of time.

Yes, it was God’s division of time. Why should our week have seven rather than six or 10 days? and why have men everywhere adopted this measure? A primeval Sabbath explains it: it is the key to an otherwise insoluble enigma. Since there is no prominent natural phenomenon visible to every eye which can account for it, we are obliged to deduce some ancient institution coeval with our race, from which it spontaneously originated. That institution was the Sabbath, in which the Creator set apart one seventh of man’s days for the worship of Himself. Thus did the Architect of the universe write His signature across time itself, and never shall it be erased.”

In asking/stating “what suggestion of nature do you get the division of time into weeks? It is a positive and arbitrary division…. why should our week have seven rather than six or 10 days? and why have men everywhere adopted this measure?” Mr. Pink evidences that he doesn’t understand the divisions of days into weeks used by other cultures.

As Wikepdia points out, from the three-day week of the early Basques, to the twenty-day week of the Maya and Aztecs, it is clear that “men everywhere did not adopted this measure” and that  people throughout the world not only had “six or 10 days” for weeks, but four, five, eight, nine, thirteen, and possibly other divisions of days as well. It is quite likely that God created a perpetual seven-day week, and over time, men simply forgot and created there own divisions. Therefore, I must reiterate that (a) the use of other divisions does not mean that God did not institute a seven-day week; and that (b) the creation of a seven day week does not necessitate the existence of the Fourth Commandment (as Pink and many others claim) before Mosaic times.

Mr. Pink goes on to add “A primeval Sabbath explains it: it is the key to an otherwise insoluble enigma;” however, it would seem that Mr. Pink failed to take into account the major lunar phases. In other words, he did not consider the fact that the God-ordained natural breakdown of the major lunar phases could also account for (or point to) the establishment of a seven-day week. Consider the following: (http://home.hiwaay.net/~krcool/Astro/moon/moonphase/):

As noted the moon reaches a major phase every seven days after the new moon. The first of which is the first quarter moon occurring after 7.4 days. Between the new and first quarter is the time of the waxing crescent moon. 14.8 days into trip around the earth we see a full moon, but not before the waxing gibbous make an appearance. After the full moon a state of waning begins on the 15th day. Along with a last quarter moon both a waning gibbous and crescent moon is visible before a new moon cycle starts a new on the 29th day.

This lunar pattern closely approximates a month when the phases complete, making it clear that there are other reasons (i.e. reasons other than the one given by Mr. Pink), for the creation of the seven-day week. However, it should be noted that lunar phases are not the only means by which a division of days into weeks can be made. Although I disagree completely with the date given, consider the following from wikipedia:

All early cultures were exposed to the night sky. The seven celestial objects that are visible to the naked eye and moved in a way that clearly indicated they were not stars were hence known as “planets,” or “wandering stars,” in the ancient world, and they worked their way into the myths and legends of most early cultures. Time was and still is easily measured by celestial events; the spring equinox for example, occurs approximately every 365 days. It was easy to adapt the other 7 objects clearly seen floating about in the sky to measure the passage of time. The Sun, Moon and five visible planets gave their names to the weekly cycle of days.

The Lebombo bone suggests people have been counting days using the lunation since at least 35000 BC. Though the lunar month lasts 29.53059 days, the lunar cycle can be approximated as lasting 29 or 30 days. Periods of seven days divide the month into four, roughly corresponding to the quarters of the moon. In addition to conveniently marking the new and full moon, groups of seven may have been preferred because seven figures prominently in astronomy. There are the seven famous stars of the Pleiades constellation, and the seven wanderers—the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn—that move relative to the background stars. More esoterically, seven also appears in the relationship between solar and lunar cycles. The Sumerians had calculated that there were 235 lunar cycles equaling nearly 19 solar cycles, we call the Metonic cycle, requiring seven leap months to keep the lunar year in line with the solar year.

Consider Dr. Gill on the matter: (emphasis added)

And some conjecture a Sabbath was observed by Noah, in the ark (Genesis 8:10,12) since he is said to send out the dove again after seven days; but this number seven has respect, not to the first day of the week, from whence the days were numbered; but the first sending out of the dove, be it on what day it may. And besides, Noah might have respect to the known course of the moon, which puts on another face every seven days {8}; and which, in its increase and wane, might have an influence upon the water, which he was careful to observe and make trial of this way. Moreover, it is observed, that in Job’s time there was a day when the sons of God met together, Job 1:62:1 but who these sons of God were, whether angels or men, is not certain; nor where, nor on what day they met; no mention is made of a seventh day, much less of a Sabbath; nor of a certain rotation of this day every week; nor of the distance between the first and second meeting. Arguments from this, and the above instances, must be very farfetched, and are very slight and slender grounds to build such an hypothesis upon, as the observation of a seventh day Sabbath.

The fact remains that the number seven, the number of perfection, has many uses (be it in days, weeks, years, or instances completely unrelated to time divisions). In fact, many sources point to the fact that seven was a logical number to pick for astronomical reasons because it related to the seven visible solar bodies, visible without a telescope, throughout most of our planetary history (i.e. the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). It is no surprise that most of the false religions of old, and many still today, assign both days and false gods to these planets. The ancient Mesopotamian (Sumerian/Babylonian) calendar had seven days in a week, each dedicated to a deity of one of the seven “luminaries” seen in the sky.

Thus, interpreting a seven-day week as being evidence of a mandatory and universal Sabbath observance is just one more piece of a puzzle wherein none of the pieces fit together. Whereas it is safe to say that (1) God likely ordained a perpetual seven-day week; and that (2) man either (a) forgot it and created their own divisions, or (b) observed the seven day week, but began to attribute it to the lunar phases, or to the seven visible solar bodies (that they deemed “gods”); it is nothing short of error to argue that “A primeval Sabbath” is the sole, primary, or even a substantive factor in explaining the existence of a seven-day week.

What about Nehemiah 9:13?

Consider what God the Holy Spirit, through Nehemiah, declared concerning the giving of the Holy Sabbath:

Nehemiah 9:13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest [nathan – – H5414 -nathan] them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: 14 And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.

Notice that Nehemiah did not state “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: 14 And [reminded them] concerning thy holy sabbath [which you gave to Adam and all his posterity from creation], and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.” Again, the absence of such language does not prove anything; however, given the plenteous opportunities to make such statements, and to make clear that the Sabbath was instituted in Genesis 2, it is amazing that we cannot find any direct statements to this effect (all we have are those passages that Mr. Pink and others read into, to come to their conclusions).

Regarding this same passage however, Pink does argue:

“observe closely a distinction which he drew between the Sabbatic Law and the other laws. He says, “Thou… gavest them right judgments, and true laws,” etc.; and then declares, “And madest known unto them Thy holy Sabbath.” This supplies us with another proof that the Sabbath was not newly appointed when promulgated at Sinai. It proves that the Sabbath had been previously instituted, or why distinguish it thus from the commandments “God gave” at Sinai? It shows there was a need for God to say, “Remember the Sabbath day.” It evidences the fact that the Sabbath had been forgotten, yea, lost to Israel, during their four hundred year sojourn in Egypt. It reveals the fact that God now restored to Israel their full knowledge of it.”

However, as Dr. Gill pointed out, the language at issue in Genesis 2 was likely anticipatory of the Sabbath that God would give to His people (national Israel). Thus, it could very well be argued that He was making known to them the day that He had already anticipatorily purposed to be their Sabbath rest, a Sabbath rest reserved for them alone. Consider also the fact, that the Holy Sabbath being made known to Israel strongly suggests that it was never made known to anyone else.

Moreover, consider that Exodus 16:29 declares “See, for that the LORD hath given (H5414 – Ntn – nathan) 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.”

The same word for gave in Nehemiah 9:13-14 is the same word for gave that is quoted in Exodus 16:29; so to argue that since Nehemiah 9:14 doesn’t use gave for the Sabbath but only made it known, and yet Exodus 16:29 clearly states that it was given (using the same Hebrew word), is pointless.

We should also consider the full context and progression of Nehemiah 9:13; wherein God uses a progression of verbs, as follows: camest, spakest, gavest, madest known, and commandest.” Though still the inerrant word of God, it is also great literary/rhetorical work; I believe that the differences in language usage for making known the Holy Sabbath can be explained by the pattern of language God sets forth. We can see this a bit more clearly when we consider that gavest and commandest overlap. God gavest them (a) judgments, (b) laws, (c) statutes, and (d) commandments. Likewise, God commandedst them (a) precepts, (b) statutes, and (c) laws (same language overlapping in both). Given the fact that the Holy Sabbath is part of the law and statutes, it is no surprise that to emphasize it, God separates it from out of the other two overlapping categories (giving it its own wording, i.e. the makest known). To read more into this passage than one ought, simply to justify making a Genesis 2 Sabbath out of it, is nothing more than error.

What views did the so-called Early Church Fathers hold on the matter?

I am adding this portion to Part One with some hesitancy; although, I think it can shed much light on the matter, I also see the potential for misuse, misunderstanding, and for the erecting of strawmen… Suffice to say that many so-called Church Fathers held to clearly heretical (apostate) doctrines. However, I am adding the following statements to give you an idea of what was commonly believed during the first few centuries after the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is clear from their statements that they believed that (1) Christians were not to observe a Sabbath of any kind (they distinguished the Lord’s Day from a Sabbath day, and did not try to make the former the latter), and that (2) the pre-Mosaic believers also were under no command or obligation to observe the Fourth Commandment. Whereas I plan to address the the applicability of a Sabbath observance to Christians in a later part, please consider the following (bolded emphasis added) as it relates to the notion of a Genesis 2, universally applied, Sabbath observance:

Eusebius of Caesarea
“They [the early saints of the Old Testament] did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds of food, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses first delivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christians of the present day do such things” (Church History 1:4:8 [A.D. 312]).

Cyril of Jerusalem
“Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans or into Judaism, for Jesus Christ has henceforth ransomed you. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean” (Catechetical Lectures 4:37 [A.D. 350]).

John Chrysostom
“[W]hen he [God] said, ‘You shall not kill’ . . . he did not add, ‘because murder is a wicked thing.’ The reason was that conscience had taught this beforehand, and he speaks thus, as to those who know and understand the point. Wherefore when he speaks to us of another commandment, not known to us by the dictate of conscience, he not only prohibits, but adds the reason. When, for instance, he gave commandment concerning the Sabbath— ‘On the seventh day you shall do no work’—he subjoined also the reason for this cessation. What was this? ‘Because on the seventh day God rested from all his works which he had begun to make’ [Ex. 20:10-11]. . . . For what purpose then, I ask, did he add a reason respecting the Sabbath, but did no such thing in regard to murder? Because this commandment was not one of the leading ones. It was not one of those which were accurately defined of our conscience, but a kind of partial and temporary one, and for this reason it was abolished afterward. But those which are necessary and uphold our life are the following: ‘You shall not kill. . . . You shall not commit adultery. . . . You shall not steal.’ On this account he adds no reason in this case, nor enterssince God originatesince God originated Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbathd Adam uncircumcised and unobservant of the Sabbath into any instruction on the matter, but is content with the bare prohibition” (Homilies on the Statutes 12:9 [A.D. 387]).

Justin Martyr:
Justin Martyr, (also known as Justin the Martyr and Justin of Caesarea) an early church father lived between 100 AD and 165 AD. In his work Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, written sometime between AD 150 and AD 165, Justin set out to prove that Christianity is the new law of God and that Christians are the true people of God. In Chapter XIX of the dialogue (titled Circumcision unknown before Abraham. The law was given by Moses on account of the hardness of their hearts), Justin Martyr stated the following to Trypho the Jew:

Wherefore also God has announced that you have forsaken Him, the living fountain, and digged for yourselves broken cisterns which can hold no water. Even you, who are the circumcised according to the flesh, have need of our circumcision; but we, having the latter, do not require the former. For if it were necessary, as you suppose, God would not have made Adam uncircumcised; would not have had respect to the gifts of Abel when, being uncircumcised, he offered sacrifice and would not have been pleased with the uncircumcision of Enoch, who was not found, because God had translated him. Lot, being uncircumcised, was saved from Sodom, the angels themselves and the Lord sending him out. Noah was the beginning of our race; yet, uncircumcised, along with his children he went into the ark. Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High, was uncircumcised; to whom also Abraham the first who received circumcision after the flesh, gave tithes, and he blessed him: after whose order God declared, by the mouth of David, that He would establish the everlasting priest. Therefore to you alone this circumcision was necessary, in order that the people may be no people, and the nation no nation; as also Hosea, one of the twelve prophets, declares. Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned, though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God; and after them Abraham with all his descendants until Moses, under whom your nation appeared unrighteous and ungrateful to God, making a calf in the wilderness: wherefore God, accommodating Himself to that nation, enjoined them also to offer sacrifices, as if to His name, in order that you might not serve idols. Which precept, however, you have not observed; nay, you sacrificed your children to demons. And you were commanded to keep Sabbaths, that you might retain the memorial of God. For His word makes this announcement, saying, ‘That ye may know that I am God who redeemed you.’

In Chapter XXVII, titled Why God taught the same things by the prophets as by Moses, Justin Martyr stated:

For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham.

In Chapter XXVII, titled Why God taught the same things by the prophets as by Moses, he stated:

“Or why did He not teach those—who are called righteous and pleasing to Him, who lived before Moses and Abraham, who were not circumcised in their foreskin, and observed no Sabbaths—to keep these institutions?”

In Chapter Chapter XCII, titled Unless the scriptures be understood…, he stated:

“For if one should wish to ask you why, since Enoch, Noah with his sons, and all others in similar circumstances, who neither were circumcised nor kept the Sabbath, pleased God, God demanded by other leaders, and by the giving of the law after the lapse of so many generations, that those who lived between the times of Abraham and of Moses be justified by circumcision, and that those who lived after Moses be justified by circumcision and the other ordinances—to wit, the Sabbath, and sacrifices, and libations, and offerings; [God will be slandered] unless you show, as I have already said, that God who foreknew was aware that your nation would deserve expulsion from Jerusalem, and that none would be permitted to enter into it.”

Tertullian, an early church father who lived circa 160 AD to 220 AD, is the one credited for giving us the terms Trinity (Latin trinitas); three Persons, one Substance (Latin = tres Personae, una Substantia / Koine Greek = treis Hypostases, Homoousios); Old Testament (vetus testamentum”); and New Testament (novum testamentum). However, it should be noted that Tertullian allegedly fell into the heresy of Montanism; if true, he cannot rightly be deemed a true Christian, but rather an apostate if he died in that error.

Nonetheless, I list his comments because it evidences once again that the so-called early church rejected the notion of a universal, pre-Mosaic, Sabbath observance. In The Law Anterior to Moses, which is Chapter II of his work, An Answer to the Jews; Tertullian stated:

…let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed as a balm of salvation, and circumcision on the eighth day because of the threat of death, teach us that, for the time past, righteous men kept the Sabbath, or practised circumcision, and were thus rendered “friends of God.” For if circumcision purges a man since God made Adam uncircumcised, why did He not circumcise him, even after his sinning, if circumcision purges? At all events, in settling him in paradise, He appointed one uncircumcised as colonist of paradise. Therefore, since God originated Adam uncircumcised, and inobservant of the Sabbath, consequently his offspring also, Abel, offering Him sacrifices, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was by Him commended; while He accepted what he was offering in simplicity of heart, and reprobated the sacrifice of his brother Cain, who was not rightly dividing what he was offering. Noah also, uncircumcised—yes, and inobservant of the Sabbath—God freed from the deluge. For Enoch, too, most righteous man, uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, He translated from this world; who did not first taste Or, perhaps, “has not yet tasted.” death, in order that, being a candidate for eternal life, he might by this time show us that we also may, without the burden of the law of Moses, please God. Melchizedek also, “the priest of the most high God,” uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath, was chosen to the priesthood of God. See above. Lot, withal, the brother of Abraham, proves that it was for the merits of righteousness, without observance of the law, that he was freed from the conflagration of the Sodomites.

We also have the testimony of Irenǽus (Irenaeus), an early church father who was apparently a disciple of Polycarp (who in turn was a disciple of the Apostle John). Irenǽus was born sometime between 115 AD and 142 AD. In Chapter XVI (titled Perfect righteousness was conferred neither by circumcision nor by any other legal ceremonies. The Decalogue, however, was not cancelled by Christ, but is always in force: men were never released from its commandments) of his work Against Heresies, Irenǽus stated:

Moreover, we learn from the Scripture itself, that God gave circumcision, not as the completer of righteousness, but as a sign, that the race of Abraham might continue recognisable. For it declares: “God said unto Abraham, Every male among you shall be circumcised; and ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, as a token of the covenant between Me and you. (Genesis 17:9-11)”

This same does Ezekiel the prophet say with regard to the Sabbaths: “Also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them” (Ezekiel 20:12). And in Exodus, God says to Moses: “And ye shall observe My Sabbaths; for it shall be a sign between Me and you for your generations” (Exodus 21:13). These things, then, were given for a sign…

But the Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service. For we have been counted,” says the Apostle Paul, “all the day long as sheep for the slaughter;” that is, consecrated [to God], and ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth. Moreover, the Sabbath of God (requietio Dei), that is, the kingdom, was, as it were, indicated by created things; in which [kingdom], the man who shall have persevered in serving God (Deo assistere) shall, in a state of rest, partake of God’s table.

2. And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows,— that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.” Then, again, Lot, without circumcision, was brought out from Sodom, receiving salvation from God. So also did Noah, pleasing God, although he was uncircumcised, receive the dimensions [of the ark], of the world of the second race [of men]. Enoch, too, pleasing God, without circumcision, discharged the office of God’s legate to the angels although he was a man, and was translated, and is preserved until now as a witness of the just judgment of God, because the angels when they had transgressed fell to the earth for judgment, but the man who pleased [God] was translated for salvation. Moreover, all the rest of the multitude of those righteous men who lived before Abraham, and of those patriarchs who preceded Moses, were justified independently of the things above mentioned, and without the law of Moses. As also Moses himself says to the people in Deuteronomy: “The Lord thy God formed a covenant in Horeb. The Lord formed not this covenant with your fathers, but for you” (Deuteronomy 5:2).

Why, then, did the Lord not form the covenant for the fathers? Because “the law was not established for righteous men” (I Timothy 1:9). But the righteous fathers had the meaning of the Decalogue written in their hearts and souls, that is, they loved the God who made them, and did no injury to their neighbour. There was therefore no occasion that they should be cautioned by prohibitory mandates (correptoriis literis), because they had the righteousness of the law in themselves

Can there be any doubt, based upon the commentary of these men, that not only was there no recognition of a Sabbath-observance for all mankind (based upon Genesis 2 or any other biblical passages), but that such a notion was actively rejected and argued against by those within early Christendom?

Notice also in the above works, that there is no hint that the Jews (or any other promoter of the notion that Christians were under a required weekly Sabbath-day observance), made the argument that the Sabbath was for all of mankind. At that time, those who argued that Christians had to obey the Sabbath were Judaizers seeking not to extend the Sabbath observance to all men, but to make all Christians “Jews” through such dead works of the law as circumcision, sabbath-keeping, etc. (See Galatians and Acts 15). In rebuttal responses, or in descriptions of their arguments, where can it be found in the writings of the above men, that they knew of a Jewish belief that the Sabbath was for anyone other than Jews (and the Christians they wished to Judaize)?



What is the (Talmudic) Jewish testimony on the matter?

Although the Mishnah, Talmud, and related books are simply a collection of the very traditions of men that the Lord Jesus condemned, nonetheless, I refer to them to evidence Jewish (Talmudic/Mishnaic) thought on the matter. Consider the statements of “Rabbi” Moshe Ben-Chaim:

On page 58b in Sanhedrin, the Talmud states, “A non Jew who rests on the Sabbath is punished with death, as it states (when Noach left the ark and sacrificed animals to God as thanks for his rescue, Genesis 8:21-22): “And God smelled the pleasant scent, and God said in His heart, ‘I will never again curse the earth for man’s sake, for man’s inclination is evil from youth, and I will never again smite all life as I have done. Furthermore, all the days of earth, planting and reaping, cold and hot, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.”

Rashi learns from this verse that God was not simply describing future solar and meteorological phenomena, but He was also commanding Noach and all mankind never to cease from planting and harvesting – not even for one day. Rashi states further that this prohibition regarding Noachides is not limited to the Jewish Sabbath, but also applies to a Jewish holiday which may fall out on a Sunday and even applies to a Noachide’s proclaiming his day of rest – whether it is a Jewish day of rest or not. In short, any institutionalized day of rest is prohibited to a Noachide by this verse.

Consider the views of other current Jewish leaders as well; on the Rabbinical Council of America’s web site (for their journal Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought), Elchanan Adler wrote the following (presumably expressing a sentiment shared by the journal; bolded emphasis added):

While the notion of commemorating the divine rest associated with primordial creation would seem to bear universal import, it is surely no coincidence that the mitspa of Shabbat was assigned solely to Am Yisrael and not to Benei Noah.’ Moreover, not only is a gentile absolved of the obligation to observe Shabbat, he is actually enjoined from doing so. Hence, the talmudic dictum: “Goy she-shavat hayav mita”—“a gentile who rests [on the Sabbath] incurs the death penalty” (Sanhedrin 58b). That the mitsva of Shabbat, in particular, should be perceived in uniquely Jewish terms is evident from its designation as an ot—a sign—between HaKadosh Barukh Hu and Benei Yisrael, as highlighted in Parashat Ki Tisa: “Ki ot hi beni u-venekhem ledoro-tekhem. . . . Beni u-ven Benei Yisrael ot hi le-olam” (Exodus 31:13, 17).

As mentioned in Part One, Dr. John Gill stated the following (in his commentary on Mark 2:27) in light of the Talmudic and related traditions of Judaism:

And that the observation of the seventh day, was only designed for the children of Israel, seems manifest from ( Exodus 31:16 Exodus 31:17 ), “wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant; it is a sign between me and the children of Israel“; and not between him and the rest of the world: and in ( Exodus 31:14 ) , “ye shall keep the sabbath, for it is holy unto you”: on which the Jews (in Zohar in Exod. fol. 26. 4 ) make this remark… “to you, and not to the rest of the nations“: nor did they ever think that the Gentiles were obliged to observe their sabbath, only such who became proselytes to their religion; even those who were proselytes of righteousness: for a proselyte of the gate, was not bound to observe it; for so says Maimonides (in the Mishneh Torah “Hilchot Shabbat,” c. 20. sect. 14):

“those who take upon them the seven commandments of Noah only, lo! they are as a proselyte of the gate, and they are free to do work on the sabbath day for themselves, openly, as an Israelite on a common day.”

Yea, they not only say, they were not obliged to keep the sabbath, but that it was not lawful for them to observe it; and that it was even punishable with death them to regard it; for so they say (in Devarim Rabba, an aggadic midrash or homiletic commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy, section I, fol. 234. 4.):

“a Gentile that keeps the sabbath before he is circumcised, is guilty of death, because it is not commanded him.”

They judged them unworthy of having this precept enjoined them, as being not men, but beasts, and worse than they, and had not the privilege the ass has: hence one of their commentators (Bartenora in Mishnah Sabbat c. 24. sect. 1) says,

“concerning the rest of an ass, thou (O Israelite!) art commanded; but concerning the rest of a Gentile, thou art not commanded.”

Can there be any doubt from the Judaic (Talmudic, Mishnaic) point of view, that there was no understanding of a Sabbath-observance for Gentiles (all mankind), based upon Genesis 2 or anything else – and that it was in fact deemed prohibited? One can argue that the Jews (or more accurately Talmudists) corrupted the initial views of the Israelites on the matter; however, given that nothing in the Bible, or in existing writing suggests that the Israelites, or Jews, deemed gentiles (non-Jews) to be under a command to observe the Holy Sabbath, it may not be too far-fetched to presume or inder that the views of modern and early Talmudists reflect the views held by the Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and those of Israelite-descent who came before them.

Did Abraham observe the Seventh-Day Sabbath?

Genesis 26:5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Nehemiah 9:13 Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:

It has been noted that (a) Enoch and Noah did not observe Circumcision because it had not yet been given as a sign or token; (b) just as Abraham did not observe the Holy Sabbath because it had not yet been given as a sign or token; (c) just as Moses did not observe the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper because it had not yet been given as a sign or token.

However, there are those who believe that because Nehemiah 9:13 refers to the Mosaic law when it speaks of true laws, good statutes and commandments, Abraham must have likewise known of these same laws, statutes and commandments (especially, they argue, the Seventh-Day Sabbath). However, when God states “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” he is not referring to the Mosaic law at all, but rather the Law as found in the Book of Genesis.

The Book of Genesis is the first of the five books of the Bible; thus, it is also the first of the five books Moses penned/authored (as borne along by the Holy Spirit). The five books together are commonly known as the Pentateuch, but the Pentateuch is also known as The Law (hence the use of the term the Law and the Prophets to refer to the entirety of Old Testament scripture). Though clearly historical in nature, Genesis is just as much “The Law” of God, as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Though it is pre-Mosaic (timewise), Genesis nonetheless sets forth the prohibitions, laws, statutes, and commandments that God ordained for His people, during the period covered, to walk in. As we will see, Genesis in general covers quite a bit of material on the matter. Thus, concerning Genesis as the Law, it can be said that Genesis 26:5 refers to (a) God’s direct/spoken commandments to Abraham; (b) God’s commandments throughout Genesis that Abraham knew to follow; and (c) those acts (mentioned throughout Genesis) from which Abraham knew to abstain.

Direct commands to Abraham:

To Leave His Country

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee… 4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram [was] seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

To make an offering

Genesis 15:9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not… 17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.

Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, [here] I [am]. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him… 9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here [am] I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me.

To walk before God and be perfect

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I [am] the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

To change/give names

Genesis 17:5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.

Genesis 17:15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah [shall] her name [be].

Genesis 17:19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac….

Genesis 21:3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

To institute the sign of Circumcision

Genesis 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This [is] my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which [is] not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant…23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him… 21:4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.

To cast out the bondwoman

Genesis 21:9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, [even] with Isaac. 11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. 12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Known prohibitions as found in the Law (Genesis).

Unjust violence:

Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.


Genesis 4:8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: [Am] I my brother’s keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.11 And now [art] thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. 13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment [is] greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, [that] every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Genesis 9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Sexual Perversion:

Genesis 9:20 And Noah began [to be] an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid [it] upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces [were] backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. 25 And he said, Cursed [be] Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

Genesis 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know…23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

See in light of:

Genesis 19:1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing [them] rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; 2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. 3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. 4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, [even] the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where [are] the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as [is] good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. 9 And they said, Stand back. And they said [again], This one [fellow] came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, [even] Lot, and came near to break the door.


Genesis 12:11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou [art] a fair woman to look upon: 12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This [is] his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.13 Say, I pray thee, thou [art] my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she [was] very fair.15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What [is] this [that] thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she [was] thy wife?19 Why saidst thou, She [is] my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take [her], and go thy way.20 And Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Genesis 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She [is] my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou [art but] a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she [is] a man’s wife. 4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 5 Said he not unto me, She [is] my sister? and she, even she herself said, He [is] my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. 6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. 7 Now therefore restore the man [his] wife; for he [is] a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore [her] not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that [are] thine… 11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. 12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.

Note: It would appear that Abraham thought that they would deem it better to murder a man and take his wife, than to commit adultery with her while the husband was yet living. Thus it seems that adultery was the higher of the two crimes in their sight.

Kidnapping and Stealing:

Genesis 14:11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these [were] confederate with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained [servants], born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued [them] unto Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which [is] on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

The eating of blood:

Genesis 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, [which is] the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

Unequal yoking

Genesis 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare [children] to them, the same [became] mighty men which [were] of old, men of renown. 5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

Genesis 24:2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

Known commandments/requirements as found in the Law (The Book of Genesis)

Proper sacrifice:

Genesis 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Genesis 7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. 2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that [are] not clean by two, the male and his female… 8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Note: It appears that the clean and unclean pertained to God’s sacrificial purposes. At this time, there were no food prohibitions because Genesis 9:3 clearly states “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”

The building of altars

Genesis 12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.


Genesis 13:18 Then Abram removed [his] tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which [is] in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.



Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he [was] the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed [be] Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Keeping one’s oath:

Genesis 14:22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23 That I will not [take] from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that [is] thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

To obey God and teach ones household to do the same:

Genesis 18:19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

It is clear here that Abraham was faithful to the laws that God gave to him, and those before him. Nothing suggests that he was aware of, and thus faithful to the Mosaic Law. Therefore, those who argue that Genesis 26:5 is evidence of an Abrahamic Seventh-Day Sabbath observance, wrest the Scripture and read into it that which is not there.

Did the Israelites in Egypt observe the Seventh-Day Sabbath?

Exodus 5:1 And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2 And Pharaoh said, Who [is] the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go. 3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. 4 And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. 5 And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now [are] many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.


Although I believe it likely that (a) Adam and Eve, and many of the saints of God who lived before the Mosaic Law was given, understood that God declared the seventh day to be sanctified and blessed (due to His cessation from His work of creation); and (b) that they may have worshipped, celebrated God and His creation, and offered sacrifices on that day (and perhaps even voluntarily rested on that day, though we have no evidence of this); based upon the sections above, I believe it is clear that there was never a Sabbath rest, Sabbath-keeping, or Sabbath-observance instituted in Genesis 2 for all mankind, for the saints of God, or for anyone else. Nothing suggests that the keeping of a literal (temporal) Sabbath day is binding upon all mankind, has been so from the beginning of man’s creation, or will remain so until Judgment Day. Genesis 2 did not create a Sabbath of any kind that man was commanded to observe; it especially did not create a Mosaic-type Sabbath with the expectations and prohibitions that accompanied it. There was simply no Genesis 2 Sabbath for man to desecrate before the law was given to Moses. Thus to promote the notion that the Fourth Commandment existed (and was known to mankind) before the Fourth Commandment was declared to Moses and the Israelites, is to promote error.

As I aim to show in the next part of this work (Lord willing Part II of III), the Mosaic Seventh Day Sabbath was instituted for the Israelites and only for the Israelites (and of course to converts). This Sabbath was clearly revealed and commanded; its observance was clearly defined (as it pertained to the requirements and restrictions for that day); and the penalty for breaking the Sabbath was not only explicitly stated, but it was clearly demonstrated for all to see. No such parallel exists with the supposed Genesis 2 (universal) Sabbath, because no such Sabbath ever existed.

Though many godly men of old, and in our day, hold to this notion, nonetheless, it is incumbent upon all of God’s elect to “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Colossians 2:16) because “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it” (Romans 14:5,6). To those who would disagree, I ask “…now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you (I fear for you)….” (Galatians 4:9-11). Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Galatians 3:3).

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