Sabbath


Sabbath

Contents

Sabbath or a sabbath is generally a weekly day and/or time of worship observed in Abrahamic religions and other practices. Many viewpoints and definitions have arisen over the millennia. The term has been used to describe a similar weekly observance in any of several other traditions; the new moon; any of seven annual festivals in Judaism and some Christian traditions; any of eight annual pagan festivals (usually "sabbat"); an annual secular holiday; and a year of rest in religious or secular usage, originally every seventh year.

Jewish tradition

Weekly Sabbath

Jewish Shabbat (Shabbath, Shabbos, Shabbes, Shobos, etc.) is a weekly day of rest, observed from sundown on Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night; it is also observed by a minority of Christians. Thirty-nine activities prohibited on Shabbat are listed in Tractate Shabbat (Talmud). Customarily, Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles shortly before sunset, at halakhically calculated times that change from week to week and from place to place. Judah ha-Levi in the 12th century proposed what amounted to a Jewish date line for dating of Shabbat, later calculated to fall between China and Japan (other lines exist, and travelers are expected to note both personal and local Shabbat); and Pinchas Elijah Horovitz in the 18th century stated that polar regions should observe Shabbat based on calculating 24-hour days, though without establishing a date line. Shabbat is a widely noted hallmark of Jewish peoples: the Subbotniks (literally, Sabbatarians) are a Russian sect, categorized as either Jews or Judaizing Christians, that became particularly branded by strict Shabbat observance; the Sabbateans are followers of Sabbatai Zevi, the most notable holder of the name form "Shabbethai"; sabesdiker losn (Shabbat speech) is a feature of the Northeastern Yiddish language that merges to "sh" and "s" sounds; and the Sambation is the Shabbat-observant river in rabbinic literature, beyond which the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were exiled by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser V. Several weekly Shabbats a year are designated as Special Sabbaths, such as Shabbat Teshuvah (Repentance Sabbath), prior to Yom Kippur. (Radical Hungarian-born Reform rabbi Ignaz Einhorn even shifted his congregation's Shabbat worship to Sundays.)

Weekend Sabbath

The modern Hebrew term Shabbaton or Shaboson also means a retreat or program for education, and usually celebration, that is held on Shabbat or over a weekend with special focus on Shabbat.

Christian tradition

In Christianity, both those who observe the seventh day as Sabbath and those who observe the first day as Sabbath consider themselves "Sabbatarian" and regard Sabbath as "Lord's Day" (Greek: κυριακός), each group believing its position to be taught by the Bible; similarly for others who hold to strong Sabbath principles. For instance, "Kuriakos" (Revelation 1:10) is taken either as the (first-day) weekday on which John was raptured in spirit, the seventh-day Sabbath or as the (seventh-day) millennial Sabbath unto which he was raptured. Similarly, the word "Sunday" is variously both disapproved, as recalling pagan sun worship on that day (Ezekiel 8:16-18), and approved, as an adopted token for Christ as "sun of righteousness" (Malachi 4:2). Many Christians affirm commonly that communal worship is not limited to Sabbath (Acts 2:45), and that "Sabbath was made for man", meaning all mankind (Mark 2:27).

Spiritual Sabbath

Many Christians look upon the Sabbath as a principle to be observed in spirit and not the letter. They point to the meaning of Sabbath as "rest" and the only New Testament admonishment to rest being Jesus' invitation to rest in him (Matthew 11:28). Those who hold to the spirit of the Sabbath believe that a more permanent rest is offered which a day could never fulfill, rest in Jesus.

First-day Sabbath

Since Puritan times, most English-speaking Protestants equate "Lord's Day" (viz., Sunday) with "Sabbath", as do most Roman Catholic and some Eastern Orthodox faiths; kept in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, it is often celebrated with the Eucharist. For many it is the day of rest, and of communal worship in remembrance of Resurrection Day. It is considered both the first day and the "eighth day" of the seven-day week (although Sunday is designated the "seventh" day of the week in the ISO 8601 standard). Relatively few Christians (as in the Church of Scotland) regard first-day observance as entailing all of the ordinances of Jewish Shabbat in a more rigorous abstention from "worldly" activities. The related Latter Day Saint movement generally follows the stronger of first-day Christian Sabbatarian traditions, avoiding shopping, leisure activities, and work unless absolutely necessary; and in Tonga, all commerce and entertainment activities cease from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, and its constitution declares this Sabbath sacred forever. Sometimes Lord's Day is observed by those who believe Sabbath corresponds to Saturday but is obsolete. In Oriental Orthodoxy, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has observed both Sunday Resurrection Day and Saturday Sabbath in different ways for several centuries, as have other Eastern Orthodox traditions. As another minority view, some modern Christians uphold Sabbath principles but do not limit observance to either Saturday or Sunday, instead advocating rest on any one chosen day of the week, or advocating Sabbath as instead a symbolic metaphor for rest in Christ.

Seventh-day Sabbath

Several Christian denominations observe Sabbath in a similar manner to Judaism, but observance ends at Saturday sunset instead of Saturday nightfall. Early church historians Sozomen and Socrates cite the seventh day as the Christian day of worship with the exception of the Christians in Rome and Alexandria.[1] Many Sabbatarian Judeo-Christian groups were attested during the Middle Ages; the Szekler Sabbatarians were founded in 1588 from among the Unitarian Church of Transylvania and maintained a presence until the group converted to Judaism in the 1870s. Seventh Day Baptists have observed Sabbath on Saturday since the mid-17th century (either from sundown or from midnight), and influenced the more numerous Seventh-day Adventists in America toward the practice in the mid-19th century. They and others believe that keeping seventh-day Sabbath is a moral responsibility equal to that of any of the Ten Commandments. They also use "Lord's Day" to mean the seventh day, based on Scriptures in which God calls the day "my Sabbath" (Exodus 31:13) and "to the Lord" (Exodus 16:23). The question of defining Sabbath worldwide on a round earth was resolved by some seventh-day Sabbatarians by making use of the International Date Line (i.e., permitting local rest-day adjustment, Esther 9:16-19), while others (such as some Alaskan Sabbatarians) keep Sabbath according to Jerusalem time (i.e., rejecting manmade temporal customs, Daniel 7:25). Many of the Lemba in southern Africa, like some other African tribes, are Christians and claim direct descent from the Biblical Israelites, keep one day a week holy like Sabbath, and maintain many beliefs and practices associated with Judaism.

Monthly Sabbath

The new moon, occurring every 29 or 30 days, is an important separately sanctioned occasion in Judaism and some other faiths. It is not widely regarded as Sabbath, but some messianic and Pentecostal churches, such as the native New Israelites of Peru and the Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church, do keep the day of the new moon as Sabbath or rest day, from evening to evening. New-moon services can last all day.

Annual Sabbath

In South Africa, Christian Boers have celebrated December 16, now called the Day of Reconciliation, as annual Sabbath (a holy day of thanksgiving) since 1838. Commemorating a famous Boer victory over the Zulu, the anniversary and its commemoration are intimately connected with various streams of Afrikaner and South African nationalism.

Millennial Sabbath

Since Hippolytus of Rome in the early third century, Christians have often considered that some thousand-year Sabbath, expected to begin six thousand years after Creation, might be identical with the millennium described in the Book of Revelation. This view was also popular among 19th- and 20th-century dispensational premillenialists. The term "Sabbatism" or "Sabbatizing" (Greek Sabbatismos), which generically means any literal or spiritual Sabbath-keeping, has also been taken in Hebrews 4:9 to have special reference to this definition.

Other religious traditions

Babylonian rest days

Counting from the new moon, the Babylonian calendar celebrated the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th as "holy-days", also called "evil days" (meaning "unsuitable" for prohibited activities). On these days officials were prohibited from various activities and common men were forbidden to "make a wish", and at least the 28th was known as a "rest-day". On each of them, offerings were made to a different god and goddess. Tablets from the sixth-century BC reigns of Cyrus the Great and Cambyses indicate these dates were sometimes approximate. The lunation of 29 or 30 days basically contained three seven-day weeks, and a final week of nine or ten days inclusive, breaking the continuous seven-day cycle. The Babylonians additionally celebrated the 19th as a special "evil day", the "day of anger", because it was roughly the 49th day of the (preceding) month, completing a "week of weeks", also with sacrifices and prohibitions. Further, reconstruction of a broken tablet seems to define the rarely attested Sapattum or Sabattum as the 15th day of the lunation: this word is cognate or merged with Hebrew Shabbat, but is monthly rather than weekly; it is regarded as a form of Sumerian sa-bat ("mid-rest"), attested in Akkadian as um nuh libbi ("day of mid-repose").

The pentecontad calendar, thought to be of Amorite origin, includes a period known to Babylonians as shappatum. The year is broken down into seven periods of fifty days (made up of seven weeks of seven days, containing seven weekly Sabbaths, and an extra fiftieth day, known as the atzeret), plus an annual supplement of fifteen or sixteen days, called shappatum, the period of harvest time at the end of each year. Identified and reconstructed by Hildegaard and Julius Lewy in the 1940s, the calendar's use dates back to at least the third millennium BC in Western Mesopotamia and surrounding areas; it was used by the Canaanite tribes, thought by some to have been used by the Israelites prior to King Solomon, and related to the liturgical calendar of the Essenes at Qumran. Used well into the modern age, forms of it have been found in Nestorianism and among the Palestinian fellaheen. Julius Morgenstern believed that the calendar of the Jubilees had ancient origins as a somewhat modified survival of the pentecontad calendar.

Buddhist rest day

The Uposatha has been observed since Gautama Buddha's time (500 BC), and is still being kept today in Theravada Buddhist countries. It occurs every seven or eight days, in accordance with the four phases of the moon. Buddha taught that Uposatha is for "the cleansing of the defiled mind", resulting in inner calm and joy. On this day, disciples and monks intensify their practice, deepen their knowledge, and express communal commitment through millennia-old acts of lay-monastic reciprocity.

Thai Chinese likewise observe their Sabbaths and traditional Chinese holidays according to lunar phases, but not on exactly the same days as Uposatha. These Sabbaths cycle through the month with respect to the Thai solar calendar, so common Thai calendars incorporate Thai and Chinese calendar lunar dates, as well as Uposatha dates, for religious purposes.

Sabbath as Saturday

One folk tradition in English is the widespread use of "Sabbath" as a synonym of midnight-to-midnight "Saturday" (literally, Saturn's day in at least a dozen languages): this is a simplification of the use of "Sabbath" in other religious contexts, where the two do not coincide. (Using midnight instead of sundown as delimiter dates back to the Roman Empire, John 19:14 with Matthew 27:1-2.) In over thirty other languages, the common name for this day in the seven-day week is a cognate of "Sabbath". "Sabbatini" (originally "Sabbadini", often "Sabatini", etc.) is a very frequent Italian name form, indicating a family whose ancestor was born on Saturday, Italian sabato ("Domenico" indicated birth on Sunday); "Sabbatos" is the Greek form. In vampire hunter lore, people born on Saturday were specially designated as sabbatianoí in Greek and sâbotnichavi in Bulgarian (rendered in English as "Sabbatarians"). It was also believed in the Balkans that someone born on a Saturday could see a vampire when it was otherwise invisible.

Islamic rest day

The Quran acknowledges six-day Creation (32:4, 50:38) and the Biblical Sabbath's being Saturday (yaum as-Sabt: 2:65, 4:47, 154, 7:163, 16:124), but Allah's mounting the throne after Creation is taken in contradistinction to Elohim's concluding and resting from his labors, and so Muslims replace Sabbath rest with jumu'ah (Arabic: جمعة ). Also known as "Friday prayer", jumu'ah is a congregational prayer (salat) held every Friday (the Day of Assembly), just after midday, in place of the otherwise daily dhuhr prayer; it commemorates the creation of Adam on the sixth day. The Quran states: "When the call is proclaimed to prayer on Friday, hasten earnestly to the Remembrance of Allah, and leave off business: That is best for you if ye but knew" (62:9). The next verse ("When the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land ...") leads many Muslims not to consider Friday a rest day, as in Indonesia; but many Arab countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, do consider Friday a rest day, and others, like Pakistan, half a rest day (after Friday prayer is over). Attendance is strictly incumbent upon all free adult males who are legal residents of the locality.

Wiccan sabbat

The annual cycle of the Earth's seasons is called the Wheel of the Year in Wicca and neopaganism. Eight sabbats (occasionally "sabbaths", or "Sun sabbats") are spaced at approximately even intervals throughout the year. Samhain, which coincides with Halloween, is considered first sabbat of the year.

An esbat is a ritual observance of the full moon in Wicca and neopaganism. Some groups extend the esbat to include the dark moon and the first and last quarters. "Esbat" and "sabbat" are distinct and are probably not cognate terms, although an esbat is also called "moon sabbat".

European records from the Middle Ages to the 17th century or later also place Witches' Sabbaths on similar dates to sabbats in modern Wicca, but with some disagreement; medieval reports of sabbat activity are generally not firsthand and may be imaginative, but many persons were accused of, or tried for, taking part in sabbats.

Bahá'í weekend

The Bahá'í week ends on Istiqlál (literally, Independence). It begins at sunset on Thursday and ends at sunset on Friday.

Unification Sabbath

The Unification Church has a regular day of worship on Sunday, but also has a Family Pledge service every eight days on the day of Ahn Shi Il, considered as Sabbath but cycling among the weekdays. The Family Pledge, formerly recited at 5:00 a.m. on Sundays, was moved to Ahn Shi Il in 1994. The pledge recited at this event includes eight verses containing the phrase "by centering on true love".

Secular traditions

Rest day in seven-day weeks

Secular use of "Sabbath" for "rest day", while it usually refers to the same period of time (Sunday) as the majority Christian use of "Sabbath", is often stated in North America to refer to different purposes for the rest day than those of Christendom. In McGowan v. Maryland (1961), the Supreme Court of the United States held that contemporary Maryland blue laws (typically, Sunday rest laws) were intended to promote the secular values of "health, safety, recreation, and general well-being" through a common day of rest, and that this day coinciding with majority Christian Sabbath neither reduces its effectiveness for secular purposes nor prevents adherents of other religions from observing their own holy days. Massachusetts, uncharacteristically, does not specify the weekday in its "Day of Rest" statute, providing only that one day off from work is required every week; an unspecified weekly day off is a very widespread business production cycle. The Supreme Court of Canada, in R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd. (1985) and R. v. Edwards Books and Art Ltd. (1986), found some blue laws invalid for having no legitimate secular purpose, but others valid because they had no religious purpose.

The weekend is that period of the week set aside by custom or law for rest from labor. In many countries it is Saturday and Sunday and often includes Friday night. This five-day workweek arose in America when labor unions attempted to accommodate Jewish Sabbath, beginning at a New England cotton mill and also instituted by Henry Ford in 1926; it became standard in America by about 1940 and spread among English-speaking and European countries to become the international workweek. China adopted it in 1995 and Hong Kong by 2006. India and some other countries follow both the international workweek and a more traditional Saturday half-workday and Sunday weekend. While Indonesia and Lebanon have the international workweek, most Muslim countries count Friday as the weekend, alone or with Thursday (all or half) or Saturday. Some universities permit a three-day weekend from Friday to Sunday. The weekend in Israel, and parts of Malaysia, is Friday (all or half) and Saturday. Only the one-day customary or legal weekends are usually called "Sabbath".

Rest day in other weeks

State-mandated rest days are widespread. Laws of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) required imperial officials to rest on every mu (every fifth day), within a ten-day Chinese week. The rest day was changed to huan or xún (every tenth day) in the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

The reform calendar of the French Revolution was used from 1793 to 1805. It contained twelve months of three ten-day weeks; the five or six extra days needed to approximate the tropical year were placed after the months at the end of each year. The tenth day of each week, décadi, replaced Sunday as the day of rest and festivity in France.

From 1929 to 1931, the Soviet Union mandated a five-day week, with each day designated by color as a state rest day for a different 20% of the workforce; families usually did not share rest days. Three weeks a year were six or seven days, because interrupted by holidays. From 1931 to 1940, the Soviets mandated a six-day week, with state rest days for all upon the 6th, 12th, 18th, 24th, and 30th of each Gregorian month, as well as upon March 1. This also necessitated varying weeks of five to seven days over the year.

Among many calendar reform proposals that eliminate the constant seven-day week in exchange for simplified calculation of calendrical data like weekday names for given dates, some retain Sabbatical influences. The Hermetic Lunar Week Calendar uses moon phases, resulting in weeks of six to nine days. The International Fixed Calendar and World Calendar both consist of 364-day years containing exactly 52 weeks (each starting on a day designated as Sunday), with an additional one or two intercalary days not designated as part of any week (Year Day and Leap Day in the International Fixed Calendar; Worldsday and Leapyear Day in the World Calendar). Reform supporters sought to accommodate Sabbatical observance by retaining the modified week and designating the intercalary days as additional Sabbaths or holidays; however, religious leaders held that such days disrupt the traditional seven-day weekly cycle. This unresolved issue contributed to the cessation of reform activities in the 1930s (International Fixed Calendar) and again in 1955 (World Calendar), though supporters of both proposals remain.

Work day in seven-day weeks

The subbotnik is a weekly day of volunteer work on Saturday in Russia, other (former) Soviet republics, the Eastern Bloc, and the German Democratic Republic, sporadically observed since 1919. The voskresnik is a related volunteer workday on Sunday. They focus on community service work; "Lenin's Subbotnik" was also observed annually around his birthday.

Russia and Hungary, and formerly the Soviet Union, also have declared Saturday a workday in lieu of a nearby Friday or Monday, if the contiguous Thursday or Tuesday is a public holiday. Poland has declared a working Saturday as an unofficial monthly occurrence. Many other working-Saturday practices are unorganized.

Annual rest days

Many sovereign nations, territories, regions, and international entities observe holidays based on events of significance to their history, most of which are public holidays from work.

Rest-year sabbatical

From the Biblical Sabbatical Year came the modern concept of sabbatical, a prolonged, often one-year, hiatus in the career of an individual (not usually tied to a seven-year period). Such a period is often taken in order to fulfill some goal such as writing a book or traveling extensively for research. Some universities and other institutional employers of scientists, physicians, or academics offer paid sabbatical as an employee benefit, called "sabbatical leave"; some companies offer unpaid sabbatical for people wanting to take career breaks.

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • SABBATH — (Heb. שַׁבָּת; Shabbat; related to the verb shavat, cease, desist, rest ), the seventh day of the week, the day of rest and abstention from work. In the Bible The etiology of the Sabbath is given in Genesis 1:1–2:3, although the name of the day… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Sabbath — • The seventh day of the week among the Hebrews, the day being counted from sunset to sunset, that is, from Friday evening to Saturday evening Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Sabbath     Sabbath …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Sabbath — Sab bath, n. [OE. sabat, sabbat, F. sabbat, L. sabbatum, Gr. sa bbaton, fr. Heb. shabb[=a]th, fr. sh[=a]bath to rest from labor. Cf. {Sabbat}.] 1. A season or day of rest; one day in seven appointed for rest or worship, the observance of which… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sabbath — ► NOUN 1) (often the Sabbath) a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday. 2) (also witches sabbath) a midnight pagan ritual held by witches.… …   English terms dictionary

  • Sabbath — [sab′əth] n. [ME sabat < OFr & OE, both < L sabbatum < Gr sabbaton < Heb shabat < shavat, to rest] 1. the seventh day of the week (Saturday), set aside for rest and worship and observed as such by Jews (from Friday sunset to… …   English World dictionary

  • Sabbath — (neujüdisch Schabbes), 1) Ruhetag, der siebente Wochentag vom Sonnenuntergang am Freitag an gerechnet bis ebendahin am nächsten Tage, welchen die Hebräer durch Enthaltung von aller Arbeit, Unterlassung aller Speisebereitung (daher selbst des… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Sabbath — Sabbath, Ruhetag, nach dem mosaischen Gesetze der siebente Wochentag, der Ruhe und der Verehrung des Höchsten gewidmet, wie bei den Christen der Sonntag. Diesen Tag feiern die Juden am Sonnabend. –s …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Sabbath — d.h. Ruhetag, Schabbes, der 7. Wochentag od. Sonntag der Juden, dauert vom Sonnenuntergang am Freitag bis dahin am Samstag, ist das älteste der gesetzlich vorgeschriebenen Feste und erinnert an das Ruhen Jehovas nach den 6 Schöpfungstagen sowie… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Sabbath — O.E. sabat Saturday, observed by the Jews as a day of rest, from L. sabbatum, from Gk. sabbaton, from Heb. shabbath, prop. day of rest, from shabath he rested. The Babylonians regarded seventh days as unlucky, and avoided certain activities then; …   Etymology dictionary

  • Sabbath — Sabbathless, adj. Sabbathlike, adj. /sab euhth/, n. 1. the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as the day of rest and religious observance among Jews and some Christians. Ex. 20:8 11. 2. the first day of the week, Sunday, similarly observed by… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.