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As I was studying this morning, I came across Ezekiel 20:12

Moreover 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.

Sabbath is plural. As I looked into it, there are many verses contained in the scriptures that use the plural term "Sabbaths"

Leviticus 23:15:

And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:

2 Chronicles 36:21:

To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

Isaiah 1:17

Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

And so forth. There are many references to a plural Sabbath. I am familiar with the 7th day of rest, but what are the others?

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Leviticus 23 contains all the appointed times starting with the most frequent, the weekly Sabbath. Then there are annual days primarily set by the day of the month. The two exceptions are first fruits and weeks. Each of these follow a weekly Sabbath. The first follows the first Sabbath after Passover; the second follows the seventh Sabbath. Many of the annual days are also days of no work and could be considered like a Sabbath. Some are actually called a Sabbath:

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. (Leviticus 23:24 KJV)

Day of Atonement is also a Sabbath:

It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath. (Leviticus 23:32 KJV)

The seventh month begins with a 10-day period which will include at least one weekly Sabbath. Therefore in that week there will be Sabbaths (one weekly and one annual).

The pattern of plural and singular use of Sabbath continues in the New Testament. The Englishman's Concordance lists 68 occurrences of Sabbath - 25 are plural and 43 singular. Many of the plural uses make sense when considered as speaking to the weekly Sabbath. For example:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath(s) day, and stood up for to read. (Luke 4:16 KJV)

Some plural uses cannot mean weekly Sabbaths:

Now upon the first day of the week (sabbaton), very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. (Luke 24:1 KJV)

The plural form of Sabbath is translated as "the first day of the week". The actual language is "They came to the tomb very early morning Sabbaths..." Since the resurrection took place following a period of 3-days and 3-nights, only one Sabbath could be weekly. The translations are not wrong in that the correct day of the week is rendered (Sunday, the day after the Sabbath). What has happened is that the calendar before the resurrection has become obscured. The only way to get more than one Sabbath into a 3-day period of time is to include an annual day. Luke understood the first day of Unleavened Bread as a "Sabbath" since it was a day of no work. In other words, the resurrection occurred on Sunday after the Sabbaths of the first day of Unleavened Bread and the weekly Sabbath.

Luke is not alone in using the plural form of Sabbath when describing the resurrection. It is one of those aspects of the Gospel which is found in all four accounts: Mark 16:2, Matthew 28:1 (twice), Luke 24:1, and John 20:1 and 20:19. Since the plural was used in all four accounts and since the weekly Sabbaths are 7 days apart and since Jesus was in the tomb 3 days, the second Sabbath must be the first day of Unleavened Bread.

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  • I have to go with your answer over Caleb's as it encompasses "rest" instead of day. While Caleb may be 95% accurate, the 'Shabat' encompasses the rest of God-consistant throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelations. Because "The word sabbath is from the Hebrew word SHABÀT, meaning ‘cessation,’ or ‘time of rest.’ it means more than a particular day, it indicates completion and sessation from one's activity to enter into "God's rest". Many misinterpret Jesus's saying "the Father works and I work"(Jn. 5:17) to mean there is no more "day of rest"-it has all been fulfilled. – Tau Apr 30 '15 at 8:13
  • (cont.) This is far from true-in fact if the 4th commandment is made void, what is to prevent the other 9 from being considered nulified. The truth is modern man has negated the Sabbath's, and paid the penalty for it, in premature aging, disease, poverty, stress, as well as infertility, drought, soil errosion. What day one celebrates it is under grace, as well as what one does or doesn't do(for the Christian). But the principle is part of the eternal Word of God, and the world will pass away before His Word does. – Tau Apr 30 '15 at 8:20
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    The problem with this answer is that it based upon a false assumption. The resurrection actually occurred on the morning of the third day, Luke 24:21; 46 and Acts 10:40 - As Jesus himself prophesied, Mark 9:31. Nor does the answer actually deal with the text in question which is Ezek 20:12 – Jonathan Chell Apr 30 '15 at 16:02
  • @Tau Agreed, it reflects a better overall concept of Sabbath, but does little to then apply this understanding to the specific text in question. I also think the "my" Sabbaths part of Ezekiel still needs to be addressed. That is, this is God speaking about the days He has commanded be dedicated to Him. They are His, all of them. Thus the plural. At the same time, they are a gift, He has given them to us for our benefit, much like all the law. (It will go well with you if you obey) – Joshua Apr 30 '15 at 21:12
  • Let me clarify my answer to the question. In Ezekiel 20 the LORD is reciting things He did to demonstrate who He is and how He has tried to get His people to follow Him. In verse 12 He says He has given them His Sabbaths to be a sign between them and Him that they might know He is LORD (YHVH) who sanctifies them. If the sign was only weekly Sabbaths, annual days including the Day of Atonement would not be part of the sign that sanctifies. When the plural Sabbaths continue in the NT especially in the resurrection (the ultimate sanctifying act) the sign must be more than weekly Sabbaths. – Revelation Lad May 2 '15 at 5:18
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You appear to be overlooking the obvious reading because you are attaching the plural to the wrong thing in your head.

  • 1 sabbath = 1 period of 7 days ending in a day of rest.
  • 2 sabbaths = 2 periods of 7 days with days of rest on each 7th day.
  • 3 sabbaths = 3 periods of 7 days with days of rest on each 7th day.

See the pattern? Most of those plural readings are just a reference to periods of time longer than 1 week, not to some other sacred day other than the sabbath.

In the 2nd Chronicles passage the second usage of the term is referring to the concept of the sabbath rest rather than the day in particular. There may well be other usages as well, but I don't know of any that are references to "other sabbath days".

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  • Does that explain Ezek 20:12? – Jonathan Chell Apr 28 '15 at 16:22
  • @JonathanChell I don't see any indication that it wouldn't. Most commentaries I've checked seem to just take this for granted as the obvious reading of the plural just makes sense. The OP above just seemed to be in a funk and missing the obvious (it happens to all of us). If there is more of a question here than what was posed it would seem like the burden would be on the questioner to come up with some shred of reasoning why the obvious reading doesn't fit, which I don't see in this case in my cursory review of these passages and some commentary. – Caleb Apr 28 '15 at 16:36
  • context dictates that it is the weekly sabbath, but I think the context also suggests that it was all the sabbaths that were being profaned (i.e. every one), not just those within a specific time period - If I have misunderstood your answer I apologise. – Jonathan Chell Apr 28 '15 at 17:16
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    @JonathanChell Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my answer, but as I understood the question the OP was expecting "sabbaths" to refer to holy days other than the sabbath—other feast days perhaps—as if sabbath days were some general category of holy day rather than a reference to the weekly sabbath. The only inference I intended to make is that these are all references to the same weekly Sabbath and is only plural because it sometimes referrers to more than one week. – Caleb Apr 28 '15 at 18:00
  • @Caleb The 2 Chron.36:21 passage refers to the 7th year Sabbaths, in which the land was to lie fallow(Lev. 25:4),"But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD." Therefore, saying 'Sabbath' as merely the 7th day fails to include the principle of rest that all Sabbaths include-especially the Sabbath of the land. – Tau Apr 30 '15 at 0:57
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In regards to your citing of 2 Chronicles 36:21:

"To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years."

The Sabbath for the land was different than the Sabbath for the man. The land had a Sabbath rest every seventh year, in which nothing was planted or harvested the entire year. There was also the Sabbath of Sabbaths which was 7 x 7 years, or the 49th year (Lev 25:4-10). The Jubilee year (50th year) was itself a Sabbath (Lev 25:11-12), and came on the heels of the 49th year which was a Sabbath year also - two Sabbath years back to back. For this reason the Lord promised to provide food for three years (Lev 25:20-22). So we see not just a weekly Sabbath, but an entire societal structure build around multiples of Sabbaths.

The Jubilee - the culmination of the Sabbaths - was a time when all men were set free from servitude and returned to their land. Freedom from bondage is what the Sabbaths were building toward - a reminder that they would never again be held in perpetual servitude. But Israel had polluted not just the Sabbath but had wrecked the whole Sabbath system, and in the process were keeping each other in bondage - the bondage that the Lord had delivered them from in Egypt. So this is the reason for the Lord's fury in Ezekiel 20:12, I think.

Aside...Based on the directives given for the Jubilee Year - particularly the setting free of captives (Lev 25:10) - the Jubilee might be considered the "acceptable year of the Lord" mentioned in Isa 61:2, which Jesus says He had come to fulfill (Luke 4:17-20). So the Sabbaths were also set up to be a sign of the promised Messiah.

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See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFTLvkB3JLM&vl=en for an excellent summary of the different Sabbaths in the Bible (Bible Project).

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Where it reads( my sabbath) is the lords day the weekly 7th day, where it reads (your sabbath ) the lords Sabbath looks back to creation all other Sabbaths look forward to Christ.only they were a Shadow of things to come, the7th day sabbath is the lords, its the lords day, all the other sabbath are referred to as your Sabbath

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    Can you bring any references or citations to support your answer? – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Oct 10 '17 at 5:40

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