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1. Question - Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Analysis :

Setting aside Jewish and Christian doctrines, and traditional interpretations ...

Do the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek Scriptures indicate that God Worked AND Rested - on the Sabbath Day? Or Not?

NASB, Genesis 2:2 - [On the seventh day] (Literally, from: ביום השביעי, Interlinear] God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day [ביום השביעי] from all His work which He had done.

If ביום השביעי can mean both "At/By the Seventh Day" and also "In the Seventh Day" - is there precedent that it can mean both, even in the same context, and in the same exact verse?

Is this clarified elsewhere in Scriptures?

Note: This question is intended to examine Christian or Jewish Traditional Commentary, so please don't rely on them.

  • 2
    One route I would examine is if "completed" can be translated as a pluperfect--"had completed."
    – Frank Luke
    Mar 9, 2017 at 22:53
  • @FrankLuke - I think that might be a good point to consider : A.) Maybe וַיְכַ֤ל vs, כִּלָּ֔ה used elsewhere? B.) Gen.18:33 - NAS: As soon as He had finished כִּלָּ֔ה speaking; vs. Ex.34:33 - NAS: When Moses had finished וַיְכַ֣ל speaking; C.) More references : ◄ 3615. כָּלָה (kalah) Mar 9, 2017 at 23:44
  • When you say "Do the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek texts ...", do you mean "commentaries" and not the Scripture manuscript themselves?
    – user33515
    Mar 10, 2017 at 0:04
  • @user33515 - A.) I definitely mean from Scripture, and not commentaries. B.) I posted another, very unfruitful, question on Judaism.SE about the same topic, asking for Jewish commentary ... C.) This research would be to compare with those commentaries. Mar 10, 2017 at 0:19

3 Answers 3


From the MT Hebrew it is clear that God did not create anything ("work"), or even put the finishing touches on anything on the seventh day.

The question arises because of the use of "completed" or "finished" to translate ויכולו instead of "had finished" or "ceased". The English words "completed" or "finished" can indicate the action or work that completes something, but כלה means that the action is already over. The indication comes both from the context and from the other instances of כלה in the MT.

Here are examples of the other instances. First from כִּלָּה , then from כָּלָה. Note the tendency to use pluperfect translations to capture the sense of כלה.

Genesis 18:33 (כִּלָּה)

וַיֵּלֶךְ יְהוָה כַּאֲשֶׁר כִּלָּה לְדַבֵּר אֶל אַבְרָהָם וְאַבְרָהָם שָׁב לִמְקֹמוֹ

And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place. (KJV)

Genesis 43:2 (כִּלָּה)

וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר כִּלּוּ לֶאֱכֹל אֶת הַשֶּׁבֶר אֲשֶׁר הֵבִיאוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם אֲבִיהֶם שֻׁבוּ שִׁבְרוּ לָנוּ מְעַט אֹכֶל

And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food. (KJV)

Numbers 16:21 (כִּלָּה) Here in the sense of "finish them off"

הִבָּדְלוּ מִתּוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַזֹּאת וַאַכַלֶּה אֹתָם כְּרָגַע

Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.

Now for כָּלָה

Genesis 21:15 (כָּלָה)

וַיִּכְלוּ הַמַּיִם מִן הַחֵמֶת וַתַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶת הַיֶּלֶד תַּחַת אַחַד הַשִּׂיחִם

And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs (KJV)

Jer 16:4 (כָּלָה)

מְמוֹתֵי תַחֲלֻאִים יָמֻתוּ לֹא יִסָּפְדוּ וְלֹא יִקָּבֵרוּ לְדֹמֶן עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה יִהְיוּ וּבַחֶרֶב וּבָרָעָב יִכְלוּ וְהָיְתָה נִבְלָתָם לְמַאֲכָל לְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּלְבֶהֱמַת הָאָרֶץ

They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine; and their carcases shall be meat for the fowls of heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. (KJV)

I Sam 20:7 (כָּלָה)

אִם כֹּה יֹאמַר טוֹב שָׁלוֹם לְעַבְדֶּךָ וְאִם חָרֹה יֶחֱרֶה לוֹ דַּע כִּי כָלְתָה הָרָעָה מֵעִמּוֹ

If he say thus, It is well; thy servant shall have peace: but if he be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him (KJV)

And now from the context of Genesis 2:1-2 (KJV)

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

We can see that there are no less than three phrases in two verses that indicate that God stopped (as in "done stopped") and rested on the seventh day. This style of repetition in the OT is an indication of emphasis - yes he really was done at the end of the sixth day and rested on the seventh.


  1. WikiMilon, the Hebrew version of Wiktionary, entry כלה
  2. Frank Luke's first comment on the OP above
  • @elikakohen The Hebrew text states that on the seventh day the work had been finished. That's what כלה means - it was already over on the seventh day. In English that means that God finished the work on the sixth day.
    – user17080
    Mar 11, 2017 at 16:31
  • Abu Muni Ibn Ibrahim - Thanks. +1 A.) This is the kind of answer I am hoping for. Mar 11, 2017 at 21:00
  • @elikakohen Thanks, I edited the answer slightly to clarify. The best parallel usage to understand the sense of כלה is the story of Hagar and Ishmael cited above - when the water was finished from the skin, meaning that the skin was already empty. Similarly, on the seventh day, the work was already finished.
    – user17080
    Mar 11, 2017 at 21:30

In a nutshell, God ceased from all his (ex-nihilo) creative work (Genesis 2:2), but continues always with his sustaining work even on the Sabbath Day (John 5:17). Of course he does, else everything would fall apart.


This question is predicated on the fact that Genesis 2:2 says that God completed his work on the seventh day. While this is indeed what the Masoretic text says, various other versions have an important difference (all emphases mine):

Samaritan Pentateuch

ויכל אלהים ביום הששי מלאכתו אשר עשה (STEP)

And on the six day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. (STEP)

Syriac Bible (Peshitah)

ܘܫܿܠܡ ܐܠܗܐ ܒܝܘܡܐ ܫܬܝܬܝܐ ܥܒ̈ܕܘܗܝ ܕܥܒܼܕ/ܟܠܗܘܢ#3#/ ܘܐܬܬܢܝܚ ܒܝܘܡܐ ܫܒܝܥܝܐ ܡܢ ܟܠܗܘܢ ܥܒ̈ܕܘܗܝ ܕܥܒܼܕ܂ (CAL)

And on the sixth day God finished his works which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his works which he had made. (Lamsa translation)


καὶ συνετέλεσεν ὁ θεὸς ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἕκτῃ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ, ἃ ἐποίησεν, καὶ κατέπαυσεν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἑβδόμῃ ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῦ, ὧν ἐποίησεν.

And God finished on the sixth day his works which he made, and he ceased on the seventh day from all his works which he made. (Brenton translation)

Thus we can see that in the Samaritan, Syriac, and Septuagint versions the text does not say that God completed his work on the seventh day. Rather, it says that God completed his work on the sixth day. If that is the correct text, then this question never starts.

(Of course, one could argue that they changed the text from "seventh" to "sixth" precisely to address this question.)

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