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By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Genesis 2:2,3 (NASB)

Claim:

Because he had completed his work, God blessed and sanctified the seventh day (v. 3). These verbs (barak and qadash) are intensive (Pi‘el) forms. As such, they are more than simple utterances about the day; they have constitutive force and define the day.

[...]

The pattern of God’s “creation week” is meant to be an exemplar for man’s life also (Ex. 20:11). God’s proclamation is thus constitutive for man’s earthly round of existence. From the beginning, God meant each successive seventh day to be a day blessed and sanctified for man (cf. Mark 2:27–28)

Is the above claim, highlight in bold, sustainable based on the Hebrew language?

Source: Report of the Committee on Sabbath Matters, Presented to the Fortieth (1973) General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

  • Oh. I just found a the answer to this question, apart from the word study, in the Bible. Exodus 20:11. Don't let that discourage anyone from answering the question in it's original form based on the Hebrew language though. – ig-dev May 24 '17 at 13:15
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The NASB translation, as quoted, is a reasonable translation of Genesis 2:2-3. The verses as they appear in the MT do not present any linguistic problem in terms of composition, word choice or grammar.

The claim regarding the v'yivarech (blessing of) and v'yikadesh (sanctification of) the seventh day being more than simple utterances is obviously correct. They are positioned at the culmination of the creation story, and besides that, there aren't any simple utterances in scripture. But to base the claim on the use of the pi'el verb form is specious. What other verb form would fit here?1

The second paragraph of the claim, that the creation story is intended is pattern for our lives, is not supportable from the composition of Genesis 2:3 alone but should be inferred from the style. This is an example of an unstated, inferred intent, a hallmark of Old Testament style.

The author of Exodus paraphrases Genesis 2:2-3 in Exodus 20:11 (NASB) [MT verse 10] "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth...", and uses this paraphrase as the justification for the command to keep the sabbath in Exodus 20:8-10 (NASB) [MT verses 7-9] "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy ...". This shows that from the viewpoint of the author of Exodus at least, the intent of Genesis 2:2-3 is indeed that the week of creation and the holiness of the sabbath should be our template for marking time.

So the claim, in total, is not just sustainable, it is the correct inference, based on the style of the writing.


  1. The matching kal (קל) form of barach (ברך), second person singular future past is yivrach (יִבְרֵךְ) which is used to mean "he kneeled"' literally, "he kneed", as the root ברך also has the meaning of knee. The hif'il is used to mean either to make someone kneel, or to mean to graft one thing to another, as a grafted tree looks like it has a knee. Those are the reasonable alternative forms. The nif'al, pu'al, huf'al and hitpa'el are obviously not suitable in this context.
  • Great answer, thank you. Just as a clarifying question, and I know you touched on this: regarding the pi'el verb form, is there any significance to the fact that the qal verb form has not been used? Unfortunately I don't know Hebrew so it's not an educated question. – ig-dev May 24 '17 at 22:55
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    @ig-dev The qal isn't used for barak (v'yivarech, as answerer represents it), because the simple qal is not used for this verb: the pi'el is its normal form, so not "intensive". As for qadash (v'yikadesh), it has an object ("sanctified it"), and this requires the pi'el which is takes an object, whereas the qal does not. So the claim about the pi'el for these verbs in the OPC reports is, as AMII says, "specious". – Dɑvïd May 25 '17 at 9:10
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    @ig-dev I added a footnote regarding the קל form. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim May 26 '17 at 4:28
  • @AbuMunirIbnIbrahim The forms of ברך you cite are understood by most (all?) lexicographers as from ברך I, which only occurs in (Qal) Ps 95:6; 1 Chr 6:13; and (Hiphil) Gen 24:11. And that's it! A total of three occurrences. The root ברך II, "bless" is the root in question for the meaning "bless", and when in Qal is only Qal passive in formulae of blessing; the Qal just isn't an option in any typical sense for ברך II, where Piel is the normal form (235x), and Hiphil is not used at all (is attested in Niphal, Pual, Hitp.). FWIW. – Dɑvïd May 26 '17 at 8:00
  • @Dɑvïd Hmm. I had intended to say that the קל and הפעיל of the trigram root בר"ך are already "taken", or "occupied" by meanings of "kneel" and "graft" from the noun form בֶרָךְ. That is, the form (בניין) of the verb is a distinguisher of meaning when the root is homonymic. That's the way speakers of the language think of it intuitively. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim May 26 '17 at 12:30

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