Matt 12:1-8,

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not A sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. Lord of the Sabbath For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

In this passage we see the Pharisees condemn the disciples of breaking the Torah by picking grain and eating it on the sabbath. Then Yeshua asks them in short, my translation, “did David and his men break Torah when they ate the consecrated bread, which would include the high priest who gave David the consecrated bread”. He continues, “Are the priests in the temple guilty of breaking Torah every Sabbath when they work in the Temple”. And lastly, “is Yeshua (Jesus) guilty of breaking Torah by healing on or allowing his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath”?

  • Well, as part of your research in the asking of the question - did Jesus break (any) law at all by healing (whatever day of the week he did it on) ? ? ?
    – Nigel J
    Apr 28, 2018 at 22:46
  • Is that a rhetorical question? If you have an opinion regarding the question you should write a well studied and thoughtful answer instead of trying to insinuate an answer by asking a question.
    – JLB
    Apr 30, 2018 at 1:19

1 Answer 1


Great question! In Rabbinical Judasim there are 39 Melachot (works) which are forms of prohibited 'work' that are as following:

Sowing Plowing Reaping Binding Sheaves Threshing Winnowing Selecting Grinding Sifting Kneading Baking Making Material Curtains

Shearing Wool Cleaning Combing Dyeing Spinning Stretching the Threads Making Loops Weaving Threads Separating the Threads Tying a Knot Untying a Knot Sewing Tearing Making Leather Curtains

Trapping, Slaughtering, Skinning, Tanning, Smoothing, Ruling Lines, Cutting, Making the Beams of the Mishkan,

Writing, Erasing, The Putting up and Taking down of the Mishkan,

Building, Breaking Down, The Mishkan's Final Touches,

Extinguishing a Fire, Kindling a Fire, Striking the Final Hammer Blow, Carrying,


Now, the accusation against Yeshua's disciples would seem to be that they had, by picking grain and rubbing the chaff off in their hands before eating it, done work prohibited by the 39 Melachot. This is dubious from a common sense perspective: no reaping instrument was involved. Yet the rabbis had prohibited picking of any kind. However, Yeshua was not doing what his disciples were, indicating he knew that it appeared to some that this was breaking the Shabbat, or perhaps he simply wasn't hungry. As he implies, the work of the priests and the David's acts were holy: 1. to keep other Torah commands and 2. to preserve life. Eating off a plant to preserve one's own life is similar, hence it's not REALLY breaking shabbat, though it appears to be to some.

Even the rabbis will circumcise on the Sabbath, thereby engaging in cutting, hence 'work' under the cause of the greater good. Yeshua was calling them out and saying, "even you take your animals to the well to give them water on the Sabbath." Hence, people eating food from a plant is not work if it is done out of necessity and not to gather a harvest. Healing people on the sabbath is similar. It's not the 'work' of a physician if its done to save life, and not for payment. He's saying, yes this could be considered 'work' but it is a type that is actually allowed because it's for a GOOD reason: it's lawful to do good on the Sabbath, to save life, to lift burdens. This is the good work the Father does, and the good work the Son does.

  • Thanks for the answer and compliment on the question. If you want you can upvote the question to promote it in the community.
    – JLB
    Apr 30, 2018 at 1:21
  • @Jacob כָּל הַכָּבוֹד!(Well Done!)
    – Tau
    May 5, 2018 at 21:57

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