Can Nisan 15 be referred to as "the sabbath"?
by Saber Truth Tiger
Here is Part Two of my answer to "Can Nisan 15 be referred to as a Sabbath"? I couldn't post this entire article on this subject so I had to post it in two parts.
Let’s read, in context, the difference between THE SABBATH and “the first day” of the feast of Unleavened Bread. First, let’s look at the King James Version, which was translated from Hebrew:
Leviticus 23 1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. 3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is THE SABBATH of rest, a holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is THE SABBATH of the LORD in all your dwellings.
This clearly is speaking of the weekly Sabbath and not any co-called annual Sabbath. Leviticus 23 continues...
4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. 5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD's Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is a holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after THE SABBATH the priest shall wave it.
The referent of this Sabbath is not the annual Sabbath Nisan 15 but the weekly Sabbath of verse three. There is no mention of an annual Sabbath here. The only Sabbath referred to prior to this verse is the weekly Sabbath in verse three.
Let's continue with Leviticus 23:15...
15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after THE SABBATH, (not the so-called annual Sabbath but the weekly Sabbath) from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; SEVEN SABBATHS shall be complete:16 Even unto the MORROW OF THE SEVENTH SABBATH shall ye number fifty days...
See how that reads, in context? The Sabbath in verses 11 and 15 have as their referent THE SABBATH in verse three. That’s context. Not a word about an annual Sabbath. Now, let’s read verse 16 in the KJV.
16 Even unto the morrow after the SEVENTH SABBATH shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. The morrow of the seventh day is fifty days.
Here are over 50 translations from the Bible Gateway website that translates this passage.
Let's now look at the Septuagint's rendering of these verses.
BRENTON'S SEPTUAGINT TRANSLATION
Leviticus 23:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say unto them, The feasts of the Lord which ye shall call holy assemblies, these are my feasts.
3 Six days shalt thou do works, but on the seventh day is THE SABBATH; a rest, a holy convocation to the Lord: thou shalt not do any work, it is A SABBATH to the Lord in all your dwellings.
So far, so good. This clearly refers to the weekly Sabbath, not an annual Sabbath. Now let's continue reading.
4 These are the feasts to the Lord, holy convocations, which ye shall call in their seasons. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evening times is the Lord's Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of this month is the feast of unleavened bread to the Lord; seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread. 7 And the first day shall be a holy convocation to you: ye shall do no servile work. 8 And ye shall offer whole-burnt offerings to the Lord seven days, and the seventh day shall be a holy convocation to you: ye shall do no servile work.
9 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them, When ye shall enter into the land which I give you, and reap the harvest of it, then shall ye bring a sheaf, the first-fruits of your harvest, to the priest; 11 and he shall lift up the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you. ON THE MORROW OF THE FIRST DAY the priest shall lift it up.
See the change? The translators changed "ON THE MORROW OF THE SABBATH" in Hebrew to "ON THE MORROW OF THE FIRST DAY". Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread (Nisan 15) becomes the day preceding the wave sheaf, rather than the weekly Sabbath. That means under Rabbinical usage the wave sheaf would always end up on Nisan 16 instead of Sunday. Under the rules of the Hebrew Bible and the teaching of the Sadducees, the wave sheaf would always happen the day after the weekly Sabbath. Then one would count seven sabbaths (seven weeks) to the 49th day of the fifty-day count. The day that followed the seventh Sabbath would be another holy convocation that the Jews celebrated, Shavuot.
The Septuagint reads further:
12 And ye shall offer on the day on which ye bring the sheaf, a lamb without blemish of a year old for a whole-burnt-offering to the Lord. 13 And its meat-offering two tenth portions of fine flour mingled with oil: it is a sacrifice to the Lord, a smell of sweet savor to the Lord, and its drink-offering the fourth part of a hin of wine. 14 And ye shall not eat bread, or the new parched corn, until this same day, until ye offer the sacrifices to your God: it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
15 And ye shall number to yourselves FROM THE DAY AFTER THE SABBATH, from the day on which ye shall offer the sheaf of the heave-offering, SEVEN FULL WEEKS: 16 until the morrow after the LAST WEEK ye shall number fifty days, and shall bring a new meat-offering to the Lord.
See how changing SEVEN SABBATHS in the Hebrew to SEVEN FULL WEEKS in the Septuagint removes the need to count seven full weekly Sabbaths and instead opens the door to count any day of the week seven times? The Jews who used rabbinical reckoning thus did not have to count seven weekly Sabbaths but seven Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or any other day of the week.
Now, for verse 16 in the Septuagint:
16 until the morrow after the last WEEK ye shall number fifty days, and shall bring a new meat-offering to the Lord.
In the KJV it says "Count fifty days to the day AFTER THE SEVENTH SABBATH" but the Septuagint changes SABBATH to WEEK. This way when the rabbis started the count from the day after Nisan 15 they didn't have to wait for the weekly Sabbath to begin the count to Shavuot, they could begin immediately. If Nisan 16 was a Wednesday then Shavuot would be a Wednesday. Does anyone see a pattern here?
The holy convocations (KJV) were changed to “Sabbaths” by the predecessors to the Pharisees and the Pharisees in Jesus’ day clung to the Nisan 15 Sabbath. The Sadducees resisted, but they had no power since the Pharisees controlled temple worship when Jesus had his public ministry. I am just stating that according to the Hebrew text, Nisan 15 was NOT a Sabbath but the LXX changed that.
Here is how the JPS TANACH 1917 edition translates Leviticus 23:1-16. Keep in mind that the translators of the 1917 edition of the Tanach are Jews who hold the view that the seven annual holidays are Sabbaths.
Leviticus 23: 1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: The appointed seasons of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My appointed seasons.
3 Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is A SABBATH of solemn rest, a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of work; it is A SABBATH unto the LORD in all your dwellings.
This is where the Tanach parts with the KJV. It refers to the Sabbath as "A" Sabbath and not "THE" SABBATH. Let's continue reading.
Leviticus 23:4 These are the appointed seasons of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their appointed season. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at dusk, is the LORD’S Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread.
7 In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. 8 And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days; in the seventh day is a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. 9 And the LORD spoke unto Moses saying: 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye are come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest unto the priest.
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you; ON THE MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH the priest shall wave it.
The Tanach translates this from the Hebrew and they do it correctly. Let's continue reading.
Leviticus 23:12 And in the day when ye wave the sheaf, ye shall offer a he-lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt-offering unto the LORD. 13 And the meal-offering thereof shall be two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savor; and the drink-offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of a hin. 14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor fresh ears, until this selfsame day, until ye have brought the offering of your God; it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
15 And ye shall count unto you FROM THE MORROW AFTER THE DAY OF REST, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the waving; SEVEN WEEKS shall there be complete;
Here, the Tanach changes FROM THE MORROW AFTER THE SABBATH in Hebrew to FROM THE MORROW AFTER THE DAY OF REST, hence which opens the door to a reader reaching the conclusion that it could be the day after Nisan 15, no matter what day of the week it may be. The Tanach also translates SEVEN SABBATHS in Hebrew to SEVEN WEEKS in English.
Leviticus 23:16 in the Tanach reads as follows:
16 You shall count until the day AFTER THE SEVENTH WEEK [namely,] the fiftieth day, [on which] you shall bring a new meal offering to the Lord.
Here, the KJV renders it "Count fifty days to the day AFTER THE SEVENTH SABBATH" which is true to the Hebrew.
Some who hold to the Nisan 15 Sabbath are quick to point out that the Hebrew word for Sabbath can mean simply "rest day" or "day of rest". Yes, that is true. The Sabbath is indeed a day of rest. However, even though all Sabbaths are rest days not all rest days are Sabbaths.
The new moons and the holy convocations were all rest days but they were not all Sabbaths. Remember, only the holy convocation Day of Atonement was a Sabbath and the others were simply solemn days and days of rest from your occupations and strenuous labor. They were also days to hold a holy assembly but were not considered Sabbaths in the days the Torah was written. Here is a link for further information:
Were the new moons observed similarly to Sabbaths and holy convocations?.
Some ask how and when did Nisan 15 become a Sabbath if it wasn't considered such at the time the Torah was written? No one knows for sure but it probably became considered a Sabbath while the Jews were in captivity in Babylon. The Jews spent about 70 years in Babylon servitude and the Babylons considered the 15th of the first month a Sabbath. It is easy to see if you believed Nisan 15 was a holy convocation and was a special day of rest and worship and it coincided with a Sabbath in the land you were a slave in that in about a generation the Hebrew Nisan 15 would be called a Sabbath too. After all, the Jews in captivity borrowed from the Babylonians the names of the months. However, calling Nisan 15 a Sabbath is not the same as it being a Sabbath. Revelation Lad comments on this Babylonian usage in his answer below.
If you believe the Hebrew Scriptures are inspired by God then you must admit Nisan 15 is NOT a Sabbath. That means if you likewise believe the Christian Greek Scriptures are inspired by God, then the inspired Greek writers would not have referred to Nisan 15 as a Sabbath since to do so would bow to the Pharisee tradition and not come into agreement with what the Hebrew Scriptures taught. Some have taught that the gospels writers would have called Nisan 15 a Sabbath if the Pharisees called it a Sabbath but why would an inspired writer, under direction of the Holy Spirit, call Nisan 15 a Sabbath if the translators of the Septuagint had deliberately changed the waving of the Omer from the day after the weekly Sabbath to the day after the First Day of Unleavened Bread in Leviticus 23:11? If neither the Hebrew nor the Greek writings are inspired, then it doesn't really matter what you call the day. It's just another holy day out of many in a man-made religion.