When I look into the Hebrew text I see at least 3 different spellings of what we translate into English as day or rest or more commonly "Sabbath". So how many different words in Greek are used to translate these Hebrew words- I find only one "Sabbath".

I ask the question because it appears that the women in Marks gospel rest on a Thursday, as the first day of the feast of unleavened- making Wednesday the day Jesus dies- or Pesach. So I wonder if the Greek can differentiate between the days of rest found in the Torah.

  • 1
    If Mary is not familiar with Hebrew, perhaps she is seeing the forms of the word as different spellings.
    – user2027
    Jan 15, 2014 at 12:47
  • ok I do need to rephrase a bit-I have 3 different spellings for what we understand as day of rest/Sabbath. The first is the "Sabbath" of the seventh day and is used exclusively as such with the exception that Yom Kippur and the seventh year Sabbath of the land also share this usage, please note that the overwhelming use is for the seventh day Sabbath. The next word is very similar but spelled different and has uses that are like this-- this word refers to the days of rest commanded for the Feast of Shavout or Pentecost (always on a sunday I might add) for the Feast of Tabernacles
    – Mary
    Jan 18, 2014 at 1:10
  • (first and eigth day- If you allow my inclusion for those who understand the Torah well) The last Hebrew word has a useage that is for the days of rest for the first and last days of the feast of unleavened- ok I do not know how to copy and paste the Hebrew but the first word is found in Ex 16:23 The second is found in Lev 23:39 and the third is in Lev 23:7 Please note the first two have slight variations but are used as hard and fast rules in the texts. Does the greek have words that might be used in each situation to follow the distinctions in the Hebrew- the NT does not address more than
    – Mary
    Jan 18, 2014 at 1:10
  • the seventh day Sabbath and the first day of the feast of unleavened so I wonder if other greek words would be used if these days of rest or Sabbaths were used by NT writers Mary I found my insights from Scripture4All so I use that Hebrew for the 3 variations
    – Mary
    Jan 18, 2014 at 1:10
  • 2
    Mary be sure to register your account and read What constitutes “minimal research effort” in questions involving the original languages?
    – Dan
    Jan 21, 2014 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


In spite of the fact that I only know one spelling for the Hebrew word behind English "Sabbath", I'll provide some data for that one. (I'm getting these counts from Bible Works: the numbers you get depend on the adeptness of the queries, and I don't claim infallibility and would like to be corrected if I've gone astray!)

There are, then, five verses when Heb. šabbāt is NOT translated by Grk sabbaton. These follow, with the variation:

  • Ex 20:11 - tēn hebdomēn (τὴν ἑβδόμην) "the seventh"
  • Lev 23:11 - Heb = "day after the Sabbath"; Grk = "the morrow of the first day"
  • Lev 23:16 - [see Lev 23:11]
  • Lev 25:8 - Heb = "seven Sabbaths"; Grk = "seven pauses" (ἀναπαύσεις / anapauseis)
  • 2 Kgs 16:18 - Heb has "Sabbath" (שַׁבָּת), but Grk translates as if "seat, throne" (שֶׁ֫בֶת) with Greek kathedras

So the Greek translators of the Septuagint basically used "sabbaton" when the Hebrew is referring to the "day of rest". The variations in Leviticus each have other nuances, and the one in 2 Kings 16:18 presents a textual critical issue (translator "saw" the Hebrew consonants, but understood a different Hebrew term being used).


It is worth noting that Yom Kippur is the only other day besides the weekly Sabbath, which is also referred to as a Sabbath. The weekly Sabbath is referred to as YHWH's Sabbath ["Today is a Sabbath of YHWH" (Ex 16,25); "Keep My Sabbaths" (Lev 19,3)] while Yom Kippur is referred to as Israel's Sabbath ["It shall be a Sabbath of restfulness for you" (Lev 16,31; 23,32)]. The Sabbatical Year (Shemitah) is also called the Sabbath of YHWH (Lev 24,4-5). It is also worth noting the term Shabbaton, which is used to describe some of the Holy Days. It should be emphasized that the term Shabbaton is not the exact equivalent of Sabbath [Shabbat] nor is it ever used interchangeably with it. Indeed, the term Shabbaton is derived from the same root as Sabbath although its exact connotation is unclear. Shabbaton seems to be the adjective form of the word Sabbath and means something like "Restfulness" or "rest-period". Thus the weekly Sabbath is described as a Shabbat Shabbaton, meaning a "Sabbath of Restfulness". Similarly, the 7th year is called a Shenat Shabbaton, meaning a "Year of Restfulness" (usually translated "Sabbatical Year"). The term Shabbaton is also applied to Yom Teruah (Lev 23,24), the first day of Sukkot (Lev 23,39), and Shemini Atseret (8th Day of Sukkot) (Lev 23,39).

The terms Sabbath and Shabbaton are never used to describe any of the days of Hag HaMatzot nor are ANY of the Holy Days ever called a Sabbath other than the weekly Sabbath itself. The only exception is Yom Kippur which is the holiest day of the year on which even eating is forbidden. In contrast, on the Holy Days of Hag HaMatzot (1st and 7th days) it is permissible to cook and have fire (Exodus 12,16).

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