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If we read the Bible, God's days start at sunset. God's months start with a new moon (lunar calendar). The Jews in the O.T. & N.T. followed God's lunar calendar, based on the new moon. The seventh day, the Sabbath, was never on the same day on the lunar calendar.

For example, in the month of Passover in the year:

  • 26 AD; on a Friday
  • 27 AD; Wednesday
  • 28 AD; Monday
  • 29 AD; Saturday
  • 30 AD; Wednesday
  • 31 AD; Monday
  • 32 AD; Monday
  • 33 AD; Friday
  • This year 2022; on a Friday.

Jer 52:4"...in the ninth year...in the tenth month...on the tenth day of the month

The whole Bible is full of examples like this. If you translate the Greek in Acts 20:7, it reads: "and on one of the Sabbaths..."

The writers of the Bible never used words like: "Friday, first day of the week or Week"

My question is: Why did our translators translate God's word the way they did?

[PS! God did not give the days names, only His seventh day that He gave a name. Thank you.]

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  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your contribution. Please remember to take the tour (link below left) to better understand how this site works. It would be helpful if you quoted an example or two of what you are asking about. Each question here needs a specific Bible verse to discuss.
    – Dottard
    Nov 26, 2022 at 8:07
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    Many ancient cultures didn't name their weekdays. They were just ordinal (first day, second day, etc). If a day was named, it was typically just the last day. The Hebrews called theirs Sabbath. Less ancient cultures did eventually name more days, typically to honor more gods. The English days of the week are largely Norse influenced (Tyr's day, Tuesday; Thor's day, Thursday; Frig's day, Friday). The point is that not naming in very ancient cultures is typical, and that any naming is typically religiously motivated.
    – user2055
    Nov 27, 2022 at 18:19

4 Answers 4

9

You appear to have several questions wrapped into one. Let's consider them one at a time.

Regarding the Bible Sabbath

The Bible follows the Hebrew tradition and focus of the weekly Sabbath, the birthday of the world and the day of rest as commanded by God, as the highlight of each week. None of the other days were given names. In Hebrew, one would always count those days by their number--toward the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath was the only day of the week with a name. Certain festival days, like Passover, were given names as well, but these also became ceremonial sabbaths, even when they did not coincide with the weekly Sabbath. When a ceremonial sabbath landed on a weekly Sabbath, it was considered a high Sabbath.

Regarding Calendar Changes

Not once has the weekly cycle been interrupted by any of the changes made to the calendar. In transitioning from the Julian Calendar, to the Gregorian Calendar, for example, ten days were dropped out, going from October 4 to October 15 on the next weekly day, whereas the week had no change at all, only the dates changed. Similarly, time changes are made so as to be past the point of making a date change, i.e. there is no shift from Sunday to Monday, or vice versa, during a time change.

Regarding Translation

Translators often choose to interpret instead of translate, and this can be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is necessary, such as when a word or concept does not exist in the target language. But it is often more suitable for a Bible commentary where an explanation can be given. For example, when Jesus is said to have died "at the ninth hour," this follows the Greek schedule of beginning the day at 6 a.m. The ninth hour would be three o'clock in the afternoon--and some translations convert between those two times, potentially destroying the significance (if it has any) to the number "nine" which was present in the original text, favoring a more "understandable" rendering.

I'm not aware of translations using names of weekdays like "Friday," but this obviously would exceed the proper bounds of translation every bit as much as the KJV's embarrassing insertion of "Easter" in place of "Passover" in Acts 12:4.

Conclusion

The Sabbath, and the weekly cycle, is sure, and has never been changed. Careful study of the historical changes made to the calendar will bear this out. Translations, on the other hand, are frequently subjective: reader beware.

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  • +1. Good answer.
    – Dottard
    Nov 26, 2022 at 8:31
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    I'm not aware of translations using names of weekdays like "Friday,"” — The Good News Translation uses the word (and in at least one place, I would say inappropriately). But despite its name, that version is really more of a paraphrase than a real translation. Nov 26, 2022 at 17:02
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    This September 1752 calendar nicely shows how the weekday cycle was preserved. Nov 26, 2022 at 17:05
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    Note that, strictly speaking, there have been a handful of timezone changes which resulted in either skipping or repeating a day, which did change the day of the week in local time. Samoa actually did both of those things at different points in its history.
    – Kevin
    Nov 26, 2022 at 22:01
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There are several questions here about slightly different topics.

Acts 20:7

The actual, literal translation of Acts 20:7 reads as follows:

Then, in the first [day] of the week ... [ie, what we now call "Sunday".]

it does NOT say, "and on one of the Sabbaths..."

Names of the week

The OP is partly correct that the Bible names "Sabbath" as a day of the week. However, in the New Testament, the "preparation day" (Greek παρασκευή = paraskeué, equivalent to our "Friday"] is also named in several places such as Matt 27:62, Mark 14:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:14, 31, 42.

All other names of the days of the week are simply numbered in the NT such as, 1st day of the week (= our Sunday), 2nd day of the week (= our Monday), etc. However, none these receives a specific name except for preparation day and Sabbath.

Weekly cycle

Concerning the very occasionally voiced remark that the weekly cycle is different from that anciently, I would ask, "According to whom?" I note the following:

  1. The Jewish nation itself which currently regards Saturday as the seventh day and have faithfully preserved it since the time of Jesus and the apostles and much earlier.
  2. The koine Greek word, σάββατον (sabbaton), simply means “Sabbath” a transliteration of the Hebrew word of the same meaning. This word has survived into Modern Greek and still means the same thing, namely Saturday, in English. The Latin preserves the same meaning.
  3. Numerous European peoples and their various languages have also preserved the same result. For example, observe the word for “Saturday” in each of the following languages which means “Sabbath”: Subbota (Morduin), Subota (Permian), Szombat (Hungarian), Sabbaton (Greek), Sabato (Italian), Sabado (Spanish), Sabbado (Portuguese), Samedi (French), Sobota (Polish), etc, etc. Even in those languages which do not have a word derived from “Sabbath” for Saturday, all still agree that it is the seventh day.
  4. Numerous ancient peoples (more ancient than Jesus and the apostles) similarly preserve Saturday as the seventh day, eg, Coptic, Kabyle, Pashto, Persian, Armenian, Kurdish, Brahuiky, Turkish, Lazen, etc, etc.
  5. The great Roman Catholic Church readily testifies the same thing - that the Biblical Sabbath falls on what we now call Saturday - see Pope John Paul’s latest catechism, par 2168 to 2175.
  6. The Orthodox churches (Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Ethiopic, Coptic, etc) also agree that the seventh day is Saturday. They, like the Roman Catholics, celebrate Christ’s death at Easter on Friday, His rest in the grave on Saturday and His resurrection on Sunday - the first day of the week.
  7. The Moslem faithful also agree - Friday is the sixth day of the week; therefore, Saturday is the seventh as testified in the Qur’an.

Therefore, it is difficult to find anyone of any consequence to disagree that our correct weekly cycle is any different from that established in antiquity. This, despite several changes in calendars, the weekly cycle was never disturbed.

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  • "Even in those languages which do not have a word derived from “Sabbath” for Saturday, all still agree that it is the seventh day." - Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but where I live, Saturday is the 6th day of the week, and a quick search shows that the week may start on Sat, Sun or Mon depending on country. Nov 27, 2022 at 9:45
  • @RutherRendommeleigh - fair point but before making that comment, I checked several dictionaries. Look at German where "Wednesday" is "midweek", etc. "Saturday" in my English dictionary is still listed as the seventh day of the week. Modern business practice has now defined new work-weeks for convenience.
    – Dottard
    Nov 27, 2022 at 10:42
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The "preparation day" (Greek παρασκευή = paraskeué, equivalent to our "Friday"] is also named in several places such as Matt 27:62, Mark 14:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:14, 31, 42." It is not on Friday however. It could only be on what we call Thursday, for Jesus told us He would be in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights, and furthermore, as we read in Luk 22:1 and 7, it was the feast of Unleavened bread, the Passover - two feasts overlapping... and the next day after His burial was The Day of Preparation in John 19:31 - a high/holy day of rest.

It was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (in Lev.23). Then on Friday, Jesus was in the grave for the 2nd day, after the 2nd night. Then came the 'Saturday', the 2nd sabbath of that week, after Jesus' last and 3rd night in the grave and the last day, the 3rd day in the grave until and before sundown of the weekly Sabbath of that week - as He was buried on the afternoon of 3 days before - the Wednesday afternoon, before sundown.

Perhaps it is because the churches do not honor the Feast of Unleavened Bread that they (and their congregations) have missed that there are two holy days (and also the Day of Firstfruits - on Sunday, and therefore, it maybe even 3 Sabbaths/holy days/Days of Rest? We remember it, but did we keep it as that - cannot recall now), in the week of Passover. As it is written in Luk.22:1 and 7 (and in 1 or more of the other gospel books, I did not check). There would then also be 2 days of rest in the next week - because of the 7th day of Unleavened Bread - whether it is both called Sabbath days or holy days or 'one high holy day before the weekly Sabbath". I've not looked into the exact names/do not remember it so clearly at this time.

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I also recommend going through the Help Center's sections on both asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Aug 24, 2023 at 21:25
  • Welcome to the site, Susan. Interesting though your answer is, it does not answer the two points of the question. It is not about what we call in English Thursday, or Friday. If you check the site's guidance on how to answer questions on Hermeneutics, you could then deal with the two specific questions raised.
    – Anne
    Aug 25, 2023 at 13:38
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This will cover other aspect of the question...

According to ancient jewish oral tradition, every day in the week have a dominating star in the sky, as follows

SUNDAY: Sun - Sunne in old english

MONDAY: Moon - Mōna in old english

TUESDAY: Mars - Tīw in old english

WEDNESDAY: Mercury - Wōden in old english

THURSDAY: Jupiter - Þunor in old english

FRIDAY: Venus - frig in old english

SATURDAY: Saturn - Sætern in old english

You can find some many evidence for that in the Talmud.

Rashi mention this here:

https://www.sefaria.org.il/Rashi_on_Berakhot.59b.1.6?with=all&lang=en

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  • Thank you, sorry for all the questions😊😊. All at the sametime.
    – thankful
    Nov 27, 2022 at 14:59

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