Those Christians who observe Saturday as the Sabbath often claim that when God rested on the seventh day he sanctified it and set it apart for holy use.

Genesis 2:1-3

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

They claimed God blessed the seventh day while he was resting on it and not created centuries later when the children of Israel departed Egypt. He sanctified it (setting it apart for holy use). Sabbath keepers claim the Sabbath was in existence from the end of creation week to the time of Moses when the Law was revealed to the children of Israel.

They back this up by quoting Genesis 26:3-5.

Jehovah is talking to Abraham and says the following:

3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Sabbath observers claim that when the children of Israel in Egypt became slaves they could no longer observe the Sabbath so after 400 years of slavery in Egypt the Sabbath became "lost". After the departure from Egypt God had to reveal to the Israelites the Sabbath because they had no knowledge of the Sabbath. It didn't mean that the revealing of the Sabbath was the first time it had ever been given unto man.

Exodus 16:1-5

1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: 3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. 4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no. 5 And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day, they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.

At this point, Jehovah is preparing the Israelites to begin keeping the Sabbath, something that had not been done for 400 years, if those who honor the Sabbath are correct.

Exodus 16:22-30

22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.

27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. 28 And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

And so began the Jews keeping the Sabbath which they continue to do to this day. It is important to note that the Sabbath predated the giving of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20.

Jesus kept the Sabbath in the New Testament times. He also made the well-known statement in Mark 2:23-28

23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. 24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful? 25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? 26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? 27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

This is crucial. Jesus did not say the Sabbath was made for the Jew, but it was made for man. In the Greek text the word "man" meant human or mankind, or so I have been told, by Sabbath keepers of course.

Some say that of all the ten commandments that were given in Exodus 20 only nine are repeated in the New Testament and the only one that is not mentioned is the Sabbath. However, of all the commandments given in the Torah several are not mentioned in the New Testament as well, including the law against bestiality. Does that mean bestiality is not a sin in New Testament times?

There was no need to repeat the Sabbath commandment in the New Testament because the whole country of Israel not only kept the Sabbath but there were so many extra man-made laws making the Sabbath a burden Jesus had to show everyone the Pharisees and Sadducees were too zealous in their effort for the Sabbath not to be broken.

Jesus was once asked the following:

Matthew 19:16, 17

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Notice Jesus said if one would want to enter into eternal life, he should keep the commandments. He was asked which ones and Jesus stated a few of the commandments encoded into the ten commandments given at Mount Sinai.

I am trying to be as fair as I can for those who observe the Sabbath but does Genesis 26:5 prove that Abraham kept the (ten) Commandments? Why are why not?

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

  • 1
    @Ray Butterworth I am interested on your take on this question. I know you have a lot of knowledge about keeping the Sabbath. May 30 at 18:15
  • Consider that by saying „do not care about the tomorrow“ Jesus declares every day a holy day for the search of heavenly kingdom. And he said „before Abraham I am“, so in this context your analysis may have to be extended.
    – grammaplow
    May 31 at 3:27
  • I question your use of the term "Sabbatarians". It makes us Sabbath keepers sound like a bunch of weirdos or something. "Commandment keepers" would be more appropriate.
    – moron
    Jun 1 at 17:54
  • @controlvoice You're right. I looked up the definition of Sabbatarian online and it actually means someone who observes Sunday as the Sabbath so I will have to redo my whole question. Did you find my description of Sabbath (Saturday) keepers fair? Jun 1 at 18:24
  • @controlvoice I have removed "Sabbatarian" from my question. Thanks for confronting me about my misuse of the word Sabbatarian. Jun 1 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


There are two aspects to this question:

  1. "Commandments"

The words used to describe "commandments" can apply to any of God's instructions including the 10 commandments. However, the record in Genesis makes it obvious that all 10 of the commandments listed in Ex 20 were in force well before their formal declaration at Sinai - see appendix below.

I note that in that survey, the Sabbath command is the only one explicitly stated.

  1. Other Words in Gen 26:5

There are several words used to imply commands or divine requirements in Gen 26:5 that Abraham is said to have kept:

  • מִשְׁמֶרֶת (mishmereth) = "charge" is used to describe the keeping of Passover (Ex 12:6, 16:23; the keeping of things associated with the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 16:32, 34, Num 3:31) and the tabernacle (Ex 8:35, Num 1:53, 3:7, 8, 25, 28, 38); keeping the holy commands of the Lord generally (Ex 18:30, Lev 22:9), etc. Thus, the word is generally applied to cultic requirements such as the sacrificial system that Abraham practiced.
  • מִצְוָה (mitvah) = "commandment" is used of direct instructions to God's people such as the 10 commandments themselves (Ex 20:6, 24:12); breaking these commandments is sinful (Lev 4:2, 13) including ceremonial practices.
  • חֻקָּה (chuqqah) = "statute" is used to describe mostly ritual laws, Ex 13:10, 12:4, 43, etc. Again, this would, in the case of Abraham presumably apply to his practice of building altars wherever he camped.
  • תּוֹרָה (torah) = "direction, instruction, law" is used to describe the law of the 10 commandments (Ex 24:12) as well as ritual sacrificial laws (Lev 6:9, 14, 25, 7:1), etc.

Thus, we have numerous laws that were observed before Sinai such as:

  • the 10 commandments (see appendix below)
  • a few of the sacrificial laws as evidenced by the story of Cain and Abel, Noah (when he existed the Ark), and the Abraham
  • the law of not eating blood in meat (Gen 9:4, 5)

Thus, it appears that whatever one says about the Sabbath command before Sinai also applies to a number of other laws as well. Now, which apply after the Resurrection of Christ is a completely separate question.

Lastly, concerning NT commands of God, the NT contains much more than the 10 commandments - by the count of an an-named wit, the NT contains about 1050 commands of God (See https://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201407/r1308729_17984331.pdf and https://www.cai.org/bible-studies/1050-new-testament-commands and https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-real-truth-movement/the-1050-new-testament-commandmentslaws/690826194404882/ and http://www.wholebible.com/NT_commandments.htm and http://www.biblicalresearchreports.com/gods-commands-in-the-new-testament/ )

Included in this impressive list is the Sabbath command in places like The "Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Mark 2:27, 28. "On the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made." Acts 16:13. "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord." Acts 13:44. See also Acts 13:27, 42, 15:21, 17:2, 18:4. However, included here we might also include the command to not eat blood such as Acts 15:29.

Thus, Gen 26:5 indicates that Abraham kept all the divine commands known to him at the time which presumably included all those listed above, namely:

  • the 10 commandments (see appendix below)
  • a few of the sacrificial laws as evidenced by the story of Cain and Abel, Noah (when he existed the Ark), and the Abraham
  • the law of not eating blood in meat (Gen 9:4, 5)

APPENDIX - 10 Commandments before Sinai

Commandment #1 – Worship only YHWH:

  • Gen 22:5, 24:26, 48, 52 all describe worship of the true God of heaven, YHWH.
  • Gen 35:1-4 – Jacob instructs his whole household to eliminate all foreign gods

Commandment #2 – Idolatry prohibited

  • Gen 31:32-35 – Jacob clearly understood that idolatry was forbidden.
  • Gen 35:1-4 – Jacob instructs his whole household to eliminate all foreign gods

Commandment #3 –Cursing and taking the name of the LORD in vain prohibited

  • Job 1:5 – When these celebrations ended—sometimes after several days—Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice.

Commandment #4 – Sabbath worship

  • Gen 2:1-3 – Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. And by the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on that day He rested from all His work. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on that day He rested from all the work of creation that He had accomplished.
  • Ex 5:5 - And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest [שָׁבַת shabath] from their burdens!”
  • Ex 16 also records the incident with manna and that collecting manna on the seventh-day Sabbath was forbidden

Commandment #5 – Respect for parents, elders and authority

  • Gen 28:6, 7 tells of the story of Jacob following his mother’s advice. Respect for parents is built into the very fabric of the patriarchal stories in Genesis.

Commandment #6 – Sanctity of Human life

  • Gen 4:8-12, 15 records Cain’s punishment for the sin of murder
  • Gen 4:23, 24 – Lamech realizes that he has murdered someone and will suffer consequences
  • Gen 9:5, 6 records that murder was prohibited under the ancient Noahide covenant

Commandment #7 – Adultery prohibited

  • Gen 12:10-20, 20:1-17, 26:6-11 all record “adultery narratives” in which the patriarch is (correctly) chided for almost tricking a pagan king into committing adultery
  • Gen 19 records the appalling events involving attempted pack-rape of the two angels
  • Gen 39:7-9 – Joseph calls Potiphar’s wife proposal “a great evil and sin against God”.
  • Gen 49:4 – Reuben is scalded for his sin of incest
  • Gen 34 – the story of Dinah records a heinous incident involving her defilement (plus murder and lying)

Commandment #8 – Stealing prohibited and respect for property

  • Gen 30:33 – Laban and Jacob discuss the problem of stealing of wages and property
  • Gen 31:32-35 – Laban is angry about the sin of stealing the household gods
  • Gen 44:9 – Joseph’s brother accused of stealing his divination cup.

Commandment #9 – Lying prohibited; insistence of honesty and integrity

  • Gen 4 – the story of Cain being punished, among other things for not being honest with Abel and God in his statements
  • Gen 12:10-20, 20:1-17, 26:6-11 all record “adultery narratives” in which the patriarch is (correctly) chided for lying to a pagan king about their marital status
  • In the story of Jacob, he is pejoratively called Jacob = “deceiver”, Gen 27:36.
  • Gen 37:31-33 – Jacob rebuked for lying and deception

Commandment #10 – Coveting prohibited

  • Gen 3:6 – the woman is tricked by the serpent using the sin of covetousness
  • Job 31:9, 10 – Job says he is innocent of coveting his Neighbour’s wife.
  • does "cultic requirements" mean? Every time I read something like that I think of "cult" or Jim Jones, the Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. Can you help? Thanks! May 30 at 16:47
  • I have to edit my original question because you mentioned that the Sabbath was first revealed to Israel in Ezodus 16 and not Ezodus 20. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I knew that for years throughout the 70s and 80s but when I wrote my question I had forgotten that important fact. Thanks for your input. May 30 at 18:20
  • I was wrong. I DID indeed mention the Sabbath was revealed in Exodus 16. But many people still believe the Sabbath was not given until the ten commandments. May 30 at 18:25
  • @SaberTruthTiger - I am using "cultic requirements" and "cultic practice" in the technical sense of organized ritual - the animal sacrifices is a good example.
    – Dottard
    May 30 at 21:37
  • Is there are reason why you think Abraham was not lying/deceiving when he told (or told Sarah to tell) the Pharaoh and later Abimelech was his sister rather than his wife? May 31 at 21:14

The Sabbath as the day of rest was not known to humanity before Exodus 16. The seventh day of a week is a picture. Just like all the other days and years of rest in the law of Moses. The Sabbath is not a day but a person. Jesus the Messiah, the rock of salvation, is the real Sabbath. We read about His shadow well before Exodus 16, in Genesis 28:10-19. The seventh day of Genesis 2 is not a day, either. It is a reality of the rest in and with God. Unlike the first six days, it has no end. The text does not say it follows the evening/morning pattern of the previous days. God rested from His work and Him alone. Humanity did not enter God's rest then.

That is why the author of Hebrews says:

"Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience." Hebrews 4:1-11

Abraham did not know and did not keep the law of Moses ("Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam" - Romans 5:14). He did not know the day of Sabbath/Saturday. His rest was in the promises of God/His Logos.

"By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:9-16

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