In Genisis YHWH rests on the sabbath grammatically and historically; does the Hebrew term, "sabbath" refer to rest in general, by a deity, or does it refer to rest on a designated day, the deity had in mind and intends, no wiggle room, until time indefinite? Not being fluent in biblical languages, I seek understanding of the term, sabbath, and wonder if it is strictly a biblical word, and not found outside any use within the Tora or Tanakh, originally?

Gen 2:2, 3 - 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.

  • Adjusting to rules sir! Thanks for your guidance!
    – user61972
    Jan 7 at 22:29

2 Answers 2


First, the noun "Sabbath" is not mentioned in Gen 2:2, 3. The closest we get is the verb שָׁבַת (sabath) which means, "to cease, desist, rest".

The first mention of the noun, שַׁבָּת "Sabbath", before the formal giving of the law at Sinai is in Ex 16:23, 25, 26, 29 in connection with observing the Sabbath by not collecting manna.

The formal giving of the Sabbath command is recorded in Ex 20:8-11 which is explicitly tied to the record in Gen 2:2, 3 by two mechanisms:

  • the Sabbath command begins with "remember", ie, recall the origin and earlier practice
  • The Sabbath command quotes two significant sections from Genesis creation account:
  1. that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day
  2. that God blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified/hallowed it (compare Gen 2:3)

The repetition of the command in Ex 31:17 repeats much of this information.

Lastly, while the noun "Sabbath" and the verb "sabath" are quintessentially Hebrew, the same words have been borrowed by other languages, both ancient and modern such as:

  • Chaldee Syriac, sapta = "Sabbath"
  • Samarian, shab-bath = "Sabbath"
  • Babylonian sabatu = "Sabbath"
  • Assyrian sabati = "Sabbath"
  • Arabic (very ancient), shiyar = "chief of rejoicing day"
  • Arabic (old and modern), sasabt = "Sabbath
  • Ge'ez Ethiopian in Abyssinia, sanbat = "Sabbath"
  • Coptic, pi sabbaton = "The Sabbath"
  • Urdu & Hindistani, shamba = "Sabbath"
  • Latin, Sabbatum = "Sabbath"
  • etc, etc

There are many more.

  • Without presenting evidence, making the claim that these other languages borrowed from Hebrew is tenuous at best.
    – Traildude
    Jan 15 at 23:31
  • @Traildude - do you not see the etymology? The words are the same form and the meaning is the same.
    – Dottard
    Jan 16 at 1:59
  • Yes, the forms are the same. But without presenting evidence, making the claim that Hebrew is original and the others derivative is tenuous at best.
    – Traildude
    Jan 16 at 22:21
  • 1
    @Traildude - I thought it was obvious since "sabbath" is a Hebrew word and is not in any of these other languages except as the name of a day.
    – Dottard
    Jan 16 at 22:39
  • 1
    @Traildude - I think you have missed the point. The fact is that such an idea was very common across many languages, regardless of which was first. This demonstrates that the idea of sabbath keeping was very ancient and widespread.
    – Dottard
    Jan 17 at 4:03

The weekly sabbath day in the Bible, and to the Hebrews, is always and forever the seventh day of the week, observed from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. God rested from all His work on that day, He blessed that day and hallowed it, and commanded it (Gen. 2:2, Ex. 20:8-11, 31:13-17). There were also other sabbaths given to them in addition to the weekly sabbath, which fall on different days of the week (Lev. 23:24). In the English dictionary the Sabbath can mean the seventh day, Sunday, or a time of rest, depending on the audience.

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