Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sabbath - Cessation Time

Robert Alter defines "sabbath" as "cessation time." The Five Books of Moses (p. 409). As I read Exodus 16, the principle of sabbath is reinforced by the miracle of manna, only gathered for six days with a double portion on the 6th day but a cessation on the 7th when there was no manna. It is "day of rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord (Exod 16,23). "Six days you will gather it, and on the 7th day, the sabbath, there will be none." (16,27). As usual, some Israelites refused to believe the word of the Lord through Moses and the lesson of sabbath has to be brought home repeatedly, as "they go out not from their place on the 7th day and the people ceased from work." Likewise, the principle of the sabbatical year is the same that Israelites could work their land for 6 years and then they have to rest for a whole year. This sabbath principle teaches the Israelites who their God and Master is, the lord and owner of their land, the land of Israel as a whole given to Israelites as a gift through a promise. Attached to the promise that they could retain possession of the land in perpetuity if they believe in the Lord, including the sabbath commandment, both weekly and every 7th year and a special or double sabbath on the Year of Jubilee.
I have personally enjoyed this period of Sabbath, my Jubileeth year. Jubilee is especially poignant. Every debt has to be cleared and they return to their own lands and inheritance in order that none of the Israelites would be in bondage or servanthood to another but that they will experience the goodness of their God who is their sole master, employer and Lord and through whom and from whom all blessings come and flow to the lowliest member of the household of Israel.

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