In The Beginning There Was The Fourth Commandment? A Ten Commandments Tale

with the new cycle of torah reading comes the beginning. with the beginning, and the end of creation, comes the sabbath.

with two recitiations of the ten commandments, there are two interations of the sabbath commandment. one discusses god resting after six days of creation. the other addresses the exodus and freedom from slavery as a basis for the sabbath.

the fact that there are two versions and reasons for the sabbath commandment is actually quite logical.

as the annual torah reading cycle begins, the origin story of the sabbath is laid out. chapter 2 genesis begins “now the heavens and the earth were completed and all their host. And god completed on the seventh day his work that he did, and he abstained on the seventh day from all his work that he did. and god blessed the seventh day and he hallowed it, for thereon he abstained from all his work that god created to do.”

as humanity was created on the sixth day, mankind never experienced a full week before the establishment of the sabbath. there was no weeklong of labor to reflect upon. there was no true appreciation of a day of rest. rather, it was a mere gift to humanity.

perhaps this is why the exodus was incorporated into one of the versions of the ten commandments. deuteronomy 5:15 provides “and you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of egypt, and that the lord your god took you out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm; therefore, the lord, your god, commanded you to observe the sabbath day.” this reminder brings the commandment in line with the concept of endless servitude and the concept of rest.

it is possible that this reasoning was present at the time of the dead sea scrolls. one of the oddities about the torah scroll was that they found that the two rationales were merged into one listing of the ten commandments. both the creation and the exodus were listed together.

in sum, while the sabbath was a concept from the very beginning, its codification within the ten commandments completed the notion of the value of work. working is an essential element in humanity. tasks performed at home and on a job are a part of our existence. thus, the satisfaction of making it though the week is the reward of having a day off. we both can take enjoyment in our efforts as well as admire the heavy lifting that the master of the universe did when this wonderful planet of opportunity was created.

be well!!

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Published by biblelifestudies

I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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