Seventh Inning Stretch

“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.”  (Genesis 2:2 KJV)

Ahhh, good coffee this morning.  Did you ever wonder why an omnipotent (all-powerful) God had to “rest” as stated in Genesis 2:2?  I suppose that for us humans regardless of our strength and endurance, we would still need to rest sooner or later.  But, God?  Rabbi Dr. Michael Samuel says that the more accurate translation of Shavat in not “rested” but “abstained” or “ceased.”

Regardless of why he rested or ceased all His work, He chose the seventh day and made this day holy – and He called it the Sabbath day.  As a covenant between Him and His chosen people He listed it in his all time top Ten Commandments:

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  (Exodus 20:8-10 NIV)

He was so adament about keeping the Sabbath that He imposed a severe penalty on those who disobeyed:

“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of Sabbath rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.” (Exodus 35:2 NIV)

So, you’re probably wondering what I’m getting at here.  Well, let’s take a closer look at the first verse I stated in Genesis 2:2 taken from the King James Version of the Bible.  It says that on the seventh day God ended his work, which implies that he did a little work on the seventh day but “ended” it on that day.  Then He creates a commandment for his chosen and tells them not to do any work on the seventh day even though he did work himself?  Doesn’t this pose a bit of a theological dilemma?  Why would God not permit the people to work on the seventh day when God performed at least a minimal amount of work on that day?

Come to find out, scholars have debated this issue for years.  The New International Version of the Bible tried to fix the boo boo by changing a couple of words:

“By the seventh day God had finished the work…”  (Genesis 2:2 NIV)

Nice try!  If you read the Hebrew (the Old Testament was written in Hebrew) text, or the Masoretic text, it literally says, “And on the seventh day God finished the work…”  But, the Greek Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew) has God finishing his work on the “sixth” day.  This verse was not found in the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Scholars find multitudes of reasons to side with either interpretation.  But for me?  I sit here sipping on my dark roast, contemplating the plethera of textual varients of the Bible made available to me to peruse with my friend, Google.  And for now – time for a second cup…

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