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Article

Abstract

The term “S/sabbath” in Lev 23:11 provides the temporal orientation in verses 9–22 for both the sheaf elevation ritual of verses 10–14, on the following day, and the new grain offering ritual (Festival of Weeks), seven weeks thereafter. However, identity of the S/sabbath itself is contextually indeterminable in chapter 23, and has been disputed throughout the centuries. The various theories, all based upon cessation of human labor, contend for either a weekly Sabbath linked to the festival, or one of the two festival days that prohibit all occupational work, or a “Sabbath week.” Yet, none can demonstrably establish its claim as the specified S/sabbath over against the other theories. The only antecedent with requisite specificity for the term S/sabbath in verse 11 is derived from Exod 12:15, where the hiphil of the verb שבת mandates the “cessation of leaven,” specifically on the first day of the festival (Abib 15). This proposal, versus either the weekly Sabbath theory or the Sabbath-week theory, is corroborated by the essentiality of the adjective תְּמִימתֹ, “complete,” modifying שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת, “seven Sabbaths,” in Lev 23:15, which is rendered superfluous in the weekly Sabbath-based theories.

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