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Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy is one of the Ten Commandments, which are widely understood as moral imperatives by Jewish, Catholic, Reformation and legal scholars. The book of Exodus describes the Ten Commandments as being spoken by God, inscribed on two stone tablets by the finger of God, broken by Moses, and rewritten on replacements stones by the LORD. The full text of the commandment reads:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
— Exodus 20:8-11 (ESV)
According to Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and on the seventh day, he rested. This is the Biblical origins of the week. God blessed the seventh day of the week and made it holy.
The next mention of the seventh-day Sabbath rest was after the Israelites had left Egypt and were travelling through the desert complaining of hunger. God provided manna for them each morning for the first six days of each week. They were not to save any manna from one day to the next. But on the sixth day, they were to collect enough manna for two days, so that they would not have to go out on the seventh day--the Sabbath. Some disobeyed God's instructions so "The LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” So the people rested on the seventh day."
When God later gave them the 10 commandments on stone, Israel was commanded to remember the creation Sabbath and keep it holy by not doing any work and allowing the whole household (see also proselytes) to cease from work. This was in recognition of God’s act of creation and the special status that God had conferred to the seventh day during the creation week.
The Torah portrays the Sabbath concept both in terms of resting on the seventh day and allowing land to lie fallow during each seventh year. The motivation is described as going beyond a sign and remembrance of Yah's original rest during the creation week and extends to a concern that one’s servants, family, and livestock be able to rest and be refreshed from their work. In addition to the instruction to rest on each seventh day and seventh year, periods of seven days are often relevant aspects of Biblical instructions. For example, the quarantine period for suspected skin diseases after initial examination by a priest was seven days, after which the priest would re-examine the skin and pronounce the person clean or unclean. Other special days included the day after the seventh Sabbath, the first day of the seventh month, the day of ritual cleansing after being healed from an unclean disease or other event bringing uncleanness. In addition, in the battle of Jericho, Yahoshua commanded the army to march around Jericho each day for seven consecutive days and to march around Jericho seven times on the seventh day.
The Torah describes disobedience to the command to keep the Sabbath day holy as punishable by death and failing to observe Sabbath years would be made up for during the captivity that would result from breaking covenant. The Torah also describes how special bread was to be set out before Yahweh Sabbath by Sabbath and describes Sabbath day offerings.
The Day of Atonement was regarded as a “Sabbath of Sabbaths”  It was on this day alone that the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) entered the Kodesh Hakodashim (Most Holy Place) inside the Tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant contained the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were engraved. The presence of YHWH in Kodesh Hakodashim required that the Kohen Gadol be first purified by the sacrifice of a bull in a prescribed manner. Entering the Most Holy Place on other days or without fulfilling the ritual requirements wound subject the priest to death.
In the same way that observing the Sabbath did not prevent Joshua from marching around Jericho for seven consecutive days, Sabbath observance did not prevent the chief priest Jehoiada from organizing a palace coup on the Sabbath in order to remove queen Ataliah from the throne and replace her with Joash, a rightful heir to the throne. Ataliah had murdered all the other heirs to the throne upon the death of Ahaziah and usurped the throne of Judah for herself. Jehoiada’s wife had rescued young Joash, and Jehoiada had kept him hidden for six years while Ataliah reigned as queen over Judah. The priest Jehoiada used the occasion of the transfer of the guard on the Sabbath to proclaim Joash as king because at that time, he could arrange twice the normal guard on duty at the temple of Yahweh. On that day, a covenant was made, Joash was proclaimed king, Ataliah was put to death, the temple of Baal was torn down, idols were smashed, and Mattan, the priest of Baal, was killed.
A number of the prophets condemn desecration of the Sabbath with various forms of work, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Amos. According to Nehemiah, after the captives return to Jerusalem from Exile, they make a covenant which includes a promise to refrain from desecrating the Sabbath, yet some give in to the ongoing temptation to buy and sell on the Sabbath. As a result, Nehemiah has to rebuke them and station guards to prevent commerce in Jerusalem on the Sabbath.
Ibn Ezra taught that the Exodus account of the Ten Commandments contains the text exactly as written on the stone tablets and that the different version in Deuteronomy contains Moses words which remind Israel to obey the commandments, “as the LORD your God has commanded you.” Ibn Ezra explains that Moses did not need to re-iterate the reference to six days of creation at the beginning of the commandment in Deuteronomy, because the command in Deuteronomy itself refers back to the command from Exodus with the words “as YHWH your Elohim has commanded you.” Instead, Moses revealed in Deuteronomy the motive for the command that slaves rest on the Sabbath day in order that Israel remember that they were slaves in Egypt and that God redeemed them.
Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the Ramban) also views the Exodus version of the Sabbath day commandment as a direct recitation by God, and the version in Deuteronomy as Moses’ personal reconstruction and exposition. The Ramban explains that Moses wishes to emphasize that the prohibition of work extends even to agricultural work aimed at food production. He further explains the difference in the stated rationals (creation in Exodus, exodus in Deuteronomy). The exodus from Egypt serves as further evidence of Yah’s creation of the world. God’s awesome display of power during the exodus annuls any doubts regarding YHWH as creator, because only the creator can possess such total control over the elements.
Maimonides (the Rambam) gives equal footing to both rationals for the Sabbath command:
Moral imperatives mirroring nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament, but the commandment regarding the Sabbath is notably absent. However, the background and Jewish understanding of the Sabbath commandment underscore much of the New Testament narratives and discussion. For example, Jesus is described as pointing out to the Jews their misunderstanding of the Mosaic Law by making observance of the Sabbath more rigorous than God had commanded. It was not unlawful to eat on the Sabbath, even if food must be obtained by plucking grain from the ears. It was not unlawful to do good on the Sabbath day. Healing was a work of mercy, and Jesus, portrayed as Lord of the Sabbath, was merciful. Consequently, criticisms of healing on the Sabbath were unjustified.
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath." He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.
— Matthew 12:1-14 NIV
The Catholic Church views the commandment to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8-10) as an essential part of observing the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.”(Mark 2:27-28)  Catholic teaching emphasizes the holiness of the Sabbath day (Exodus 31:15), connects the Sabbath with God’s rest after the six days of creation (Exodus 20:11), views the Sabbath as a reminder of Israel’s liberation from bondage (Deuteronomy 5:15), and views God’s example of resting on the seventh day as an example for human resting and protesting the servitude of work and the worship of money. (Exodus 31:17, 23:12)  The Catholic Catechism discusses many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the Sabbath law, and points out that Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day.(Mark 1:21, John 9:16) Jesus is described as giving the Sabbath law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath."(Mark 2:27) With compassion, Christ declares the Sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing.(Mark 3:4)
Sunday is distinguished from the Sabbath, which it follows. According to Catholic teaching, ceremonial observance of Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week replaces that of the Sabbath.
And if any man (including the pope) shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.
— Revelation 22:19 1769 Oxford King James Bible 'Authorized Version'
Sunday is described as a fulfillment of the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and an announcement of man's eternal rest in God. The Catholic Catechism describes Sunday celebration as observing the “moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship.” Thus, Sunday worship fulfills the “moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.” The Catholic Church teaches that the Lord’s day should be “a day of grace and rest from work” to cultivate their “familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.” On Sundays and other holy days, faithful Christians are to refrain from work and activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, works of mercy, and the “appropriate relaxation of mind and body.” Christians also sanctify Sunday by giving time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. “Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.” In addition to one’s own rest, Christians should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord's Day.
Martin Luther taught that with regard to external observance, the Sabbath commandment was given to Jews alone and not strictly applicable to Christians. Luther did see wisdom in voluntary observance of a day to rest from labor and pay particular attention to Christian duties of reading the Scriptures, worshiping God, and prayer. He thought that this need not occur on any particular day, but should continue on Sunday (the Lord’s day), since this was the long established practice, and there was no reason to create disorder by unnecessary innovation. Luther emphasized that no day is made holy by rest alone, but rather by the individual seeking to be holy though washing himself in God’s word.
For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, yea, the only one which we Christians know and have…God's Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour then, God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified thereby, not because of the external work, but because of the Word which makes saints of us all. Therefore I constantly say that all our life and work must be ordered according to God's Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled.
— Martin Luther, The Large Catechism
John Calvin taught that since Jesus Christ fulfilled the Sabbath, binding observance to the Sabbath was abrogated for Christians. However, he emphasized that because Christians are buried with Christ in baptism and raised from the dead to the glory of God the Father (Romans 6:4), that what Christ fulfilled in the Sabbath requires not one day each week, but rather “requires the whole course of our lives, until being completely dead to ourselves, we are filled with the life of God.” Calvin taught that spiritual wisdom deserves to have some part of every day devoted to it, but owing to the weakness of many daily meetings cannot be held. Consequently, the pattern of weekly observance established by God is useful for the church to emulate. This church practice is not to be in the manner of Jewish observance of minute formalities, but rather one of ordering church life in a useful and predictable manner to serve the body with opportunity to hear the word, receive the sacraments, and participate in public prayer.
The Westminster Confession of Faith describes the Sabbath day as being the seventh day of the week from the creation until the resurrection of Christ, and as being changed to the first day of the week with Christ’s resurrection.
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