Sabbath vs. First Day of the Week

First, I need to be verbose because I want to show that I did not arrive at this conclusion lightly or quickly.

Years ago I read a book that claimed that from the commandment to rebuild the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25) to the birth of Israel was exactly this or that many days. I thought, “How on earth did they come up with that?” How little did I know the impact in my life that little inquiry made.

Ten years later(!) I wrote my chronology study. How many amazing gems are within the letters, words and pages of the word of God! While I was confident about the years, and the day Jesus died, no matter what I did, I could not rectify “three days and three nights” from Wednesday to Sunday, nor Friday to Sunday. We all rationalize away these discrepancies to our theology by amending our theology. But God is never changing and cannot lie, so where’s the problem. I resorted to all kinds of things like using Excel to equate a cell for each day, then slice it into two for “day” and “night.” I prayed and formulated, and I just couldn’t get it to work out. I attacked Google like a madman seeing if anyone else had the answer. Nothing. Another ten years goes by and *bloop* the answer appears. That still small voice that kept telling me to return to the originals got loud enough to get my attention. Oh, to have listened 20 years ago!

Knowing Spanish and Italian pretty good, I knew about the issues of translations. No matter how pure my heart is, I still interject my thoughts and beliefs into translations. It’s the sin in us that keeps us in the dark, 1 Corinthians 13:12. Since I learned Italian first, I then married a Spaniard and after 13 years, I got a job in Spain. Though we spoke English, I tried to get beyond “kitchen Spanish,” that is, day-to-day repetitive home conversations. The Spaniards would chuckle at me so I asked them why. They said I was mixing Italian in with my Spanish. I asked my wife why her and her family didn’t correct me. “We thought it was cute,” she said. The point is, there are issues with what we know and how we come to know it. This is what traditions do to us, Colossians 2:8.

With that said, I’ve been a KJVer most of my Christian life. It dawned on me that maybe the Christians who were translating the Greek and Hebrew might have inadvertently introduced some “Italian” into their “Spanish,” that is, their theology. So, I started down the path to learning these ancient languages that honestly don’t match word-for-word their modern cousins. I found out I don’t have to! Part of learning a language is understanding the culture. Since the biblical times and cultures are not present today to study, then I can make do with the plain English, dictionaries, lexicons and morphology tools (verb tenses, noun gender, etc.)

Hebrew is very creative and is thematic in nature, that is, a word-for-word translation isn’t really possible on the whole no more than me being concise. :) What I mean is that each letter has its own meaning and the combination of those letters form new meanings in words and links them to other words. Greek is more precise in its meaning much like we do in English. For example the word for word (דבר debar) is the same as the word thing in Hebrew and the female version of word is a bee Deborah. What does word, thing, and bee have in common? One of my favorite phrases, “Like an arrow, when a word is released, has its own power, and just as hard to take back.” God spoke everything into existence, so it make sense that word and thing are related. It also give proof to the strong conviction we call faith. So the spoken word is its own thing with its own power and by word of mouth, the Good News is spread like a bee. Each letter of דבר (debar) means: door, in, man. A door in a man is his mouth which speaks דברים debarim) words. Now you can begin to understand Jesus’ words:

Matthew 15:10-11
He summoned the multitude, and said to them, “Hear, and understand. That which enters into the mouth doesn’t defile the man; but that which proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

Ok, enough history. Here’s what I found. Young’s literal translation says:

Matthew 28:1 (YLT)
And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre,

I thought, how can it be the evening of the sabbaths and yet be toward the first of the sabbaths? It doesn’t make sense – to me. Having read so much, I remembered a verse:

Leviticus 23:15
You shall count from the next day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be completed:

Ok, so the day after the Sabbath after the sheaf offering. Well when is that? The day after the 15th of Nisan (the first day of Unleavened Bread), Leviticus 23:6, which is the day after Passover, Leviticus 23:5. The first and last days of Unleavened Bread are Sabbaths, that is:

Leviticus 23:7
In the first day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work.

So, verse 15 is talking about the day after the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread, the next day is the sheaf offering, and then the counting of the seven weekly Sabbath to Pentecost. Now we can understand the literal translation of Matthew 28:1 as

In the evening after the sabbath, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulcher.

Let’s break it down. I’m using Thayer’s and Mickelson’s dictionary. Here’s what the first part of the verse look like in Greek:

οψε δε σαββατων τη επιφωσκουση εις μιαν σαββατων

– Transliteration: Opse
– Phonetic: op-seh’
– Definition:
1. after a long time, long after, late
a. late in the day, i.e. at evening
b. the sabbath having just passed, after the sabbath

– Transliteration: De
– Phonetic: deh
– Definition:
1. but, moreover, and, etc.

– Transliteration: Sabbaton
– Phonetic: sab’-bat-on
– Definition:
1. the seventh day of each week which was a sacred festival on which the Israelites were required to abstain from all work
a. the institution of the sabbath, the law for keeping holy every seventh day of the week
b. a single sabbath, sabbath day

– Phonetic:
– Definition:
1. He who is, and was, and is coming

– Transliteration: Epiphosko
– Phonetic: ep-ee-foce’-ko
– Definition:
1. to grow light, to dawn

– Transliteration: Eis
– Phonetic: ice
– Definition:
1. into, unto, to, towards, for, among

– Transliteration: Mia
– Phonetic: mee’-ah
– Definition:
1. only one, someone

– Transliteration: Sabbaton
– Phonetic: sab’-bat-on
– Definition:
1. the seventh day of each week which was a sacred festival on which the Israelites were required to abstain from all work
a. the institution of the sabbath, the law for keeping holy every seventh day of the week
b. a single sabbath, sabbath day

Yes, I left off the definition “seven days, a week” because it’s a new addition (albeit from ~180 AD). Here’s the problem: σαββατων is the Greek word for Sabbath(s) and appears 62 times in the New Testament. In ALL cases, except when referring to the Resurrection, it’s translated “Sabbath” and “first [day] of the week” when pointing to the Resurrection with the one exception of Luke 18:12 which could be translated, “I fast twice on the Sabbath.” After all, there are multiple meals a day, so it’s plausible. The actual Greek word for week is εβδομάδα (evdomáda) and it does NOT appear in the word of God at all. The rabbis translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek (called the Septuagint) and in Daniel 9:27 they use εβδομάδα (evdomáda) for week and not σαββατων (sabbaton) as an example.

So why is it that sabbaton is translated week today? There’s not real answer and can only be attributed to the Gentiles rejecting Jewish heritage after the apostles all died. Furthermore, never before 100 AD has Sabbaton meant week. The web site Torah Times ( states:

“They added the definition ‘week’ to the lexicons on the basis of their own tradition. However, there is no independent confirmation of this addition to the lexicons from ancient sources contemporary with the Apostles. There are no papyri or manuscripts showing this. There are no letters, no comments. There is nothing! The trail of their chain of ‘authority’ goes cold in the second century A.D. They cannot trace farther back than this time which was known to be an era of great apostasy and heresy.”

These issues continue in translations like in Act 12:4 is translated “Easter” when that word in Greek is found, the other 26 times is translated Passover! Why would this happen? Because the devil wants us to be divorced from the Jews! And the modern church swallowed it up! The book of James is actually the book of Jacob! Many substitutions for traditions.

So what impact does it make to move the Resurrection from Sunday to Saturday? None according to Paul:

Colossians 2:16-17
Let no one therefore judge you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s.

However, the truth is the truth and it’s there for some significance. So, I inquired of the Lord and His word. Think about what the Sabbath is. It was instituted by God for Himself to accentuate the completion of His creative work. The exclamation point if you will. He “ceased” from His work, not “rested.” But even that distinction is helpful because you stop what you’re doing and by de facto, rest. Since the last word spoken by Jesus on the cross τετελεσται is translated “It is finished” it is literally the stamp on your bill “paid in full.” After His preaching to the captives, rose from the dead on the Sabbath showing He ceased from His work of Redemption (Grrr! Buzzwords!) meaning “paying the ransom”, or “delivering” us from penalty (of sin). If each day of Creation represents one day of history, when Jesus comes again and rules for a day (1,000 years – six verses(!) in Rev 20 and 2 Peter 3:8 making seven!) then the world will have “rest” from the curse and the devil – a Sabbath. The whole 6,000 years idea comes from the very first verse. Here it is in Hebrew:

בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ

The six red letters are the letter alef, the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Not only do each letter have its own meaning, it also has a number assigned to it. A=1, B=2, C=3, etc. something the Jews didn’t do until around 300 BC after the Greeks same method. What that decision did was unlock a whole lot of gems in the word of God. Anyhow, alef is the only letter with two numeric meanings: one, and thousand.

Every word in the word of God, or as Jesus put it, every “yod and tagin,” Matthew 5:18, of the word of God has a purpose. “Yod” is the 10th and smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet and represents the work of a man’s arm and hand, Psalms 98:1, and the “Tagin” are the crowns on the flowery version of the Hebrew letters, which the hand written version of the Hebrew scriptures holds many amazing mysteries that are lost in translation (even into computer type).

There you have it. There are so many wonderful things in the word of God. Just as complex is the universe and how simplistically beautiful it is, so is the word of God.

I hope you made it this far and enjoyed it. (Continue to Part II)

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