Sab´uhth; Heb. shabbat, “to cease, desist”
The weekly day of rest and abstention from work enjoined upon the Israelites. It served as a memorial of God’s resting from the work of creation (Gen 2:1-3; Exod 20:11; Exod 31:17) and was supported by the humanitarian concern to give servants, strangers, and work animals an opportunity to rest (Exod 23:12; Deut 5:14-15). In the Pentateuch, Sabbath observance is legislated in general terms (Exod 20:8-11; Exod 23:12; Exod 31:12-17; Lev 23:3; Deut 5:12-15); types of work prohibited include gathering food, plowing and reaping, kindling a fire, and chopping wood (Exod 16:29-30; Exod 34:21; Exod 35:3; Num 15:32-36). During the monarchical period (ca. 1050–586 BCE), the Sabbath was marked by visits to prophet and Temple (2Kgs 4:23; Isa 1:13). Business activity came to a halt (Amos 8:5). The Sabbath was a joyous day (Hos 2:13; Lam 2:6), and its desecration was severely attacked (Jer 17:19-27). Prophecies in (Isa 56:2-7 and Isa 58:13-14) single out the Sabbath as the primary commandment, observance of which will bring personal as well as national salvation. See also (Jer 17:19-27; Ezek 20:11-24; cf. Neh 13:17-18). During the period of the restoration, Nehemiah enforced observance of the Sabbath by locking the city gates of Jerusalem in order to prevent traders from selling their wares (Neh 13:15-22). In the earliest Christian community, observance of Sabbath regulations fell into disuse, mainly because Jesus himself had been lax in his obedience to them (Matt 12:1-8; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 13:10-17; John 5:1-10). Jesus’s claim to lordship over the Sabbath (Mark 2:28) was one element that aroused hostility against him (Mark 3:6; John 5:18). In time, the chief liturgical day for Christians shifted to Sunday as a celebration of Jesus’s resurrection on the first day of the week (Matt 28:1).