Found in Exodus 35:2-3, the last statement on the Sabbath is perhaps the briefest, “Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, “These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do. 2 Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3
Having looked at the institution of the Sabbath Command, in both it’s first and second iterations of law from Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20) and then on the plains of Moab by way of Moses’ review (Deuteronomy 5), we turn now to several supporting passages. These passages provide additional revelation on the details of the Sabbath, both how it should be observed and the consequences for its violation. Additionally, we will see a renewed emphasis on what might best be called the Sabbath principle, i.e. that which concerns itself with a sabbath rest, but not necessarily one day in seven, or the Seventh Day. Below, we will look at three supporting passages from Exodus 23, 31, and 34/35, and then in the next post, we’ll look at supporting passages from Leviticus 23, 24, and Numbers 28.
In this passage, we find ourselves still at Sinai with Moses’ reception of the law and covenant from God. The mention of the Sabbath comes not by means of observing the seventh day, as we might expect, but by means of sowing the land for six years and then giving it a Sabbath year in order to allow it to rest and lie fallow. Practically, particularly in an agrarian society, this is wise and prudent counsel as it allows the land to recuperate. However, we now see a larger Sabbath principle of rest than simply 1 day in 7. Additionally, we find much more involved than individual rest, rather now it’s the land that is commanded to rest (though the obligation is on man to obey). Further, this resting of the land allows the poor and then the beasts to eat of the land. This passage is followed up by a restatement of the Sabbath Commandment, showing a clear relationship between both Sabbath concepts, or what I’m distinguishing as a Sabbath Principle and a Sabbath Command. With this restatement, we have an added benefit of refreshment for ox, donkey, son of your female servant, and aliens.