Jewish observance of sabbath

Some mistake in the page for the word “Sabbath”

Jewish observance of sabbath is well known (in old historical documents) to be due to religious observance commanded by prophets and a governor. Why does the page say that it “might have begun as a similar custom” to “Babylonians regarded seventh days as unlucky”

See the first sentence of the second paragraph

Thank you.

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It’s easily possible that other documents, even older, could tell a different story. Many of the explanations for origins of a custom or tradition (in many or perhaps all cultures) are given for reasons other than historical accuracy. If there are older documents from a previous culture describing substantially the same custom or tradition, those older documents themselves might not state historical truth about the custom’s origin; however, the mere existence of such older documents would prove beyond reasonable doubt that newer cultures’ explanations were incorrect. “We got the custom from our old neighbors, but for various reasons we now scrupulously avoid mentioning those people” doesn’t make a good story.

In short, from the moment that evidence disagrees with authority, the authority is irrelevant on that particular question.

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That is a big assumption to say. If I understood correctly, this is what you said:

Because there are documents dated older than the Jewish scriptures which state a different reason for observing the sabbath, by a different people group, who use a different religious system, therefore the Jewish observance cannot have been for the reasons stated in their scripture.

Here is another point, but I’m not sure what exactly was meant by “Babylonians” in the Sabbath webpage:

but isn’t the Jewish nation older than Babylon?

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Reasons for doing something are not all the same kinds of reasons. Here’s an example of that, one that might be less controversial: Right now, I’m drinking tea. I drink it because I like the taste. I drink it because it’s traditional in (parts of) my culture. I drink it because it contains proportionally less caffeine than coffee. I drink it because drinking certain types of drinks together is a kind of social custom or ritual (though I happen to be alone right now). I drink it because my mother did. I drink it because it’s a mild stimulant. I drink it because some people in India (or China or Japan or another country) who are in the tea business grew it, processed and packaged it, and sent it here to be sold. That kind of international tea business exists because long ago some Europeans travelled to East Asia, some going the long way around by sea, others crossing Central Asia by land; they tried tea, liked it, and took some back with them. Those Europeans didn’t discover tea; they were given some by the people in Asia who had already enjoyed it for a long time.

Which one is my true reason for drinking tea? (I think it’s not easy to say. Many of my reasons depend on other reasons further “up the chain”, but even if that wasn’t the case I’d still have a hard time ranking them, and besides, that list could be incomplete.) But if my young son casually asks me why I drink tea, I’m not going to give him a long list like that - he’d soon stop listening. I’d have to pick one or two and skip the rest.

AND… none of my reasons say why I call it “tea”! I could correctly say (from the perspective of English) “That’s what we’ve always called it”, since logically we had no word for it until we saw it. But if I say “We invented that word, no one had previously called it that”, I hope someone will quickly show me that I’m mistaken, because it was called “ti” in a certain area of China long before English people saw the stuff, the drink and the word both arrived in England at the same time, and therefore clearly we got both of them from the same people.

The Chinese reasons for drinking tea, and the traditions surrounding it there, are not necessarily the same as the English ones. (And in my case, they’re secondhand English traditions because I’ve never even been there.) The fact that I’m drinking a Chinese drink and calling it a Chinese name doesn’t negate my traditions and reasons for drinking it. However, it certainly would negate any claims I might make that the English were the first to discover tea, or that the word was invented in English.

The relative age of the two cultures is not strictly relevant in determining the origin of a custom and its name; what matters is which culture shows earlier evidence of the particular thing, and that there was a clear opportunity for transmission to occur. Of course wild coincidences where two cultures come up with the same word for the same thing independently are not impossible, but it would take a mountain of high-quality evidence to convince a reasonable person that such a coincidence had happened, especially in a case where the two cultures lived in close proximity. (And note that there were two periods of Babylonian empire, one of them being about a thousand years before Judaism began. The Babylonian people did not vanish when their empires fell, and at least some of them continued to speak their traditional language.)

I hope that enough of what I wrote makes sense.


It is a good explanation of what you meant. I agree that the age of the cultures is not very important, at least in this case of the practice of the Sabbath.
Whether Babylon had influence on Israel at the beginning is not important.

But it is clearly written that they believed that Moses was a prophet, and he commanded them on behalf of God to observe the Sabbath because of rest, not because of unluckiness, their scriptures that they believe are the truth actually teach that there is no luck.

That is why it is dishonest to say “maybe the Jewish custom begun similarly to the Babylonian custom”.

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To me, the end part of your response seems to be missing the point. It’s clear from historical evidence that a number of Jewish religious practices and traditions (including both the concept of the Sabbath and its name) already existed among the Babylonians long before Moses was born. Knowing that Moses commanded the Jewish people to observe the Sabbath, and that he stated certain reasons, does not indicate that the reasons he gave are the only possible reasons (even for a Jewish person) or that they are the original ones. It also doesn’t seem to be indicated anywhere that the idea of Sabbath was news to the Jewish people when Moses lectured them about it. The fact that the Jewish Sabbath was originally the Babylonian Sabbath, and that Moses could not have received the Sabbath directly from a divine source, does not make it less Jewish; it’s simply another connection with history. And it may be that the reasons enumerated by Moses were news to people, and that that was the part with a divine source.

The scriptures are very clear in many ways that the Jewish people were concerned with differentiating themselves from their neighbors, it seems clear that that has continued in some form to the present, and one of the methods of differentiation has been to maintain customs and practices that are separate from neighboring peoples. Sometimes, when a custom clearly IS borrowed from neighbors, there is an impulse to obscure or minimize that fact in some way, to maintain distinctiveness.


In all that you said, it seems agreeable to me. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
I would like to read about Babylon’s people from before the time of Moses as I don’t know anything about that time in Babylon.

Please recommend some reading if you can off the top of your head.

Perhaps it is better to say:

“the Jewish concept of sabbath might have begun as a similar custom…”
Rather than
“the Jewish observance might have begun …”

Thank you for discussing with me.


The philosophy of Aristotle makes many facts of reality plain as day. One such fact is the objective and subjective intent of, for instance, drinking tea.

Tea is a cause, and all causes have effects. Now if one wills to drink tea, then he objectively wills one of the effects, but the intent is unknowable with absolute certainty unless you have the knowledge of God.

What are the effects of tea? This depends on the definition of tea, and thus it is imperative that a just definition be found and kept. As someone who has also had tea, by my observations, tea is the drink made of water and the extract of plant leaves, so this is the cause we will analyze.

The effects of water are hydration. Man has no reason to drink water other than that it is necessary for his hydration. This is a part of tea.

The effects of tea extracts present in the water constituting said tea are subjectively defined by the choice of leaf, usually flavor as one such reason for choice, therefore the objective intent of choice of leaf is to obtain the effect of the choice of leaf.

We have considered the effects of the parts, but this was only to consider the effect of the whole which is the tea beverage itself, and is what informs us of the objective intent of drinking tea.

The effects of tea are hydration (from water), and effect of choice of leaf (from leaf). Now man desires the good in all things, or at least the appearance thereof, so there must be some benefit perceived from hydrating by this means which is greater than what is given by the parts individually; but we already, without specifying particulars of choice, have enough to determine the objective intent: the objective intent of drinking tea is to obtain the good of the effects therefrom, though what choice of effects are subjective, as is the why for the choice.

We may therefore conclude that you drink tea because you desire some good effect therefrom, whether accidental (to please oneself or others that one wishes to please), or essential (direct physiological effects).

So, when we apply this to the Jewish observance of the sabbath, we consider the following:

The Third Commandment: Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day.

Now this is at least mentioned in Exodus and Deuteronomy, both part of the Jewish Torah, and first five books of the written Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.

The effect of keeping a commandment is the obedience due to God. The effect of keeping this specific commandment is rendering to God the latria due to Him alone. Therefore the purpose of keeping the Sabbath in Judaism is these two effects, the former being the genus, and the latter being the species. That some Babylonian took it up “because it’s a good idea” or some other reason than observing the commandments doesn’t matter.

No authority is above reality, but exists to uphold reality. Insofar, therefore, as any authority rejects legitimate evidence or facts, especially that as from the the very object of study itself as the more deserving of esteem, and instead esteems something wholly extrinsic from the object itself without very good reason, is upholding his own fantasies as true over reality.

In all charity, I would like to point out that the only good reason to reject the Jewish Torah itself as the principal evidence for observance of the Sabbath is if there is just as strong evidence that information has been purposely obstructed just “to maintain distinctiveness”. The One True Church at that time certainly had no interest in being considered identical with any false religion, but the eighth commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor, is quite strong evidence to the contrary of obstructing the testimony thereof when the second commandment couldn’t be more clear that there is no borrowing implied anyways. One would therefore rightly assume from the reading of the verse itself that any Babylonian observance of “the Sabbath day” is a mere concomitant occurrence.


No reasonable person could claim that the Christian Pentecost was a new thing created by followers of Jesus. It is Shavuot – but with a new explanation attached to it. (Of course we can probably find someone who claims that Pentecost has nothing whatsoever to do with Shavuot, but it’s easy to see that such a person expends a great deal of time and effort to ensure that their opinions will never come into contact with evidence.)

Christianity is not the only religion to have emerged from an older religion, and was not the first to do so. Babylonian scriptures, much older than Torah, describe the Creation (a bit differently, but with recognizably similar features) and the Flood (again recognizably similar) among other things, and in those scriptures the Babylonian people are directed to observe the Sabbath. While their observance was not precisely the same as it is in Judaism, it is clearly the same concept, and the Babylonians did name it Sabbath (spelled in their language of course, but obviously the same word).

Now of course it’s possible to claim that the people of Israel, who clearly lived in the same area to some extent, and who (according to the first book of Torah) once spoke the same language as was spoken in Babylon, and who are still known throughout the world as a people with a strong dedication to remembering scripture and tradition, just sort of forgot. And then (by magic?) they independently re-invented Sabbath, and (just by chance?) gave it exactly the same Babylonian name it used to have, in the days before they forgot.

There is a strong and repeated emphasis on the fact that there were times when the people of Israel ignored scripture or divine commands, and how at those times they had to return to the right ways. But could there really have been a time when the Jews completely lost and forgot the very basis of their society, a time when all the people (and all the prophets!) lacked religion, when scripture had been thoroughly destroyed, and for several generations no one even knew what “scripture” was … and yet the people all stayed together, united by nothing … and then they suddenly re-invented all of it, by accident, including re-inventing the exact same words that none of them had ever heard or spoken?

I guess I shouldn’t claim it’s impossible. But “All Jews Everywhere Completely Forget Scripture” would be far more surprising to read than, say, “Pacific Ocean Stolen, Believed Hidden in Omaha Apartment”. :grin:


Mate, as a Christian, I can confirm this is the first time I’ve heard of Shavuot, and I have no idea how that has any relation apart from the ceremonial similarities themselves perhaps, but as a reasonable Christian, I claim that the Catholic Pentecost is a new thing celebrating the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

There are many things, however, in the time of the Mosaic Law in the Church, which God orchestrated with end in sight of what was to come such as the sacrifice of the temple being a lamb that symbolized the Lamb of God Who is Christ, now the sacrifice of the Holy Mass where Christ Himself is offered on the altar. The old has passed, however, and Christ instituted the new, so yes, it is a new thing ultimately in that 1) it is essentially distinct from Shavuot, and 2) was instituted for an essentially different event than Passover.

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You’re going on about Babylonian naming, but like… “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”? Translate that to Babylonian please. I’m sure you’ll find something :stuck_out_tongue:

Look at what happened in 1066 to us in the Battle of Hastings: we gained the true faith… and lost some of our tradition of tung in the process. Now we’ve got all these inkhorn words that mean the exact same thing as the Old English, but now no one knows what anything means because the morphology is wholly outborne. Idk about you, but I didn’t learn Latin, French, and Greek. I was born American, and my inborn language is English, yet all over the place is all that is not English. What does it matter that Sabbath may be borrowed from Babylon into Hebrew?

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“What it matters” is that here we’re discussing words, not religion. It is not a slight or slur against anyone’s religion, to know that they did not receive a particular concept or word directly from a divine source, but inherited it from some older people.


1000 years before Judaism began? So when exactly did Judaism begin? How and under what circumstances? Does anybody know? The interesting thing about Judaism is that it seems to have evolved completely independently with little or no input from parallel or adjacent cultures and mythologies on either side. Prior to arriving in Egypt the Jews seem to have set out from Mesopotamia because they rejected the prevailing culture at the time. The general perception seems to be that Judaism, and in particular the Hebrew language, are self generated.

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Etymology is necessarily tied to history research