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TorahTimes Messianic Ministry

Teaching Truths about Torah, Time, and Messiah


Sabbaths in the LXX and NT
and Related Word Studies

Σαββατων

Daniel Gregg

This paper will explore the lexical sense and contextual senses of the word “Sabbath” or “Sabbaths” in the LXX (Ancient Greek Old Testament) and NT in relation to the phrase μια [ημερα] των σαββατων (mia hemera ton sabbaton), traditionally translated “first day of the week” in eight passages of the NT (Mat. 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 16:2) First we will explore the means by which the MT, LXX and NT designate the Sabbath day. Then we will show that μια [ημερα] των σαββατων by the usual rules of Greek means “one of the Sabbaths”, and that it represents a Hebrew idiom: אַחַת־הַשַּבָּתוֹת (aḥat ha-shabbatot) meaning “first of the Sabbaths”. Then I will review the the counter arguments supposed to support the “first day of the week”, and show that these arguments do not hold up to the linguistic facts.

It is clear from the chart below that the usual way of designating the Sabbath is: ημερα των σαββατων. It is also clear that the word σαββατων (sabbaton) represents one of two Hebrew words, either שַבָּתוֹן (shabbaton) or שַבָּתוֹת, (shabbatot) which are both pronounced very close to the Greek, and in fact the former term is pronounced exactly the same, except that Greek had to substitute /s/ for /sh/. While the MT may read שַבָּת, the is clear that the LXX translators and Greek speaking Jews were basing the term σαββατων on שבתון or שבתות. The former term means “sabbatism”, and the latter “Sabbaths”, since it is plural in the Hebrew and Greek.

The development of the Greek term for Sabbath started from the Aramaic term for Sabbath, which was שַׁבְּתָא (shabbta). This was transliterated as σαββατα. Then at some later point שַבָּתוֹן was cleverly transliterated as σαββατων and σαββατον. By this method σαββατων came to be employed both in the singular sense of “sabbatism” שַבָּתוֹן, and in the plural sense of שַבָּתוֹת. So σαββατων is a literal Greek translation of שַבָּתוֹת, but as a translation of שַבָּתוֹן, it is a Hebraism, or loan word.

If one inspects Leviticus 23:32 in the chart below, it will become evident that only the Hebraism makes sense in the context. The word σαββατα6 really isn’t always the plural it appears to be in normal Greek. It is just a loan word based on the Aramaic שַׁבְּתָא whose Greek form conveniently happened to plural. This is because Yom Kippur is simply one day. Likewise, by inspecting Leviticus 23:15 in the LXX in the chart below, it will be clear that σαββατων is not always plural either, but that it just represents the Hebrew שַבָּתוֹן as a loan word, which means “Sabbatism”. On the other hand it is clear that in contexts where the word day is omitted that σαββατων takes on the genuine plural sense in Greek. For this see in the chart, Leviticus 23:38, Neh. 10:33, Judith 8:6, and Ezek. 22:26. And in at least two cases, day is pluralized with it: Judith 10:2 and Ant. 14.226. Scholars must be careful never to claim that σαββατα or σαββατων have a singular meaning in standard Greek. This claim can only be justified by saying that a singular sense, where required by the context is on the basis of an Aramaic or Hebrew loan word, i.e. Semiticism. The careless claim that a Greek plural form like σαββατων has interchangeable plural and singular sense cannot be justified on pure Greek grounds. When it is a Semiticism, then -τα and -των endings represent no plural, but are a transliteration of the Aramaic ־תָא and Hebrew ־תוֹן respectively. The Greek does not betray its own grammatical rules.

Exodus 20:8 την ημεραν των σαββατων (השבתון) את־יום השבת
Greek Sense the day of-the sabbaths day-of the-sabbath (ddo)
As a Semiticism the day of the sabbatism (השבתון) The Hebrew שבתון is pronounced the same way as the Greek σαββατων.
Exodus 35:3 τη ημερα των σαββατων (השבתון) ביום השבת
Greek Sense on-the day of-the sabbaths on-day-of the-sabbath
As a Semiticism on-the day of-the sabbatism (השבתון) The Hebrew שבתון is pronounced the same way as the Greek σαββατων.
Leviticus 16:31 σαββατα (שבתא) σαββατων (שבתון) שבת שבתון
Greek Sense sabbaths of-sabbaths sabbath-of sabbatism
As a Semiticism sabbath-of sabbatism שבתא ,שבתון The Greek σαββατα is derived from Aramaic שבתא.
Leviticus 23:15 απο της επαυριον των σαββατων ממחרת השבת
Greek Sense from the morrow of-the sabbaths in-time-after the-sabbath
As a Semiticism from the morrow of-the sabbatism (השבתון) The Hebrew שבתון is pronounced the same way as the Greek σαββατων.
Leviticus 23:32 σαββατιειτε τα σαββατα υμων (שבתא) תשבתו שבתכם
Greek Sense you shall sabbath the sabbaths of-you you-all sabbath your-sabbath
As a Semiticism you shall sabbath your sabbath (שבתא) The Greek σαββατα is derived from Aramaic שבתא.
Leviticus 23:38 πλην των σαββατων (השבתות) מלבד שבתות יהוה
Greek Sense besides the sabbaths besides sabbath-s-of YHWH
Semiticism? No Semiticism; literal: besides the sabbaths (השבתות) The Greek σαββατων is really plural and is grammatical equivalent to שבתות.
Leviticus 24:8 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Numbers 15:32 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Numbers 15:33 τη ημερα των σαββατων Not in MT text, cf. Ex. 35:3
Numbers 28:9 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Numbers 28:10 ολοκαυτωμα σαββατων εν τοις σαββατοις עלת שבת בשבתו
Greek Sense burnt-offering of-Sabbaths on the Sabbaths burnt offering-of Sabbath on-sabbath-of-it
Semiticism? Evidently Not, because σαββατοις is not a Semiticism. A functional equivalent that is not a Semiticism.
Deut. 5:12 την ημεραν των σαββατων cf. Exodus 20:8
Deut. 5:15 την ημεραν των σαββατων cf. Exodus 20:8
Neh. 10:33 των σαββατων vs. 34 in LXX השבתות vs. 34 in MT
Greek Sense the Sabbaths the-Sabbath-s
Semiticism? No, clearly not. Exact literal.
Judith 8:6 προσαββατων και σαββατων שבתות
Greek Sense before Sabbaths and Sabbaths Sabbath-s
Semiticism? No, the plural is literal, cf. νουμηνιων, εορτων, χαρμοσυνων Exact literal.
Judith 10:2 εν ταις ημεραις των σαββατων השבתות
Greek Sense on the days of-the Sabbaths the-Sabbath-s
Semiticism? No, the plural is literal, modified by ημεραις.
1Macc 2:32 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
1Macc 2:34 την ημεραν των σαββατων cf. Exodus 20:8
1Macc 2:41 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
1Macc 9:34 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
2Macc 15:3 την σαββατων ημεραν cf. Exodus 20:8
Greek Sense the Sabbaths day
As a Semiticism the Sabbatism day (השבתון) Notice the word day is is put last.
Jeremiah 17:21 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Jer. 17:22a τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Jer. 17:22b την ημεραν των σαββατων cf. Exodus 20:8
Jer. 17:24a τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Jer. 17:24b την ημεραν των σαββατων cf. Exodus 20:8
Jer. 17:27a την ημεραν των σαββατων cf. Exodus 20:8
Jer. 17:27b τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Ezek. 22:26 και απο των σαββατων μου ומשבתותי
Greek Sense and from the sabbaths of me and from sabbaths of Me
Semiticism? No. totally literal translation.
Ezekiel 46:1 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Ezekiel 46:4 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Ezekiel 46:12 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Ant. 7.305 σαββατων ημεραν cf. 2Macc 15:3
Ant. 12. 274 σαββατων ημερα cf. 2Macc 15:3
Ant. 12.259 σαββατων ημεραν cf. 2Macc 15:3
Ant. 14.226 εν ταις ημεραις των σαββατων cf. Judith 10:2
Ant. 13.12 την των σαββατων ημεραν cf. 2Macc 15:3
Ant. 18.354 σαββατων ημεραν cf. 2Macc 15:3
Ant. 14.263 των σαββατων ημεραν cf. 2Macc 15:3
Luke 4:16 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Acts 16:13 τη ημερα των σαββατων cf. Exodus 35:3
Luke 13:14 τη ημερα του σαββατου את־יום השבת
Greek Sense the day of the Sabbath day-of the-sabbath (ddo)
Semiticism? No. The Greek is correct to the Hebrew.
Luke 13:16 τη ημερα του σαββατου cf. Luke 13:14
Luke 14:5 ημερα του σαββατου cf. Luke 13:14

Outside of eight texts in the NT (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7, and 1Cor. 16:2)1, where we find μια των σαββατων translated as “first day of the week”, there is no example of σαββατων having the meaning of “week” in any Greek literature before ca. AD 100, and then only in “Church” Greek after that. The first attested use in this sense in Didache 8.1. This sense is entirely wanting in Secular Greek, the LXX, Josephus, Philo, or any other Greek literature of Jewish provenance before the destruction of the Second Temple except for these eight texts. That sense is also entirely lacking in classical and Koine Greek except for its alleged use in these eight texts. Furthermore, these eight texts are not just ordinary examples where nothing is at stake. What is at stake here is the original separation of Christianity from its Jewish roots, and the justifications supplied for this schism. Therefore, we may rightly suspect that the alleged sense of “first day of the week” is due to opportunistic revisionism based on sectarian religious and political motivations.

Let us therefore examine these texts to see what they mean. We can draw up a short chart.

Text Greek Translation How it would be said in Hebrew.
Matthew 28:1 μιαν σαββατων אחת־שבתות
Greek Sense one day of-Sabbaths

or: a certain Sabbaths day

first-of sabbath-s
As a Semiticism first-of Sabbaths (שבתות) שבתון would not make sense since, a "Sabbatism” is not something that is counted.
Mark 16:2 μια των σαββατων אחת־השבתות
Greek Sense one day of the Sabbaths

or: a certain Sabbaths day

first-of the-sabbath-s
As a Semiticism first-of the-Sabbaths (שבתות)
Mark 16:9 πρωτη σαββατου שבת ראשונית
Greek Sense first Sabbath day first Sabbath
Semiticism?

No Semiticism. The author of this supplement was not Mark, but clearly understood that μια = πρωτη. The above expression is totally out of character with the other usages in the gospels.

Likely this would create confusion with Lev. 23:11, της πρωτης [σαββατου]
Luke 24:1 μια...των σαββατων cf. Mark 16:2
John 20:1 μια...των σαββατων cf. Mark 16:2
John 20:19 μια των σαββατων cf. Mark 16:2
Acts 20:7 μια των σαββατων cf. Mark 16:2
1Cor 16:2 μια των σαββατων cf. Mark 16:2

Now a lot of studious people have noticed that the word day, ημερα, is missing from these texts. In the strict un-Semiticized Greek it is not to be denied that Greek grammar suggests that the word day be understood, either before or after σαββατων, because μια is set up to modify a feminine noun, which can be none other than ημερα. Μια is feminine and σαββατων has a neuter gender. Μια implies the idea of ημερα even if it is not present in the text. The resulting sense then is μια ημερα των σαββατων which is exactly that expression used in the LXX and NT for the Sabbath day: ημερα των σαββατων, except that the prefixed word “one”, μια , modifies it. Considering only the un-Semiticized Greek placing the word day in text leads us right back to the standard phrase for the “Sabbath day”, only now it is “one Sabbath day” or “a certain Sabbath day”. In this case the word σαββατων is understood as שַבָּתוֹן just as in the phrase for the “Sabbath day” (cf. Exo. 20:8) However, further consideration indicates that we are now counting Sabbaths: שַבָּתוֹת. We have already seen that σαββατων stands for the Hebrew שַבָּתוֹת. On the other hand, the word μια is regularly expressed by the Hebrew אַחַת, which has the same feminine gender. So regarding μια των σαββατων an an original Hebrew idiom, the phrase would be אַחַת־הַשַּבָּתוֹת. This can be understood as either “first of the Sabbaths” or “one of the Sabbaths”, since אַחַת is used in both the cardinal and ordinal sense in Hebrew, i.e. “first” or “one”.

There are several points that secure the above sense beyond reasonable doubt. First, according to Lev. 23:15 “seven Sabbaths"3 were actually counted following the the Passover If μια των σαββατων is counting the first of these seven Sabbaths, then we expect it to be used just after the Passover, and nowhere else. And this is exactly what we find. Yeshua was crucified just before the annual Sabbath; then the resurrection day just happens to be the first sabbath after the Passover, and it is called μια των σαββατων. In the other two uses in the NT, the same synchronization with the Passover is observed. Acts 20:62 tells us about the Passover before introducing the key phrase μια των σαββατων. In 1 Corinthians 16:2, it is mentioned that Pentecost is coming not too much after μια των σαββατων (cf. 16:8). Hence all of our texts fit the chronology implied in Leviticus 23:11-16 exactly.

Indeed, if the phrase meant “first day of the week” we would expect to find it in no special relation to the first counted Sabbath after Passover. Yet, it does. The odds against such an accidental line up are enormous. There are 52 weeks in a year, yet nine texts (including Lev. 23:15) are are contextually harmonized by a sequence of seven counted Sabbaths after the Passover! If we count the resurrection passages at one instance, and the other three as additional instances, then the calculation goes like this: .

Church clergy have long given various reasons why they think this phrase means “first day of the week”. Just about every type of logical fallacy known to man has been used to smooth the way for this teaching. (a) It has been claimed that a new spiritual Sabbath was started at the resurrection, and that this Sabbath was now “first” with God, and that being on the first day of the week supersedes the old Sabbath. (b) It has been claimed that Jews typically counted days of the week after the fashion of the Greek in Hebrew. (c) It has been claimed that the phrase means one day from the Sabbath, (d) It has been claimed the phrase means the first day of the weeks to Pentecost.

I will deal with what is apparently the strongest argument first, and the one that is “officially” given to quash any objections. In the Talmud, whose earliest phase is well after the time that the Church began saying μια των σαββατων meant “first day of the week”, we find the designations for the days of the week in Judeo-Aramaic:

on one in Sheva בחד בשבא
on second in Sheva בתרי שבא
on third in Sheva בתלתתא בשבא
on fourth in Sheva בארבעא בשבא
on fifth in Sheva בחמשא בשבא
on the preparation of Shabbta במעלי שבתא
on the Shabbta בשבתא

In the Mishnah, and later Jewish writings the phrase אֶחָד בְּשַׁבָּת is used for Sunday. The earliest attested use would be Seder Olam ca. AD 140.4 I have amply proved already that Seder Olam was written to confuse the Jewish People on the fulfillment of Daniel 9 in terms of Messiah Yeshua. See The Real Bible Code V- Daniel 9 & Rabbi Halaphta (PPT). If could be that this phrase was introduced as an agent provocateur by Rabbi Halaphta to help the proto-catholic church undermine the position of the Nazarene Jews who believed in Yeshua, and who knew when his resurrection was. Even so, Rabbi Yose ben Halaphta could not just dictate a new meaning for the word שַׁבָּת that did not exist before. In this case, the phrase means “One in connection with Sabbath”, or as William Mead Jones puts it, “proceeding on to the Sabbath” or “one into the Sabbath"5. Hebrew uses the preposition בְּ־ abstractly in the sense “in connection with”. The dictionaries gives glosses, “into” or “toward”. In this respect it is like the Hebrew preposition לְ־, which abstractly means “pertaining to” or “with respect to”. The usage could only be justified as a pious reckoning of the days of the week with respect to the Sabbath. If the phrase merely meant “first day of the week”, then its reason for being would cease to exist. It is a naive acquaintance with Ancient Hebrew that thinks the בְּ־ must always mean “in” in a locative sense, and then which seeks to explain it by assigning the meaning of “week” to שַׁבָּת. This could certainly be pushed off on ignorant Christians who did not know Hebrew well, and it has probably been taken this way by more modern Jews reading the scholarly literature, or using the terms based on what they think they read in the scholarly literature. However, any thoughtful acquaintance with ancient Hebrew will show that the linguistic sense defaults to the abstract use, “in connection with” as the first and obvious sense to be made of the usage, and does not even consider a different sense for שַׁבָּת, because the abstract use was an accepted norm that retained the accepted normal sense of שַׁבָּת. In Modern Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the abstract uses have been driven out by circumlocutions. To see the idea one can Google the phrase “in connection with”. Delete the words “connection with” from the usages you find, and you will have valid ancient usage. Observe also that after deleting “connection with” that a strict locative sense of “in” does not make much sense to the modern ear. The reason the ancient usage was driven out is that modern languages have evolved technical usages and a fine division of “labor” for a host of meanings that were formerly conveyed by fewer words, especially in the case of prepositions.

However, Hebrew was not spoken by the Jews who composed the Mishnah and Talmud. It only saw scholarly use. The spoken language was Judeo-Aramaic. In Judeo-Aramaic, the oldest layer of the Talmud has the days of the week as in the chart above. In the phrase for Sunday, one will notice at once that the ת is missing from שבא, and indeed for all the days of the week except the preparation for Sabbath and Sabbath itself! Why doesn't it say שבתא? The reason is that the Aramaic usage rejected Rabbi Halaphta's pious innovation in Seder Olam. The smoking gun is the refusal to use the correct Aramaic word for Sabbath: שבתא, except in the case of the eve of the Sabbath (Friday) and the Sabbath itself. So then what does שבא mean? This origin of this word is doubtless an alternative spelling of the Hebrew שֶׁבַע in Judeo-Aramaic. The final consonants are invariably silent, so the two words were pronounced the same way. Only one of two theories will explain the facts: 1) The Talmudic scribes were concealing the real use of the the word for seven שְׁבַע* in the spoken speech, or 2) שבא really was the correct word for “seven” in the written speech. So the Talmudic usage means nothing more than “one in seven,” “second in seven”, “third in seven”, “fourth in seven”, “fifth in seven”, “preparation of Sabbath”, “Sabbath”, and the word “seven” is used just like the English word “week”. For if it is the point of the idiom is to count with respect to the Sabbath, then why use שבא for five days, and then switch to שבתא only in those cases that agree with Jewish usage everywhere? The reason is clearly that שבא never did represent the word שבתא: “Through doubtless an ignorant overlooking of the final ‘ayin in šeba’ (seven), early Christian Fathers were led to equate seven (-day week) with Sabbath [see E. Vogt, Biblica 40 (1959) 1008, who disproves that šabbāt ever meant week]. Still, the best grammarians now admit cases in which ‘ayin is in fact transmuted or lost. In the existing Syriac form šabbā, the loss of the final t is no less anomalous than that of the final ‘ayin would be."7 In other words שבא means the same thing as שבע. In Mandean Aramaic the word for seven is שובא, where the ו is simply a vowel that can be omitted when writing (cf. HALOT). If anything this demonstrates that such variations on שבע are possible.

This argument is therefore truly a case of circular reasoning with a lot of holes in it or a lot of suspect motivations for its original use. The usage was introduced by a Rabbi who set out in the first place to establish an anti-Messianic eschatology. It was rejected in usage by Aramaic speaking Jews, and survived only in the written literature or as a very infrequent pious usage “one in connection with the Sabbath”, etc. It only comes up among Christians, who never use the phrase, as an apologetical appeal to the “authority” of the Rabbinical usage in the Talmud, who never use the phrase in everyday speech either, except where it is forced into the idiolect from the dependence on the very same written literature. And then, when the the Jews speaking Judeo-Aramaic wrote in their own language, they could do no better than write, “first day of the seven (week)”, “second day of the seven (week)”.

The other arguments are even weaker: (c) “Prof. Sophocles regards the gen. (dependent on ημερα) in such exx. as those that follow (cf. Mk. xvi. 9 above) as equiv. to μετα w. an acc., the first day after the sabbath; see his Lex. p. 43. par. 6]: Mt. xxviii. 1 ; Mk. xvi. 2; Lk. xxiv. 1 ; Jn. xx. 1,19 ; Acts xx. 7; κατα μιαν σαββατων (L T Tr WH -του), on the first day of every week, 1 Co. xvi. 2” (Thayer, pg. 566). The problem with this suggestion is that the genitive case would only very rarely have this sense, which was usually expressed by εκ or απο, and not μετα. And the fact that when the pious usage of counting with the Sabbath was concerned, it was never done from the past Sabbath, but in connection with the coming Sabbath. This consideration seems altogether fatal to this view.

Consideration (d), that it meant the “first day of the weeks” as proposed by E.W. Bullinger in the Companion Bible, has all the problems of supposing “Sabbath” meant week plus the additional problem of no other examples of such usage elsewhere, and the original view (a), is the Gnostic view of the matter which has been revived by false prophets like Harold Camping.

All of these counter arguments to the plain sense “first of the Sabbaths” (μια των σαββατων = אַחַת־הַשַּבָּתוֹת) have clear linguistic flaws. The absurdity of it becomes even more apparent when we put the phrase in chronological context. It is only used after the annual Passover Sabbath, when there just happened to be a counting of Sabbaths. Once we begin to reconstruct Passion Week chronology, (see The Sabbath Resurrection), we see that this phrase is the key to solving the host of timing problems that have plagued discussions of Yeshua's death an resurrection. The explanatory power of this phrase in combination with other neglected chronological elements tips the probability argument to the side of the Wednesday-Sabbath chronology, and allows the solution of key problems with Daniel 9:24-27 and overall biblical chronology.

One question remains, and that is why so many people have been deceived so badly about these texts for so long? Mind you, it was never a complete majority. There has never been a time (except by argument from silence) that some thoughtful scholars have not either pointed out the ambiguity of the phrase or that it seemed to refer to the Sabbath. Most of the time, they did not take it far beyond that due to lack of interest, or lack of ability to integrate all the chronological implications and find a harmonious solution. What appears to have happened, is that the Church fell into apostasy about as speedily as ancient Israel ever did, in which case, God left them vulnerable to otherworldly influences which sought to make the Church anti-law and the Jews anti-Messiah. Neither apostate Christians nor apostate Jews had any interest in a Sabbath resurrection, and they conspired against it, because in a Sabbath resurrection the Torah and the Messiah are united in one argument.

What Christians have deemed the golden age of the kingdom of God, the enlightenment of the post resurrection age, has turned out to be one long exile full of wars, persecutions, and theological depravities. They seem to have forgotten that God punishes apostasy with exile. For this very reason the kingdom of God has been delayed until God's perfect sevenfold punishment expires.


Footnotes

[1]. Note we do not count Luke 18:12, “I fast twice the Sabbath: νηστευω δις του σαββατου”, because it is not a contextually conclusive example—in could actually be that the members of some ultra pious sect with ascetic tendencies promoted Sabbath fasting. To say that this text must refer to bi-weekly Pharisee fasting is an argument from silence supposing that minor sects did not exist. But more to our point, it is not an example of μια [ημερα] των σαββατων which occurs only in eight texts and nowhere else in Greek literature. I take up Luke 18:12 in another paper, “Does 'Sabbaton' in Luke 18:12 really mean 'week'?”.

[2]. Acts 20:6-7: “And we sailed into the midst of the days of unleavened bread from Philippi, and came to them in Troas, taking five days, not using up the whole seven days, and on the first of the Sabbaths we gathered together to bread bread...”. ”...Ημεις δε εξεπλευσαμεν μετα τας ημερας των αζυμων .... ου διετριψαμεν ημερας επτα, εν δε τη μια των σαββατων συνηγμενων ...” (Majority Text). It turns out that in AD 57, when this took place, that there were five days during the middle of the feast they could have sailed. For details see, “The Scroll of Biblical Chronology and Prophecy”.

[3] Lev 23:11-16, “In the day after the annual Sabbath the priest shall wave it ...and you have counted for yourselves in the time after the annual Sabbath ... seven Sabbaths—perfect they shall be. While in the time after the seventh Sabbath, you shall count a fiftieth day ....” The Hebrew text, ממחרת השבת...ממחרת השבת...שבע שבתות...ממחרת השבת השביעת. It is especially important to notice that the word עד in verse 16 be vocalized as עוד, “while, still”. Also the word ממחרת is used in an extensive sense, where “day” means “time”, i.e. “in the time after”; cf. Genesis 30:33, “ביום מחר”. The word ממחרת is formed from a prefixed מ plus מחרת. The latter word is the construct form of מחר, which is a contraction of יום אחר. See HALOT for this derivation. The word יום takes on the sense of “time” in an extensive sense. This is required in Lev. 23:15, because obviously “seven sabbaths” cannot be counted in a literal 12 hour day. It is not linguistically concordant to render מ before מחרת as “on” in vs. 11 and then “from” in vs. 15, as translations do with lack of attention to the Hebrew. Rather the usage of ממחרת shows that מן is not understood as extensive, but is to be taken as a genitive of content, “in the day after”. The extensive sense is properly derived from the word יום which already has time sense of “time” where the context so requires (cf. Gen 30:33; 2:4), and the word מחר itself is used in the sense of “time to come” or “time after” in Hebrew deriving this sense from the extended sense of יום in its etymology. Thus ממחרת takes on the sense of “in the day after” in vs. 11, but “in the time after” in vs. 15 and 16. The interpretation of the annual Sabbath was disputed by some Jews, however, it is secured by the facts: (a) Sabbath means “Rest” (שבתון) and not necessarily the seventh day of the week, (b) the 15th of the month was known as a semi monthly Sabbath in the ancient near east, (c) the only definite antecedent in the context is the first day of unleavened bread (d) it is equated with ממחרת הפסח in Joshua 5:11, where the astronomy for 1592 BC does not work out for the Karaites, (e) It is the opinion of Philo, Josephus, the LXX, the Targums, the Pharisees, and the Rabbis generally, and have never been accepted by mainstream Judaism, (f) as a Nazarene view, it is refuted by Luke 6:1 and all the resurrection passages, because the Karaite “first Sabbath” would have been a week after the Biblical first Sabbath. (g) Finally the actual history of the Exodus fits with the ten commandments being spoken on the Sabbath, and (h) Jewish tradition in Seder Olam exactly confirms the whole chronology. (i) The two arguments the Karaites had in their favor are neutralized by understanding that ממחרת comes from מיום אחר and means “in day/time after” so that the 50th day need not fall immediately after the seventh sabbath, and the fact that annual feast days were known as Sabbaths combined with the ancient near east recognition of the 15th of the month as a semi-monthly Sabbath.

[4] Seder Olam: The Rabbinic View Of Biblical Chronology, Heinrich W. Guggenheimer, Aronson, page 67. Guggenheimer supplies the correct Hebrew text, “אֶחָד בְּשַׁבָּת” but then he mistranslated it “on a Sabbath” on page 68. He felt the chronology was not right. It makes one feel like there is an unconscious conspiracy to conceal this earliest use for Sunday.

[5] A Chart of the Week, Rev. William Mead Jones, Seventh Day Baptist, 1886, Library of Congress.

[6] Often the plural form of σαββατα is significant in the LXX. For instance Acts 17:2, “και επι σαββατα τρια”, LXX Lev. 19:3, 30; 26:2, 34,43; 2Chr. 31:3; 36:21 (cf. Hos 2:13; Amos 8:5; Is. 56:2, 4).

[7] The New Catholic Encyclopedia, “Sabbath”, Ó 2003, pg. 458; R. North. The 1996 article is substantially the same and carries the Vatican's imprimatur. North's Article is cited in the prestigious BDAG, 3rd. edition under the entry for σαββατον, and the subsection “b. pl. (η) μια (των) σαββατων ... RNorth, The Derivation of 'Sabbath', Biblica 36, '55, 182-201” (pg. 910).