|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-3 After six days, God ceased from all works of creation. In miracles, he has overruled nature, but never changed its settled course, or added to it. God did not rest as one weary, but as one well pleased. Notice the beginning of the kingdom of grace, in the sanctification, or keeping holy, of the sabbath day. The solemn observing of one day in seven as a day of holy rest and holy work, to God's honour, is the duty of all to whom God has made known his holy sabbaths. At this time none of the human race were in being but our first parents. For them the sabbath was appointed; and clearly for all succeeding generations also. The Christian sabbath, which we observe, is a seventh day, and in it we celebrate the rest of God the Son, and the finishing the work of our redemption.
Verse 3. - And God blessed the seventh day. The blessing (cf. Genesis 1:22, 28) of the seventh day implied -
1. That it was thereby declared to be the special object of the Divine favor.
2. That it was thenceforth to be a day or epoch of blessing for his creation. And -
3. That it was to be invested with a permanence which did not belong to the other six days - every one of which passed away and gave place to a successor. And sanctified it. Literally, declared it holy, or set it apart for holy purposes. As afterwards Mount Sinai was sanctified (Exodus 19:23), or, for the time being, invested with a sacred character as the residence of God; and Aaron and his sons were sanctified, or consecrated to the priestly office (Exodus 29:44); and the year of Jubilee was sanctified, or devoted to the purposes of religion (Leviticus 25:10), so here was the seventh day sanctified, or instituted in the interests of holiness, and as such proclaimed to be a holy day. Because that in it he had rested from all his work which God had created and made. Literally, created to make, the exact import of which has been variously explained. The "ω΅ν ἤρξατο ὁ θεός ποιῆσαι of the LXX. is obviously incorrect. Calvin, Ainsworth, Bush, et alii take the second verb emphatice, as intensifying the action of the first, and conveying the idea of a perfect creation. Kalisch, Alford, and others explain the second as epexegetic of the first, as in the similar phrases, "spoke, saying, literally, spoke to speak" (Exodus 6:10), and "labored to do" (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Onkelos, the Vulgate (quod Dens creavit ut faceret), Calvin, Tayler Lewis, &c. understand the infinitive in a relic sense, as expressive of the purpose for which the heavens and the earth were at first created, viz., that by the six days' work they might be fashioned into a cosmos. It has been observed that the usual concluding formula is not appended to the record of the seventh day, and the reason has perhaps been declared by Augustine: "Dies autem septimus sine vespera eat, nee habet occasum, quia sanctificasti eum ad permansionem sempiternam" ('Confess.,' 13:36). But now what was this seventh day which received Elohim's benediction? On the principle of interpretation applied to the creative days, this must be regarded as a period of indefinite duration, compounding to the human era of both Scripture and geology. But other Scriptures (Exodus 20:8; Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:12, &c.) show that the Hebrews were enjoined by God to observe a seventh day rest in imitation of himself. There are also indications that sabbatic observance was not unknown to the patriarchs (Genesis 29:27, 28), to the antediluvians (Genesis 8:6-12), and to Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:3). Profane history likewise vouches for the veracity of the statement of Josephus, that "there is not any city of the Grecians, nor any of the barbarians, nor any nation whatsoever, whither our custom of resting on the seventh day hath not come" ('Contra Apionem,' 2:40). The ancient Persians, Indians, and Germans esteemed the number seven as sacred. By the Greeks and Phoenicians a sacred character was ascribed to the seventh day. The Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and other nations of antiquity were acquainted with the hebdomadal division of time. Travelers have detected traces of it among the African and American aborigines. To account for its existence among nations so widely apart, both chronologically and geographically, recourse has been had to some violent hypotheses; as, e.g., to the number of the primary planets known to the ancients (Humboldt), the division of a lunar month into four nearly equal periods of seven days (Ideler, Baden Powell, &c.), Jewish example (Josephus). Its true genesis, however, must be sought for in the primitive observance of a seventh day rest in accordance with Divine appointment. Precisely as we reason that the early and widespread prevalence of sacrifice can only be explained by an authoritative revelation to the first parents of the human family of such a mode of worship, so do we conclude that a seventh day sabbath must have been prescribed to man in Eden. The question then arises, Is this sabbath also referred to in the Mosaic record of the seventh day? The popular Belief is that the institution of the weekly sabbath alone is the subject spoken of in the opening verses of the present chapter; and the language of Exodus 20:11 may at first sight appear to warrant this conclusion. A more careful consideration of the phraseology employed by Moses, how ever, shows that in the mind of the Hebrew lawgiver there existed a distinction between God's seventh day and man's sabbath, and that, instead of identifying the two, he meant to teach that the first was the reason of the second; as thus - "In six days God made.... and rested on the seventh day; where fore God blessed the (weekly) sabbath day, and hallowed it." Here it is commonly assumed that the words are exactly parallel to those in Genesis 2:3, and that the sabbath in Exodus corresponds to the seventh day of Genesis. But this is open to debate. The seventh day which God blessed in Eden was the first day of human life, and not the seventh day; and it is certain that God did not rest from his labors on man's seventh day, but on man's first. We feel inclined then to hold with Luther that in Genesis 2:3 Moses says nothing about man's day, and that the seventh day which received the Divine benediction was God's own great aeonian period of sabbatic rest. At the same time, for the reasons above specified, believing that a weekly sabbath was pre scribed to man from the beginning, we have no difficulty in assenting to the words of Tayler Lewis: "'And God blessed the seventh day.' Which seventh day, the greater or the less, the Divine or the human, the aeonian or the astronomical? Both, is the easy answer; both, as commencing at the same time, so far as the one connects with astronomical time; both, as the greater including the less; both, as being (the one as represented, the other as typically representing) the same essence and idea." It does not appear necessary to refute the idea that the weekly sabbath had no existence till the giving of the law, and that it is only here proleptically referred to by Moses. In addition to the above-mentioned historical testimonies to the antiquity of the Sabbath, the Fifth Tablet in the Chaldean Creation Series, after referring to the fourth day's work, proceeds: -
"On the seventh day he appointed a holy day,
And to cease from all business he commanded.
Then arose the sun in the horizon of heaven in (glory)."
thus apparently affirming that, in the opinion of the early Babylonians, the institution of the sabbath was coeval with the creation. (Vid. 'Records of the Past,' vol. 9. p. 117.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it,.... A day in which he took delight and pleasure, having finished all his works, and resting from them, and looking over them as very good; and so he pronounced this day a good and happy day, and "sanctified" or appointed it in his mind to be a day separated from others, for holy service and worship; as it was with the Jews when they became a body of people, both civil and ecclesiastical: or this is all said by way of prolepsis or anticipation, as many things in this chapter are, many names of countries and rivers, by which being called in the times of Moses, are here given them, though they were not called by them so early, nor till many ages after: and according to Jarchi this passage respects future time, when God "blessed" this day with the manna, which descended on all the days of the week, an omer for a man, and on the sixth day double food; and he "sanctified" it with the manna which did not descend at all on that day: besides, these words may be read in a parenthesis, as containing an account of a fact that was done, not at the beginning of the world, and on the first seventh day of it; but of what had been done in the times of Moses, who wrote this, after the giving of the law of the sabbath; and this being given through his hands to the people of Israel, he takes this opportunity here to insert it, and very pertinently, seeing the reason why God then, in the times of Moses, blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it, was, because he had rested on that day from all his works, Exodus 20:11 and the same reason is given here, taken plainly out of that law which he had delivered to them:
because that in it he had rested from all his work, which God created and made; which shows, that this refers not to the same time when God blessed and hallowed the seventh day, which was done in the times of Moses, but to what had been long before, and was then given as a reason enforcing it; for it is not here said, as in the preceding verse, "he rested", but "had rested", even from the foundation of the world, when his works were finished, as in Hebrews 4:3 even what "he created to make" (e), as the words may be here rendered; which he created out of nothing, as he did the first matter, in order to make all things out of it, and put them in that order, and bring them to that perfection he did.
(e) "creavit ut faceret", V. L. "creaverat ut faceret", Pagninus, Montanus.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. blessed and sanctified the seventh day—a peculiar distinction put upon it above the other six days, and showing it was devoted to sacred purposes. The institution of the Sabbath is as old as creation, giving rise to that weekly division of time which prevailed in the earliest ages. It is a wise and beneficent law, affording that regular interval of rest which the physical nature of man and the animals employed in his service requires, and the neglect of which brings both to premature decay. Moreover, it secures an appointed season for religious worship, and if it was necessary in a state of primeval innocence, how much more so now, when mankind has a strong tendency to forget God and His claims?
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