Exodus 20:11
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: why the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
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(11) For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth.—Comp. Genesis 2:2-3, and Exodus 31:17. It is not improbable that the work of creation was made to occupy six days because one day in seven is the appropriate proportion of rest to labour for such a being as man. God might have created all things on one day had He so pleased; but, having the institution of the Sabbath in view, He prefigured it by spreading His work over six days, and then resting on the seventh. His law of the Sabbath established a conformity between the method of His own working and that of His reasonable creatures, and taught men to look on work, not as an aimless, indefinite, incessant, weary round, but as leading on to an end, a rest, a fruition, a time for looking back, and seeing the result and rejoicing in it. Each Sabbath is such a time, and is a type and foretaste of that eternal “sabbatising” in another world which “remaineth for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). The secondary object of the institution of the Sabbath, assigned in Deuteronomy 5:15, is in no way incompatible with this primary one. The thought of God’s works in creation might well be associated in the mind of an. Israelite with the thought of His “wondrous works” in Egypt, and the recollection of the blessed peace and rest in which creation resulted, with the memory of the glad time of repose and refreshment which supervened upon the weary task work of the Egyptian bondage.

20:3-11 The first four of the ten commandments, commonly called the FIRST table, tell our duty to God. It was fit that those should be put first, because man had a Maker to love, before he had a neighbour to love. It cannot be expected that he should be true to his brother, who is false to his God. The first commandment concerns the object of worship, JEHOVAH, and him only. The worship of creatures is here forbidden. Whatever comes short of perfect love, gratitude, reverence, or worship, breaks this commandment. Whatsoever ye do, do all the glory of God. The second commandment refers to the worship we are to render to the Lord our God. It is forbidden to make any image or picture of the Deity, in any form, or for any purpose; or to worship any creature, image, or picture. But the spiritual import of this command extends much further. All kinds of superstition are here forbidden, and the using of mere human inventions in the worship of God. The third commandment concerns the manner of worship, that it be with all possible reverence and seriousness. All false oaths are forbidden. All light appealing to God, all profane cursing, is a horrid breach of this command. It matters not whether the word of God, or sacred things, all such-like things break this commandment, and there is no profit, honour, or pleasure in them. The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. The form of the fourth commandment, Remember, shows that it was not now first given, but was known by the people before. One day in seven is to be kept holy. Six days are allotted to worldly business, but not so as to neglect the service of God, and the care of our souls. On those days we must do all our work, and leave none to be done on the sabbath day. Christ allowed works of necessity, charity, and piety; for the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath, Mr 2:27; but all works of luxury, vanity, or self-indulgence in any form, are forbidden. Trading, paying wages, settling accounts, writing letters of business, worldly studies, trifling visits, journeys, or light conversation, are not keeping this day holy to the Lord. Sloth and indolence may be a carnal, but not a holy rest. The sabbath of the Lord should be a day of rest from worldly labour, and a rest in the service of God. The advantages from the due keeping of this holy day, were it only to the health and happiness of mankind, with the time it affords for taking care of the soul, show the excellency of this commandment. The day is blessed; men are blessed by it, and in it. The blessing and direction to keep holy are not limited to the seventh day, but are spoken of the sabbath day.The sabbath ... - a Sabbath to Yahweh thy God. The proper meaning of "sabbath" is, "rest after labor." Compare Exodus 16:26.

Thy stranger that is within thy gates - Not a "stranger," as is an unknown person, but a "lodger," or "sojourner." In this place it denotes one who had come from another people to take up his permanent abode among the Israelites, and who might have been well known to his neighbors. That the word did not primarily refer to foreign domestic servants (though all such were included under it) is to be inferred from the term used for "gates," signifying not the doors of a private dwelling, but the gates of a town or camp.

8. Remember the sabbath day—implying it was already known, and recognized as a season of sacred rest. The first four commandments [Ex 20:3-11] comprise our duties to God—the other six [Ex 20:12-17] our duties to our fellow men; and as interpreted by Christ, they reach to the government of the heart as well as the lip (Mt 5:17). "If a man do them he shall live in them" [Le 18:5; Ne 9:29]. But, ah! what an if for frail and fallen man. Whoever rests his hope upon the law stands debtor to it all; and in this view every one would be without hope were not "the Lord our Righteousness" [Jer 23:6; 33:16] (Joh 1:17). In six days, and neither in more nor less time, as he could have done.

Rested, i.e. ceased from his creating works; otherwise he worketh still { John 5:17} by his providence and grace; and neither is idle nor weary, Isaiah 40:28; but this rest is ascribed to him for our admonition and imitation.

The Lord blessed the sabbath day, i.e. made it a day of blessing; as well of receiving blessings and praises from men, as of conferring his blessings and favours upon those that religiously observe it. The day is said to be blessed when men are blessed by it, and in it, by a common metonymy, as a man’s field, Genesis 27:27, and basket and store, Deu 28:5, and the work of his hands, Job 1:10, are said to be blessed when a man is blessed in them. It is remarkable, the blessing and sanctification are not appropriated to the seventh day, but to the sabbath day, whether it should be the seventh day, as to the Jews it then was, or the first day, as to us Christians now it is, which change seems hereby to be insinuated.

Hallowed it, i.e. separated it from the rest of the days, and from all common employments, and consecrated it to his own holy service, and man’s holy use. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea,

and all that in them is, &c. And of which six days, and of the several things made in each of them, see the notes on the first chapter of Genesis:

and resteth the seventh day: which does not suppose labour, attended with weariness and fatigue; for the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary, Isaiah 40:28 nor ease and refreshment from it, but only a cessation from the works of creation, they being finished and completed, though not from the works of Providence, in which he is continually concerned: now this circumstance, before recorded in the history of the creation, is wisely improved to engage an attention to this command, and to the observation of it; there being an analogy between the one and the other, that as God worked six days, and, having done his work completely, ceased from it and rested, so it was fit and proper, that as the Israelites had six days allowed them to labour in, and do all their work, they should rest on the seventh, they and all that belonged to them, or had any connection with them:

wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath, and hallowed it: he separated it from all other days of the week, and set it apart for holy use and service, by obliging his people to cease from all work on it, and to give up themselves to the exercises of religion, as hearing, reading the word, prayer, praise, &c. and he blessed it with his presence, and with the communications of his grace, as he still continues to do, whatsoever day his people make use of for his worship and service. The note of Jarchi is,"he blessed it with manna, by giving double bread on the sixth, and sanctified it by manna, that it might not descend on it;''so that there was a provision made for it, which was blessing it; and it was distinguished from all other days, no manna falling on it, which was the sanctification of it; and all showed it to be a day the Lord had a particular regard to, and that it was to be a day of rest, and exemption from labour. (This verse shows that the days in the first chapter of Genesis were real twenty four hour days. For you compare like things to like. Just as God worked six days and rested on the seventh, so the Israelites were to do also. The comparison would make no sense if the days were "seven ages" or were "seven ages" that overlapped each other (Day Age Theory) or if there was a huge gap between the days (Gap Theory). These are modern compromises to accomodate the alleged geological ages with the Biblical account of creation.Further this verse allows one to determine the age of the universe. Using the biblical geneologies Bishop Ussher determined the date of creation to be 4004 B.C. Although this may be off by one or two percent, it is a very accurate estimate based on biblical revelation not man's speculation. Editor.)

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
11. Why the sabbath is to be observed. The reason is based upon Genesis 2:3, cf. Exodus 31:17 b (both P). The motive may have operated with the writer of the comment; but it cannot state the real reason for the observance of the sabbath. ‘P’s story of the Creation, with the six days followed by the sacred seventh, is not the cause of the Sabbath, but the result of the fact that the week ending with the Sabbath was an existing institution. P adjusts the work of creation to it’ (McNeile). Cf. the present writer’s Genesis, p. 35. On the different motive assigned for the observance in Deuteronomy 5:15, see p. 192.

rested] This is the word nûaḥ, meaning relaxation, referred to on v. 8: cf. Exodus 23:12 b, Deuteronomy 5:14 b; and for the thought Exodus 31:17 b (‘desisted, and was refreshed’). (In Genesis 2:2-3 the word used is ‘desisted.’)

blessed … hallowed] i.e. made it a day which would bring a blessing on those who observed it, and made it sacred to Himself.

It is impossible to consider here with any fulness the history and significance of the sabbath; and for a more detailed discussion the writer must refer to his art. Sabbath in DB. iv. It is not impossible that ultimately the institution was of Babylonian origin: in Babylonian there occurs (though rarely) the word shabattum, meaning day for propitiating a deity’s anger1[178], and in Babylonia also, especially in the earlier periods of the history, every seventh day of the month was marked by abstention from secular business2[179]: but even if that was the case (for connecting links are still wanting), it is certain that when adopted by the Hebrews, a new character was impressed upon it by the higher and purer religion of Israel. In the earliest legislation of the Hebrews, the sabbath appears as a day of cessation from (in particular) field-work, designed with a humanitarian end (Exodus 23:12 E; Exodus 34:21 J), and, to judge from the context, possessing already a religious character: in the Decalogue, in what is probably (see above) the oldest part of the Commandment, it is to be kept ‘holy’ by the Israelite: in the early historical books, it is associated with the ‘new moon,’ in a manner which implies that both were occasions of intermission from labour and trade (Amos 8:5), and holidays (2 Kings 4:22-23); Hosea (Exodus 2:11), and Isaiah (Exodus 1:13), both allude to it as a day of religious observance. In later times, both the religious observances and also the abstention from labour were increasingly emphasized. In H and Ezek. (see on Ezekiel 31:13) the observance of the sabbath is repeatedly insisted on: cf. a little later Isaiah 56:2; Isaiah 56:4; Isaiah 56:6; Isaiah 58:13 f., and (in the ideal future) Isaiah 66:23. Ezekiel, also, in his ideal legislation for the future (chs. 40–48), gives directions,—based, presumably, upon already existing usage,—respecting the sacrifices to be offered every sabbath by the ‘prince’ on behalf o the nation in the restored temple (Ezekiel 45:17, Ezekiel 46:4 f.). In the legislation of P, the regulations respecting the sabbath become both more numerous and more strict: its institution is thrown back to the end of the week of Creation (Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 31:17); it is to be observed (Leviticus 23:3) by a ‘holy convocation,’ or religious gathering; additional sacrifice (viz. double those offered on ordinary days) are prescribed for it (Numbers 28:8 f.); and death is the penalty imposed (Exodus 31:15), and exacted (Numbers 15:32-36), for its non-observance, Thus in the priestly law, the original character and objects of the sabbath have receded into the background, and it has become more distinctly a purely ceremonial observance: Christ, in opposition to later Rabbinical exaggerations and refinements, brought men back to the great truth that ‘the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath’; and, transformed into the Christian Sunday, it has become in Christian countries a wonderful means both of securing rest from bodily toil, and of maintaining the life of a pure and spiritual religion.

[178] See DB. iv. 319a, adding the instance, discussed by Zimmern, ZDMG. 1904, p. 199 ff., in which shabattum is applied to the 15th day of the month, i.e. (see p. 201) to the day of the full moon.

[179] See DB. ibid., or the writer’s Genesis, p. 34. and esp. Johns, Expos. Times, Sept. 1906, p. 567 (with detailed statistics); and comp. McNeile, p. 122 f.Verse 11. - For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth. Two reasons are assigned for the sanctification of the seventh day in the Pentateuch: -

1. The fact that the work of creation took six days, and that on the seventh God rested; and

2. The further fact, that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and gave them a time of rest after a time of labour and toil (Deuteronomy 5:15). It is not expressly said that the deliverance took place on the Sabbath, but such is the Jewish tradition on the subject. The reason here assigned must be regarded as the main reason, man's rest being purposely assimilated to God's rest, in order to show the resemblance between man's nature and God's (Genesis 1:27), and to point towards that eternal rest wherein man, united with God, will find his highest bliss and the true end of his being. "There remaineth a rest for the people of God." "Thou shalt not pray to them and serve them." (On the form תּעבדם with the o-sound under the guttural, see Ewald, 251d.). השׁתּחוה signifies bending before God in prayer, and invoking His name; עבד, worship by means of sacrifice and religious ceremonies. The suffixes להם and - ם (to them, and them) refer to the things in heaven, etc., which are made into pesel, symbols of Jehovah, as being the principal object of the previous clause, and not to כּל־תּמוּנה פּסל, although פּסל עבד is applied in Psalm 97:7 and 2 Kings 17:41 to a rude idolatrous worship, which identifies the image as the symbol of deity with the deity itself, Still less do they refer to אחרים אלהים in Exodus 20:3.

The threat and promise, which follow in Exodus 20:5 and Exodus 20:6, relate to the first two commandments, and not to the second alone; because both of them, although forbidding two forms of idolatry, viz., idolo-latry and ikono-latry, are combined in a higher unity, by the fact, that whenever Jehovah, the God who cannot be copied because He reveals His spiritual nature in no visible form, is worshipped under some visible image, the glory of the invisible God is changed, or Jehovah changed into a different God from what He really is. Through either form of idolatry, therefore, Israel would break its covenant with Jehovah. For this reason God enforces the two commandments with the solemn declaration: "I, Jehovah thy God, am קנּא אל a jealous God;" i.e., not only ζηλωτής, a zealous avenger of sinners, but ζηλοτύπος, a jealous God, who will not transfer to another the honour that is due to Himself (Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 48:11), nor tolerate the worship of any other god (Exodus 34:14), but who directs the warmth of His anger against those who hate Him (Deuteronomy 6:15), with the same energy with which the warmth of His love (Sol 8:6) embraces those who love Him, except that love in the form of grace reaches much further than wrath. The sin of the fathers He visits (punishes) on the children to the third and fourth generation. שׁלּשׁים third (sc., children) are not grandchildren, but great-grandchildren, and רבּעים the fourth generation. On the other hand He shows mercy to the thousandths, i.e., to the thousandth generation (cf. Deuteronomy 7:9, where דּור לאלף stands for לאלפים). The cardinal number is used here for the ordinal, for which there was no special form in the case of אלף. The words לשׂנאי and לאהבי, in which the punishment and grace are traced to their ultimate foundation, are of great importance to a correct understanding of this utterance of God. The ל before שׂנאי does not take up the genitive with עון again, as Knobel supposes, for no such use of ל can be established from Genesis 7:11; Genesis 16:3; Genesis 14:18; Genesis 41:12, or in fact in any way whatever. In this instance ל signifies "at" or "in relation to;" and לשׂנאי, from its very position, cannot refer to the fathers alone, but to the fathers and children to the third and fourth generation. If it referred to the fathers alone, it would necessarily stand after אבת. וגו לאהבי is to be taken in the same way. God punishes the sin of the fathers in the children to the third and fourth generation in relation to those who hate Him, and shows mercy to the thousandth generation in relation to those who love Him. The human race is a living organism, in which not only sin and wickedness are transmitted, but evil as the curse of the sin and the punishment of the wickedness. As children receive their nature from their parents, or those who beget them, so they have also to bear and atone for their fathers' guilt. This truth forced itself upon the minds even of thoughtful heathen from their own varied experience (cf. Aeschyl. Sept. 744; Eurip. according to Plutarch de sera num. vind. 12, 21; Cicero de nat. deorum 3, 38; and Baumgarten-Crusius, bibl. Theol. p. 208). Yet there is no fate in the divine government of the world, no irresistible necessity in the continuous results of good and evil; but there reigns in the world a righteous and gracious God, who not only restrains the course of His penal judgments, as soon as the sinner is brought to reflection by the punishment and hearkens to the voice of God, but who also forgives the sin and iniquity of those who love Him, keeping mercy to the thousandth generation (Exodus 34:7). The words neither affirm that sinning fathers remain unpunished, nor that the sins of fathers are punished in the children and grandchildren without any fault of their own: they simply say nothing about whether and how the fathers themselves are punished; and, in order to show the dreadful severity of the penal righteousness of God, give prominence to the fact, that punishment is not omitted-that even when, in the long-suffering of God, it is deferred, it is not therefore neglected, but that the children have to bear the sins of their fathers, whenever, for example (as naturally follows from the connection of children with their fathers, and, as Onkelos has added in his paraphrase of the words), "the children fill up the sins of their fathers," so that the descendants suffer punishment for both their own and their forefathers' misdeeds (Leviticus 26:39; Isaiah 65:7; Amos 7:17; Jeremiah 16:11.; Daniel 9:16). But when, on the other hand, the hating ceases, when the children forsake their fathers' evil ways, the warmth of the divine wrath is turned into the warmth of love, and God becomes חסד עשׂה ("showing mercy") to them; and this mercy endures not only to the third and fourth generation, but to the thousandth generation, though only in relation to those who love God, and manifest this love by keeping His commandments. "If God continues for a long time His visitation of sin, He continues to all eternity His manifestation of mercy, and we cannot have a better proof of this than in the history of Israel itself" (Schultz).

(Note: On the visitation of the sins of the fathers upon the children, see also Hengstenberg, Dissertations, vol. ii. p. 446ff.)

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