Exodus 31:17
It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
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(17) For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth.—Whatever other grounds there were for Sabbath observance, this idea always lay at its root. Man was through it to be made like unto his Maker—to have from time to time a rest from his labours, as God had had (Genesis 2:2-3)—and thereby to realise the blessedness of that final rest which he may be sure “remaineth for the people of God.”

Exodus 31:17. On the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed — And, as the work of creation is worthy to be thus commemorated, so the great Creator is worthy to be imitated by a holy rest on the seventh day. The expression, was refreshed, is spoken after the manner of men. It seems to signify that delight and complacency with which God surveyed all his works, and pronounced them good, Genesis 1:31. Of this divine pleasure we may form some faint idea, by comparing it to that solace and refreshment which a benevolent mind enjoys upon bringing into execution some noble and arduous, some generous and well concerted plan for advancing the glory of God and good of mankind.

31:12-17 Orders were now given that a tabernacle should be set up for the service of God. But they must not think that the nature of the work, and the haste that was required, would justify them in working at it on sabbath days. The Hebrew word /shabath/ signifies rest, or ceasing from labour. The thing signified by the sabbath is that rest in glory which remains for the people of God; therefore the moral obligation of the sabbath must continue, till time is swallowed up in eternity.Was refreshed - Literally, "he took breath". Compare Exodus 23:12; 2 Samuel 16:14. The application of the word to the Creator, which occurs nowhere else, is remarkable. 12-17. Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep—The reason for the fresh inculcation of the fourth commandment at this particular period was, that the great ardor and eagerness, with which all classes betook themselves to the construction of the tabernacle, exposed them to the temptation of encroaching on the sanctity of the appointed day of rest. They might suppose that the erection of the tabernacle was a sacred work, and that it would be a high merit, an acceptable tribute, to prosecute the undertaking without the interruption of a day's repose; and therefore the caution here given, at the commencement of the undertaking, was a seasonable admonition. It is a sign, a sign of the covenant between us, that I will be their God, and they will be my people; both which depends upon this amongst other duties, and upon this in an eminent degree.

Was refreshed; not as if he had been weary with working, which surely he could not be with speaking a few words, nor can God be weary with any thing, Isaiah 40:28; but it notes the pleasure or delight God took in reflecting upon his works, beholding that every thing he had made was very good, Genesis 1:31.

It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever,.... In like sense as the land of Canaan was given them for an everlasting possession; and the covenant of circumcision, and the ordinance of the passover, and the fast on the day of atonement, were for ever; that is, unto the end of the Jewish world and state, at the coming of Christ, when a new world and state of things began, see Genesis 17:8.

for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed; which is to be understood figuratively after the manner of men, who ceasing from toil and labour find rest and refreshment; but not really and properly, for as not labour, and weariness, and fatigue, so neither rest nor refreshment can be properly said of God; but this denotes his cessation from the works of creation, though not of providence, and of the delight and pleasure he takes in a view of them; this is observed, not as the foundation of this law, and the reason of its being made, but as an illustration of it, and as an argument, showing the reasonableness of it, and the similarity of it with what God himself had done, and therefore the enjoining of it could not reasonably be objected to. See Gill on Exodus 20:11.

It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he {h} rested, and was refreshed.

(h) From creating his creatures, but not from governing and preserving them.

17. forearth] verbatim as Exodus 20:11.

rested] desisted (from work), or kept sabbath: see on Exodus 20:8.

was refreshed] lit. took breath,—a strong anthropomorphism: elsewhere used only of men, Exodus 23:12, 2 Samuel 16:14†.

18a. communing] speaking. See on Exodus 25:22.

tables of the testimony] i.e. of the Decalogue (see on Exodus 25:16). So Exodus 32:15; Exodus 34:29 †.

18b. tables of stone] as Exodus 24:12 (E), where see the note. E’s narrative in Exodus 24:12-15 a must have been followed by a statement that Moses, after remaining some time on the mountain (Exodus 32:1), received from God the tables of stone, of which these and the following words are the close. The intermediate part has been replaced by the narrative of P (Exodus 24:15 b–32:18a).

written with the finger of God] hence Deuteronomy 9:10. The practice of inscribing laws on tables of metal or stone was very general in antiquity: Rome, Athens, Crete, Carthage, Palmyra, Babylonia, all supply examples; it would be no cause for surprise, if the original of some of the laws contained in the ‘Book of the Covenant’ were to be brought to light by excavation in Palestine. That the tables on which the Decalogue was written are said to have been inscribed by ‘the finger of God’ (cf. Exodus 34:1) is an expression (Di.) of the sanctity and venerable antiquity attributed to them.

Verse 17. - It is a sign. See above, ver. 13. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth. See the comment on Exodus 20:11. And was refreshed. Literally," and took breath." The metaphor is a bold one, but not bolder than others which occur in holy scripture (Psalm 44:23; Psalm 78:65). It does but carry out a little further the idea implied in God's "resting." We cannot speak of any of God's acts or attributes without anthropomorphisms.

CHAPTER 31:18 Exodus 31:17(cf. Exodus 35:2-3). God concludes by enforcing the observance of His Sabbaths in the most solemn manner, repeating the threat of death and extermination in the case of every transgressor. The repetition and further development of this command, which was included already in the decalogue, is quite in its proper place here, inasmuch as the thought might easily have occurred, that it was allowable to omit the keeping of the Sabbath, when the execution of so great a work in honour of Jehovah had been commanded. "My Sabbaths:" by these we are to understand the weekly Sabbaths, not the other sabbatical festivals, since the words which follow apply to the weekly Sabbath alone. This was "a sign between Jehovah and Israel for all generations, to know (i.e., by which Israel might learn) that it was Jehovah who sanctified them," viz., by the sabbatical rest (see at Exodus 20:11). It was therefore a holy thing for Israel (Exodus 31:14), the desecration of which would be followed by the punishment of death, as a breach of the covenant. The kernel of the Sabbath commandment is repeated in Exodus 31:15; the seventh day of the week, however, is not simply designated a "Sabbath," but שׁבּתון שׁבּת "a high Sabbath" (the repetition of the same word, or of an abstract form of the concrete noun, denoting the superlative; see Ges. 113, 2), and "holy to Jehovah" (see at Exodus 16:23). For this reason Israel was to keep it in all future generations, i.e., to observe it as an eternal covenant (Exodus 31:16), as in the case of circumcision, since it was to be a sign for ever between Jehovah and the children of Israel (Ezekiel 20:20). The eternal duration of this sign was involved in the signification of the sabbatical rest, which is pointed out in Exodus 20:11, and reaches forward into eternity.
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