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THE DERIVATION OF SABBATH

Robert North
Biblica
Vol. 36, No. 2 (1955), pp. 182-201
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42619034
Page Count: 20
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THE DERIVATION OF SABBATH
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Abstract

As conclusions of our study emerge seven propositions of varying certitude. 1) The Hebrew verb " cease " may best be accounted for as denominative from the cultic noun " sabbath ". 2) Šabbāt represents somehow, possibly via šabbātôn, a dual of *šabaʿat " seven-er ": adjective neither ordinal nor rigidly fractional. 3) The " sevener "-day of the month enjoyed a mildly mystical veneration not provably linked with the number of planets, but the " two-sevens "-day was profoundly venerated because of the concurrence of the full moon. 4) Babylonian observance of this day consisted in appeasement, whose implications may have been simultaneously agreeable and distressing, in accord with perfectly normal psychology. 5) Some influence of the Babylonian šapattum, on the Hebrew sabbath seems inescapable. 6) The primitive biblical prohibition of fire-making may derive from the religiously-prompted work-intermission of the Qenites. 7) The adaptation of various ancient elements into an invariably-recurrent sabbath of highly purified observance was an original and immensely influential cultural achievement of the Mosaic revelation.

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