God created everything in six days, and He rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2). This initiated a set time each week called the Sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew, which means “to rest or lay aside labor.” There are Hebrew words translated rest in the English translation of the Torah. They include: shabath, which alludes to letting go (Exod. 23:11); shamat, alluding to letting alone; and nuwach, to settle down (Isa. 23:12). They all carry the same connotation. A shabbat was a personal letting go and resting. God commanded that the land and animals rest and be “let alone” in order to fulfill the commandment.
The theme of resting from labor was so important that God hallowed the seventh day each week as a Sabbath of rest. Every seventh year was a Sabbatical rest year (called Shemitah in Hebrew). Every seven cycles of seven years—forty-nine years—was designated a Jubilee cycle of complete rest. During these three Sabbatical cycles, people, animals, and the land enjoyed exemption from work (Exod. 23:10–12; Lev. 25:4–55). With each of the seven feasts, God commanded the people to refrain from work. The Sabbath was created for man’s enjoyment: And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). read more