שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה וּבַיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי יִהְיֶה לָכֶם קֹדֶשׁ שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתֹון לַיהוָה כָּל־הָעֹשֶׂה בֹו 35:2
Exod. 35:2 “Six days shall you do work, but on the seventh day holiness shall be yours, a Sabbath of complete rest to the Lord. Any one doing work on it shall die.”
In this verse and in the ensuing verses, the number of the second-person pronouns will be pointed out. I believe that they are important in interpreting the Lord’s commands. In this verse, the “you” in shall you do work is singular, but the “yours” in shall be yours is plural (see Exod. 19:9 to review my ideas on this subject). I believe that the first pronoun refers to the entire congregation as a whole, while the second pronoun refers to each individual of the children of Israel. In other words, it is the congregation’s responsibility to work six days, but responsibility for blessing the Sabbath belongs to the individual. Each person must observe a holy day of complete rest. As I interpret this verse, it means that those who try to enforce the Sabbath by threatening and coercing those who do not observe it are violating this commandment. See also my additional discussion relating to Levi. 23:3, which proposes a remarkable theory.
[Return to Levi.23:22] [Return to Numb. 15:4] [Return to Numb. 28:4]
Another observation, this regarding the last statement of this verse: Surely there appears to be ample evidence that violation of the Sabbath by working on it does not bring death. At least not immediately. So how may we interpret this blunt statement so it has meaning for us despite the overwhelming evidence refuting it? Might we say that the dying referred to here is of the soul, rather than of the body? Death of the soul would mean to me that when we die, our soul is not bound up with the souls of our ancestors (see Exod. 12:15). In other words, we are not gathered up to our people, as described for many who die in the bible (see Gene. 49:33, for example). [Back]
לֹא־תְבַעֲרוּ אֵשׁ בְּכֹל מֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם בְּיֹום הַשַּׁבָּת 25:3
Exod. 35:3 “You shall not kindle a fire in any of your habitations on the Sabbath day.”
This verse forms part of the support by rabbis and scholars for the admonition against igniting any kind of light on the Sabbath. But I have some doubts about it, which arise from its placement here at this point in this series of Moses’ commands. The admonition precedes the imminent start of labor on the tabernacle, which would take the better part of a year. And much of that work involved melting, forging, and shaping metals, and would require the labor of many children of Israel. So Moses might have been making sure that he was being understood when he spoke of the Sabbath rest. I believe that this command was added by Moses in the hope of preventing any kind of surreptitious work on the part of this stubborn people. Remember that some of the Israelites went out to gather manna on the first Sabbath after its appearance (Exod. 16:27-29). As far as we know, this command to not kindle a fire was never mentioned by the Lord. Therefore, I don’t believe that the prohibition against causing the lighting or dousing of any light is intended to be perpetual. It was situational. However, as I see it, there is a part that is perpetual; that is the prohibition against doing anything on the Sabbath that is in any way a part of one’s daily work. To say it simply, if your daily work includes lighting a fire, then you may not light a fire on the Sabbath.
Also in this verse, the second-person pronouns “you” and “your” are plural. Following my statement related to the previous verse, I believe this indicates that no individual may light a fire. So far, from these three verses, and many others as well, it seems that when Moses uses the singular pronoun, he is referring to the congregation. When he uses the plural pronoun, he is referring to each individual. This may seem counterintuitive to some of you, but it is consistent, as we shall see. [Back] [Return to rubincmds.org]