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Nehemiah closed the city gates to the merchants who were said to profane the Sabbath by carrying their goods and selling them ( Neh -22 ).Most important is the Torah's placement of the laws concerning the Sabbath directly adjacent to the instructions for building the tabernacle (Exod.For the pious Jew, keeping the Sabbath holy is a mitzvah, or duty, before God.Indeed, The Old Testament takes Sabbath observance so seriously that profaning it results in the death penalty ( Exod ; 35:2 ; Num ).During and after the Babylonian exile, worship became a more prominent part of Sabbath observance.In Jewish homes the benedictions of kiddush (Friday evening) and habdalaha (Saturday evening) were recited, and there were morning and afternoon services at the synagogue.
No fires were to be kindled in Jewish dwellings ( Exod 35:3 ), and no one was to leave their place ( Exod ). For example, Moses instructed the people to bake and boil the manna and put it aside until morning ( Exod -24 ), hinting that cooking was not fitting for the Sabbath.Of the eight holy days (Shabbat, the first and seventh days of Pesach, Shavout, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the first and eighth days of Succot) proscribed in the Torah, only the Sabbath is included in the Decalogue.Though not holier than other holy days like Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah, the Sabbath is given special attention because of its frequency.The meaning of the Sabbath institution comes to light against the background of several key facts.First, Exodus 20:8-11 makes a clear connection between the Sabbath day and the seventh day on which God the Creator rested.
Resting in bed all day does not amount to a keeping of the Sabbath. Noteworthy is the fact that the fourth commandment ( Exod 20:8 ) places the positive command to keep the Sabbath holy before the negative prohibition to cease working.