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Ralph's Daily Devotional - Monday, July 16

Exodus 20:8-11 is the command to keep the Sabbath, which is certainly one of the most misunderstood and ignored commands in all of the Bible since many either ignore it or sincerely confuse the word rest with relax!  Exodus 31:13-17  reveals how seriously Israel is enjoined to this command. 

Nahum Sarna, in his commentary notes, stated that "The Sabbath becomes an integral part of the divinely ordained and created cosmic order."  In collecting the manna, Israel received from God a double portion on the day before the Sabbath in order to avoid any type of work.  It began at twilight on Friday.  In New Testament Jerusalem, since there were no clocks, designated Jews waited for 3 distinct stars to appear in the early evening sky, during which a trumpet was sounded by the "hazzan" who played 2 notes 3 times.  The first warned workers in the field to leave, the second signaled merchants to close shop and the third signaled them to light the lamps.*

During Friday, prior to the start of Sabbath, Jewish women did all the cleaning and cooking to prepare ahead and avoid any work once it began.  As the lamps were lit, they would sit down and drink a glass of wine with a 3-fold blessing.  After that. no one ate until the synagogue service that Saturday morning.  They would then return home for their mid-day meal.

The Sabbath in its intention was to be a time of reflection, joy and blessing.  By the time of Christ, however, the blessing was sadly becoming a burden, as we will see.

*Daniel Rops: "Daily Life in the time of Jesus"

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