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Seventh Yom of Sabbath - 12 or 24 Hours

I believe that the Sabbath "Day" means by virtue of Gen. 1:5 the daylight hours of the 7th day, and not the night hours. This is how 'day' is defined in Gen. 1:5. In my article on the Sabbath command, I identify an article that supports the idea that Sabbath is a 12 hour period. See my article "The Sabbath Command." A Torah-observant Gentile communicated to me his view that this should be construed to be 24 hours. For the sake of completeness, and presenting both sides of issues, here is the view of Adam D. At the end is MY REPLY, several replies by him, and each time answered by me.

Incidentally, Adam tends to construe the Law in the way most likely to impose burdens where there is any doubt, which I think Jesus taught the opposite approach. Jesus I believe meant where the law is not clear, we should not construe its application, because then we are adding needless burdens, and creating a discouraging feeling that one cannot keep the Law. Hence, I always recommend we read the Law as narrowly as possible. Because many of these laws carried death penalties, I am sure the judges applying these laws would not apply it to a circumstance unless the application was 100% certain. I think we too should have that mindset in applying Torah-Law violations to our lives only when absolutely clear. A law like Sabbath was designed for men's benefit, and thus this should even further limit when we would inflict harm on the person for violating in essence a labor law (which nowadays means inflicting harm on our conscience) when the law was designed to protect the person from harm, not harm his conscience needlessly.

Blessings. Doug

Adam On Why Sabbath is 24 Hours

Hey Doug,


I see several major flaws with this guy’s scriptural evaluation and logic.  I will address them below:


#1 – “LIGHT = DAY”


First, the author makes what I feel to be an incorrect reciprocal equality between “light” and “day”.  He continually says “LIGHT = DAY” with the implication that “DAY” also equals “LIGHT,” but such is not the scriptural truth.  Take the following examples:


Leviticus 8:35 – “And at the door of the tent of meeting shall ye abide day and nightseven days, and keep the charge of Yahweh, that ye die not: for so I am commanded.”


Leviticus 23:27-32 – “Howbeit on the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonements: it shall be a holy convocation unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh.  28  And ye shall do no manner of work in that same day; for it is a day of atonements, to make atonement for you before Yahweh your Elohim.  29  For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day; he shall be cut off from his people.  30  And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any manner of work in that same day, that soul will I destroy from among his people.  31  Ye shall do no manner of work: it is a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.  32  It shall be unto you a sabbath of solemn rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even,from even unto even, shall ye keep your sabbath.”


Esther 4:16 – “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three daysnight or day: I also and my maidens will fast in like manner; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”


Jeremiah 31:32 – “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in theday that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Yahweh.”


The verses above make one thing perfectly clear.  The Hebrew word yom can be used for both the daylight portion of the day (i.e. the “LIGHT”) and the entirety of a day/night period.  So, although “LIGHT” can definitely equal “DAY”, “DAY” does notalways equal “LIGHT.”  When the high priest is commanded to keep charge of the tabernacle seven days, “day and night” are both included in that use of the wordyom.  Likewise, Esther’s fast was for 3 day, which also included 3 day/night periods inyom.  The Day (yom) of Atonements is referred simply as the day of atonements, not the day AND night of atonements.  Yet, we clearly see that this singular yom contains an evening to evening period.  Lastly, the children of Israel didn’t leave during the daylight portion of the day; they left at midnight.  Yet, Yahweh calls this “the day” (yom) that he brought them out of Egypt. 


Three or four witnesses in the word of Yahweh should be enough to conclude this fact.


Yet, we have more arguments from scripture that logically require the word yom to be more inclusive in certain cases than just the daylight portion of a day.  For instance:


Psalm 52:1 (52:3 in the Hebrew) says: “For the Chief Musician. Maschil of David; when Doeg the Edomite came and told Saul, and said unto him, David is come to the house of Abimelech. Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? The lovingkindness of God endureth continually.”


The bolded sentence reads as follows in the Hebrew: [not renderable].  Literally translated it reads: “The goodness of El is all the day.”  Now, are we to presume from the incorrect assumption that yom is only the LIGHT portion of the day that Yahweh is only good during the light-time?  Is not our Elohim good ALL the time?  If one readsyom here in the restrictive sense that the author of 12hoursabbath.com chooses to they have to admit that Yahweh’s goodness is only found during the light portion of the day, not at night.  Here is yet another different usage of yom:


1 Samuel 1:21 – “And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto Jehovah the yearly sacrifice, and his vow.”


The bolded phrase here reads:  [Not renderable.] Literally translated: “The sacrifice of the days.”  Now, there is no daily sacrifice necessary for normal people.  This refers to an annual sacrifice that was offered via pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  Yet, the Hebrew word is the plural of yom.  Here it clearly, once again, doesn’t refer to the daylight portion of the day.


He states the following in his study (one of several similar quotes): “Then it happened. I found an astonishing quote that spurred me on to more research:

"The day was either the PERIOD OF SUNLIGHT, CONTRASTED WITH THE NIGHT (see John 11:9) or thewhole period of twenty four hours, ALTHOUGH NOT DEFINED AS SUCH IN THE BIBLE." ("Oxford Companion to the Bible", p. 744). I read it again and again. A 24 HOUR DAY IS NOT DEFINED IN THE BIBLE. This agreed with my study of the scriptures.

He states with emphasis that “A 24 HOUR DAY IS NOT DEFINED IN THE BIBLE”.  Given the scriptures I have presented above, that is a ludicrous conclusion.  I have shown three clear examples where the Hebrew word yom contains both a day AND night period.  Since the entire foundation of his study is dependent on his incorrect conclusion the rest basically falls apart.





This is an extremely common argument, but really plays no significant role in the topic at all.  No sunset-sunset Sabbath keeper I know would have any problem acknowledging that the scriptures use both yom and hemera to define the daylight portion of the day. But, there are also occurrence where it speaks of a full day, including the night portion:


Matthew 16:21 – “From that time began Yeshua to show unto his disciples, that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up.”


We know from various passages of scripture, such as Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2, and John 20:1 that it was still dark when Yeshua had risen on the third “day”.  In other words, the sun had not yet risen before he was raised.  How can this be considered the third “day” if the daylight portion had not yet even started?!?  He was raised when it was still technically the nighttime portion.  Yet, Yeshua said he would be raised on the third day, not the third night.


Matthew 28:20 – “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”


“Always” in this verse is [not renderable] in the Greek, which is literally translated as “all the days.”  So, would the author really say that Yeshua is only with us during the daylight portion of the day?


Luke 9:23 – “And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”


The word daily is [not renderable] in the Greek, a form of hemera.  Are we to only take up our cross and follow after Yeshua during daylight hours?


Hebrews 8:9 – “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers In the daythat I took them by the hand to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt; For they continued not in my covenant, And I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”


Anyone who is familiar with the Passover story knows that the children of Israel were not brought out of Egypt during the daylight hours.  They started their exodus at midnight.  Yet, Yahweh himself says this is a “day”.


Arguing against his quotes from the commentator is irrelevant since the scriptures above clarify all by themselves that hemera isn’t limited to the 12 daylight hours.



(SIDE NOTE: He says he is founding a lot of his studies in the scriptures, yet the weight of his arguments are brought from the opinions of various commentators.  Since commentators historically have a tendency to disagree with one another on several fronts, this foundation is hardly strong)





The author makes a big deal about the word “day” being attached to the word “Sabbath” as if this is intended to specify something.  To destroy the argument one only needs to present a passage(s) where the Sabbath is referred to without the “day” in it:


Isaiah 56:6-7 – “Also the foreigners that join themselves to Yahweh, to minister unto him, and to love the name of Yahweh, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from profaning it, and holdeth fast my covenant;  7  even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”


Nehemiah 9:13-15 – “Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments,  14  and madest known unto them thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst them commandments, and statutes, and a law, by Moses thy servant,  15  and gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and commandedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.”


Here we clearly see “the Sabbath” without the word day.  Did Yahweh change his intent by “Sabbath” by removing the word “day,” making it more expansive?  Or, is the interpretation consistent throughout – that the Sabbath “day” is a 24 hour period?


But, perhaps the most stunningly clear example of the fullness of the Sabbath can be found in the post-exilic book of Nehemiah.  Nehemiah, a leader appointed directly by Yahweh for the restoration of the religion and commonwealth of Israel, shows us exactly when the Sabbath begins.


Nehemiah 13:15-22 – “In those days saw I in Judah some men treading wine-presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses therewith; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.  16  There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, who brought in fish, and all manner of wares, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.  17  Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, ‘What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day?  18  Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.’  19  And it came to pass that, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath: and some of my servants set I over the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day.  20  So the merchants and sellers of all kind of wares lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.  21  Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the Sabbath.  22  And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember unto me, O my God, this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy lovingkindness.”


There are a couple points of enormous significance in this passage:


1)      The phrases “the Sabbath” and “the Sabbath Day” are equated to one anotherseveral times, so we know they are speaking of the exact same period of time.

2)      The start of “the Sabbath” (i.e. “the Sabbath Day”) began just after darkness was coming upon the gates.  This obviously occurs as the sun is setting, not rising.


So, Nehemiah commanded the gates of Jerusalem be closed, to avoid profaning the Sabbath, before the sun set!  As darkness was coming upon the gates he ordered the servants that they should close them.  Now, here are some other interesting things we can discern from this:


1)      If engaging in “business as usual” activities was perfectly acceptable to Yahweh until the sunrise on the 7th daylight portion of the week, why would Nehemiah be so convicted about closing the gates before sunset?  He was relating their carrying of burdens in and out of the gates to profaning the Sabbath as their fathers did.  If carrying these burdens, et al, was not wrong, why would he condemn it?

2)      Following along with #1…if Nehemiah in fact ordered the gates closed in contradiction to Torah, he would have succeeded in adding to the word of Yahweh in direct violation of Dt. 4:2 and 12:32.  In addition, this action would essentially have made Nehemiah the first “Pharisee” placing undo burdens upon the people.


Since I don’t believe that Nehemiah was leading the people astray, rather that he was restoring original worship to how it was intended at the first, I believe his command to close the gates near sunset immediately before the start of “the Sabbath” is a reflection of the original Torah command in action.  Need we more proof?





The author says: “The third thing that God says is, "And the EVENING and the MORNING were the first DAY (LIGHT)." God has already told us that (1) LIGHT = DAY and that (2) DARKNESS = NIGHT. Does He all of a sudden, change His mind within this same verse to tell us that a day begins at EVENING? No. He is simply telling us that in His definition of a DAY, that He considers both EVENING AND MORNING LIGHT. "And the EVENING and the MORNING were the first DAY (LIGHT). You will note that NIGHT is NOT mentioned here at all, because NIGHT = DARKNESS and EVENING AND MORNING = LIGHT and are a part of the 12 HOUR DAY.


Once again this is overall a fruitless argument as it all depends on subjectivity.  He, based on his conclusions, chooses to interpret “the first day” as the portion of the day that contains the “evening and morning.”  I, however, choose to interpret “evening and morning” as a statement defining the order of a 24-hour day (i.e. the evening comes first, then the day; then the subsequent evening period would begin the next day).  Because of this, when I read “and there was evening and there was morning, the first day” I understand it as “there was evening (and its subsequent hours) and there was morning (and its subsequent hours till next evening), the first day”.


This, like many things, is a matter of interpretation.  Because the scriptures here are unclear in themselves they must be interpreted by what is clear.  I have show said clearer scriptures above.



Additional Point(s)


1 Samuel 20 speaks of the time of a “new moon.”  I have gone over what a scriptural “new moon” is in a previous email string to you.  The new moon is the first visible crescent at sunset.  Verses 5 and 18 would seem to imply that the word “tomorrow” can be used to refer to the beginning of the new moon (which would obviously start after sundown at the viewing of the moon). 


Thoughts on any of the above?  (especially the passage in Nehemiah)


Blessings and Shalom, A.


My Reply 

Genesis 1:5 

God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. 

G     There is no comma after evening. So it says "There was evening. There was morning. Day one."       

       Thus, "day" is the daylight period.  

      You do agree it has that meaning, and most of the verses you cite use it both ways in the very same sentence!    


              From Leviticus 23:32 you cite "Even unto even" keep the sabbath but this is the Atonement Sabbath which the author whom I mentioned discussed at length. You did not address that I alluded to his contention, and then you did not rebut him. (Perhaps you can.) I wrote at Sabbath Command: 


Importantly, the author explains that Lev. 23:32 is not support for including the prior evening in the weekly Sabbath rest. That verse instead addresses the Day of Atonement, and how it is measured. Id. The 12 hour sabbath is at 23:3 but the annual 24 hour sabbath is in 23:32 which takes in parts of 2 days, and all of one night.


        Please take a look at what he says, and then see if it is not a good explanation. I will excerpt a portion, although it does not do justice to his long explanation:


When does this SABBATH/FAST BEGIN? In the NINTH day of the month at EVEN and it ends on the TENTH day at EVEN. In other words this Sabbath/Fast falls on 2 DIFFERENT DAYS. Why? Because a Sabbath is NOT LIMITED TO A SINGLE DAY.... Therefore the ANNUAL Sabbath of Leviticus 23:32 BEGINS AT THE TAIL END OF THE NINTH DAY AT EVEN, BECAUSE EVENING IS NOT THE BEGINNING OF A NEW DAY. And you will recall that the Evening is still the same day as the afternoon that comes before it. (Mark 4:35, John 20:19).  http://www.12hoursabbath.com/ 


        I am not adverse to taking more rest than required - trust me... but I think competing readings when Genesis 1:5 is clear and specific have to be just as clear and specific. Because the Atonement rule is for a distinct necessity clearly explained by 12hoursabbath website, but this is not true (so it appears so far) of the weekly sabbath, then one can see that Lev 23:32 is actually a disproof the weekly sabbath is the same, or it would be stated the same crystal-clear way. In other words, if God can explain the Atonement sabbath one way, then God could have defined the weekly sabbath the same way but God apparently did not. (Or is there a command on the weekly sabbath which is just as clear?)


         Because you even agree that "day" has both the light meaning and 24 hour meaning in the Bible (besides an epoch meaning in Jeremiah, which that passage says, I believe - see post-script) and all your examples are where "day" is used in both senses in the same verse, it is a debatable point. One thing we are 100% sure of -- it AT LEAST means the daylight period. 

        For myself, because our rest is to model on the Lord's rest, the key is Genesis 2:2

 v2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy,because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. 

     So God rested on the seventh day. Do you believe (you might) that God had worked during the nights of the preceding 24 hour cycles? Perhaps, but it appears odd for God to work in the darkness when He is full of light. Hence, I assume God did not work in any of the darkness period of night that preceded the seventh day -- of daylight. When dawn broke on the Sa bbath, God determined to rest from what would have been His pattern of toil as He had done on the prior six daylight periods.  

Thus, if God's behavior is our model, then I do think the way 2:2 is worded intends us to replicate the same resolve each Sabbath day (morning) and do not take up our normal work for those 12 daylight hours. 

Fo  I also think that such joy is more meaningful when the sun comes out than when the sun goes down. I know that would not overcome a clear Bible passage, but it is the kid in me that thinks of morning as Joyous, and not nightfall.





D      Doug
       You read "day" in Jeremiah to begin at night and therefore "day" there means 24 hours beginning at night. There the verse is in its indefinite epoch sense -- In the "day" I took them is not saying the "taking" began at night of a single Yom. It spanned an indeterminate length of time. Just like elsewhere, we read, "In the day of wrath"  where it means an indefinite period of wrath, and not something that expires in precisely 24 hours. But even if you were correct, it is just another example where "day" can mean both "day" and "night," and not just "day." YOM is a highly ambiguous term in the Bible.
      Here is a list of NASB translations of YOM to prove the utter flexibitlity of the term:
afternoon* (1), age (8), age* (1), all (1), always* (14), amount* (2), battle (1), birthday* (1), Chronicles* (38), completely* (1), continually* (14), course* (1), daily (22), daily the days (1), day (1115), day of the days (1), day that the period (1), day's (6), day's every day (1), daylight* (1), days (635), days on the day (1), days to day (1), days you shall daily (1), days ago (1), days' (11), each (1), each day (4), entire (2), eternity (1), evening* (1), ever in your life* (1), every day (2), fate (1), first (5), forever* (11), forevermore* (1), full (5), full year (1), future* (1), holiday* (3), later* (2), length (1), life (12), life* (1), lifetime (2), lifetime* (1), live (1), long (2), long as i live (1), long* (11), midday* (1), now (5), older* (1), once (2), period (3), perpetually* (2), present (1), recently (1), reigns (1), ripe* (1), short-lived* (1), so long* (1), some time (1), survived* (2), time (45), time* (1), times* (2), today (172), today* (1), usual (1), very old* (1), when (10), when the days (1), whenever (1), while (3), whole (2), year (10), yearly (5), years (13), yesterday* (1).

Adam's Reply


Hey Doug,


A conclusion that can be drawn from what you said below is exactly what I have already stated.  The word “yom” in Hebrew can mean many different things.  It is, therefore, one where context is everything.


I am very well aware of the translation of Genesis 1:5 as I am in the process of my own translation.  Here is what I have:


[Hebrew text that does not reproduce here.]



Literally translated: “And Elohim called to the light, “day,” and to the darkness He called “night.”  And it was evening and it was morning, day one.” (Layman’s Literal Translation)


The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter how you slice it, “yom echad” or “day one” contained an “evening” and “morning” period.  And, if we are to take the text literally, which I prefer to do (obviously), they would have occurred in that order.  It is irrelevant whether we “feel” like the daylight period should start first, what matters is the commands and examples we have in scripture.  Here we have an order in the Hebrew text provided with no uncertainty.  The first, and all subsequent days, passed with an evening period first, then a morning period.


I am also aware of the author’s argument against Leviticus 23:32 being used for relation to the Sabbath.  But, if you read closely, that was not my intent in bringing up that passage.  Much of the author’s argument lies in his “LIGHT=DAY” concept.  My referencing of the Day of Atonements was to clarify another meaning of the word “day”.  In other words, the “Day of Atonements” is NEVER called the “Days of Atonements”.  It refers to events which are to take place in one yom, one day.  This same yom consisted of an evening to evening period.  Thus, the word yom can unquestionably refer to a full 24-hour period. 


The question as to why Yahweh didn’t specify an “evening to evening” command for any other high day is the same as asking “Why didn’t Yahweh just say name the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 ‘Yeshua’ to make it perfectly clear?”  He didn’t because he didn’t want to…simple as that.  But, its lack of inclusion in the text doesn’t excuse non-observance if other clear examples/commands exist. 


Let’s take every single example of a clean/unclean law in the Torah. When and if a person becomes unclean while in the camp by anything that makes one ritually unclean, say touching a dead body, they were to go outside the camp.  But, when were they allowed to come back in (after bathing)?  AT EVENING!  It wasn’t once the sun rose shedding light upon a new daylight period.  It was when the next scriptural day began at sundown that they were allowed to re-enter the camp.  If it is not that, the demarcation point of “at evening” makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  It cannot be argued that it was potentially “dangerous” outside of the camp because lepers were required to stay outside of the camp for a period of 7 days minimum (Leviticus 13).  If danger were an issue, they would be commanded to re-enter the camp at evening, then exit it again at morning.  The simple conclusion is that evening started a new day, and therefore a renewal of their ritual cleanliness.


You never addressed the clearest examples that we have in scripture though.  Check out the following two passages:


Jeremiah 17:19-27 – “Thus said Yahweh unto me: Go, and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;  20  and say unto them, Hear ye the word of Yahweh, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:  21  Thus saith Yahweh, Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;  22  neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work: but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.  23  But they hearkened not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, and might not receive instruction.  24  And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith Yahweh, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but to hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;  25  then shall there enter in by the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city shall remain for ever.  26  And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places round about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the lowland, and from the hill-country, and from the South, bringing burnt-offerings, and sacrifices, and meal-offerings, and frankincense, and bringing sacrifices of thanksgiving, unto the house of Yahweh.  27  But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden and enter in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.”



Nehemiah 13:15-22 – “In those days saw I in Judah some men treading wine-presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses therewith; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.  16  There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, who brought in fish, and all manner of wares, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.  17  Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, ‘What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day?  18  Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? [which was prophesied by Jeremiah above, and fulfilled] yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.’  19  And it came to pass that, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath: and some of my servants set I over the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day.  20  So the merchants and sellers of all kind of wares lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.  21  Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the Sabbath.  22  And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember unto me, O my God, this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy lovingkindness.”

It cannot possibly get any clearer than this.  Let me break it down:


1)      Yahweh, through Jeremiah the prophet, commanded that the children of Israel bear NO burden on the Sabbath “day”.

2)      The penalty for profaning this Sabbath “day” was that the gates of Jerusalem would be burned and the palaces destroyed.

3)      The people of Israel refused to repent and turn from their profaning of the Sabbath “day” and as a result Yahweh brought Nebuchadnezzar through to destroy them and bring them into exile in Babylon…time then passes…

4)      Nehemiah, the one chosen by Yahweh to restore Jerusalem and Israel to its proper scriptural order, led the children of Israel from captivity back to their land.

5)      The people once again started to profane the Sabbath by carrying loads in and out of the gates.

6)      Nehemiah references the exact same prophecy given by Jeremiah to their fathers in the past, which caused the destruction of the gates and city in the first place.

7)      To prevent this exact same profaning of the Sabbath, Nehemiah ordered the gates shut before sunset, just before the Sabbath “day” was to begin.

8)      His ordering of the shutting of the gates before sunset would be completely and totally pointless, not to mention an addition to the Torah (in direct violation of it), if the Sabbath “day” didn’t begin immediately after that sunset.


Nehemiah’s direction wasn’t just one of over-protection or superstition.  His fathers in the past committed the exact same sin of profaning the Sabbath.  They profaned it by bearing burdens and bringing loads in and out of the gates on the Sabbath “day”, both the dark and light portions of the day.  If profaning the Sabbath only meant bringing these loads in and out during the daylight period, Nehemiah would have ordered the gates shut just before sunrise, not before sunset.


How can you respond to these extremely clear verses without acknowledging that the Sabbath “day” includes the portion of the night proceeding the 12-hour daylight portion?


Blessings and Shalom,




PS – Another argument exists from logic…Why the HECK would anyone strive to argue to rest LESS?!?!?  I mean, really?  Do we really need/want to work that much that we have to argue for 12 hours more work time each week?  I find it kind of comical J.



 MY NOTE / DOUG's NOTE ON THIS PS: This reference to it being simply "comical"  to reject this underscores a defect in interpretation. Instead, we must put the Sabbath command back into its original context. It was a death penalty for a violator, and thus this is not a light-hearted issue as the words were intended originally to be read knowing the consequences were severe. See my article: "Delicate Construction Required of Law Given Moses."


 My Reply


God's purpose of having enigmas about Messiah is to find those who have 'ears to hear' -- who will hear the voice of the Master and recognize him. The enigma is a test of faith.

But omitting 'evening to evening' in a sabbath command is not a test of one's faith - but leaves the matter one of construction. As God felt it OK to be clear in the Atonement Sabbath, why would He not be just as clear with the weekly Sabbath?

I do agree that my feelings about whether God was creating in the darkness being unpalatable is just my gut. However, in light of proper construction supporting the same view, I am reluctant to expand the command beyond the Gen. 1:5 version of 'day."

You are right that Gen 1:5 uses day one way but there are many verses where it has other meanings, and even a cycle of day and night. The command to stay away for a lepper "seven days" beginning at 'evening' does not tell us anything about the nature of 'days' -- it starts at the night before the first day is a proper interpretation. 

Jeremiah 17 has nothing about evening as part of the Sabbath day. You then say "compare" Nehemiah but I have two comments.
First, Nehemiah is not prophesying, and  he supervised a lot of misconceptions by the people who took a vow to expel all foreigners from the land, misinterpreting the command about edomites to apply universally. Nehemiah is not a prophet in everything he does or says. He is the first example of misreading the life-actions of a prophet as themselves prophetic activity from God.
Second, Nehemiah's closing the doors as darkness fell before the Sabbath does not tell us that the night period is the "day" when rest began. But to guard against a violation in the coming morning -- day -- I would do the same thing. Yet, again, even if Nehemiah did this, Nehemiah is a very interesting case of a prophet whose actions with the people were highly detrimental spiritually to the Gentiles who under his supervision were entirely and in violation of the Law expelled. See my article Sabbath - What About Doing Commerce With Neighbors Outside Our Spiritual Community.

Thus, I come back to Lev 23 as what strongly supports my interpretation. God knows how to use the term 'evening,' but does not use it with the weekly Sabbath command. That is when the 'even to even' of Lev 23 is actually help to construe the correct reading of the Sabbath command.

 As a hedge around the Law, arguably one can exhort rest on the night before the day period of Sabbath. But those hedges have to be identified to people as a hedge -- that we are teaching that to safeguard the day-rest period like Nehemiah did, let's begin our rest earlier so that not by accident we violate the Sabbath day rest required by God.  

But once one goes down the road to hedges, what happens to commands like keeping Edomites out of the Temple? Do we make the same mistake as the people did under Nehemiah and expel all non-Jews from salvation? The hedging principle was proven wrong under Nehemiah as to Gentiles. One must wonder whether Nehemiah's hedging principle to close the gates at the darkness before the sabbath day was wrong as well?

Just asking...



My Friend's Reply


You call them “hedges”, I call it “truth”.  If they were indeed hedges, then you must admit that Nehemiah would be condemned by Yeshua if living in his day for being a Pharisaical ruler.  Let’s not forget that Yeshua condemned the “addition” to the torah that the Pharisees did.  They commanded certain things (i.e. the washing of hands) as though they were the commands of Yahweh.  Nehemiah would be guilty of exact same thing, if not WORSE (the Sabbath is a greater command than hand washing).


I choose to believe that Nehemiah was indeed a leader appointed by Yeshua.  Did I call him a prophet?  You will not find that I did, nor do I believe he was.  What I do believe, however, is that he was a leader called out by Elohim to lead the people back from Exile into proper Torah observance.  Yahweh caused them to find the book of the Torah again and they rejoiced because of it.  They observed the feast of booths in a way that hadn’t been done since the days of Joshua the son of Nun (Neh. 8:17).  Yahweh was bringing His children out of exile into obedience.


I don’t see a leader like Nehemiah, zealous for his Elohim, going WAY overboard by adding things to the Torah that weren’t there.  Yahweh, through Yeshua, condemned the Pharisees for doing that, Nehemiah wouldn’t have been exempt.  (in fact, in the study you linked to you state “The people whom Nehemiah describes are in fact violating the Law by exceeding its principles”).  Are you calling Nehemiah a violator of the law then?


If you can provide ANY historical data whereby the children of Israel observed a 12-hour Sabbath I would LOVE to see it, though I doubt it exists.  A day is a day is a day.  The example of the leper wasn’t when their “putting out” began, it is when it ended.  It always ended at evening.  A new day starts then, hence a fresh time of cleanliness.


I could not disagree more with your conclusions in the “Sabbath Law: What About Engaging in Commerce with Neighbors Outside Spiritual Community?” article.  As I can see that your mind is pretty made up on the Sabbath issue(s) I will only address the specific points briefly showing my disagreements:


1)      Conducting business with anyone on Shabbat, regardless of whether it is in the assembly or without, causes YOU to work, which is a violation.  It is irrelevant what it causes an outsider to do.  If YOU are working, you are profaning the Sabbath.

2)      You are completely wrong in your interpretation that the “assembly of Yahweh” is equal to the “temple of Yahweh.”  Deuteronomy 23:3 says “An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of YAhweh; even to the tenth generation shall none belonging to them enter into the assembly of Yahweh forever.”  The temple hadn’t been built, nor are there any commands in the Torah that govern temple construction at all.  So, the temple could in no way be referred to here.  Here are some examples of what the “assembly” is (NASB):

a.       Genesis 28:3 – “company” of peoples (see also 48:4)

b.      Genesis 25:11 – “company” of nations

c.       Exodus 12:6 – “assembly” of the congregation (this is pre-temple, and pre-tabernacle…and therefore cannot refer to either)

d.      Exodus 16:3 – whole “assembly” (speaking of the people)

e.      Leviticus 4:13 – notice of the “assembly” (neither the temple nor tabernacle can “notice” anything, they are inanimate)

f.        Deuteronomy 31:30 – all the “assembly” of Israel

The “assembly” of Yahweh is the people, not a building.  So, though the people in Nehemiah shouldn’t exclude all persons from the assembly, they would definitely have been right in excluding Ammonites and Moabites.  The were

3)      Simply put…the NIV sucks, don’t use it! (my two cents J)  They translate the latter part of Neh. 13:3 as “they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent”.  This is a mistranslation and misinterpretation of the word used for “excluded”.  The verb badal means “to divide/separate.”  It does NOT mean to exclude (as in prevent from assemblage).  There is a different verb for that, nadah (SH5077) (See 2 Kin. 17:21, Isa. 66:5, Amo. 6:3).  A more literal translation is found in the ASV: “that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.”  They didn’t exclude them from the assembly permanently (unless they were Ammonites or Moabites).  In Dt. 23:7-8 we are told that Edomites and Egyptians are totally permitted to enter the assembly of Yahweh (after the 3rd generation).  I don’t believe Nehemiah or the people wereexcluding them, they were merely separating themselves from them, which isn’t a sin or violation of Torah.

4)      Thus, your argument about Gentiles being allowed in the temple, though correct, is moot.  There is no scripture that excludes them from the temple (besides the whole circumcision thing).


I again find it kind of comical that you have gone to such degrees to permit certain actions on the Sabbath.  I have seen zero historical record to give credence to your opinion.  Do you have any to offer whatsoever?  I mean do you have one single shred of historical evidence that shows that the Jews EVER thought it acceptable to do business with ANYONE on Shabbat? 


From your view, an Israelite back in the day could have left Israel on Sabbath, went to a foreign market and bought as much as he could possibly buy all day long. No worship…no convocation…no rest…just causing other people to work all day long. This is absolutely ludicrous (if indeed that is what you are saying) and completely unfounded in history (according to my present knowledge).   He would be the hugest hypocrite in the world by proclaiming his rest on Shabbat while causing others to work at the same time.


Part of your message shows a concern for banishing outsiders from Israel permanently.  What kind of example would that kind of behavior be to someone who is non-torah observant?  It would totally make them think that they can make anyone work on the day they are commanded to rest.  What kind of witness is that?  “Hey, I am commanded to rest on this day!  But, you have to work as hard as it takes, lifting whatever loads necessary, cooking whatever foods necessary, etc, to serve ME on this day!  Don’t you want to be a part of this faith so you can make others do the same thing?”  I mock, partly…but can you see how silly that sounds?  We would tell others that it is against Yahweh’s commands to profane the Sabbath, all the while being okay with participating in and causing others to profane the Sabbath…does that really sit well with you?


Our obedience to the Sabbath isn’t just for us.  We would succeed in setting horrible examples to the world we are ministering the truth to if we say we are forbidden to work on that day, while at the same time causing them to work.  I did that when I first came to the faith in the Sabbath, and was an ignorant hypocrite for doing it.


I have been observing the Sabbath now for almost 10 years (wow!, time flies).  What I can say is what conclusions that I have come to.  This, unfortunately, is going to be one of those “agree to disagree” areas for us it seems.  I 100% believe the Sabbath is at least 24 hours long, begins at or near sunset, and no work at all ([Hebrew letters that do not reproduce on this webpage])(Leviticus 23:3) is allowed, including any work we force “outsiders” to do as a result of our actions.  Obviously the Torah places emphasis on life and health, so any “ox in the ditch” situations will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.  But, I see no significant scriptural or historical proof that would sway me, or should sway anyone from observing a full day of complete rest (Shabbat shabbaton) on the 7th day.


Fullest Blessings,


My Reply


I just want to plant a thought and then when I write later, it will make more sense why I am being a stickler.
Violation of sabbath is a death penalty offense under the Law. Thus, hedges are reasonoable human ways of not getting near a death-penalty. However, because it is a death penalty law, when examining an actual violation, one must strictly adhere to the Law's words, and go no further. So if one meaning -- 12 hours -- is narrower, and there is no clear indication of 24 hours -- a completely valid alternative meaning, the better approach in construing a death-penalty provision is to not take a man's life without the clearest possible indication from God to do so. Otherwise, we who engage in an unjustified judicial killing (or spiritual condemnation) become guilty of murder. A hedge may be a wise teaching in light of the  threat of death and possible spiritual death. But it means we need to not read broadly but narrowly such provisions. And distinguish for our listener the concept of a hedge versus that of a violation.
This issue can be seen in the incident where Jesus spoke to the woman allegedly caught in adultery. (This is alluded to in the ancient GATHM as well.) Jesus was being a stickler for the letter of the Law. The law required 2 witnesses. In the Sanhedrin procedure book, it identifies that before the witnesses testified, there was a qualification procedure. The 2 witnesses were examined to determine if they were "without sin," and hence credible. So when Jesus came on a crowd about to throw stones at the woman, things were amiss. Where were the 2 witnesses "without sin" who were eyeball witnesses of her misdeed (not circumstantial evidence)?
The rule of eye-witness testimony is another way the Law restricts the likelihood of a death penalty ever applying to most crimes -- no circumstantial evidence as we permit applies.
So Jesus says to the crowd, "he who is without sin, throw the first stone" -- the exact letter of the Law applicable to the 2 witnesses who testify -- they must throw the first stones. Jesus said this not because she was innocent, but because the letter of the Law is a guard against using it to kill people unless the strictest letter of the Law requires it. 
Hence, all our interpretations of sabbath and commerce on sabbath have to be with this in mind, for the words we are interpreting held physical execution as the original penalty. The penalty is transferred now to God's hands spiritually, but He is not going to interpret today any differently than He expected Moses and the magistrates that followed him to apply.
So when I do respond, bear in mind there is no small consequence when we accuse someone of violating the Law, and making their life turn on whether an ambiguous word like YOM should be applied in its broadest or most narrow sense. What did God expect Moses to understand when He gave Moses the command where its violation was physical death? I fully anticipate the teachers gave the people hedges -- start early on Friday night to be safe. But if the issue was whether there was a violation, and someone picked up sticks at night to light a fire, would you have killed him? 
Or would you say the word YOM in Genesis 1:5 says "day" is daylight? In Exodus 20:10, it never says rest on the "Sabbath," but says instead to rest on the "seventh yom" -- a "Sabbath to the Lord." Why would it be so precise? http://biblos.com/exodus/20-10.htm 
I have more comments on what you wrote, but I wanted to ask you to please think about the above in anticipation of my getting back to you later. 
Blessings, and Shalom

My Friend's Reply


This, like many things, is a matter of interpretation.  Because the scriptures here are unclear in themselves they must be interpreted by what is clear.  I have show said clearer scriptures above.

Additional Point(s)

1 Samuel 20 speaks of the time of a “new moon.”  I have gone over what a scriptural “new moon” is in a previous email string to you.  The new moon is the first visible crescent at sunset.  Verses 5 and 18 would seem to imply that the word “tomorrow” can be used to refer to the beginning of the new moon (which would obviously start after sundown at the viewing of the moon). 

Thoughts on any of the above?  (especially the passage in Nehemiah)

Blessings and Shalom,

My Friend's Further Reply



Hey Doug,

I anticipate your coming email!  J

I can already for see that much of our discourse is going to be based on something you said: “So if one meaning -- 12 hours -- is narrower, and there is no clear indication of 24 hours.”  This is where the crux of the issue lies, in my opinion.  I believe that there IS clear indication of 24 hours, whereas you do not.  Since this point is at this time irreconcilable I don’t see how fruitful further discussion on the topic will end up being.  I have already stated that I 100% believe that “daylight” is a valid alternative meaning of yom.  However, its meaning is hardly limited to that (as you so succinctly quoted from the NASEC). 


I understand, and for the most part agree with your desire to adhere solely to the text of the Torah for judgment purposes.  I do this as well.  However, we cannot bury our heads in the sand and pretend like the prophets and leaders didn’t come from Yahweh.  There are several things in the Torah that we only have more intimate knowledge of due to tradition today (with no specific command).  For instance, Num. 15:38-39 commands us to wear tassels on the four corners of our garments to remember the commandments.  I suspect that this is one of the commands that you do not feel is necessary for Gentiles, though I disagree.


What we are NOT told in this command is what the tassels are supposed to look like, what type of material they were to be made from, what animals the dye for the blue cord was able to come from, etc.  Another example is found in Dt. 17:17 where kings are restricted from multiplying many wives to themselves.  Now, we know that the most famous king of Israel, the one through whom the very Messiah would come, David, had multiple wives.  He had at least 7 wives.  Now, to you and I this would definitely be considered “multiplying” wives to oneself.  But, obviously this wasn’t a breach of the command.  On the other side, however, Solomon had hundreds of wives, and hundreds of concubines.  These ended up leading him into idolatry and the splitting of the nation of Israel into two.  So, clearly he was in breach of the command.  But, since there is no fixed number in the Torah, we can’t make a strict judgment on that point.  The testimony of the prophets and some traditions help us to pinpoint some of this stuff.


We know that Yahweh changes not (Mal. 3:6).  So, with that in mind, we know that if bearing a burden and doing commerce on the Sabbath (i.e. causing others to work included) was enough for him to bring wrath and destruction in Jeremiah’s day, it would have been enough in Moses’ day, just like it would have been enough in Nehemiah’s day. 


I understand where you are trying to go with Nehemiah putting hedges around the Torah.  But, again, you have to be willing to call him a Pharisee to do so.  Nehemiah’s order to the keepers of the gates was not just an idle one.  It was a “hey guys, you did this crap in the past and look what happened to the city last time” kind of order.  He wasn’t referencing history just to make a new hedge around the Torah.  He was referencing history to draw a parallel between what the Israelites of the past did to bring Yahweh’s wrath upon them and what the people before him were doing.  His reference to the wrath of Yahweh in the past served as a clear threat of what would happen again if they continued to profane the Sabbath.  If indeed the 12 hour Sabbath were true, he would have been “teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” by enforcing anything other than a strict 12 hour Sabbath.  He wasn’t threatening just the punishment of man, he was threatening the punishment and judgment of Elohim.


You seem to choose to believe that Nehemiah was doing this, I choose to believe he was a faithful and obedient servant of Yahweh who did NOT add to or take away from the word.


Just to cross check myself in my understanding of commerce on Sabbath I asked another trusted brother what he thought about engaging in commerce with non-spiritual-Israelites on Shabbat.  The first words from his mouth were “What kind of witness is that?!?”  I found it interesting that the first words from his mouth were the first thoughts in my mind when I read through your study.  To think that we could go to a restaurant on Sabbath, and watch a chef slave over a hot stove to make us a meal, when we wouldn’t do the same thing for them on that day is just silly (to put it lightly), in my opinion.  To think that we could go to Walmart and have two workers carry a 200 lb weight set out to our truck for us on Sabbath when we wouldn’t bear a load out of our homes is again, silly.  Our light in those instances is indeed darkness.  They don’t see the truth of rest on Sabbath through us, they see a façade. 


I urge you to consider the following arguments in your search as well:


1)      You asked previously if I believed Yahweh only worked during the “daylight” portion of creation week.  My answer, no.  Why?  Because “daylight,” as you reference it, didn’t exist until the 4th day.  I, personally, do NOT believe that the “light” created on day one is the light of the sun, moon, and stars.  These weren’t created until day 4, so technically there was no “daylight” (light from the sun) upon the earth until then.  So, to restrict the Sabbath day to a 12-hour portion of sunlightbased on the Genesis yom usages just doesn’t fly.  Days 1-3 reference an evening-morning sequence before the sun even existed.

2)      Gen 2:17 – “the day you eat of it you shall surely die”- Does this mean that eating the fruit of the tree during a midnight stroll through the garden was acceptable?

3)      Gen 3:14 – “all the days of your life”- Does this mean that curse of the serpent was lifted at night?

4)      Gen 6:4 – “on the earth in those days”- did the fallen ones (Nephilim) only come to the earth in the daylight portion?

5)      Gen 10:25 – “in his days the earth was divided”- was the earth united during hisnights?

6)      Gen 15:17-18 reads, “And it happened, the sun had gone down, and it was dark. Behold! A smoking furnace and a torch of fire that passed between those pieces!  18  On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, I have given this land to your seed, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”  The sun was set at the time of this sign to Abraham.  And yet the text of the Torah says in that “day” Yahweh made a covenant with him.

7)      Gen 26:1 – “in the days of Abraham”- was there only famine during the day and not the night?

8)      Ex 10:22 – “And Moses stretched out his hand to the heavens, and darkness of gloom was in all the land of Egypt three days.”  This darkness was so thick it could be felt (10:21).  It is unlikely that any “daylight” was seen during this time.  Did the thick darkness lift during the nighttime period?

9)      Ex. 12:17 – “this very day”- Compare with Ex. 12:29-31 where the children of Israel left after midnight on the 15th of the first month.  This was not during the “daylight” portion, yet was still called a “day”.

10)   Ex. 12:41 – “it happened on this day all the armies of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt”- yet, it did not happen during the “day”, it happened at night. (cf. 12:51)

11)   Ex 23:15 – “seven days”- Are we permitted to eat leavened bread at night?

12)   Ex 24:16 – “and the cloud covered it six days”- did the cloud disappear at night?

13)   Num 3:13 – “For every first-born is Mine, from the day I struck every first-born in the land of Egypt, I have set apart to Myself every first-born in Israel, from men to animal. They are Mine. I am Yahweh.”   Yahweh didn’t strike the firstborn during the “daylight” portion of a day, he struck them at midnight.  Yet, this is still a yom in his eyes.

14)   Num 6:4 – “all the days of his separation” – was a nazarite allowed to drink wine at night?


Long story short…yom means more than just 12 hours in the daylight.  I will observe the Sabbath as the prophets did and as Yahweh restored through Nehemiah, and as all recorded history we have in Yeshua’s day testifies to – from Friday around sunset through Saturday around sunset.  I see no other option that aligns with Torah, the Prophets, Yeshua, History, and tradition (good tradition, not evil).


On another note, I am glad that we agree on the adultery story in the Gospels.  There is another reason that something was up with that accusation as well.  Both the woman AND the man were supposed to be brought if they were caught in the act of adultery.  But, in that case, only the woman was brought.  This was already against Torah from the outset and should have raised major suspicion in everyone witnessing it.  The Torah was not followed in that case, you are absolutely right!  I believe Nehemiah, as a part of the Hebrew culture for decades, and about 2,400 years closer to the giving of the Torah and the than we are, likely knew better what the true Sabbath was.  We would be wise to follow his directions if they do not contradict Torah, and indeed they do not.


My two cents (okay, maybe three! J ).




My Reply



Teaching as the law what is truly the doctrines of men was the error of the Pharisee, not merely teaching the doctrines of men. A hedge is not the same as what the Pharisees did. A hedge teaching openly declares this is a doctrine  of men so as to guard against the violation of the law which is certain . It confesses there is a possible ambiguity in the law, but the hedge is not foisted on the community as what the law certainly teaches. The hedge is proposed instead as a means the community guards against certain violation. But no one is condemned to death physically or spiritually for violating the hedge.  That is potentially murder ... a violation no less of the same law which gives us the sabbath command. I am guarding myself from murdering in my mind those whose acts are potentially innocent. So my behavior is the same as you, but my conscience on Friday night is not in fear of judgment of violating Sabbath for if it were otherwise I would harshly be judging brothers as potentially Sabbath violators for Friday night behavior when God did not give me the clear right to proclaim their condemnation. So the murder command is what requires absolute certainty, and not mere arguments about yom's potential or even likely meaning. Interpreting the law has serious consequences, and must be carefully balanced...one command in light of another.

More later.
Shabbat shalom