The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia
Scriptural Dictionary

Fully Definning and Explaining all Religious Terms
Biographical, Geographical, Historical
Arcaeological and Doctrinal Themes

Edited by
RT. REV.Samuel Fallows, A.M., D, D., Ll. D.

Volume III

The Howard-Severance Company







ticular mode of reckoning by a historian, is no proof that it was used by the people, or in the times he is describing.

It is powerfully urged by the believers in a primitive Sabbath, that we find from time im-memorial the knowledge of a week of seven days among all nations--Egyptians, Arabians, Indians --in a word, all the nations of the East, have in all ages made use of this week of seven days, for which it is difficult to account without admitting that this knowledge was derived from the com-mon ancestors of the human race.

On the other side it is again denied that the reckoning of time by weeks implies any reference to a Sabbath. The division of time by weeks, as it is one of the most ancient and universal, so is it one of the most obvious inventions, especially among a rude people, whose calendar required no very nice adjustments. Among all early nations the lunar months were the readiest large divisions of time, and though the recurrence of the lunar period in about 29-1/2 days was incompatible with any exact subdivision, yet the nearest whole num-ber of days which could be subdivided into shorter periods, would be either thirty or twenty-eight; of which the latter would, of course, be adopted, as admitting of division into 4, cor-responding nearly to those striking phenomena, the phases or quarters of the moon. Each of these would palpably correspond to about a week; and in a period of about 5-1/2 lunations, the same phases would return very nearly to the same days of the week. In order to connect the reckoning by weeks with the lunar month, we find that all ancient nations observed some peculiar solemni-ties to mark the day of the new moon. Accord-ingly, in the Mosaic law the same thing was also enjoined (Num. x:Io; xxviii:II, etc.), though it is worthy of remark that, while particular observ-ances are here enjoined, the idea of celebrating the new moon in some way is alluded to as if already familiar to them.

In other parts of the Bible we find the Sab-baths and new moons continually spoken of in conjunction; as (Is. i:I3, etc.) the division of time by weeks prevailed all over the East, from the earliest periods among the Assyrians, Arabs, and Egyptians--to the latter people Dion Cassius ascribes its invention. It was found among the tribes in the interior of Africa by Oldendorf (Jahn's Arch. Bibl, art. 'Week'). The Peru-vians counted their months by the moon, their half-months by the increase and decrease of the moon, and the weeks by quarters, without having any particular names for the week days. Their cosmogony, however, does not include any refer-ence to a six days' creation (Garcilasso de la Vega, Hist. of the Incas, in Taylor's Nat. Hist. of Society, i:29I). The Peruvians, besides this, have a cycle of nine days, the approximate third part of a lunation (ib..p. 292), clearly showing the common origin of both. Possibly, also, the "nun-dinae" of the Romans may have had a similar origin.

The Mexicans had a period of five days (An-tonio de Solis, Conquest of Mexico, quoted by Norman on 'Yucatan,' p. 185). They had also periods of thirteen days; their year was solar, divided into eighteen months of twenty days each, and five added (Laplace, Hist. d'Astron. p. 65). Some writers, as Acosta and Baron Humboldt, have attributed the origin of the week to the names of the primary planets as known to the an-cients. It is certain that the application of the names of the planets to the days originated in the astrological notion, that each planet in order pre-


sided over the hours of the day; this we learn expressly from Dion Cassius (lib. xxvii). Ar-ranging the planets in the order of their distances from the earth, on the Ptolemaic system, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon—then e. g. Saturn presided over the first hour of Saturday; and assigning each planet to . an hour in succession, the twenty-second hour will fall to Saturn again, the twenty-third to Jupiter, the twenty-fourth to Mars; and thus the first hour of the next day would fall to the Sun, and so on. This mode of designation was adopted by the Greeks and Romans from the East, and is found among the Brahmins (see Useful Knowl-edge Society's Life of Galileo, p. 12; also Laplace, Precis de l'Hist, de l'Astron., p. 16).

Those who take the view adverse to the exist-ence of a primitive Sabbath, regard it as a cir-cumstance worthy of remark, that in the reestab-lishment of the human race, after the Flood, we find in Gen. ix a precise statement of the cov-enant which God is represented as making with Noah, in which, while several particulars are ad-verted to, no mention whatever is made of the Sabbath.

This will be the place also to mention, how-ever briefly, the extension of the idea of a sev-enth period of rest, in the institution of the Sab-batical Year; or the injunction of a fallow or ces-sation of tillage for the land every seventh year. Not only were the labors of agriculture sus-pended, but even the spontaneous productions of the earth were to be given to the poor, the trav-eler and the wild animals (see Lev. xxv:i-7; Deut. xv:i-io). This prohibition, however, did not extend to other labors or trades, which were still carried on. There was, however, in this year an extraodinary time devoted to the hearing of the law read through (see Deut. xxxi:io, 18). As Moses predicted (Lev. xxvi:34), this institu-tion was afterwards much neglected (2 Chron. xxxvi :21).

Closely connected with this was the observance of the year following seven Sabbatic years (i.e. the fiftieth year) called the year of Jubilee; but this has been fully treated under the article jubi-lee.

(3) The Christian Sabbath. The question as to the continued obligation of the Sabbath under the Christian dispensation is one on which great difference of opinion has been entertained, not only by Christian churches, but by theologians of the same church.

The Jewish prophets in several places de-scribe in lofty imagery a future condition of glory and prosperity, connected with the reign of the promised Messiah. These predictions are in a great degree conveyed under the literal repre-sentation of temporal grandeur, to be attained by the Jewish nation, and the restoration of their temple and worship to the highest pitch of splen-dor, while proselytes should come in from all na-tions, until the whole world should own its spir-itual sway (as Amos ix:ii; Micah iv:i; Zech. viii:20). In the course of these representations reference is made to the observance of Sabbaths (Is. lvi:6, 7; lxvi:23).

In the interpretation of these passages some difference of opinion has prevailed. The Jews themselves have always understood them in their strictly literal sense. Among Christians they have been regarded as literally predicting some future restoration of the people of Israel, or perhaps as applying in a first or literal sense to the temporal restitution of the Jews after the captivity (which was to a great degree fulfilled before the coming