(א) וַיְכֻלּ֛וּ הַשָּׁמַ֥יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ וְכָל־צְבָאָֽם׃ (ב) וַיְכַ֤ל אֱלֹהִים֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשָֽׂה׃ (ג) וַיְבָ֤רֶךְ אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת־י֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י וַיְקַדֵּ֖שׁ אֹת֑וֹ כִּ֣י ב֤וֹ שָׁבַת֙ מִכָּל־מְלַאכְתּ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים לַעֲשֽׂוֹת׃ (פ)
(1) The heaven and the earth were finished, and all their array. (2) On the seventh day God finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. (3) And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation that He had done.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath
To set apart one day a week for freedom, a day on which we would not use the instruments which have been so easily turned into weapons of destruction, a day for being with ourselves, a day of detachment from the vulgar, of independence of external obligations, a day on which we stop worshipping the idols of technical civilization, a day on which we use no money, a day of armistice in the economic struggle with our fellow men and the forces of nature—is there any institution that holds out a greater hope for man's progress than the Sabbath?
The solution of mankind's most vexing problem will not be found in renouncing technical civilization, but in attaining some degree of independence of it.
(ה) טוּרְנוֹסְרוּפּוּס הָרָשָׁע שָׁאַל אֶת רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, אָמַר מַה יּוֹם מִיּוֹמַיִם,
אֲמַר לֵיהּ וּמַה גְּבַר מִן גּוּבְרִין.
אֲמַר מָה אֲמָרִית לָךְ, וּמָה אֲמַרְתְּ לִי.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ אֲמַרְתְּ לִי מַה יּוֹם מִיּוֹמַיִם, מַאי שְׁנָא יוֹמָא דְשַׁבַּתָּא מִכָּל יוֹמָא, וַאֲמָרִית לָךְ וּמָן גֶּבֶר מִגּוּבְרִין, מַאי שְׁנָא טוּרְנוּסְרוּפּוֹס מִכָּל גּוּבְרִין.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ שֶׁרָצָה הַמֶּלֶךְ לְכַבְּדֵנִי. אֲמַר לֵיהּ אַף זוֹ שֶׁרָצָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְכַבְּדָהּ.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ מְנָאן אַתְּ מוֹדַע לִי,
אֲמַר לֵיהּ הֲרֵי נְהַר סַמְבַּטְיוֹן יוֹכִיחַ, שֶׁמּוֹשֵׁךְ אֲבָנִים כָּל יְמוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת, וּבְשַׁבָּת הוּא נָח.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ לְנַגְדָא אַתְּ נָגֵיד לִי, אֶתְמְהָא.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ וַהֲרֵי הַמַּעֲלֶה אֶת הַמֵּת בִּזְכוּרוֹ יוֹכִיחַ, שֶׁהוּא עוֹלֶה כָּל יְמוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת וּבְשַׁבָּת אֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה, וְהַהוּא גַּבְרָא לֶהֱוֵי בָּדַק בַּאֲבוּהִי.
חַד זְמַן צָרִיךְ וּבָדַק בַּאֲבוּהוֹ, וּסְלֵק כָּל יוֹמָא דְּשַׁבַּתָּא, וּבְשַׁבַּתָּא לָא סְלֵק. בְּחַד שַׁבַּתָּא אַסְקֵיהּ, אֲמַר לֵיהּ אַבָּא מִן דְּמִיתַת אִתְעַבְדֵית יְהוּדִי, אֶתְמְהָא. מִפְּנֵי מָה עָלִיתָ כָּל יְמוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת, וְשַׁבָּת לֹא עָלִיתָ. אֲמַר לֵיהּ כָּל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּר אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת אֶצְלְכֶם בִּרְצוֹנוֹ, כָּאן הוּא מְשַׁמֵּר אוֹתוֹ בְּעַל כָּרְחוֹ. אֲמַר לֵיהּ וְכִי עָמָל יֵשׁ לָכֶם שֶׁאַתֶּם עֲמֵלִים כָּל יְמוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת, וּבְשַׁבָּת אַתֶּם נוֹחִין. אֲמַר לֵיהּ כָּל יְמוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת אָנוּ נִדּוֹנִין וּבְשַׁבָּת אָנוּ נוֹחִין. חָזַר אֵצֶל רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, אָמַר לוֹ אִם כִּדְבָרֶיךָ שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְכַבֵּד אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת, אַל יַשֵּׁב בָּהּ רוּחוֹת, אַל יוֹרִיד בָּהּ גְּשָׁמִים, אַל יַצְמִיחַ בָּהּ עֵשֶׂב. אֲמַר לֵיהּ תִּפַּח רוּחֵיהּ דְּהַהוּא גַבְרָא, אֶמְשֹׁל לְךָ מָשָׁל, לִשְׁנַיִם שֶׁהָיוּ דָּרִין בְּחָצֵר אַחַת, אִם אֵין זֶה נוֹתֵן עֵרוּב וְזֶה נוֹתֵן עֵרוּב, שֶׁמָּא מֻתָּרִין לְטַלְטֵל בֶּחָצֵר. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה אֶחָד דָּר בֶּחָצֵר, הֲרֵי הוּא מֻתָּר בְּכָל הֶחָצֵר כֻּלָּהּ, אַף כָּאן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְפִי שֶׁאֵין רְשׁוּת אַחֶרֶת עִמּוֹ, וְכָל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ שֶׁלּוֹ, מֻתָּר בְּכָל עוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁהֲרֵי אוֹכְלֵי הַמָּן מְעִידִין עָלָיו, שֶׁכָּל יְמוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת הָיָה יוֹרֵד וּבְשַׁבָּת לֹא הָיָה יוֹרֵד.
The wicked Turnus Rufus asked R. Akiva: How does this day differ from other days?
The latter replied: How does one man differ from other men?
He said to him: What did I say to you, and what did you say to me?
Akiva: You said to me, how does this day differ from other days, why is the Sabbath day different from all other days, and I said said to him, how does one man differ from other men, how is Turnus Rufus different from other men.
Rufus: In that the emperor chooses to honor me [and not other men].
R. Akiva: So, too, the King of kings chooses to honor it.
Rufus: How do you know this?
R. Akiva: It is proved by the fact that the river Sambatyon, which flows so swiftly on weekdays that it pulls up stones from its bed does not pull them up on the Sabbath, when it rests.
Rufus: Are you trying to lash me?
R: Akiva: A necromancer will be my proof, for he can raise a ghost on any weekday, but not on the Sabbath.
You should check this with your very father..
At that, Rufus went off and made the test with his own father. Every day he raised him, but on the Sabbath he could not raise him.
After the Sabbath he again raised him and asked him, “Have you become a Jew since you died? Why did you rise all the days of the week but not on Shabbat?"
The father replied, “He who does not observe the Sabbath when he is in your world can do so by his own choice, is here compelled to observe it.”
Rufus: And what labor do you perform on weekdays such that you need to rest on Shabbat?
The father: On weekdays we are punished, but on the Sabbath we are allowed to rest.
Rufus came back to R. Akiva and asked him: If God wishes to honor the Sabbath, as you say, let Him not cause winds to blow on that day, let Him not cause rain to come down on that day, let Him not cause grass to grow on that day.
R. Akiva: May the breath of such a man be blasted out! I will tell you a parable comparing this to two who live in a courtyard. If this one sets up an eruv and this one does not set up an eruv, are they allowed to carry in the courtyard? But if only one dwells in the courtyard, he may carry in the entire courtyard. So too God, since there is no other power but him, may carry throughout the world.
And moreover, those who ate the manna can testify, that it came down all of the days of the week, but it did not come down on Shabbat.
The Sambatyon is a legendary river mentioned as early as Pliny the Elder in the first century C.E. Pliny merely stated that there was “in Judea a river that runs dry every Sabbath.”
Josephus has a completely different account (Wars of the Jews): Recounting Titus’s departure from Judea in the aftermath of the Great Revolt, Josephus noted:
In the course of his march he saw a river, the nature of which deserves to be recorded in history. It runs between Arcea, located in Agrippa’s kingdom and Raphanea, and has an astonishing peculiarity. For, when it flows, it is a copious stream with a current far from sluggish; then all at once its sources fail and for the space of six days it presents the spectacle of a dry bed; again, as though no change had occurred, it pours forth on the seventh day just as before. And it has always been observed to keep strictly to this order; whence they have called it the Sabbatical river, so naming it after the sacred seventh day of the Jews.”
This is what Stoekl writes about this aggadah:
In several of the sources, it is stated or implied that the soul of Tyranus Rufus’s dead father cannot be raised on this day, leading the living son to fear that his father has in the underworld converted to Judaism. The father instead reveals that all those who do not observe the Sabbath of their own free will when alive are forced to do so when dead: during the week such souls undergo judgment and/or punishment, while only on the Sabbath are they left alone. This is an especially striking form of rabbinic revenge against the Romans, one which appears to address the typical Roman accusations discussed above: far from wasteful or otherwise negative, the Sabbath is revealed to be both pleasurable and of immense long-term benefit; no longer a particular Jewish oddity, it is here recast as, in at least some sense, a universal obligation. Most importantly, however, this example nicely parallels that of the Sambatyon in implying the Sabbath’s accord with the natural (under)world.
(כה) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר מֹשֶׁה֙ אִכְלֻ֣הוּ הַיּ֔וֹם כִּֽי־שַׁבָּ֥ת הַיּ֖וֹם לַיהוָ֑ה הַיּ֕וֹם לֹ֥א תִמְצָאֻ֖הוּ בַּשָּׂדֶֽה׃ (כו) שֵׁ֥שֶׁת יָמִ֖ים תִּלְקְטֻ֑הוּ וּבַיּ֧וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֛י שַׁבָּ֖ת לֹ֥א יִֽהְיֶה־בּֽוֹ׃ (כז) וַֽיְהִי֙ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י יָצְא֥וּ מִן־הָעָ֖ם לִלְקֹ֑ט וְלֹ֖א מָצָֽאוּ׃ (ס) (כח) וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה עַד־אָ֙נָה֙ מֵֽאַנְתֶּ֔ם לִשְׁמֹ֥ר מִצְוֺתַ֖י וְתוֹרֹתָֽי׃ (כט) רְא֗וּ כִּֽי־יְהוָה֮ נָתַ֣ן לָכֶ֣ם הַשַּׁבָּת֒ עַל־כֵּ֠ן ה֣וּא נֹתֵ֥ן לָכֶ֛ם בַּיּ֥וֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁ֖י לֶ֣חֶם יוֹמָ֑יִם שְׁב֣וּ ׀ אִ֣ישׁ תַּחְתָּ֗יו אַל־יֵ֥צֵא אִ֛ישׁ מִמְּקֹמ֖וֹ בַּיּ֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִֽי׃
(25) Then Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath of the LORD; you will not find it today on the plain. (26) Six days you shall gather it; on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none.” (27) Yet some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found nothing. (28) And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you men refuse to obey My commandments and My teachings? (29) Mark that the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you two days’ food on the sixth day. Let everyone remain where he is: let no one leave his place on the seventh day.”
Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: All the mitzvot that the Holy One, Blessed be He, gave to the Jewish people, He gave to them in public [parhesya] except for Shabbat, which he gave to them in private. As it is stated: “It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever” (Exodus 31:17),.
(כ) וְלֹא נְתַתּוֹ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְגוֹיֵי הָאֲרָצוֹת, וְלֹא הִנְחַלְתּוֹ מַלְכֵּנוּ לְעוֹבְדֵי אֱלִילִים, גַּם בִּמְנוּחָתוֹ לֹא יִשְׁכְּנוּ עֲרֵלִים, כִּי לְעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל נְתַתּוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה, לְזֶרַע יַעֲקֹב אֲשֶׁר בָּם בָּחָרְתָּ:
And You, Lord our God, did not give it to the nations of the world, nor did You bequeath it it idol worshipers. And in its rest the uncircumcised shall not dwell, for You gave it to your people Israel with love, for the descendants of Jacob whom you chose.
ואר"ל עובד כוכבים ששבת חייב מיתה שנא' (בראשית ח, כב) ויום ולילה לא ישבותו...
אמר רבינא אפי' שני בשבת
And Reish Lakish says: A gentile who observed Shabbat is liable to receive the death penalty, as it is stated: “And day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:23), which literally means: And day and night they shall not rest. Ravina says: Even on a Monday.
ביני ובין בני ישראל אות היא לעולם. במה שאוה״ע רואין שישראל נזהרין בשבת ממלאכה בזה אות היא לכל העולם כי ששת ימים וגו׳ שישכילו דרק משום זה הזהיר הקב״ה לישראל ומזה יגיע כבוד ה׳ לכל הארץ וזהו התכלית מכלל הבריאה ע״כ החמיר הקב״ה בקדושת שבת כ״כ:
"Between me and the children of Israel, it is an eternal sign."
Since the nations of the world see Israel observing the Sabbath not to perform work on it, this is a sign for the whole world that in six days [God created the heavens and the earth]. That they should know that this was the only reason that God warned Israel [not to work on the Sabbath] and from this the glory of God will reach the whole wold. And this is the goal of all of creation, and this is why God was so strict about the sanctity of Shabbat.
(ז) בֵּית שַׁמַּאי אוֹמְרִים, אֵין מוֹכְרִין לַנָּכְרִי וְאֵין טוֹעֲנִין עִמּוֹ וְאֵין מַגְבִּיהִין עָלָיו, אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לְמָקוֹם קָרוֹב. וּבֵית הִלֵּל מַתִּירִין:
(ח) בֵּית שַׁמַּאי אוֹמְרִים, אֵין נוֹתְנִין עוֹרוֹת לְעַבְּדָן וְלֹא כֵלִים לְכוֹבֵס נָכְרִי, אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּעָשׂוּ מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם. וּבְכֻלָּן בֵּית הִלֵּל מַתִּירִין עִם הַשָּׁמֶשׁ:
(7) Beit Shammai say: One should not sell [anything] to a non-Jew [on Friday], or help him load [an animal], or lift [a burden] onto himself, unless there is sufficient time for him to reach a neighboring place [before Shabbat]. But Beit Hillel permit it.
(8) Beit Shammai say: One may not deliver hides to a non-Jewish tanner, or clothes to a non-Jewish launderer [on Friday], unless there is sufficient time for them to complete [the work before Shabbat]. Beit Hillel permit [one to act] in all of these [cases] as long as the sun [is shining].
הֲלָכָה אָדָם מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהָיָה מְהַלֵּךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת וְחָשְׁכָה לוֹ, וְהָיוּ בְּיָדָיו מָעוֹת אוֹ דָּבָר אַחֵר, הֵיאַךְ צָרִיךְ לַעֲשׂוֹת, כָּךְ שָׁנוּ חֲכָמִים, מִי שֶׁהֶחְשִׁיךְ לוֹ בַּדֶּרֶךְ נוֹתֵן כִּיסוֹ לְנָכְרִי, וְלָמָּה מֻתָּר לוֹ שֶׁיִּתֵּן אוֹתוֹ לְנָכְרִי, אָמַר רַבִּי לֵוִי כְּשֶׁנִּצְטַוּוּ בְּנֵי נֹחַ לֹא נִצְטַוּוּ אֶלָּא עַל שִׁבְעָה דְבָרִים וְאֵין הַשַּׁבָּת מֵהֶן, לְפִיכָךְ הִתִּירוּ שֶׁיִּתֵּן אוֹתוֹ לְנָכְרִי. וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי בַּר חֲנִינָא עוֹבֵד כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁשָּׁמַר אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת עַד שֶׁלֹא קִבֵּל עָלָיו אֶת הַמִּילָה חַיָּב מִיתָה, לָמָּה, שֶׁלֹא נִצְטַוּוּ עָלֶיהָ. וּמָה רָאִיתָ לוֹמַר עוֹבֵד כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁשָּׁמַר אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת חַיָּב מִיתָה, אָמַר רַבִּי חִיָּיא בַּר אַבָּא אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן בְּנֹהַג שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם מֶלֶךְ וּמַטְרוֹנָה יוֹשְׁבִין וּמְסִיחִין זֶה עִם זֶה, מִי שֶׁבָּא וּמַכְנִיס עַצְמוֹ בֵּינֵיהֶם אֵינוֹ חַיָּב מִיתָה, כָּךְ הַשַּׁבָּת הַזּוֹ בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לא, יז): בֵּינִי וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְפִיכָךְ כָּל עוֹבֵד כּוֹכָבִים שֶׁבָּא וּמַכְנִיס עַצְמוֹ בֵּינֵיהֶם עַד שֶׁלֹא קִבֵּל עָלָיו לִמּוֹל חַיָּב מִיתָה.
The halakhah is: A Jew who was walking on the way erev Shabbat and it grew dark, and he had in his hand coins or something else, what should he do? This is what our sages taught? One for whom the path grows dark [erev Shabbat] he should give his wallet to a non-Jew. And why is it permitted to give it to a non-Jew? R. Levi said, when the children of Noah were commanded, they were commanded only about seven things, and Shabbat was not one of them, therefore they allowed it to be given to a non-Jew.
And R. Yose bar Hanina said: A non-Jew who keeps Shabbat before he accepts upon himself circumcision is obligated for the death penalty. Why? For they were not commanded to keep this. And why did you says that a non-Jew who keeps Shabbat is liable for the death penalty? R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Yohanan: It is the way of the world that a king and a matron are having a discussion, and one who sticks their head in, are they not liable for death? Thus Shabbat is a matter between Israel and God, as it says, "Between me and the children of Israel." Thus any non-Jew who puts himself between them before he accepts circumcision, is obligated for death.
Agatharchadies (2nd century C.E.):
The people known as Jews ... have a custom of abstaining from work every seventh day; on those occasions they neither bear arms nor take any agricultural operations in hand, nor engage in any other form of public service, but pray with outstretched hands in the temples until the evening. Consequently, because the inhabitants, instead of protecting their city, persevered in their folly (anoian), Ptolemy, son of Lagus, was allowed to enter with his army; the country was thus given over to a cruel master, and the defect of a practice enjoined by law was exposed. That experience has taught the whole world, except that nation, the lesson not to resort to dreams and traditional fancies about the law, until the difficulties are such as to baffle human reason.
Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians
"Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness .... But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's [Day, Dominicam] as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days.