Seventh Day of Creation

Ain Soph – The Unknown God

Chapter 15

Fred Mayers

Genesis II, v. 1 to 3.

v.1: “And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

v 2: “And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had made.

v. 3 :“And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all His work which Cod had created and made.” (English R.V.)

The word “and” with which this verse commences in the English Revised Version, although it is a strictly literal translation of the Hebrew “vav.” does not render the sense of the original so well as the word “thus,” which is used in the old “Authorised Version.” Readers will remember that in a previous chapter we noted how the word “and” is made to do service in many cases where in English we should use various different words according to the requirements of the context. In this case the word is used to connect-up what is being said. with the creative work described in the previous chapter. It was in its “creative” aspect that the work of Elohim was finished-therefore, the word “thus” is the more suitable.

Then, in verse 2, we twice have the words: “His work which He had made.” That is certainly a literal translation of the Hebrew, but one cannot call it English idiom; if the word “done” had been used instead of “made,” it would still have been quite as correct literally, and would not have been so un-English. To “make work” in English idiom is not the same thing as “doing work.” However, these little points do not seriously affect the interpretation of the verses. There are other points of much greater importance to be dealt with.

The word “heaven” should of course have been “heavens” = “shamaim.” The word is always plural in the Hebrew text because, as we have shown before, there are “grades” in the heavenly worlds as there are in the material universe. Compare St. John XIV. v. 2: “In my Father’s house are many mansions . . .

How and when the general use of the singular form “heaven” arose, is not very clear. Dante, who was always careful to keep his theological ideas within the orthodoxy of his time AD 1300), pictures ten heavens, or ten spheres of heaven in his “Paradiso.” He conceives them as rising one above the other in ever-increasing glory and blessedness. They appear to correspond closely with the “Ten Sephiroth” of the Jewish writers,- i.e., the “Ten Splendours of God.”

Apart from these minor points, while most of the words in the passage should by this time be familiar to us, there are five words that will need explaining before the whole meaning of the passage will be clear to us. The first of these is the word translated “host,” “all the host of them,” = “chol-tzebaam.” The word “tzeba” is a compound of two roots: (a) “tzo,” which expresses ideas of “order,” “command,” “organisation”, “direction.” “Tzoh” means: “commanded,” “gave orders, appointed,” etc. (see Deut. v. 15); (b) and “ab,” which expresses the idea of a “controlling will,” an “innate directing force.” “Tzeba” denotes a “host” only in the sense of a large, disciplined, ordered army, as in such expressions as “the host of Sisera,” etc. It cannot be correctly used of a mere multitude, crowd, or mob. The whole emphasis of the word is on the ideas of order, discipline, generalship. In the case with which we are dealing the word is extended by the “universal” sign “M” final. It is used here of the universal “laws” and order of Nature; the ordered movements of the stars, and the perfectly organised workings of natural law. It is used with exactly the same meaning in the Divine Name: “Ihoah Tzebaoth” – the “Lord of Hosts.”

The next word with which we have to deal is “ha-shebihi” “the seventh.” There is in this case no uncertainty or difference of opinion as to the meaning. The only thing we have to point out is that in Hebrew, and indeed, in most ancient philosophies, every “number” has a very definite, and often very profound, symbolic meaning. This word “shebihi” is based on -the root “shob,” which expresses the idea of “returning” to some place, or state or position. The addition of “ayin” after the root “sh-b” gives it a material signification.

“Shebihi,” as a symbol, denotes the “completion of anything.” It is, however, more than an abstract philosophic conception. It is based on a great natural law. For instance, light-pure white light-is, strangely enough, composed of seven colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The human eye is only sensitive to one octave, or rather, septet of this scale, but it is known to continue down-wards and upwards. The musical scale consists of seven tones also, which continue repeating; each repetition one octave higher in pitch than the preceding one. We are more fortunate in our receptiveness to musical tones than to light, as we are sensitive to many octaves. We see the same principle in the seven days of the week, ever repeating.

In every case “seven” completes a certain “cycle” or “series,” or something which “returns” to a starting point. This symbolic idea of “completion” is always associated with the number seven in the Bible. For instance, there are the ceremonial seven-branched candlestick or lamp-stand; the seven lights; the seven churches; and the seven spirits of God in “Revelation”; the “seventh day’ ‘-Sabbath; the seven planets; the seven-day week, etc., etc.

The third word which we have to study is the word “isheboth” which the English Bible renders: “rested.” More than that, the translators assume that this word “rested” is synonymous with “ceasing from work,” becoming inactive.” This is the word on which all the difficulties connected with the passage turn. The root of the word is “sheb.” The very same root which we have just been. discussing in connection with the word “shebihi”- “seventh.” We have already said that the idea conveyed by it is that of “returning.” or “being “re-established,” “restored,” of “going back to a former state or place,” of “settling down” (and out of that meaning it comes to mean also “sitting down,” a “seat.” This is the only way in which the word approaches the idea of “resting,” ceasing work’ ‘-and in this sense it is only used metaphorically). These meanings are perfectly well known to all Hebraists. Let us take at random a few examples to show the use of “sheb” or “shob” :–In Psalm I, v. 1 we have the words “nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” The word “sitteth” is “jashob”; the word “seat” is “mosheb” (literally=the sitting, or settling down place). In Psalm II. v. 4 we have “He that sitteth in the heavens.” Here “sitteth” is “iosheb.” It is a poetic equivalent to “established.” We have the same expression in the “Creed”: “He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God.” In that case we have the same idea of “re-establishment’ ‘-and also the fact of a “returning” from the mortal to the Divine state. Another most interesting example is in Psalm XC. v. 3. The English A.V. reads: “Thou turnest man to destruction and sayest, Return ye children of men.” The present writer has never yet met anyone who could tell him what interpretation to put upon that verse-in that version. What the original text says is this: – “Thou causest ‘man’ (the word “man” here is “anosh” = bodily. physical man) to return to dissolution (“dust to dust”) and thou sayest, Return ye children of Adam”-(“The spirit shall return to God who gave it”) (Adam = spiritual man. “Return” is “shubu.” In every case quoted it will be seen that there is no suggestion whatever of “resting” or “inaction.” Now, how did the translators of the Bible into English come to translate the word “isheboth” by “rested”? The explanation which appears to the writer to be the most probable in this -All the principal translations of the Hebrew scriptures which we possess, interpreted the Hebrew through the Greek version of the LXX. That translation was made about the third century BC (Until comparatively recent times there was little direct knowledge of

· Hebrew and allied languages. Some of these had been absolutely “dead”-forgotten and lost for ages, and had to be re<Ieciphered and the meanings of their words rediscovered.) Between the date of the writing of Genesis and that of the Septuagint, the institution of the Jewish Sabbath and the ideas associated with it, had been so long established as to colour all their thoughts. Instead of trying to interpret Genesis directly. the translators brought to it the ideas they had acquired from that institution and tried to make it fit in with them. The idea of “resting,” of “abstaining from all secular work,” was essential -to the Jewish “Sabbath,” and they quite failed to see that Gen. II, v. 1-3, was really concerned with another and deeper significance of the Sabbath.

The fourth word we must take note of is “hallowed,” “ikaddesh” = “hallowed,” “consecrated,” “set apart,” “dedicated to God,” “made holy,” etc. This meaning is universally accepted, so there is no need to go into further detail, but it is a word of special significance in this place. The last word we need to note particularly is the last word in verse 3 : “l’asoth.” translated in English as “and made.” For some reason, difficult to explain on any grounds, except that of failing entirely to see the difference between “creating” and “making,” all translators and commentators, as far as the present writer is aware-without exception, translate the prefix “l” by “and.” This is the more extraordinary as it has never meant “and,” and could never be made to mean “and.” It is one of the most frequently used prefixes in Hebrew, and invariably denotes purpose, direction, or possession. According to its context it may be translated by: “to,” “towards,” “in order to,” for the purpose of,” “for,” “belonging to” – but never in any case by “and.” Then, the word “asoth,” to which it is prefixed. is not the past tense “made”; it is more equivalent to the English “present participle”- “making.” The meaning of the whole sentence is perfectly clear, in the light of what we have said in earlier chapters on “creating”:-’ ‘And Elohim blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because in it He returned from all his work, which He, Elohim, had created for making,” or “in order to make.” The word “Sabbath” means, literally, “The Returning.” The “seventh day” means the “day of full realisation.” We have seen that “Elohim” came forth from the unknown Eternal One in order to make Him “manifest.”- “knowable” through Creation. After having finished His creative work Elohim “returned” to the Divine Unity. This is signified in the remainder of the second chapter of Genesis by altering the Divine Name to “Ihoah-Elohim.” We have seen that. in the creative scheme, there was a working downwards from pure spirit to “earth”; and then in “man” and all that led up to him, all the preparations were made for the “return” from earth” to God. Elohim had created and set in motion all the “laws” and “forces” which would give “form” and “being” to the universe. This “returning” which is the full and complete realisation of the whole Creative purpose is the great universal “Sabbath” of Humanity. Well might God “bless” it and “hallow” it. See Chapter XI, page 77. (We have seen already what “blessing” is.) The “hallowing” of it gives a Divine sacredness to the whole evolution of mankind. A holy purpose permeates the whole history of man. When we consider all that men have done throughout the ages to hold back the realisation of God’s purpose. how consistently they have done anything but co-operate with Him, it is not easy to see that that “holy purpose” is really being worked out in the procession of the ages ; but it is a solemn thought that such IS the case.

Our readers can hardly fail to see how closely this “returning” of Elohim, after completing His creative work, to His former state of Unity with the Eternal Absolute Spirit – (“God the Father”) is paralleled in the New Testament. John I, v. 1: “In (the) beginning was the “Word,” and the Word was with (or in) God, and the Word was God.” v. 3: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. John XVI, v. 28: “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” John XVII, v. 4: “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.” John XVI, v. 5: “Now I go my way unto Him that sent me.”

Elohim did not return to Unity with the Eternal One to “rest” or “remain inactive.” His activity continued, and still continues, through the “laws” and “forces” He had created. In exactly the same way, Jesus-the “Word” did not “ascend” to the Father to “rest” or “remain inactive.” He continued, and still continues His work for the complete “redemption” of mankind through the “Holy Spirit.” How is it possible to conceive of God being “inactive.” He is Life itself. “He resteth not neither is weary.”- “My Father worketh hitherto.” Is there any evidence whatever in the Old Testament that God ever ceased from taking a very active part indeed “in the affairs of men?” Is there even to-day any human being possessed of the -least spiritual perception who does not know to some extent the part God is taking in every human life? The real importance of the Sabbath is in the fact of its being the “Returning” of man to God. That is the “end” and the purpose of the whole creation.

We have frequently used the expression “creative Idea.” We should, however, make it quite clear that when God creates an “idea” it is something much more than merely a mental conception; it is also a living forte which contains within itself the power to realise itself outwardly. it is an “idea” plus the Divine Will and Power

As the scope of this book is not, as at present planned, to extend beyond the first few chapters of Genesis, it may perhaps be well to make this section more complete by a few notes respecting the institution of the weekly “Sabbath day” in the Jewish religion, in order to see whether, and to what extent it harmonises with what has been said in this chapter. The first mention of its institution is in the Fourth Commandment of the Decalogue (Exodus XX, v. 8-11). It is dealt with again, in a somewhat altered form in Deut. V, v. 15. As the passages in the English Bible will, no doubt, be quite familiar to our readers, -instead of quoting them, we will give a strictly literal translation of the Hebrew text :-Ex. XX, v. 8-11: “Remember the day of the Sabbath (i.e., the “returning”) to sanctify it. Six days thou shalt labour and do all thy work (“labour” is work that must be done; “work,” “melacheth,” is work we do of our own choice not obligatory nor compulsory)-But the seventh ‘day” is the day of returning to the Eternal thy God. Thou shalt not do any work (see above). thou nor thy son and thy daughter, thy manservant nor thy woman servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger within thy gates ; For six ‘days’ (notice that the Hebrew does not say: “In” six days. What it says is much more deeply significant: “For the Eternal made the heavens and the earth six “days.” (That is : Creation was a sixfold “manifestation” of Himself. “Day” always stands for what is manifested, revealed; “night” stands for what remains hidden)-six “days” the Eternal made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and he rested in the seventh day ; wherefore He blessed the day of the Sabbath and sanctified it.”

That version differs from the statement in Gen. II, v. 1-3 considerably; it does not use the word “isheboth”- “returning to a former state.” It uses instead the word “ianach,” which does mean “rested” in sense of “ceasing work”-and it lays emphasis on that idea. But still it keeps in the background, so to speak. the idea of the returning. and it is that “returning” which has to be “remembered” or “kept in mind.” Now, assuming that Moses was the author of Genesis, and also of the “Law” which bears his name, why did he make this alteration? Before we try to answer the question we will deal with the passage in Deut. V, v. 15, which gives another quite different explanation for the institution of the Sabbath. The “law” as to keeping holy the seventh day is just the same as in Ex. XX, but the explanation of it, in this case, says nothing about God doing His work in six days and “resting” on the seventh. What it says is: “and remember that ye were slaves in the land of Egypt (“mitzraim” “oppressions”) and the Eternal thy God, brought thee hence with a strong hand and a stretched-out arm,* wherefore the Eternal thy God commanded the making of the Sabbath day.” We have, therefore, three different explanations of the meaning of the “Sabbath day”:

(1) Gen. II, v. 3, says that God “blessed” and “sanctified” the “seventh day” because in it he “returned” from all his work.

(2) Ex. XX, v. 11, says that after six days’ work, God “rested in the seventh day” and therefore blessed and sanctified it.

(3) Deut. V, v. 15, says that the “seventh day” was to be a “day of remembrance” for the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. We may take the liberty of suggesting that there was also a fourth explanation. We have mentioned before the fact that Moses was not only “learned in all the learning of the Egyptians,” but also had an intimate, inside knowledge of the Chaldean religion. The division of time into weeks was established in both those nations centuries before the time of Moses, as also was the naming of the days of the week after the “seven planets,” in the same order as they have come down to us to the present time through the Romans. For the Chaldeans, the day of “Saturn” (our Saturday) was the seventh day, but the Egyptians made it the first day of their week. (This is not the place to go into a detailed discussion of their reasons for this, but according to their different conceptions of the “creative plan,” each had reasons for their choice.) Moses adopted the Chaldean usage. As the first “day” of creation, in his narrative, was the day of “Light” he naturally made “Sun-day” the first day of his week, and so “Saturn-:lay” would be the seventh. This is perfectly in accord also with the attributes of Saturn. Saturn is the planet of “fate” or “destiny”; also of “Crisis.” It is interesting to notice that the symbol of Saturn closely resembles the Hebrew letter “Koph,” and both have very much the same meaning. The symbol denotes a “scythe.” Saturn “makes an end” of matters, or marks a “turning point.” Every great crisis in a moment of Saturn, either for ill or good. Moses knew all this; he also knew that all work depends on regular periodic rest. After each day’s work we need a night of sleep; but experience for ages has shown that the daily alternation does not quite suffice; it tends to monotony, and monotony itself wearies one. He knew that a weekly day of rest and a few other breaks at more widely separated intervals, best fitted in with some mysterious necessity of life, to make men consistently able to work at their best. That was, we suggest. a main underlying thought of his in the establishment of the Jewish Sabbath. But he was anxious also to add urgency to the keeping of these ‘‘rest , days by combining them with some deep religious and national significances, and so he makes them “remembrances,” as far as -religion was concerned, of the great Sabbath of humanity-the “returning” to God; and as concerned the national history of his people, of their liberation from bondage. (The “Bondage in Egypt” was but a symbol of much other bondage and oppression from which we still need an Exodus.) If our suggestion is accepted it will be sufficient explanation of the surface differences of the three passages and of their underlying unity. Each passage gives one phase of the thought of their author.

*That was not “inaction.”

The Israelites needed to be trained to religion, to godly life, and to steady. honest, faithful work, by practice and custom; and the weekly Sabbath was excellently adapted to serve those purposes. It was also a divinely wise measure for educating them in spiritual knowledge and life. The “Law” of the Sabbath included also a feature that seldom receives much attention: side by side with the injunction to do no work on the Sabbath day, we find a positive injunction to work on the other

six days. The law does not merely say: “You have six days in which you can do your work”; it says: “Six days thou shalt work.” It was not just permissive, it was imperative-a “command.” God did not intend any human beings to live idle, aimless, futile lives; there is plenty of work always waiting and needing to be done-work for rich and poor-and all should take a due share of it. “The fields are . . . . white unto the harvest.”-If a man will not work, neither shall he eat.”-. “Work while it is day.”- “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”- “He that will be greatest among you let him be servant of all.” Work is not only a “necessity” for some; it is-a duty for all. And when we do our six day’s duty with gladness, and to the best we are capable of, maybe the “rest” of the Sabbath will be really appreciated at its true value, and will have an added sweetness. “The expression that God ‘rested’ . . . “signifies merely the completion of the works of creation; the “return of God to His perfect spirituality. to His unchangeable “and eternal providence. The opinion of those who place the “whole weight of the Sabbath in the mere negative element of “refraining from work, without allowing that that great institution implies another positive element, which constitutes its “real and more internal character, is incomprehensible.

“Freedom from all occupation, physical, mental, or moral, is indolence and thoughtlessness and apathy, which cannot “possibly on any account, produce that sanctification which is “the ulterior aim of all human aspirations. To approach God

therefore the purpose of the Sabbath; mental and moral indifference would remove us from Him; and the Sabbath, instead of being the greatest blessing of mankind, would be its “greatest curse.” (Kalisch: “Exodus,” page 359.)

Although Moses owed something of his Sabbath institution to the Chaldean religion, he made it into something that no religion had previously even thought of. The Seventh day to the Chaldeans was a gloomy day indeed. “Saturn”-the god of the day, was feared ; his very temple was black, and his priests were robed in black; the idea of his service was to ward off his “malignity.” Moses made it into a day of rest, of recreation, of gladness, and convivial, friendly and family meetings; a day of spiritual education in tabernacle, temple, or synagogue; a day for teaching the scriptures, and chanting the glorious poetry of the psalms. It was a day to rest from all worldly cares and occupations ; a day to draw near to God, and keep ever in mind the glorious destiny designed for his “children” by God. It was not a day for dour, long-faced, chilling solemnity. Fasting was expressly forbidden. It was a day, rather, to bring hope to the most heavily-troubled soul.

Well might God “bless” it with a blessing that should make it “fruitful” in all good, to every human life!

In our days, too many things have conspired to smother the gladness, the beauty, and the glory of the Sabbath. For a time they hold mankind in spiritual serfdom; but already we grow weary of restless chasing of phantom pleasures and distractions; and even yet we shall come to see these things for the emptiness they are, shake off their yoke, and feel free again-joyfully free -liberated from “Egyptian bondage”-once more to seek and serve the Highest.

There is no mention of any “evening” or “morning” in the seventh “day.” “Le Sabbat de Dieu n’est plus un jour, une periode, mais un fait.” (Theophile Rivier.) “The Sabbath of God is no longer a day, a period, but a fact.”

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-Ryan 2016-01-22 3:28:51

I’m curious as to your thoughts on hell and the laws of the old testament. It.seems so terrible I can’t see how God could have anything to do with it. Do you believe that Jesus ever really existed or do you think its a written myth like any other with deeper meaning? In this part you talk about the Sabbath. I know Jews rest Saturday. I recall a dream where I called someone and they yelled saying don’ Saturdays! Wonder if there’s a meaning of that being a specific day?

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