|This strange idea is drawn from a single text in the
Old Testament and is distorted to contradict many clear statements about the true origin of
the Sabbath. The text is found in Deuteronomy 5:14, 15: "But the
seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the
Some people draw from this text that
God gave the Sabbath as a memorial of the Exodus from Egypt. But the Genesis story of the making of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3) and the wording of the
fourth commandment by God Himself (Exodus 20:11) reveals the Sabbath as a
memorial of creation.
The key to understanding these two verses rests in the word "servant." God said, "Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt." And in the sentence before this one He reminds them "that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou." In other words, their experience in Egypt as servants would remind them to deal justly with their servants by giving them
In similar vein God had commanded, "And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him ... for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." Leviticus 19:33, 34
It was not unusual for God to hark back to the
Egyptian deliverance as an incentive to obey other commandments. In Deuteronomy 24:17, 18, God said, "Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge. ... Thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing."
Neither the command to be just nor to
keep the Sabbath was given to memorialize the
Exodus, but God told them that His goodness in bringing them out of captivity constituted a strong additional reason for their dealing kindly with their servants on the Sabbath and treating justly the strangers and widows.
In the same way, God spoke to them in Leviticus 11:45, "For I am the Lord that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt. ... ye shall therefore be holy." Surely no one would insist that holiness did not exist before the Exodus, or that it would be ever afterwards limited only to the Jews, to memorialize their deliverance.