9 min

Why do some people believe that Saturday the Sabbath?

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Our children's book doesn't include most of this information and is suitable for people who follow both the moon-based sabbath or the Friday sundown sabbath.

At some point, I will do a post on how the Lunar Sabbath works, then you should understand the debate.

The First Sabbath Ended the week of creation

When our Creator rested after six days of creating the heavens and earth, He blessed and hallowed the next 24-hour period — the 7th day (Genesis 2:1-3).

Was that 24 period He blessed Saturday? Technically, no—on two points:

While that time period roughly applies to the modern Saturday, the name "Saturday" was not yet applied to the 7th day of the week.

"Saturday" of our Julian and Gregorian calendars covers a time from 12:00:00 am to 11:59:59 pm, while the Sabbath begins and ends at sunset.

Days in Scripture are simply day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six (also known as "preparation day"), and day 7 (also known as "Sabbath"). The Sabbath is simply the 7th day, of a continuous and contiguous cycle of seven days (known as "weeks").

However, when people applied the names of planets/planetary deities to the days of the week, the day named for Saturn aligned (mostly of the day) with the 7th day of the Biblical week, as it does yet today.

YHWH, who created the heavenly bodies and set them in motion to mark the passage of time (Genesis 1:14), counts time differently—from evening to evening.

Genesis 1:14 KJV

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.

We see this indicated in the creation account in Genesis 1. After dividing day from night, God tells us that "the evening and the morning were the first day" (verse 5). "Evening" is mentioned first, followed by "morning." YHWH describes each day's creation in similar terms (verses 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).

In the Bible, the evening began when the sun went down (Nehemiah 13:19; ), and at that time a new day began.

Regarding His Sabbaths, God commands that they be observed "from evening to evening" (Leviticus 23:32).

This was the usual way of calculating the beginning and end of days (Exodus 12:18).

In New Testament times, days were calculated the same way. Mark 1:32 records that, after the sun had set, marking the end of one Sabbath, crowds brought many ailing people to Yahawashi to be healed, having waited until after the Sabbath to come to Him.

The Gospel accounts also record that Joseph of Arimathea entombed Yahawashis' body before evening to keep from working on an approaching annual high-day Sabbath ( Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-54; compare John 19:31)

More examples of even to even:

Deuteronomy 16:6 KJV

But at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

Exodus 12:18 KJV

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.

Leviticus 23:5 KJV

In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's Passover.

How did YHWH show the Israelites the Sabbath in the wilderness?

So What is the Confusion?

The Gregorian calendar can rightfully denote the Sabbath of Scripture as beginning on Friday at sunset and ending on Saturday at sunset.

Some today, condemn this view and claim that Sabbatarians who keep Sabbath on "Saturn's Day" are following pagan customs, that was long ago adopted from Babylon by the Jews. They argue that the true Sabbath is actually based on moon phases, and will always fall on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th days of each lunar month.

They make various claims concerning an alleged change from a lunar-based Sabbath to one regulated by the planetary week (i.e., Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday).

Most LSD-proponents claim such a change occurred during the Babylonian captivity of Judah, while other LSD-proponents teach it happened as late as Constantine’s Sunday Law edict in 321 CE.

With the general claim of lunar sabbath adherents that the lunar sabbath understanding was discarded during the Babylonian captivity, and was then replaced by the Sabbath of the day of Saturn (i.e., Saturday), lunar Sabbatarians would have us to believe that the remnant who returned to the Land of Israel (under Ezra and Nehemia) were keeping a false sabbath.

This would then continue to be the case in the first century when Messiah came in the flesh. He came as one "under the Law," and He never sinned (i.e., transgressed the Law).

Simply put, the Sabbath kept by Messiah is the true Sabbath. But note, Jesus kept the same Sabbath day holy as did His fellow Jews about Him, (

Matt 12:1-12/Mark 2:23-28; Mark 1:21; 3:1-4; 6:2; etc.). Therefore, the Sabbath kept by the Jews in the first century C.E. is the true Sabbath and the same Sabbath from the wilderness of Sin codified at Sinai!

What day were they keeping holy as Sabbath according to manuscript evidence?

The following research explicitly illustrates that the Sabbath coincided with the day of Saturn (i.e., Saturday) at least as far back as 63 BCE, and forward through the centuries. As evidenced, history testifies that the Sabbath is a continuous cycle of 7, as opposed to a cycle based on lunar phases.

1st Century BCE

63 BCE

Dio Cassius, a Roman historian, explained the strategy employed by Pompey in taking Jerusalem in 63 BCE:

"If they [i.e., the Jews] had continued defending it [i.e., the Temple] on all days alike, he could not have got possession of it. As it was, they made an exception of what are called the days of Saturn, and by doing no work at all on those days afforded the Romans an opportunity in this interval to batter down the wall. The latter, on learning of this superstitious awe of theirs, made no serious attempts the rest of the time, but on those days, when they came around in succession, assaulted most vigorously. Thus the defenders were captured on the day of Saturn without making any defense, and all the wealth was plundered. The kingdom was given to Hyrcanus, and Aristobulus was carried away." Dio Cassius, Roman History, book 37, Chapter 16, in Loeb Classical Library, Dio’s Roman History, Volume 3, pp.125, 127

First-century Jewish historian Joseph ben Mattiyahu reported on this same event as follows:

“Nor had the Romans succeeded in their endeavors, had not Pompey taken notice of the seventh days, on which the Jews abstain from many work on a religious account." Joseph ben Mattiyahu, Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 7, Section 3, in The Works of Flavius Josephus, p.618

What Josephus called "seventh days," Cassius said were "days of Saturn" (i.e., seventh day = Saturday)

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37 BCE

Cassius Dio also recorded the deposing of Antigonus (the son of Aristibolus II, who sought to control the Jews) and the establishment of Herod in Jerusalem in 37 BCE by Gaius Sosius, who was in command of the Roman troops:

"The Jews, indeed, had done much injury to the Romans, for the race is very bitter when aroused to anger, but they suffered far more themselves. The first of them to be captured were those who were fighting for the precinct of their god, and then the rest on the day even then called the day of Saturn. And so excessive were they in their devotion to religion that the first set of prisoners, those who had been captured along with the temple, obtained leave from Sosius, when the day of Saturn came round again, and went up into the temple and there performed all the customary rites, together with the rest of the people." Dio Cassius, Roman History, book 49, Chapter 22, in Loeb Classical Library, Dio’s Roman History, Volume 5, p.387

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30-26 BCE

Albius Tibullus, a Latin poet who lived 54 BCE - 19 BCE), explained in one of his poems why he delayed leaving his beloved Delia, saying: “Either I blamed the birds, or words of bad omen; or that the sacred day of Saturn [dies Saturni sacra] held one back.” (Tibullus, Elegies, book 1, Elegy 3, lines 17, 18, in Loeb Classical Library. Catullus, Tibullus, Pervigilium Veneris, p.206)

The day of Saturn "held one back" due to it be a day unfit for business, as noted by our next writer.

Publius Ovidius Naso (known widely simply as "Ovid"), was a Roman poet who lived 43 BCE - 18 CE. He wrote:

"You may begin on the day...less fit for business, whereon returns the seventh-day feast that the Syrian of Palestine observe" Ovid, Ars Anratoria 1, 413-416; cf. 1,75-80; Remedia Amoris 217-220

The "the sacred day of Saturn" = "the seventh-day feast that the Syrian of Palestine observe"

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1st Century CE

70-84 CE

Sextus Julius Frontinus, a Roman soldier, politician, engineer, and author of the first century CE, wrote in 84 CE of the capture and destruction of Jerusalem by Vespasian in 70 CE as follows:

"The divine Augustus Vespasian attacked the Jews on the day of Saturn, on which it is forbidden for them to do anything serious, and prevailed.” Sextus Julius Frontinus, The Stratagems, book 2, Chapter 1, Section 17, in Loeb Classical Library, Frontinus, Page 98

Cassius Dio likewise wrote of this same historical event as follows:

“Thus was Jerusalem destroyed on the very day of Saturn, the day which even now the Jews reverence most. From that time forth it was ordered that the Jews who continued to observe their ancestral customs should pay an annual tribute of two denarii to Jupiter Capitolinus.” Dio Cassius, Roman History, book 65, Chapter 7, in Loeb Classical Library, Dio’s Roman History, Volume 8, Page 271

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Ca. 100 - 112 CE

Publius Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56 CE – ca. 117 CE) was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. He also wrote of the Jew's observance of the day of Saturn. Hutton Webster interpreted it as follows:

"Tacitus (Historiae, V, 4) thinks that the Jewish Sabbath may be an observance in honour of Saturn..." Hutton Webster, Rest Days: A Study in Early Law and Morality, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1916, p.244-245

But what did Tacitus say specifically?

"They were pleased to have a rest on the seventh day, because it brought a release from work...Some hold it to be an honor to Saturn, or perhaps the Idaeans gave them this part of their religion, who the Idaeansi, as we have said before, were expelled together with Saturn, and who, as we have been informed, were the founders of this [Jewish] nation; or else it was because the star [Saturn] moves in the highest sphere, and of the seven planets exerts the principal part of that energy whereby mankind are governed; and indeed most of the heavenly bodies exert their power and fulfill their courses according to the number seven."

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Ca. 155-157 CE

"For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn; and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples..." Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chap. 67

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Ca. 222 CE

"Likewise, if we devote the day of the Sun to festivity (from a far different reason from Sun worship), we are in a second place from those who devote the day of Saturn to rest and eating, themselves also deviating by way of a Jewish custom of which they are ignorant.” Tertullian, Apology, chapter 16

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Ca. 229 CE

"They [Jews] are distinguished from the rest of mankind in practically every detail of life and especially by the fact that they do not honor any of the usual gods, but show extreme reverence for one particular divinity. They never had any statue of him even in Jerusalem itself, but...they worship him in the most extravagant fashion on earth. They built to him a temple that was extremely large and beautiful…and likewise dedicated to him the day called the day of Saturn, on which, among many other most peculiar observances, they undertake no serious occupation." Dio Cassius, Roman History, book 37, Chapter 17, in Loeb Classical Library, Dio’s Roman History, Volume 3, pp.127, 129.

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Ca. 400 CE

"Shall we observe the rest of the Sabbath, and bind ourselves in the fetters of Saturn?...[said the Manichaean, to which Augustine replies:] We are not afraid to meet your scoff at the Sabbath, when you call it the fetters of Saturn. It is a silly and unmeaning expression, which occurred to you only because you are in the habit of worshipping the sun on what you call Sunday...The Gentiles, of whom the apostle says that they "worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator," gave the names of their gods to the days of the week. ... why do you try to bring in the name of Saturn in connection with the rest of the seventh day enjoined in Scripture, merely because the Gentiles call the day Saturday? The Scripture name for the day is Sabbath, which means rest. Your scoff is as unreasonable as it is profane." Augustine, Contra Faustum, Book XVIII.5

Another historic document that bears witness on the Sabbath is the Mishnah (spanning the time period of 200 B.C. - 200 A.D.).