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THE LAW OF SABBATH-REST.

57

XXXV

xiv. 4

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b Jer.

Shabb. xvi.

pointed to rest. The keeping of the seventh day, and the Jewish CHAP. mode of its observance, were the temporal and outward form in which these eternal principles were presented. Even Rabbinism, in some measure, perceived this. It was a principle, that danger to life superseded the Sabbath Law,' and, indeed, all other obligations.? Among the curious Scriptural and other arguments by which this principle was supported, that which probably would most appeal to common sense was derived from Lev. xviii. 5. It was argued, that a man was to keep the commandments that he might live-certainly not, that by so doing he might die. In other words, the outward Jer, Shabb. mode of observance was subordinate to the object of the observance. Yet this other and kindred principle did Rabbinism lay down, that every positive commandment superseded the Sabbath-rest. This was the ultimate vindication of work in the Temple, although certainly not its explanation. Lastly, we should, in this connection, include this important canon, laid down by the Rabbis: a single Rabbinic prohibition is not to be heeded, where a graver matter is in question.'

All these points must be kept in view for the proper under- 1 standing of the words of Christ to the Scribes. For, while going far beyond the times and notions of His questioners, His reasoning must have been within their comprehension. Hence the first argument of our Lord, as recorded by all the Synoptists, was taken from Biblical History. When, on his flight from Saul, David had, when an hungered, eaten of the shewbread, and given it to his followers,3 although, by the letter of the Levitical Law, it was only to be eaten Lev. xxiv. by the priests, Jewish tradition vindicated the conduct of David on the plea that danger to life superseded the Sabbath-Law,' and hence, all laws connected with it, while, to show David's zeal for the Sabbath Law, it is added, that he had reproved the priests Nob, who had been baking the shewbread on the Sabbath.d. To the first «Yalkut ii. argument of Christ, St. Matthew adds this as His second, that the p. 181 priests, in their services in the Temple, necessarily broke the Sabbath

5-9

' But only where the life of an Israel. joined with his father in the priesthood. ite, not of a heathen or Samaritan, was Comp. the ‘Bible-History,' vol. iv. p. in danger (Yoma 84 b).

111. ? Maimonides, Hilc. Shabb. ii. 1 (Yad • The question discussed in the Talmud haCh. vol. i. part iii. p. 141 a): “The Sab- is, whether, supposing an ordinary Israel. bath is set aside on account of danger to ite discharged priestly functions on the life, as all other ordinances ba 7802 Sabbath in the Temple, it would involve .'

two sins : unlawful service and SabbathAccording to 1 Sam. xxii. 9 Ahimelech desecration; or only one sin, unlawful (or Ahijah, 1 Sam. xiv. 3) was the High

service. Priest. We infer, that Abiathar was con

.(המצות

3

BOOK
III

* St. Mat-
thew
" St. Mark
• St. Luke
d

Deut.xxiii. 25

6 Jer.
Shabb.
p. 10 a,
lines 28 to 26

His disciples, being hungry, as they went, plucked ears of corn and ate them, having rubbed off the husks in their hands. On any ordinary day this would have been lawful, but on the Sabbath it involved, according to Rabbinic statutes, at least two sins. For, according to the Talmud, what was really one labour, would, if made.

up of several acts, each of them forbidden, amount to several acts of • Shabb. 70 a labour, each involving sin, punishment, and a sin-offering.el This

so-called division of labour applied only to infringement of the " Macc. 21 6 Sabbath-rest—not of that of feast-days. Now in this case there

were at least two such acts involved: that of plucking the ears of corn, ranged under the sin of reaping, and that of rubbing them, which might be ranged under sifting in a sieve, threshing, sifting out fruit, grinding, or fanning. The following Talmudic passage bears on this: 'In case a woman rolls wheat to remove the husks, it is considered as sifting; if she rubs the heads of wheat, it is regarded as threshing; if she cleans off the side-adherences, it is sifting out fruit; if she bruises the ears, it is grinding; if she throws them up in her hand, it is winnowing.'8 One instance will

suffice to show the externalism of all these ordinances. If a man from bottom wished to move a sheaf on his field, which of course implied labour,

he had only to lay upon it a spoon that was in his common use, when, in order to remove the spoon, he might also remove the sheaf on

which it lay!h And yet it was forbidden to stop with a little wax from bottom the hole in a cask by which the fluid was running out,' or to wipe

a wound!

Holding views like these, the Pharisees, who witnessed the conduct of the disciples, would naturally harshly condemn, what they must have regarded as gross desecration of the Sabbath. Yet it was clearly not a breach of the Biblical, but of the Rabbinic Law. Not only to show them their error, but to lay down principles which would for ever apply to this difficult question, was the object of Christ's reply. Unlike the others of the Ten Commandments, the Sabbath Law has in it two elements: the moral and the ceremonial; the eternal, and that which is subject to time and place; the inward and spiritual, and the outward (the one as the mode of realising the other). In their distinction and separation lies the difficulty of the subject. In its spiritual and eternal element, the Sabbath Law embodied the two thoughts of rest for worship, and worship which

h Shabb.
142 b, line 6

i Shabb. 142

i Thus (Shabb. 74 b, lines 12, 11 from bottom), if a person were to pull out a feather from the wing of a bird, cut off

the top, and then pluck off the fluff below, it would involve three labours and three sin-offerings.

THE LAW OF SABBATH-REST.

57

XXXV

4

b Jer.

Shabb. xvi.

pointed to rest. The keeping of the seventh day, and the Jewish CHAP. mode of its observance, were the temporal and outward form in which these eternal principles were presented. Even Rabbinism, in some measure, perceived this. It was a principle, that danger to life superseded the Sabbath Law,' and, indeed, all other obligations.? Among the curious Scriptural and other arguments by which this principle was supported, that which probably would most appeal to common sense was derived from Lev. xviii. 5. It was argued, that a man was to keep the commandments that he might live-certainly not, that by so doing he might die. In other words, the outward Jer. Shabb. mode of observance was subordinate to the object of the observance. Yet this other and kindred principle did Rabbinism lay down, that every positive commandment superseded the Sabbath-rest. This was the ultimate vindication of work in the Temple, although certainly not its explanation. Lastly, we should, in this connection, include this important canon, laid down by the Rabbis : 'a single Rabbinic prohibition is not to be heeded, where a graver matter is in question.'

All these points must be kept in view for the proper under- 1 standing of the words of Christ to the Scribes. For, while going far beyond the times and notions of His questioners, His reasoning must have been within their comprehension. Hence the first argument of our Lord, as recorded by all the Synoptists, was taken from Biblical History. When, on his flight from Saul, David had, when an hungered, eaten of the shewbread, and given it to his followers, although, by the letter of the Levitical Law, it was only to be eaten Lev. xxiv. by the priests, Jewish tradition vindicated the conduct of David on the plea that danger to life superseded the Sabbath-Law,' and hence, all laws connected with it, while, to show David's zeal for the Sabbath Law, it is added, that he had reproved the priests of Nob, who had been baking the shewbread on the Sabbath. To the first - Yalkut ii. argument of Christ, St. Matthew adds this as His second, that the p. 18 d priests, in their services in the Temple, necessarily broke the Sabbath

3

5-9

' But only where the life of an Israel. joined with his father in the priesthood. ite, not of a heathen or Samaritan, was Comp. the · Bible-History,' vol. iv. p. in danger (Yoma 84 b).

111. ? Maimonides, Hilc. Shabb. ii. 1 (Yad · The question discussed in the Talmud haCh. vol. i. part iii. p. 141 a): “The Sab- is, whether, supposing an ordinary Israel. bath is set aside on account of danger to ite discharged priestly functions on the life, as all other ordinances sa va Sabbath in the Temple, it would involve ).'

two sins : unlawful service and Sabbath* According to 1 Sam. xxii. 9 Ahimelech desecration; or only one sin, unlawful (or Ahijah, 1 Sam. xiv. 3) was the High

service. Priest. Weinfer, that Abiatbar was con

.(המצות

BOOK
III

ii. 5

Law without thereby incurring guilt. It is curious, that the Talmud discusses this very point, and that, by way of illustration, it introduces an argument from Lev. xxii. 10: There shall no stranger eat of things consecrated. This, of course, embodies the principle

underlying the prohibition of the shewbread to all who were not Jer. Shabb. priests. Without entering further on it, the discussion at least

shows, that the Rabbis were by no means clear on the rationale of Sabbath-work in the Temple.

In truth, the reason why David was blameless in eating the sherbread was the same as that which made the Sabbath-labour of the priests lawful. The Sabbath-Law was not one merely of rest, but of rest for worship. The Service of the Lord was the object in view. The priests worked on the Sabbath, because this service was the object of the Sabbath ; and David was allowed to eat of the shewbread, not because there was danger to life from starvation, but because he pleaded that he was on the service of the Lord, and needed this provision. The disciples, when following the Lord, were similarly on the service of the Lord ; ministering to Him was more than ministering in the Temple, for He was greater than the Temple. If the Pharisees had believed this, they would not have questioned their conduct, nor in so doing have themselves infringed that higher Law which enjoined mercy, not sacrifice.

To this St. Mark adds as a corollary: The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. It is remarkable, that a similar argument is used by the Rabbis. When insisting that the Sabbath Law should be set aside to avoid danger to life, it is urged : 'the

Sabbath is handed over to you; not, ye are handed over to the Mechilton Sabbath. Lastly, the three Evangelists record this as the final out

come of His teaching on this subject, that “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath also. The Service of God, and the Service of the Temple, by universal consent, superseded the Sabbath-Law. But Christ was greater than the Temple, and His Service more truly that of God, and higher than that of the outward Temple—and the Sabbath was intended for man, to serve God: therefore Christ and His Service were superior to the Sabbath-Law. Thus much would be intelligible to these Pharisees, although they would not receive it, because they believed not on Him as the Sent of God.'

But to us the words mean more than this. They preach not only

Ex, el. Weiss,

p. 1096

i We may here again state, that D has this after St. Luke vi. 4: The same day, having beholden a man work

ing on the Sabbath, He said to him: “Man, if thou knowest what thou dost, blessed art thou : but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed and a transgressor of the Law" ' (Nicholson, Gospel according to the Hebrews, p. 151). It need scarcely

THE MAN WITH THE WITHERED HAND.

59

CHAP.
XXXV

that the Service of Christ is that of God, but that; even more than in the Temple, all of work or of liberty is allowed which this service requires. We are free while we are doing anything for Christ; God loves mercy, and demands not sacrifice; His sacrifice is the service of Christ, in heart, and life, and work. We are not free to do anything we please; but we are free to do anything needful or helpful, while we are doing any service to Christ. He is the Lord of the Sabbath, Whom we serve in and through the Sabbath. And even this is significant, that, when designating Himself Lord of the Sabbath, it is as “the Son of Man.' It shows, that the narrow Judaistic form regarding the day and the manner of observance is enlarged into the wider Law, which applies to all humanity. Under the New Testament the Sabbath has, as the Church, become Catholic, and its Lord is Christ as the Son of Man, to Whom the body Catholic offers the acceptable service of heart and life.

The question as between Christ and the Pharisees was not, however, to end here. “On another Sabbath ’-probably that followingHe was in their Synagogue. Whether or not the Pharisees had brought the man with the withered hand' on purpose, or placed him in a conspicuous position, or otherwise raised the question, certain it is that their secret object was to commit Christ to some word or deed, which would lay Him open to the capital charge of breaking the Sabbath-Law. It does not appear, whether the man with the withered hand was consciously or unconsciously their tool. But in this they judged rightly: that Christ would not witness disease without removing it-or, as we might express it, that disease could not continue in the Presence of Him, who was the Life. He read their inward thoughts of evil, and yet He proceeded to do the good which He purposed. So God, in His majestic greatness, carries out the purpose which He has fixed-which we call the law of nature-whoever and whatever stand in the way; and so God, in His sovereign goodness, adapts it to the good of His creatures, notwithstanding their evil thoughts.

So much unclearness prevails as to the Jewish views about healing on the Sabbath, that some connected information on the subject seems needful. We have already seen, that in their view only actual danger to life warranted a breach of the Sabbath-Law. But this opened a large field for discussion. Thus, according to some, disease

be said, that the words, as placed in St. Luke, are a spurious addition.

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