Shabbat Themes and Theology

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Despite the fact that the Torah mentions the word "Shabbat" more than 80 times, only a few of these references actually deal specifically with how one is to observe the Sabbath day, and only two of them tell us why. However, these two reasons for observing the Shabbat are intriguing and significant. 

The first reason the Torah gives begins in the book of Genesis: "On the seventh day, God finished that work that He had been doing.... 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." (Genesis 2:2-3). Although there is no mention here that human beings should also observe a Sabbath, in the book of Exodus (in the first articulation of the Ten Commandments), God declares that the Israelites should "remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy…for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8, 11).

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