When does the Shabbath Day Start?

No "Lunar" Shabbath

In recent days I have been confronted with some statements on shabbath that I do not find supported anywhere in scripture. Several people who claim to be followers of Yahuwah tell me that the start of shabbath is related to the phase of the moon. In other words, in order to know what day of the secular week the shabbath really falls on you have to know when the new moon occurs and then count to the seventh day after that event. They call this doctrine the "Lunar Shabbath."

I have searched scripture and find zero support for this doctrine.

In B’ereshiyth (Genesis) chapter one, Elohiym started the creation effort on day one. In that chapter the effort was continued through the sixth day, and then in chapter two we are told that Yahuwah rested, proclaimed that seventh day as a time out (or intermission) from work, and set it apart as a consecrated day of rest. The day of rest applied not only to Himself but to all mankind also.

He did not call the day “shabbath” at that time either. He merely said that He blessed it and set it apart (consecrated) as a day of rest.

Now take note that the day count started from the beginning of creation and not at some time determined by a phase of the moon. In fact, the moon does not even appear until the fourth day, so it obviously played no part in determining which day He hallowed. So the chronology of the seven-day week was set at creation, prior to the appearance of the sun and moon, and has not been changed since then.

The next mention of a day of rest is in Shemot (Exodus) 16:23. Here Mosheh tells the people to gather food that day but not the next. Then he goes on to say that, “Six days you shall gather it but on the seventh day, which is a shabbath, there will be none.” So the sixth day was the day they “prepared” for shabbath and the seventh day IS shabbath. Take note that He just declared that the seventh day is shabbath without saying anything about how to determine when the week started.

When we are given something in scripture that we have to be careful to observe, it is explained in enough detail so that even a child can understand it. No explanation given in one place means that is was or will be explained in another. There is not such a place in scripture concerning the seventh day after B'ereshiyth 2.

That same seventh day consecrated in B'ereshiyth 2 has remained unchanged in Ibriy history and custom over the millennia and has never been lost. (For a detailed inspection of that statement, see the article, “The Lost Shabbath?” on this web site.)

The Ibriy knew a seventh day shabbath and also other days that were treated as shabbath even though they fell on other days of the week. Those “other shabbaths” are commanded by Yahuwah in “set times” for certain activities, such as festivals and specified days (Yom Kippur, for instance). Those events are determined by the day of the month on which they occur and not by a weekly chronology. So here the phase of the moon does have every thing to do with the day. These shabbaths that occurred as a result of being part of a festival are called “high days.” An example of that is the sequence of Passover. Passover always occurs on the fourteenth day of the first month. That first month is determined by the sighting of the first new moon after the vernal equinox. Immediately following Passover is the Festival of Unleavened Bread and the first day of that festival is a "high day" (treated as shabbath). So here is one of several shabbaths that are determined by the new moon.

Now let us look at the impalement of our Savior Yahushua and when it occurred.

As the Passover Lamb, He had to be killed on the fourteenth day of the first month and so He was. That was ordained at the exodus of the people from Mitsrayim (Shemot 12) and I don’t think I will get any argument from anybody about that fact. But what day of the week did that Passover fall on?

  • Yahushua was “cut off in the middle of the week.”
  • He had to be buried before sundown because the next day after Passover starts the festival of Unleavened Bread and is a “high day” and therefore a shabbath.
  • He said that He would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (sign of Yonah).
  • Early on the first day of the week He was risen.

So counting back we see that for Him to have already been risen early on the first day, He had to buried at least three days before that and that day falls on the fourth day of the week (middle of the week).

The women watched to see where He was buried and then went home to keep the shabbath (Markos 15), which was the “high day” (Yahuchanan 19) of the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After that shabbath was past (fifth day of the week), the women bought spices to anoint His body (sixth day of the week). Then at the break of dawn on the first day they went to the tomb where they thought His body lay. They could not have bought those spices on the shabbath (and remember that the day starts at sundown in their society) so they waited until AFTER the "high day" shabbath to buy those spices. Then they had to wait again until after the regular weekly shabbath to go to the tomb. It is pretty sure they would not have found a merchant open and doing business before dawn on the first day from whom they could have bought those spices.

So the day of the week of His death and the day of His rising are well established in its chronology of the week. Even those people who erroneously think He arose on the first day know when the first day really is, as it has not changed over the millennia either.

For the doubters who think these people who wrote those words of scripture were mixed up about which day it was, remember that Yahushua IS the Creator and He surely knew exactly what day it was. He made it a point to do things on shabbath that violated the rabbinical restrictions that had been illegally placed on that day.

There has been no change in the succession of the days of the week since that time, either scripturally, historically, or in any other way. The seventh day today is STILL the seventh day of scripture.

Now some other people, notably those who style themselves as “Christian Identity,” believe that they can keep the "sabbath" any time they so desire, which is almost as bad as attempting to change the day to the first day as "churchianity" has done. Their reasoning is that since sunset occurs at a different time every day it is too difficult to determine the exact time of sunset so they cannot really know when the shabbaths start and stop. They instead pick noon as the time the day starts and stops. Of course there is absolutely zero support for that idea in scripture. Besides that, they start the day at noon by the clock. That means when we are in daylight savings time that their day is not in accordance with the rest of the year. Yahuwah never ordained any daylight savings time and so they are, once again, in error because they determine the day by man's methods and not by Yahuwah's.

Anyway, determining the correct time of noon by the position of the sun is just as difficult as determining the correct time of sunset by the position of the sun, so the only difference in their method is that they are not in obedience to Yahuwah.”

If you keep any other day than the seventh day from sundown to sundown, as we know it today, you are in violation of the word of Yahuwah. He gave us the day as an everlasting covenant (Shemot 31:16) and it is up to us to honor and keep it as He commanded. If you do not do so, you are not in obedience to Him and you are none of His.

Related articles which you may find to be of interest.

The Lost Shabbath?
Lunar Shabbath Refuted by Scripture
Rome's Challenge
The Shabbath. Saturday?
The Shabbath Day of Yahuwah
True Shabbath in the Languages of the World
The Shabbath Over the Centuries
Shabbath References in Scripture
Week Chart of the Shabbath

C.F. Castleberry