Ancient Origins Iraq tour

The Sabbath Rest by Samuel Hirszenberg (1894)

Honor The Sabbath Day - The Birth Of The Week

To the Hebrew prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea, the Psalms and the Book of Kings, the Sabbath signified the Full Moon, whereas for Jews in the days of ancient Rome it came to mean one day out of a seven-day week. How did that transition come to be? Josephus describes how Judaism spread around the Mediterranean – there were some 7-8 million Jews in the Roman Empire – taking the seven-day week with it. Everyone liked the idea of the Sabbath, he explained, as a day of rest every seven days. It was one of the more attractive features of the religion. Roman writers were then commenting upon how the ‘week’ was a relatively new idea.

The historian Dio Cassius (155-235 AD) alluded to the seven-day week as having originated in Egypt, not long before his time: “The custom, however, of referring the days to the seven stars called planets was instituted by the Egyptians, but is now found among all mankind, though its adoption has been comparatively recent; at any rate the ancient Greeks never understood it, so far as I am aware. But since it is now quite the fashion with mankind generally and even with the Romans themselves…”

The death of Cleopatra by German Von Bohm (1841) (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The death of Cleopatra by German Von Bohm (1841) (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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