Septenary Time And The Origin Of The Sabbath -- By: John Q. Bittinger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 046:182 (Apr 1889)
Article: Septenary Time And The Origin Of The Sabbath
Author: John Q. Bittinger


Septenary Time And The Origin Of The Sabbath

Rev. John Q. Bittinger

Whilst the obligation of the Sabbath rests for its claim to acceptance upon reasons derived chiefly from the Bible, these may be supplemented by others which are drawn from the beneficent fruits of Sabbath observance. The correspondence between the promise of good as set forth in the Bible in connection with the Sabbath, and the realization of such good in human experience, is evidence that the Fourth Commandment has its foundation in the highest wisdom and benevolence. It also strengthens the belief in the day as co-eval with man and as a perpetual enjoinment on his regard.

The primeval origin of the Sabbath has been assaulted, and its institution placed at a period much later than the creation. Recent disclosures from researches in remote antiquity give new interest and force to this aspect of the subject, and it will be the aim of these pages to collate and examine the facts in regard to septenary time, and to point out their bearing, if any, upon the question of the origin of the Sabbath. There is no dispute as regards the wide prevalence of the seven-day week amongst nations. “Whatever controversies exist respecting the origin of the week, there can be none about the great antiquity of measuring time by a period of seven days… . Its antiquity is so great, its observance so wide-spread,

that it has been very generally thrown back as far as the creation of man.”1

It can hardly be accidental that nations of widely separate existence, both in time and territory, should have fallen upon this division of time. The fact calls for the reason of it. Either the custom had its origin in some circumstance or event which acted independently upon different nations; or, having been adopted by some nation from a circumstance or event peculiar to itself, it was thence transmitted to surrounding peoples by international intercourse; or, the fact is suggestive of some common source, dating back of any special ethnic circumstance or natural phenomena, from which the custom sprang.

The question, then, presents itself, Is there any relationship between the week of nations and the primitive institution of the Sabbath? It is admitted,2 that if upon trustworthy investigation it should be found that the observance of one day in seven is universal amongst nations which could not have derived their knowledge of the day from the Bible, such a fact would in the highest degree be indicative of some marked primitive event in which the custom must have originated.

This claim is...

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