Sabbath History Timeline

Discover the fascinating history of the Sabbath from biblical and extra-biblical sources. This day has been a part of the human experience for a very long time, and has impacted all societies and cultures for thousands of years. You might be surprised at what you learn!

  • The Sabbath at Creation

    According to the Bible, the Sabbath originated at creation. Genesis 2:2-3 says, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had […]

  • The Seven-Day Week

    Unlike the year, month, or day, the seven-day week has no basis in astronomical movements. The only record of its origin is found in the Genesis creation account. Throughout human history, the seven-day week has been observed by most cultures in every part of the world. In the Genesis account of the worldwide flood, the […]

  • A Sabbath Work Law in Ancient Egypt

    As slaves in Egypt, the Israelites were not able to serve or worship God, and this was one reason that He delivered them from slavery. Psalm 105:43-45 says, “He brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness: and gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labor of the […]

  • Sabbath and the Miracle Manna

    After escaping from Egypt, but before being given the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, the Israelites found themselves wandering through the wilderness of Sin. When they complained about not having food to eat, God said, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate […]

  • Memorial of Creation

    When God gave the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, they were a written summary of the laws and principles that God had always expected people to live by. For example, centuries earlier God had chosen Abraham to be the father of many nations “because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, […]

  • Sign of Sanctification

    This is not only a memorial of God’s work of creation—it is also a sign of His work of sanctification, or redemption from sin. In Exodus 31:13 God says, “Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the […]

  • The Sabbath and the Sanctuary

    The Sabbath was central to services of the sanctuary, and later the temple in Jerusalem, where it was marked by special offerings and ritual. Two additional lambs were added to the regular burnt offering on the Sabbath, and the twelve cakes of bread in the Holy Place were replaced on the Sabbath. Leviticus 24:8 explains, […]

  • Sabbath Rest and Freedom

    Moses repeated the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel at the end of their forty years of wilderness wanderings. Here the Sabbath stands as a memorial of their redemption from slavery: “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through […]

  • Visiting the Prophets on Sabbath

    When the son of a Shunammite woman died, she asked her husband to send a servant and a donkey to the prophet Elisha. Her husband replied,“Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? It is neither new moon, nor sabbath” (2 Kings 4:23). His reply suggested that it was customary for Israelites in Old Testament […]

  • A Sabbath Coup

    During the time of Israel’s divided kingdom, Athaliah, the daughter of Israel’s King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, seized power in Judah after the death of her son Ahaziah. She immediately executed all the royal seed in an effort to perpetuate her reign, and did her best to establish the exclusive worship of Baal. However, one […]