Friday, September 5, 2008

1:2:73: Creation finished?

"And on the seventh day God finished" (Gen. 2:2). Isn't this statement curious? Geniva explained it by the parable of a king who made a bridal chamber, which he painted and decorated. Now, what did the bridal chamber still lack? The bride to enter it. So, too, what did the world still lack? The Sabbath.
A footnote (in the English version, but I'm not sure if it's in the Hebrew edition) clarifies for us what the confusion is over, saying, "Did not God finish His work of creation in six days? Why then does Scripture say He finished on the seventh day?"

There is indeed something odd about the idea that the world is complete on it's seventh day. Chapter one of Genesis details the six days of creation, while chapter two begins with the first Shabat. The first Shabat goes off without a hitch, but after that, everything goes south.

The snake misbehaves, humans eat of forbidden fruit, we're kicked out of Gan Eden, and, pretty soon, you've got the invention of fratricide all in a pretty short span of text.

So things are fine on the first Shabat, but afterward, the world descends back into a chaotic, unfinished state. And so it goes for us every week.

We try to reach stopping points on each of our own personal projects of creation every Friday afternoon so that we can enjoy a day of wholeness and finished-ness. And then, somwhere around that third star's arrival on Saturday night, everything goes south again and the work of mending, building, constructing, and creating begins again.

And on that note, Shabat Shalom, blogosphites!



Bruce said...

Nice, thank you.

David A.M. Wilensky said...

You're very welcome, Bruce.

Anonymous said...

It’s a typo in the Torah. The P code redactor was so eager to keep repeating “Yom HaShevi’i” (the seventh day) in that passsage to keep you from calling it “Yom HaShabbat” (Saturn’s day, which refers to an alien diety) that he screwed up and said that the work was completed on Yom HaShevi’i. The Samaritan text reads “Vayechal Elo-him bayom HaShishi.”

Yom Hashevi’i shalom,

David A.M. Wilensky said...

Mosh, I'm actually avidly interested in Doc. Hypothesis, so I'm wondering if you could elaborate on this. I've never heard about the Saturn-Shabat connection.

BZ said...

Saturn=Saturday, and Shabbetai (the Hebrew name of the planet Saturn) = Shabbat, but was Saturn (a Roman god) known in P's time?

Another possibility: I've heard a hypothesis that "shabbat" originally referred to the full moon (hence the various biblical references to "chodesh v'shabbat": new moon and full moon), then referred to the four phases of the moon, roughly (but not exactly) 7 days apart, then the Jewish contribution was to decouple Shabbat from the moon and make it exactly every 7 days with no exceptions. So maybe P is emphasizing that the day of rest is the 7th day (no exceptions), not just "shabbat" (a phase of the moon).

David A.M. Wilensky said...

I've also heard the the idea that it's related to Shevet, sit. The idea being that we are relaxing or sitting on Shabat.