Jesus did not break the Sabbath commandment
Debate Rounds (4)
First Round Acceptance
1 "At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!
3 But He said to them, Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? "that they might accuse Him.
11 Then He said to them, What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." 13 Then He said to the man, Stretch out your hand.And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.
23 Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees said to Him, Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?
25 But He said to them, Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: 26 how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?
27 And He said to them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.
Now it happened on the second Sabbath after the first that He went through the grainfields. And His disciples plucked the heads of grain and ate them, rubbing them in their hands. 2 And some of the Pharisees said to them, Why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?
3 But Jesus answering them said, Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, and also gave some to those with him, which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat? 5 And He said to them, The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.
6 Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. And a man was there whose right hand was withered. 7 So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath, that they might find an accusation against Him. 8 But He knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, Arise and stand here." And he arose and stood. 9 Then Jesus said to them, I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy? 10 And when He had looked around at them all, He said to the man, Stretch out your hand. And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 11 But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus."
According to Halakha or Jewish law, Talmud tractate Shabbat outlines 39 prohibited actions on the Sabbath. Jesus broke the rabbinical traditions, however he was completely in line with the written Torah. The Pharisees were Jews who enforced the traditions of the oral Torah (1).
"8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
The commandment never forbade doing God's works of salvation towards the people.
It is very clear that Jesus did not break the Sabbath commandment, rather the rabbinical traditions which were established by the Pharisees than of God.
1. What did Jesus do?
2. What did the Sabbath law state?
3. Who had the authority to define the Sabbath law and to execute judgement?
4. Did Jesus give a valid defense?
Issue 1: What did Jesus do?
According to Matthew, Jesus, on the Sabbath, plucked "corn":
"At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn , and to eat." (Matthew 12:1)
The Greek word used is stachys which means "an ear of corn or of growing grain" (Strong's Concordance, G4719)
So it is clear that Jesus plucked a type of plant.
Issue 2. What did the Sabbath law state?
The law is as follows:
"But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:" (Exodus 20:10)
In Numbers, a man was killed to plucking "sticks", as it constituted "work".
"And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp." (Numbers 15:32-35)
A "stick", in Hebrew, is an ets which is defined as "tree, wood, timber, stock, plank, stalk, stick, gallows". (Strong's Concordance H6086).
The question then is whether an ets ("stick") can be considered a stachys ("ear of corn"). The Pro will no doubt argue that a stick isn't an ear of corn, and this is true in terms of English, but corn and wheat both have stalks:
However, neither I nor the Pro have any Biblical authority whatsoever to interpret the Torah. The best we can do is define the words properly, and that is it. Yet the Torah does tell us who indeed can and must interpret it, and it tells us clearly how binding their decision is. Which brings me to my next point:
Issue 3. Who had the authority to define the Sabbath law and to execute judgement?
In Deuteronomy we read:
"If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously." (Deuteronomy 17:8-13)
In this passage, we find the following:
a. Controversies of interpreting the Torah are to be taken to the priests and the judges (shas). (Deuteronomy 17:7-9)
b. Their ruling is absolutely binding. (Deuteronomy 17:10-11)
c. If anyone does not follow their ruling, they are to be put to death. (Deuteronomy 17:12)
Jesus himself acknowledges that the priests and judges of his time, although hypocrites, had the authority to interpret and enforce the written Torah.
"Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." (Matthews 23:1-3)
Therefore, if the priests and judges of Israel determine that an ear of corn or wheat ( stachys ) is defined as an ets , and if they define plucking them as "work", then according to God himself, Jesus must have broke the Sabbath. As you will note, in the account of Numbers, Moses makes the decision of interpreting the Torah. If Moses is absent, then the Levites and Judges take his seat, according to Deuteronomy 17:8-13. Jesus makes clear that the Pharisees, at the very least, qualify as judges, saying that "whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do". Thus, if they bid you observe not to pluck stachys on the Sabbath, you must do it, or perish. He tells the people "whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do", but if he does not also follow his commands to others, he is as hypocritcal as they are. Tell me, Pro, if this is not the truth. Answer it clearly, decisively, without chickening out or waffling.
Therefore, the priests and judges decide what ets means. If they say stachys qualifies as an ets , the Tanakh gives them that authority --- and, if the Tanakh is inspired by God, God gives them that authority. In summation, Jesus disobeyed the Judges of Israel and was openly rebellious to the authority that God gave them. Therefore, since Jesus violated the commands of the Pharisaic priests and judges of his day --- an authority which, once established, is never annulled by any passage in the Torah itself, no matter how "hypocritical" a peasant may judge them --- Jesus deserved death by stoning.
Issue 4. Did Jesus give a valid defense?
Now, let us look at Jesus' defence:
"But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day." (Matthew 12:3-8)
I will refute these point by point:
a. If David's eating of the shewbread broke the Torah, then by referring to David's eating of the shewbread as an example, Jesus is using a Torah-breaker (albeit an admired one) to justify his own breaking of the Torah, and thereby admitting he broke the Torah. (1 Samuel 21:1-5) But according to the Torah, even if King David breaks the Torah, it does not make breaking the Torah a right thing for anyone to do. In fact, David more grievously broke the Torah in the story of Uriah the Hittite, and the child that was born of his iniquity was murdered by God. (2 Samuel 11-12) To use David to justify his Torah breaking shows the fallibility of Jesus, for David is by no means an example of a man who always kept the Torah.
b. Jesus then argues that since the priests work in the Temple on the Sabbath day, they thereby profane it. However, if the priests (Levites) themselves are the judges of what is and is not lawful to do on the Sabbath day, they cannot possibly profane it. Jesus demonstrates his lack of knowledge of Israelite jurisprudence when it comes to the issue of lawful legal authority. But, again, he is using an example of the priests "profaning" or "desecrating" (bebeloo, G953 Strong's Concordance), Jesus is admitting that he is "profaning" and "desecrating" the Sabbath.
NOTE THAT JESUS NOWHERE ARGUES IN THIS PASSAGE THAT STACHYS IS NOT AN ETS, NOR DOES HE ARGUE THAT PLUCKING THEM IS NOT WORK. He merely justifies them by David's lawlessness and the supposed lawlessness of the Sabbath-profaning priests (who, according to God, have the authority to decide what is "work" or not in the Torah).
c. Jesus then claims its all good because he's all God. However, God is neither a man nor the Son of Man, as clearly expressed in the Torah itself:
"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man (Ben 'Adam), that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19)
Thus if God is not a Ben 'Adam, and Jesus says Ben 'Adam is the Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus is directly contradicting the Bible which says the one who is not a man (iysh) nor the Son of Man (Ben 'Adam) is LORD OF ALL:
"The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all." (Psalms 103:19)
"For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:" (Deuteronomy 10:17)
"For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth." (Psalms 47:2)
If the Lord's kingdom "ruleth over all", and if the Sabbath is part of "all" (which it must be), then the Lord, who is not the Son of Man, is alone Lord of the Sabbath, refuting Jesus entirely.
Chapter 5. Conclusion
I have numbered all my rebuttals by number, and listed by letter important sub points. I ask that the Pro follow this format in his rebuttals, so as not to gloss over anything. If the Pro does not address a point, it can be safely assumed that his argument is insufficient.
In order to counter my rebuttals, the Pro has 3 tasks:
a. To show, via the Torah itself, that the priests and judges of Jesus' time had no authority to interpret or execute the laws of the Torah
b. To harmonize this lack of authority with Jesus' clear statement to his followers to do everything they said --- albeit without their own hypocrisy
c. That Jesus' arguments in any way imply that he didn't actually break the Sabbath
If the Pro cannot do this, he has failed.
Rebuttals: Con attempts to connect the incident in Numbers 15 with the one in Matthew 12, but commits a few errors here.
1) Matt. 12:1 says that the disciples plucked the heads of grain which was permissible under the Torah. Deuteronomy 23:25 "25 When you come into your neighbors standing grain, you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not use a sickle on your neighbors standing grain."
2) Gathering sticks in Numbers 15:32-35 comes from the Hebrew Qahash and the context indicates it's used to work (1) perhaps to light a fire. There is nothing in the Hebrew which tells us that ets is a type of corn.
3) The desire to save life overrides ceremonial law. I'll now explain why Jesus defense is justified: 1 Samuel 21:1-6 "1 Now David came to Nob, to Ahimelech the priest. And Ahimelech was afraid when he met David, and said to him,"Why are you alone, and no one is with you? 2 So David said to Ahimelech the priest,"The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me,"Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you. And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. 3 Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.4 And the priest answered David and said,"There is no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread, if the young men have at least kept themselves from women."5 Then David answered the priest, and said to him, "Truly, women have been kept from us about three days since I came out. And the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in effect common, even though it was consecrated in the vessel this day.6 So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread which had been taken from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place on the day when it was taken away."Nevertheless David's men were holy and pure. While it is true that only the priests could eat of the consecrated bread, preserving human life was more important. Notice that God never punished David for his act.
Would the Pharisees dare say that David sinned in saving human life? Let's see.According to the Mishnah Sabbath 18:3, it's permitted to break the Sabbath so that life can be saved at birth (2). Not only did they contradict the Torah with their traditions (Deut. 4:2), but also contradict their own traditions.Jubilees 50:10 also forbids work except providing atonement and offerings for the people. It is therefore that providing sacrifices to save the life of others is permitted. Jesus is greater than the Temple because he came to his father's work in redeeming humanity and providing atonement for souls.He quotes Hosea 6:6 "6For I desire mercy (chesed) and not sacrifice,And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."In chapter 1, we see the Apostasy committed by Israel and condemned by God and as a result, God had rejected the priest (4:6). The Hebrew word Chesed can be translated as kindness, goodness, love, mercy, and zeal towards another (3).
Con presents a case where Jesus commanded his disciples to follow the Pharisees, however he misinterprets the context.
Matt 23:1-12: “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, v.2 saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. "They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, "greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' "But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. "And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus was affirming that they listen to Moses authority however he warned against listening to their oral traditions as they themselves break them. His disciples only had one teacher who is Christ.
While under the Torah, disputes are to be taken to the priests and judges. While the son of man can refer to humans, Jesus is the son of man in the sense that he is divine.
13 "I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed."
It is thus that Jesus has dominion to judge fairly on what is to be done on the Sabbath and is therefore the highest authority.
I am going to alphabetize questions to the Pro which I believe he cannot adequately answer. Seriously, Pro, all you need to do is type the letter, a dot, and a short explanation.
1) Nowhere did I claim that it was not permissible to pluck heads of grain. My claim was --- as with the Pharisees --- that it was not permissible to do so on the Sabbath.
Deuteronomy 23:25 only specifies that it is lawful to do so. It does not mention if it is lawful to do so on the Sabbath.
Pro, do you concede that:
a. Deuteronomy 23:25 does not specify that this act can be done upon the Sabbath day? If not, say why.
b. That I nowhere claimed that plucking heads of grain was, in itself, unlawful (provided it is not done on the Sabbath day, if prohibited by the legal authorities of Israel)? If not, say why.
2) As I pointed out, the priests and judges of Israel have the full legal authority to determine what may or may not be done on the Sabbath. "Ets" may not be a type of corn, but if the judges of Israel say not to pluck corn or grain on the Sabbath, then their ruling is Torah.
c. Do you concede that if the priests and judges of Israel rule that corn/grain is not to be plucked on the Sabbath, that "thou shalt do according to the sentence"? If not, say why.
3) The Pro here admits that David broke the Torah by eating the consecrated bread, although justifying it for the sake of preserving life. Therefore, Jesus, by using David breaking the Torah as an example, implying that his presence as a Rabbi while his disciples were plucking corn was a breaking of the Torah in itself.
The Pro then resorts to the Mishnah to justify his claim.
d. If you reject the authority of the priests and judges of Israel, why would you even bring up the Mishnah?
e. Are you implying that Jesus and his disciples were on the verge of starvation?
f. Let me get this straight: they were on the verge of starvation with a guy who can feed an entire crowd with a few loaves of bread and some fish?
I would argue they were not in danger of dying and, therefore, even the Mishnah would not countenance their actions --- unless, of course, the Mishnah specifies that what they did was permissible on the Sabbath.
4) The Pro claims that the Pharisees (by implication, priests and judges of Israel) are in violation Deuteronomy 4:2, which reads:
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."
Did Moses add or take away from the Torah in issuing the death sentence to the Sabbath stick gatherer?
What did he do?
He took the principles of the Torah and made a sentence. He had no choice but to do so according to Deuteronomy 17:8-13
If the Pro believes interpreting the Torah is adding to and taking away from the Torah, then he is implying the Torah contradicts itself.
g. Explain how a legal ruling on the definition of what constitutes "work" on the Torah is "adding" to it, when the judges of Israel, in order to fulfil the Torah, must interpret it and issue judgments.
5) Lastly, the Pro is clearly making the argument that since Jesus is God, he can do what he wants. If that's the case, he doesn't need to justify Jesus not breaking the Sabbath, because Jesus can't possibly break the Sabbath! The entire debate is flawed, because it can be won on a technicality.
It's like asking the guy who programmed Mario 3 is Mario can fly without getting that raccoon head thing. Technically, according to the rules of the game, Mario can't do it, but if the programmer wants to make a cheat code, sure Mario can! The Pro has resorted to a theological Game Genie (which only us people born in the 80s know about).
But, no game is fun if you're playing it in God-mode, unless you're some kind of sadist who just wants to kill as many creatures as possible, without strategy or danger. Similarly, if we say Jesus is God so he can't break the Sabbath, why even have the debate? Jesus could do anything he wants and he's still "sinless". He could totally kick a puppy in the face and it's just dandy. This doesn't work, and it absolute failure of the Pro's arguments.
6) Now, to address a side issue, did God invalidate the judges of Israel through the quote from Hosea?
Let's look at the verse:
"For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6)
If the Pro is correct in his interpretation, then this means God is nullifying the Torah himself, and doing so during the time of Hosea which was the 8th century B.C.
h.Also, if the 1st chapter of Hosea means that God has done away with the Israelite judges and priesthood in 8th century B.C., then why is Ezra re-establishing the whole deal in the 5th century B.C.?
i. And why did Mary and Joseph go "to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons" (Luke 2:24)?
Clearly, all God is saying is that he wants people to end a dry, ritualistic attitude, and not the doing away with the entire Torah.
To summarize (with Roman Numerals now):
I. The Pro has not demonstrated from the Torah that the judges of Israel had no right to make rulings on what can or cannot be done on the Sabbath.
II. Therefore, we have every reason to believe that, according to the Torah itself, the judges' of Israel's ruling was as binding as the Torah itself.
III. The Pro has not demonstrated that Jesus even denied breaking the Torah --- he merely said that breaking it was justified because of the example of David, the priests working on the Sabbath and because he was God.
Therefore, we can safely conclude:
IV. The judges of Israel during the time of Christ had the authority to forbid plucking grain or corn or whatever on the Sabbath and there ruling was legally binding on all Jews, including Jesus.
V. Jesus violated the Sabbath or, at the least, stood by while his disciples did so, without reprimending them.
VI. If Jesus didn't violate the Sabbath, Pro hasn't done a good enough job proving it. Someone else might be able to, or the Pro himself might even be able to do so in a few weeks, but not during this debate.
Truth_seeker forfeited this round.
I never know what to say after a forfeit, so here is a Haiku I wrote about pugs and the Sabbath:
Pugs never break the Sabbath
because they never do anything
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ajabi 2 years ago
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