THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE SABBATH
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and rested ( Ex. 31.17).
THE seven-day week is so universally accepted and the Sabbath as a weekly rest-day is so firmly rooted an institution that hardly anyone questions their origin. It is generally assumed that the seven-day week ending with a day of rest is part of the scheme of creation, and that like the laws of Nature it has always existed and will continue to exist forever. People rarely stop to recall that the seven-day week is a unique Hebrew creation, and that the Sabbath, as a universal rest-day, is one of the most important Hebrew contributions to modern civilization.
Among the ancients the week was usually a subdivision of the lunar month. Since the lunar cycle consists of approximately twenty-nine and a half days, any subdivision yielded weeks of unequal length. Some peoples divided the lunar month into four parts, obtaining three seven-day weeks and one eight- or nine-day week in each month. Other peoples divided the lunar months into three, five, or six parts, giving them a ten-day, six-day, or five-day week. In each case one week in the month was shortened