The latest stage had me looking at where else the six days of creation are referred to in the Bible, apart from Genesis 1. And as far as I can see there are only two occasions, in Exodus 20 and Exodus 31:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. [...] For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Ex 20:8,11, NIV)
The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath ... for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested. (Ex 31:16a,17b, NIV)
And that’s apparently it! The second occasion, however, had me particularly intrigued, because it comes at the end of five-and-a-half chapters of detailed instructions on how and why to build a Tabernacle (Exodus 25:1-31:11).
The ‘why’ is in 25:8, where God says to Moses,
Then have them [the Israelites] make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.
And then the details run on, page after page until chapter 31 where we hear about Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, who is going to be filled with God’s Spirit to supervise the construction of what has been detailed in the previous chapters.
Then we get, almost out of the blue, the second reference to the Sabbath above (vv 12-17). Now my question was, “Why does this reference to the Sabbath come here?” And the answer I am exploring is that there are allusions throughout the instructions for building the Tabernacle to the situation described in the Genesis accounts of creation and the garden in Eden.
Compare the following table I drew up:
Should we perhaps see a parallel between the creation of the world in Genesis, which leads up to the seventh day of divine ‘rest’, and the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus, which therefore (logically) leads up to the Sabbath day of symbolic ‘creation rest’ (when not only people but animals ceased from their labours)?
I notice, incidentally, that in Genesis 2, the seventh day is not actually referred to as a ‘Sabbath’. Indeed, the word doesn’t occur until Exodus 16:23 (which precedes the giving of the Ten Commandments). Does this underline the symbolic nature of the human Sabbath-day?
BTW, simply observing, “They’re different traditions” isn’t what I’m looking for by way of help! And for what it’s worth, I’ve already read John Walton and Gregory Beale who have some interesting things to say on these topics.
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