Did King Jeroboam Change the Sabbath Day? (11 August, 2015, 26 Av, 5775)
Robert Smith wrote:
Many years ago I read HW Armstrong's book A&B in Prophecy. He stated there was evidence that Jeroboam changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. In my years of research I have not come across any evidence of this. Have you uncovered any evidence of this?
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The answer below contains examples of Rabbinical Exegesis. It is to be considered as learned opinion rather than doctrine.
The Rabbis were critical of Jews who informed Gentiles about such learning since the Gentiles often misused, misunderstood, and misquoted such sources.
We allow ourselves a little leeway in such matters since the times have changed and the circumstances are different.
This was my first reply:
# I have never come across any evidence concerning the change from Saturday to Sunday but that does not mean it is not there.#
After writing that I looked up a reference book in Hebrew by Yishai Chasida giving Comments by the Sages on Biblical personalities.
This referred me to the Midrash Eicah [Lamentations] Rabah 2:4 but I found it in 2:9 (apparently I am using a different version) which, according to highlighted text and marks I had made in the margin etc, I had noticed in the past but forgotten.
Midrash Eicah [Lamentations] Rabah 2:9:
#.... the Feast Days and days of Shabat that Jeroboam son of Nebat invented, as it says "in the month which he had devised in his own heart" (1-Kings 12:33). In another place it says [in association with Succoth] "besides" i.e. "besides those of the sabbaths of the LORD" (Leviticus 23:38).
I do not exactly understand how changing the time of Succoth links up with changing that of Sabbath.
Leviticus 23 associates Succoth with Sabbaths:
34 Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths [Succoth] for seven days to the LORD. 35... it is an assembly. You shall do no laborious work...
37 These are the appointed times of the LORD which you shall proclaim as holy convocations...38 besides those of the sabbaths of the LORD...
A commentary on the Midrash named "Yafeh Anaf" (ca. 1696 CE) finds a connection between the two words "MiLibo" [MLBO] i.e. "in his own heart" (1-Kings 12:33) speaking of the invention of Jeroboam and the word "besides" "MilVad" [MLBD] (Leviticus 23:38) speaking of Sabbaths in addition to Succoth. In Hebrew the two words are spelt almost the same apart from one letter at the end. The implication is that the Torah in Leviticus 23:38 had already indicated the future machinations of Jeroboam!
Whatever the case,
a. There is a source.
b. It does make sense to people who study such matters very deeply.
It may be that H. W. Armstrong or one of his assistants had come across the above source in English Translation or an opinion based on it.
Jerodoam did apparently change the date of Succoth making it a month later. He may also have changed the Sabbath Day.
32 Jeroboam instituted a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast which is in Judah, and he went up to the altar; thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
33 Then he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised in his own heart; and he instituted a feast for the sons of Israel and went up to the altar to burn incense.
Succoth is in the seventh month (Leviticus 12:32) but Jeroboam changed it to the 8th.
Succoth is in the Time of Harvest. I once saw an article claiming that the time of harvest in the north of Israel is later than in the south and that Jeroboam was adapting the Festival Times to accord with different agricultural circumstances.
The Israelites from the Ten Tribes did change aspects of the Hebrew Religion.
The Bible tells how they were exiled because they:
They adapted part of the Mosaic Law.
They invented things of their own.
They adopted pagan practices.
They made a synthesis of all of the above and came with the Druid Religion. See Druids and Israel.
In 2-Kings 17:7-18 there is a description of Israelite theological iniquities and a whole list of sins
11 Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and put them in Halah and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, 12 because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed His covenant, even all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded; they would neither listen nor do it.
A key expression is found in
9 The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against the LORD their God.
The word translated as "did things secretly" in Hebrew is "Va-Yechapu" which literally means "covered over" i.e. they said things about God that were not so.