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Sabbath [Heb.,=repose], in Judaism, last day of the week (Saturday), observed as a rest day for the twenty-five hours commencing with sundown on Friday. In the biblical account of creation (Gen. 1) the seventh day is set as a Sabbath to mark God's rest after his work. In Jewish law, starting with both versions of the Ten Commandments, the rules for the Sabbath are given in careful detail. The Sabbath is intended to be a day of spiritual refreshment and joy. Observant Jews wear special clothes, enjoy festive meals, and attend synagogue, where the weekly portion of the Pentateuch is read with an accompanying excerpt from the Prophets. In the home, the mistress of the house says a blessing and lights two candles in honor of the two biblical verses that enjoin Sabbath rest. Early Christians had a weekly celebration of the liturgy on the first day (Sunday), observing the Resurrection. Hence, among Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, Sunday is a liturgical feast; Protestants, applying the idea of the Jewish Sabbath to Sunday, forbade all but pious activity. The term “Lord's Day” was used, especially by Sabbatarians, to promote such observance (see blue laws). Some denominations (e.g., Seventh-Day Baptists and Seventh-Day Adventists) replace Sunday with Saturday. In Islam, Friday is the weekly day of public prayer.
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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2-3)

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.... For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth... but he rested on the seventh day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-10)

These verses from the Hebrew scriptures constitute the driving command for Shabbat, or Jewish Sabbath, the weekly day of rest that begins with sunset on Friday and continues through sunset on Saturday evening.

The Talmud (see Judaism, Development of) outlines the laws and statutes tradition has regulated, defining what "work" is, what is and is not allowed, and how the day is to be celebrated. The Friday night kiddush, the benediction offered over wine and bread, ushers in the holy day that begins the weekly commemoration of creation. It is such a strong tradition that there have been times, such as during the Maccabean revolt, that Jews refused to defend themselves rather than break Shabbat.

The day is not viewed as a burden, something one must keep, but rather as a joy—something one gets to observe. The celebration of "Queen" Shabbat has, over the years, developed into a ritual.

On Friday night there is a blessing over candles, generally said or sung by the woman of the house, just before sunset. There is usually public worship at the synagogue. Evening and morning, after synagogue worship, a kiddush, or prayer of blessing, is spoken.

Three special meals are observed—the first on Friday evening, the second at noon on Saturday, and the third later in the afternoon. The Zemirot, one of many liturgical hymns, is often sung during these meals.

Shabbat is a time for study and reflection, usually of a section of Torah.

The day is concluded with the Havdalah ceremony, a separation ritual, on Saturday night.

Not all Jews hold to this strict observance, of course. Many families have developed their own traditions. But what has become known as the spirit of the Sabbath is very important. Even if traditional observances are not followed, a time of rest, refreshment, and remembrance is still observed even by many nonreligious Jews. Because the rest of the world does not recognize Saturday as a day of rest, many Jews— shopkeepers, for instance, or those who work at jobs requiring their presence on Saturdays—have had to make compromises.

In addition to the weekly Sabbaths, there are also anniversary Sabbaths held throughout the year, with yearly Sabbaths held every seventh year. Traditionally these were years set apart to let the land enjoy a Sabbath rest, to be replenished by lying fallow for a season.

There is a widely held belief that Sunday became a Christian Sabbath, a change in the day of rest. But Sunday is never referred to in the Bible by the name Sabbath. It was called the Lord's Day by early Christians, referring to the fact that Jesus was said to have risen on Sunday. It rapidly became a day of worship. But Shabbat continued to be a Jewish observance, and the early church never intended to supersede it.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


the seventh day of the week, prescribed as a day of rest and worship. [Judaism: Brewer Dictionary, 788]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the seventh day of the week, Saturday, devoted to worship and rest from work in Judaism and in certain Christian Churches
2. Sunday, observed by Christians as the day of worship and rest from work in commemoration of Christ's Resurrection
3. a period of rest
4. a midnight meeting or secret rendezvous for practitioners of witchcraft, sorcery, or devil worship
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The female witch makes an early appearance in Baldung's art with his woodcut, the Witches' Sabbath (fig.
The Witches' Sabbath appeared during a period when there were few witch trials or burnings and witchcraft had yet to become a life-and-death issue.
The withered witch past her prime appears with younger and more attractive witches in his 1510 woodcut, the Witches' Sabbath (fig.
He shows, for example, how the drinking and dancing of the night people informed the emerging stereotype of the witches' Sabbath in this particular region and how the Heuburg, a mountain of long-standing mythological significance, was transformed into the main southwestern German location for the witches' Sabbath.
The lineup of works includes Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, Tartini's "The Devil's Trill," Liszt's Mephisto Waltz, Bazzini's Round of the Goblins, Berlioz's "Witches' Sabbath" from Symphonie Fantastique, Paganini's The Witches, Sarasate's Faust Fantasy, and so on, 78 minutes worth.
Everything is poised and aristocratic, all far too well-behaved (not least the nightmarish concluding movements, March to the Scaffold and Dream of the Witches' Sabbath.
The real sonic killers, however, "The March to the Scaffold" and "The Witches' Sabbath," come off as rather routine.
Indeed, when the influence of their Malleus started to penetrate into Northern Italy, Samuel de Cassini from St Angelo's was one of the first to denounce as untrue and patently impossible its harrowing accounts of witches' Sabbaths.
It takes up topics as varied as Albrecht Durer's wood carvings of hags and demons, the relationship between pictures of witches' Sabbaths to actual witch hunts, the connections between certain pagan goddesses and witch iconography, gender and magic in village folk drama, and the fragmented, image-driven confessions of child-witches.
He was also one of the most original artists of his age, introducing--and popularising--a wide range of subject-matter, from interiors of Kunstkammern or picture galleries to devilish scenes of witches' sabbaths and so-called 'monkeys' kitchens', allegories of a whole gamut of human vices played out by apes.
She proposes that the whole, largely mythical, belief in witches' sabbaths constructed a counter-church, which hospitably annexed traditional anti-Semitic motifs to its essential misogyny.
Church bells rang on Walpurgis Night to disrupt witches' sabbaths, and the church orchestrated Good Friday processions at night, an attempt that was ultimately abandoned because of popular "excesses" perpetrated under cover of darkness.