The History of sabbatical and sabbath: Take a Break
We tend to think of sabbatical in academic terms, as a school year free from teaching duties that can be devoted to research, travel, and writing. Traditionally, this occurs every seventh year. Because of this scholarly context, we may easily miss what is hiding in plain sight: that sabbatical is related to Sabbath, which refers to the Biblical day of rest, or the seventh day. We trace the origins of both sabbatical and Sabbath to the Greek word sabbaton. Sabbaton itself traces to the Hebrew word shabbāth, meaning “rest.”
The Old Testament refers to God’s “day of rest” most famously in Genesis, but Sabbath referring to an entire year of rest is mentioned in Leviticus (25:3-5):
Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;
But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
Sabbatical is also used as an adjective to refer specifically to the rules governing the observance of the Sabbath, as in “sabbatical laws.”
SABBATH Defined for Kids
Definition of Sabbath for Students
- Jews observe the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening.
Seen and Heard
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