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Sabbath desecration

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Title: Sabbath desecration  
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Subject: Christian law, Sabbath, List of Shabbat topics, Shabbat
Collection: Christian Law, Christian Terminology, Christianity and Judaism Related Controversies, Sabbath, Shabbat
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Sabbath desecration

The Ten Commandments on a monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol. The fourth commandment listed is "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy", see also Biblical law in Christianity.

Sabbath desecration is the failure to observe the Biblical Sabbath, and is usually considered a sin and a breach of a holy day in relation to Jewish Shabbat (Friday sunset to Saturday nightfall), the Sabbath in seventh-day churches and, in some other Christian traditions, the Lord's Day (Sunday, traditionally seen as the Sabbath in Christianity).


  • Judaism 1
  • Christianity 2
    • Traditional application to Sunday 2.1
      • Blue laws 2.1.1
    • Seventh-day churches, application to Saturday 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4


According to Mosaic Law, to desecrate shabbat is a capital offense (Exodus 31:15). All work was prohibited during shabbat, even minor tasks, such as "gathering wood" (Numbers 15:32-36). Since the decline of classical semicha (rabbinic ordination) in the 4th century C.E., the traditional Jewish view is that Jewish courts have lost the power to rule on criminal cases. As such, it would be practically impossible for Orthodox courts to enforce the death penalty in modern times, even if they had the political standing to do so. Talmudic protections for defendants make execution very difficult even by the Great Sanhedrin, e.g., requiring two competent witnesses to the shabbat violation, and an official court warning prior to the violation. Some Reform and Conservative rabbis condemn capital punishment generally, partly based on this stringency.

There are 39 categories of activity prohibited on Shabbat, derived in the tractate Shabbat (Talmud) from the construction of the Biblical tabernacle. Halakha (Jewish law) derives many further forbidden acts from these categories (toledoth and shevuth), with varying severity, that may not be performed except for preventing severe illness or death. Unwarranted violation of any of these precepts is termed chillul shabbat (profanation of shabbat). People who consistently violate shabbat today are generally not considered reliable in certain matters of Jewish law.


Many Christians do not observe a Sabbath or apply it to a "day of rest," considering it a part of the Mosaic Law with no application to Christians. Among those who do, the concept may be applied to Sunday or Saturday:

Traditional application to Sunday

The traditional application to Sunday, based on the view that the Sabbath was moved to Sunday (that is, the "Lord's Day") since it was the day that Jesus rose from the dead.

Blue laws

The law in North Dakota at one time stated: "The fine for Sabbath-breaking is not less than one dollar or more than ten dollars for each offence." Other laws have been passed against Sabbath breaking, e.g., by the Puritans.

Seventh-day churches, application to Saturday

Fundamental Belief # 20 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church states...

See also


  1. ^ Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Beliefs
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