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.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.