Keith Hunt - The Temple Service - Page Ten   Restitution of All Things

  Home Previous Page Next Page

The TEMPLE - its Ministry and Service #10

Sabbath in the Temple #2


Continued from previous page:


all this does not prove, in the silence of Scripture, and against
the unanimous testimony of tradition, that either flagons, or
bowls, or urns were placed on the table of shewbread, nor that
drink-offerings were ever brought into the 'Holy Place.' 1  On
the other hand, the Rabbis regard the Hebrew terms, rendered
'covers' and 'bowls,' as referring to hollow golden tubes which
were placed between the shewbread so as to allow the air to
circulate between them; three of these tubes being always put
under each, except the highest, under which there were only two,
while the lowest rested on the table itself, or, rather, on a
golden dish upon it. Thus they calculate that there were, in all,
twenty-eight of these tubes to support the twelve loaves. The
'tubes' were drawn out each Friday, and again inserted between
the new shewbread each Sunday, since the task of removing and
reinserting them was not among those labours which made 'void the
Sabbath.' Golden dishes, in which the shewbread was carried, and
golden lateral plates, further to protect it on the stand, are
also mentioned by the Rabbis.


     The 'shewbread' was made of the finest wheaten flour, that
had been passed through eleven sieves. There were twelve of these
cakes, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, ranged in
piles, each of six cakes. Each cake was made of two omers of
wheat (the omer = about five pints). Between the two rows, not
upon them (as according to the Rabbis), 2  two bowls with pure
incense were placed, and, according to

1 We cannot here enter into the discussion, which the reader will
find in Relandus, "Antiq.," pp.39,41.
2 "Menach." xi.5.

Egyptian tradition, 1  also salt. The cakes were anointed in the
middle with oil, in the form of a cross. As described by Jewish
tradition, they were each five handbreadths broad and ten
handbreadths long, but turned up at either end, two handbreadths
on each side, to resemble in outline the Ark of the Covenant.
Thus, as each cake, after being 'turned up,' reached six
handbreadths and was placed lengthwise on the breadth of the
table, it would exactly cover it (the one cubit of the table
being reckoned at six handbreadths); while, as the two rows of
six cakes stood broadwise against each other (2 X 5
handbreadths), it would leave between them two handbreadths
vacant on the length of the table (2 cubits = l2 handbreadths),
on which the two bowls with the incense were placed. 2  The
preparation of the shewbread seems to have been hereditarily
preserved as a secret family tradition in 'the house of Garmu,' a
family of the Kohathites. 3  The fresh cakes of shewbread were
deposited in a golden dish on the marble table in the porch of
the sanctuary, where they remained till the Sabbath actually
     The mode of changing the shewbread may be given in the words
of the Mishnah: 4 'Four priests enter (the Holy Place), two
carrying, each, one of the piles (of six shewbread), the other
two the two dishes (of incense). Four priests had preceded them--
two to take off the two

1 LXX Lev. xxiv.7; Philo ii. 151.
2 We have been thus particular on account of the inaccuracies in
so many articles on this subject. It ought to be stated that
another Mishnic authority than that we have followed seems to
have calculated the cubit at ten handbreadths, and accordingly
gives different measurements for the 'shewbread;' but the result
is substantially the same.
3 1 Chron. ix.32; "Mish. Shekal." v. 1. 
4 "Men." xi.7.

(old) piles of shewbread, and two the two (old) dishes of
incense. Those who brought in (the bread and incense) stood at
the north side (of the table), facing southwards; they who took
away at the south side, facing north: these lifted off, and those
replaced; the hands of these being right over against the hands
of those (so as to lift off and put on exactly at the same
moment), as it is written: "Thou shalt set upon the table bread
of the Presence before Me awway."' The shewbread which had been
taken off was then deposited on the golden table in the porch of
the sanctuary, the incense burnt on that heap on the altar of
burnt-offering from which the coals were taken for the altar of
incense, after which the shewbread was distributed among the
outgoing and the incoming course of priests. 1  The incoming
priests stood at the north side, the outgoing at the south side,
and each course gave to the high-priest half of their portion.
The shewbread was eaten during the Sabbath, and in the Temple
itself, but only by such priests as were in a state of Levitical


     The importance of the service which has just been described
depended, of course, on its meaning. Ancient symbolism, both
Jewish and Christian, regarded 'the bread of the Presence' as an
emblem of the Messiah. This view is substantially, though not
literally, correct. Jehovah, who dwelt in the Most Holy Place
between the Cherubim, was the God manifest and worshipped in the
Holy Place. There the mediatorial ministry, in the name of, and
representing Israel, 'laid before' Him the bread of the Presence,

1 According to other authorities, however, the incense of the
shewbread was burned along with the morning sacrifice on the

kindled the seven-lamped candlestick, and burnt incense on the
golden altar. The 'bread' 'laid before Him' in the northern or
most sacred part of the Holy Place was that of His Presence, and
meant that the Covenant-people owned 'His Presence' as their
bread and their life; the candlestick, that He was their
Light-giver and Light; while between the table of shewbread and
the candlestick burned the incense on the golden altar, to show
that life and light are joined together, and come to us in
fellowship with God and prayer. For a similar reason, pure
incense was placed between the shewbread--for, the life which is
in His Presence is one of praise; while the incense was burned
before the shewbread was eaten by the priests, to indicate God's
acceptance and ratification of Israel's dependence upon Him, as
also to betoken praise to God while living upon His Presence.    
That this 'Presence' meant the special manifestation of God, as
afterwards fully vouchsafed in Christ, 'the Angel of His
Presence,' it is scarcely necessary to explain at length in this


     But although the service of the incoming 'course' of priests
had begun with the renewal of the 'shewbread,' that of the
outgoing had not yet completely ceased. In point of fact, the
outgoing 'course' of priests offered the morning on the sacrifice
on the Sabbath, and the in-coming the evening sacrifice, both
spending the Sabbath in the sanctuary. The inspection of the
Temple before the Sabbath morning service differed from that on
ordinary days, inasmuch as the Temple itself was lit up, to
obviate the necessity of the priests carrying torches on the holy
day. The altar of burnt-offering was cleansed before the usual
hour; but the morning service commenced later, so as to give an
opportunity of attending to as many as possible. All appeared in
their festive garments, and each carried in his hand some
contribution for religious purposes. It was no doubt from this
that the practice was derived of 'laying by in store upon the
first day of the week,' which St.Paul recommended to the
Corinthians. 1  

(Edersheim here thinks the NT church collected offerings each so-
called "Lord's day" - first day of the week. This is not so, but
was only ONE command of Paul in one specific situation of the
time, and had nothing to do with collecting offerings at church
services on Sunday. 1 Cor.16:1-2 is explained in my study "Is the
First day of the week the Lord's day?" - Keith Hunt)

Similarly, the apostolic practice of partaking the Lord's Supper
every Lord's-day may have been in imitation of the priests eating
the shewbread every Sabbath. 

(Here Edersheim goes off into reiterating what is really the
false apostate church - Babylon the Great of Revelation, and her
false custom of mass on the first day of the week, as it became
over time - Keith Hunt)

     The Sabbath service was in every respect the same as on
other days, except that at the close of the ordinary morning
sacrifice the additional offering of two lambs, with its
appropriate meat-and-drink-offerings, was brought. 2  When the
drink-offering of the ordinary morning sacrifice was poured out,
the Levites sang Psa. xcii. in three sections, the priests
drawing, at the close of each, three blasts from their trumpets,
and the people worshipping. At the close of the additional
Sabbath sacrifice, when its drink-offering was brought, the
Levites sang the 'Song of Moses' in Deut. xxxii. This 'hymn' was
divided into six portions, for as many Sabbaths (ver.1-6; 7-12;  
I3-18; 19-28; 29-39; 40--end). Each portion was sung in three
sections with threefold blasts of the priests' trumpets, the
people worshipping at each pause. If a Sabbath and a 'new moon'
fell on the same day, the Sabbath hymn was sung in preference to
that for the new moon; if a feast day fell on the Sabbath, the
Sabbath sacrifice was offered before that prescribed for the day.
At the evening sacrifice on the Sabbath the song of Moses in
Exod. xv. was sung.

1 I Cor. xvi. I, 
2 Numb. xxviii. 9,10.


     Though not strictly connected with the Temple services, it
may be desirable briefly to refer to the observance of the
Sabbatical year, as it was strictly enforced at the time of
Christ. It was otherwise with the year of jubilee. Strangely,
there are traces of the latteR during the period before the
return from Babylon, 1  while the Sabbatical year seems to have
been systematically neglected. Hence Jewish tradition explains,
in accordance with 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21, that the seventy years'
captivity were intended to make up the neglected Sabbatical years
- commencing the calculation, if it be taken literally, from
about the accession of King Solomon. But while, after the return
from Babylon, the year of jubilee was no longer kept, at least,
as a religious ordinance, the Sabbatical year was most strictly
observed, not only by the Jews, 2  but also by the Samaritans. 3 
Jewish tradition has it, that as it took seven years for the
first conquest, and other seven for the proper division of the
Holy Land, 'tithes' were for the first time paid fourteen years
after the entrance of Israel into Canaan; and the first
Sabbatical year fell seven years later, or in the twenty-first
year of their possession of Palestine. The Sabbatical law
extended only to the soil of Palestine itself, which, however,
included certain surrounding districts. The Rabbis add this
curious proviso, that it was lawful to use (though not to store
or sell) the spontaneous produce of the land throughout the
extent originally

1 1 Kings xxi.3; Isa. v.8; xxxvii.30; lxi.1-3; Ezek. i.1; vii.
12; Micah ii.2.
2 Neh. x.31; 1 Macc. vi.49,53; Jos. "Antiq." xiii. 8, 1; xiv. 10,
6; xv. 1,2; "Yew. Wars," i, 2-4.
3 "Antiq." xi. 8, 6.

possessed by Israel, but that even the use of these products was
prohibited in such districts as having originally belonged to,
were again occupied by Israel after their return from Babylon.
But this, as other rules laid down by the Rabbis, had many
exceptions. 1


     As Divinely enjoined, the soil was to be left uncultivated
at the end of every period of six years, beginning, as the Jews
argue, after the Passover for the barley, after Pentecost for the
wheat, and after the Feast of Tabernacles for all fruit-trees.   
     The  Sabbatical year itself commenced, as most of them hold,
on New Year's Day, which fell on the new moon of the tenth month,
or Tishri. 2  Whatever grew of itself during the year was to
belong to the poor, 3  which, however, as Lev. xxv. 6 shows, did
not exclude its use as 'meat,' only its storage and sale, by the
family to which the land belonged. Yet a third Scriptural notice
constitutes the Sabbatical year that of 'the Lord's release,'
when no debt might be claimed from an Israelite; 4  while a
fourth enjoins, that 'in the solemnity of the year of release, in
the Feast of Tabernacles,' the law was to be read 'before all
Israel in their hearing.' 5  It has been strangely overlooked
that these four ordinances, instead of being separate and
distinct, are in reality closely connected.  


     As the assignment of what grew of itself did not exclude the
usufruct by the owners, so it also followed of necessity that, in
a year when all agricultural labour ceased, debts should not be
claimed from an agricultural

1 "Mish. Shev." vi. i.
2 The year of jubilee began on the 10th of Tishri, being the Day
of Atonement.
3 Ex. xxiii.10,11.  
4 Deut. xv.I-6.     
5 Deut, xxxi.10,11.

population. Similarly, it was quite in accordance with the idea
of the Sabbath and the Sabbatical year that the law should be
publicly read, to indicate that 'the rest' was not to be one of
idleness, but of meditation on the Word of God. 1  It will be
gathered that in this view the Divine law had not intended the
absolute remission of debts, but only their 'release' during the
Sabbatical year. 2  Jewish tradition, indeed, holds the opposite;
but, by its ordinances, it rendered the law itself void. For, as
explained by the Rabbis, the release from debt did not include
debts for things purchased in a shop, nor judicial fines, nor yet
money lent on a pledge.  But, as the great Rabbi Hillel found
that even these exceptions were not sufficient to insure the loan
of money in view of the Sabbatical year, he devised a formula
called 'Prosbul' (probably 'addition,' from a Greek word to the
same effect), by which the rights of a creditor were fully
secured. The 'Prosbul' ran thus 'I, A. B., hand to you, the
judges of C. D. (a declaration), to the effect that I may claim
any debt due to time at whatever me I please.'


     This 'Prosbul,' signed by the judges or by witnesses,
enabled a creditor to claim money lent even in the Sabbatical
year; and though professedly applying only to debts on real
property, was so worded as to cover every cases. 3  But even 
this was not all, and the following

1 Idleness is quite as much contrary to the Sabbath law as labour
'not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor
speaking thine own words' (Isa. lviii.13).
2 The manumission of Jewish slaves took place in the seventh year
of their bondage, whenever that might be, and bears no reference
to the Sabbatical year, with which, indeed, some of its
provisions could not easily have been compatible (Dent. xv.14).
3 "Mish. Shev" sec, x.

legal fiction was suggested as highly meritorious to all
concerned. The debtor was to offer payment, and the creditor to
reply, 'I remit;' upon which the debtor was to insist that
'nevertheless' the creditor was to accept the repayment. In
general, money owing to Jewish proselytes was to be repaid to
them, but not to their heirs, even though they also had turned
Jews, as by becoming a proselyte a man had separated himself from
his kin, who therefore were no longer, strictly speaking, his
natural heirs. Still, to make payment in such a case was deemed
specially meritorious. The Rabbinical evasions of the law, which
forbade the use of that which had grown spontaneously on the
soil, are not so numerous nor so irrational. It was ruled that
part of such products might be laid by in the house, provided
sufficient of the same kind were left in the field for cattle and
beasts to feed upon. Again, as much land might be tilled as was
necessary to make payment of tribute or taxes. The omer (or
'wave-sheaf') at the Passover, and the two wave-loaves at
Pentecost, were also to be made from the barley and wheat grown
that year in the field.  Lastly, Rabbinical ordinance fixed the
following portions as being 'the law' which was to be publicly
read in the Temple by the king or the high-priest at the Feast of
Tabernacles in the Sabbatical year, viz., Deut. i.1-6; vi.4-8;
xi.13-22; xiv.22; xv.23; xvii.14; xxvi.12-19; xxvii.; xxviii 1 
     This service concluded with a benediction, which resembled
that of the high-priest on the Day of Atonement, except that it
referred not to the remission of sins. 2

1 "Mish. Sotah," vii. 8, where a curious story is also told, to
show how deeply King Agrippa was affected when performing this
2 Relandus suggests that the expression (Matt. xxiv. 20), 'Pray
that your flight be not on the Sabbath,' may apply to the
Sabbatical year as one in which the fugative would find it
difficult to secure needful support.

(Relandus is here moving into fancy theology that has no
substance in truth. Jesus is giving a prophecy that is for the
end time when Jerusalem and the Jews will be destroyed by the
Beast power of Revelation, and Jews and Christians had better
flee; they need to pray that fleeing time will not be on the
Sabbath - for the Sabbath is not a day to flee, but to repose in
worship before God - Keith Hunt)


     The account just given proves that there was scarcely any
Divine ordinance, which the Rabbis, by their traditions, rendered
more fully void, and converted into 'a yoke which neither our
fathers nor we were able to bear,' than perversion of the Sabbath
law. On the other hand, the Gospels bring before us Christ more  
frequently on the Sabbath than on any other festive occasion. It
seemed to be His special day for working the work of His Father.
On the Sabbath He preached in the synagogues; He taught in the
Temple; He healed the sick; He came to the joyous meal with which
the Jews were wont to close the day. 1  Yet their opposition
broke out most fiercely in proportion as He exhibited the true
meaning and object of the Sabbath. Never did the antagonism
between the spirit and the letter more clearly appear. And if in
their worship of the letter they crushed out the spirit of the
Sabbath law, we can scarcely wonder that they so overlaid with
their ordinances the appointment of the Sabbatical year as
well-nigh to extinguish its meaning. 2  That evidently was, that
the earth, and all that is upon it, belongeth to the Lord; that
the eyes of all wait upon Him, that He may 'give them their meat
in due season;' 3  that the land of Israel was His special
possession; that man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word
which proceedeth from the mouth of the Lord; and that He giveth
us our daily bread, so that it is vain to rise up early, to

1 Luke xiv, i.
2 Compare also the remarks by Oehler in Herzog's "Encycl." xii.
3 Psa. civ.27; cxlv.16.

sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows. 1  Beyond it all, it
pointed to the fact of sin and redemption: the whole creation
which 'groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,'
waiting for and expecting that blessed Sabbath, when 'creation
itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the
glorious liberty of the children of God.' 2  Thus, as the Sabbath
itself, so the Sabbatical year pointed forward to the 'rest which
remaineth to the people of God,' when, contest and labour
completed, they sing, 'on the other side of the flood,' the song
of Moses and of the Lamb: a 'Great and marvellous are Thy works,
Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of
saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?
for Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship
before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest.' 4

1 Psa. cxxvii.2.    
2 Rom. viii.21,22. 
3 Rev. xv.3,4.
4 For an account of the Sabbatical years, mentioned by tradition,
see Wieseler, "Chron. Synapse," p.204.


To be continued with "Arrangements of the Calendar"

  Home Previous Page Top of Page Next Page

Navigation List:

Word Search: