Greetings and Blessings for the coming Sabbath,
There are many Rastafari who keep the Sabbath or Senbet Day of Rest, holy and sacred because it is a part of the Ten Commandments which His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I personally requested that all man and wombman read and abide by. His Majesty is noted in the film Man of the Millenium, to stay home on Senbet, and watch educational documentaries with His Family.
Richard Pankurst in Aethiopica quotes Ras Tafari Makonnen saying in the province of Harar, in 1913:
Before this there have been many proclamations about work being carried out on the Sabbath and other holy days which were established with excommunication. But now we realise that the wrath of God has not abated, due to your indulgence in working on holy days and especially on the Sabbath, despite proclamation and excommunication. Henceforward, observe the Sabbath and the other already specified holy days! Do not labour on these days! Any person found working on these days, forbidden both by proclamation and excommunication, shall be punished! (Pankhurst, 2004)
Because Prince Emmanuel was very staunch with Mosaic Law, Sabbath is a major part of the Bobo Shanty mansionl and was one of the biggest sacrifices I've personally ever made as RasTafari. Dreadlocks and Ital are sacrifices in their own right, as are sobriety and separation from Babylonian society, but Sabbath is a sacrifice of all daily customs, for worship and Iditation on the JAH and one's Ivine Connection to the I-the Most High Selah Alpha and Omega I.
In order to remember to keep the Sabbath day holy, every Ras must be educated in the Way of Sabbath, and overstand what it truly means as a feast, a fast, a hallowed day of rest and a solemn assembly. The following Sabbath reasoning is part of an entire written work I did on the topic based on my research in different texts, namely the Book of Jasher, the Book of Jubilees and the Books of Moses (first five Books of the Torah), National Sunday Law and the Cathechism.
This excerpt is not really to delve into or explain the creation and institution of Sabbath, just to briefly outline what it is, and what it signifies as a day of rest.
The meaning of Sabbath, or Senbet in Amharic, or Shabbat in Hebrew is most commonly derived from its recorded place as the Fourth Commandment on the tablets of stone housed in the Ark of the Covenant, and re-written in the Book of Exodus Chapter 20 (and 31:12-18); which reads:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
The Sabbath is a weekly holy day held on the seventh day. The seventh day was actually called Shabbat, not Saturday, by Isra’el. Senbet is a time for remembering God collectively as a Nation, after every six days of labour.
The Sabbath is the sign and seal of the Covenant between Abraham’s Seed the Twelve Tribes of Isra’el, and the Living God and Creator Elohim. It was a day the entire Nation had to submit to:
Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgements, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’ Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. (Ezekiel 20:10-12)
And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15)
The Sabbath was given only to Isra’el to be the sign and seal of the Nation (like circumcision). It became their identification, a holy seventh-day law for all tribes no matter if they were in the wilderness or in Kanaan. The Sabbath as part of the Ten Commandments of Zion, and as the seal of the Covenant, was a strict law that could not be broken: "Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death" (Exodus 35:2). It is not surprising that the Commandment starts with “Remember the Sabbath Day.” There are a few points to overstand on Sabbath from the Commandment:
First, the Sabbath day is specifically the seventh day of the week; and not simply one day out of seven; or at the end of any randomly chosen six days. It is the holy rest day after the marked six day period of the working week. It is not a holiday intermittently during the Sunday to Friday week.
"Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." (Genesis Chapter 2:1-3)
Second, this Commandment instructs us that on the Sabbath day each family as a unit is to do NO WORK. Leviticus 23:8 and Numbers 29:35 state that during Sabbath, no laborious work or anything that is customary work to a man, woman, child, animal or employee shall be carried out. It is a time for assembly and rest. “… you shall have a sacred assembly. You shall do no customary work.” It is not a time to carry, to work, to collect, to create, or to mould or fashion. Therefore the home and body must become quiet sanctuaries of Jahovah.
Third, JAH the Creator God and Goddess rested on the seventh day after fashioning the Iniverse, thereby giving Creation the first truest ensample of the Sabbath’s requirements and meaning. Thus, the conception and specified observance of the Sabbath ordained by JAH was from the beginning a symbolic gift of that which JAH did for humanity during Creation. This gift would continue always, because of God’s promise to Abraham, even though man is sinful. Immanuel said that “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath is for man’s rest and rejuvenation in JAH, it is for his own well-being. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28).
Fourth, the Lord “blessed and sanctified/hallowed” the Sabbath day, making the Sabbath a separate day of holiness for Isra’el. Sabbath is a day of blessing and sanctification; not of burden, sorrow or planning. The Sabbath is a day of service not to the world, through work and money-spending, lust and greed. It is a day to become one with JAH by separating ourselves from activities and mind-sets that serve to defile Creation rather than embrace it.
Scriptural references to the Sabbath Day such as “Sabbath of solemn rest”, “holy convocation,” “sacred assembly” and “solemn assembly” also give some indication as to what is ritual for that day: Communal Rest in the Lord God Jahovah. Used in these terms however, the Sabbath Day specifies also the honorary commencement and closing of the Appointed Times or Feasts of the Lord Ha Moyadim in Hebrew (Leviticus 23). Whenever Ha Moyadim began the Israelites refrained from work on that day.
"These are the feasts [Ha Moyadim]of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day—besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord. "(Leviticus 23: 37-38)
Sabbath is the first and most reoccurring Appointed Time Feast day for Isra’el in Leviticus 23 (aside from New Moon feasts): "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings" (Leviticus 23:3). The others Feasts include: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First fruits, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement the Great Sabbath of Sabbaths, Tabernacles and Trumpets. The Feasts are more or less defined by Leviticus 23. It is important to take note of the Great Shabbat or Feast of Atonement:
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26-32)
The Feast of Atonement is the only day the High Priest can enter the Holy of Holies to atone for Israel’s sins. It is a feast for acknowledging sin, and specifically to facilitate a mass gathering for the repentance for sin. It is considered also to be the forerunner of Judgment Day after the Great Tribulation (Zechariah 13:1; Revelation). The law of the feast specifies no work to be done, that all souls must be afflicted. Affliction of the soul means that the Israelites would be greatly troubled and grieved for their iniquity, for their vanities, their outright sins before JAH. They would have to take a break from works, pause and reflect on the Word (SELAH) they would have to face themselves. By tradition, this greatest of all Sabbath Days is marked by fasting ten days before the date. No eating, drinking, bathing, marital relations or work should be attempted, for this feast day to result in complete and faithful repentance. White, according to the Hebrew Identity, is also the main colour worn as for the weekly Sabbath, in order to remind ones of the goal of the feast: purity.
As mentioned, the sacred assembly of Sabbath can fall at the start or end of a feast season. This is ideally a Sabbath with a special “Covenantal” significance. ‘No work’ during a feast is specific to a Sabbatical Feast that does not fall on a Friday, but on the day of the feast. This Sabbath was a “holy convocation”, “sacred assembly” meaning a holy day set apart for worship under the theme of the feast. Leviticus 23:6-8 describes the Feast of Unleavened Bread which is an ensample of such a “High Sabbath” or feast-determined solemn assembly. "On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it."
The Feast of Tabernacles also gives an ensample:
"On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it." (Leviticus 23: 35-36).
By observing the Sabbath day and keeping it holy, Rastafari are blessed with spiritual, physical and heartical rejuvenation; making time to praise Rastafari and grow closer to HIM. Babylonian obligations often take up too much time away from reasoning and educating the mind with knowledge on Afrika, Ethiopia, Isra’el and Ras Tafari Selah. The Sabbath is the time I and I take every strong-end, to bring our children closer to JAH and to spend quiet time as a family.
The Bobo Shanty priesthood sees ritual celibacy and Sabbath as sure guides to ever-living life, as shown in Isaiah:
"Thus says the Lord: “ Keep justice, and do righteousness, or My salvation is about to come,
And My righteousness to be revealed.
Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it;
Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord
Speak, saying, “ The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”;
Nor let the eunuch say, “ Here I am, a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord: “ To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off.
“ Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him,
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants - Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant - Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
(Isaiah Chapter 56:1-7)
Blessed Heart of Sabbath, Senbet Selam Selah!