Exodus 31:13 MEANING

Exodus 31:13
(13) It is a sign between me and you.--Circumcision had been given as a covenant sign to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:9-13); but its adoption by many of the heathen nations had rendered it no longer a distinguishing mark by which God's people could be certainly known from others. Thus a new "sign" was needed. The observance of one day in seven as a day of holy rest became henceforth the distinguishing sign, and proved effectual. It was not likely to be adopted, and in point of fact was not adopted, by any of the heathen. We find it in the latest time of the Jewish nation still regarded as the special mark and badge of a Jew (Juv. Sat. vi. 159, 14:96; Mart. Epig. 4:4, 50:7, &c.).

Verse 13. - Verily. Rosenmuller suggests, "Nevertheless." But there is no need for any change. It is a sign. Hitherto circumcision had been the only visible "sign" that the Israelites were under a special covenant with God - his people, bound to him by special ties (Genesis 17:9-14; Acts 7:8). The adoption of circumcision by the Egyptians and other nations (Herod. 2:104) had produced the effect that this "sign" was no longer distinguishing. It might be still" a sign of profession "; but it had ceased to be "a mark of difference "; and some other mark was therefore needed. Such the observance of the sabbath by entire abstinence from servile work became. No other nation adopted it. It continued to Roman times the mark and badge of a Jew.(Juv. Sat. 6:159; 14:96). That ye may know, etc. By keeping the sabbath day as a day of holy rest the Israelites would know - i.e., would realise severally in their own per sons, that God was their sanctifier. Sanctification would be the fruit of their obedience.

31:12-17 Orders were now given that a tabernacle should be set up for the service of God. But they must not think that the nature of the work, and the haste that was required, would justify them in working at it on sabbath days. The Hebrew word /shabath/ signifies rest, or ceasing from labour. The thing signified by the sabbath is that rest in glory which remains for the people of God; therefore the moral obligation of the sabbath must continue, till time is swallowed up in eternity.Speak thou also unto the children of Israel,.... Notwithstanding all that has been said and ordered concerning making the tabernacle and all things belonging to it; yet this was not to be understood to the violation of the sabbath, or the neglect of that, in which no work was to be done, no, not any relating to the tabernacle and the vessels of it; and though that was to be made, and everything belonging to it, as soon as possible, yet the sabbath was to be observed, and not broken on that account; and this the people of Israel were told of:

saying; verily, or "nevertheless" (q):

my sabbaths ye shall keep not sabbaths of years, as the seventh year and the fiftieth year, but of weeks, expressed by the plural number, because there are many of them in course throughout the year, no less than fifty two; and so the apostle uses the same number, Colossians 2:16 and so do Heathen writers (r):

for it is a sign between me and you, throughout your generations; a token of the covenant between them, of his being their God and they his people in a peculiar sense; seeing they observed the same day as a day of rest now, on which he had rested at the finishing of the works of creation, which other nations of the world did not observe; of his sanctifying and separating them from all other people; for this was not a sign between him and other nations, but between him and the people of Israel only; and was to be observed throughout their ages, as long as their civil and church state lasted, but not through others:

that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you; had separated and distinguished them from the rest of the nations of the world; but if this law had been given to all nations, it could not have been a distinguishing sign of them from others; nor could it be known hereby that God had separated them to himself above all people; and this was done that it might be known, not only by them, for the word "ye" is not in the text, but by others, the nations of the world, as Jarchi; that they were a distinct people, having distinct laws from all others, and particularly this.

(q) "veruntamen", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Fagius, Vatablus, Drusius, Cartwright, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (r) "Metuentem sabbata" Juvenal. Satyr. 14.

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