Exodus 31:14 MEANING

Exodus 31:14
(14) Every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death.--This is a new enactment, and must be regarded in conjunction with the new dignity attached to Sabbath observance by its having become the special covenant sign between God and His people. The Sabbath-breaker now threw himself out of covenant with God, and not only so, but did what in him lay to throw the whole people out of covenant. His guilt was therefore great, and the assignment to it of the death-penalty is in no way surprising; rather, it is in accordance with the general spirit of the code (see Exodus 21:16-17; Exodus 21:29; Exodus 22:18-20, &c.). When the occasion arose, there was no hesitation in carrying the law out (Numbers 15:32-35).

Cut off.--Or, separated, set apart from. His act at once cast him out from the number of God's people, made him an outlaw, ipso facto excommunicated him.

Verse 14. - Every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death. To defile the sabbath was to do any unnecessary servile work upon it. Works of mercy, works of necessity, and works connected with religious observance were not prohibited. (See Matthew 12:1-7; Matthew 10-12.) The penalty of death for breaking the sabbath seems to moderns over-severe; but the erection of sabbath-observance into the special sacramental sign that Israel was in covenant with God made non-observance an offence of the gravest character. The man who broke the sabbath destroyed, so far as in him lay, the entire covenant between God and his people - not only broke it, but annulled it, and threw Israel out of covenant. Hence, when the sin was committed, no hesitation was felt in carrying out the law. (See Numbers 15:32-36.)

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.Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore,.... Strictly observe it, according to the rules given concerning it:

for it is holy unto you; a day that was set apart of God for holy exercises, peculiarly on their account:

everyone that defileth it; by doing any servile work upon it, or not observing it in a religious way:

shall surely be put to death; by the hand of the civil magistrate; if the law of the Jewish sabbath is now in force, the sanction continues, and the violation of it ought to be punished by a judge with death:

for whosoever doeth any work therein; so much as to kindle a fire, and dress any food, by boiling or roasting, or any other way:

that soul shall be cut off from among his people; that is, shall die by the hand of the civil magistrate, it being but another phrase for being put to death; though the Jewish writers, particularly Jarchi, understand the former phrase, "put to death", as to be done by a civil magistrate, when there are witnesses and full proof of the case; but this of "cutting off" by the hand of God, by immediate punishment from heaven, when it was done secretly, and there was no proof to be made of it.

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