Defining Unintentional vs Intentional Sin on the Sabbath
“While the people of Yisra’El were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Mosheh and Aharon and to all the congregation. They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. And YaHuWaH said to Mosheh, ‘The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.’ And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones.” Bemidbar/Numbers 15:32-36
“Why was the man caught picking up sticks on Shabbat stoned? Was it because it was a menial task he was doing, or did he maybe sell the sticks as a means of earning his living?”
While the Torah does not say explicitly why this man was stoned for seemingly just picking up sticks, we can make some inferences based on the context of the passage: The second half of Bemidbar/Numbers 15 details what to do in cases regarding unintentional sin, which are a category of sins in Hebrew called shegagah or translated as the English “ignorance” found in Bemidbar/Numbers 15:24.
1) sin, sin of error or inadvertence, inadvertent sin
Part of Speech: noun feminine
The shegagah category refers to that which is a mistake, an oversight, or otherwise general accident based on negligence. YaHuWaH still counts the infraction as a sin, but His punishment is not as steep because the person probably meant to do well and simply missed the mark (Bemidbar/Numbers 15:27-28). Immediately following the unintentional sins section is a short warning about the opposite end of the sin category spectrum: sins of a high hand (in Hebrew b’yad ramah).
1a) hand (of man)
1b) strength, power (figuratively)
1c) side (of land), part, portion (metaphorically) (figuratively)
1d) (various special, technical senses)
1d1) sign, monument
1d2) part, fractional part, share
1d3) time, repetition
1d4) axle-trees, axle
1d5) stays, support (for laver)
1d6) tenons (in tabernacle)
1d7) a phallus, a hand (meaning unsure)
Part of Speech: noun feminine
1) to cast, shoot, hurl
1a1) to throw
1a2) bow-shooters, bowmen (participle)
1b) (Piel) to throw down
2) to beguile, deceive, mislead, deal treacherously
2a1) to beguile, deceive, mislead, trick
2a2) to deal treacherously with, betray
Part of Speech: verb
Unlike accidental sins, this category describes the wrong intentions and rebellious nature of the person caught sinning. The Hebrew b’yad ramah is literally “of the hand raised up.” The imagery is that of a defiant person sinning and shaking their fist in the air in a gesture of “I defy you! I dare you to punish me!” (Bemidbar/Numbers 15:31). Notice how the Torah extends forgiveness for the person who sins unintentionally but it does NOT prescribe any remedy for sins done defiantly. If caught, the person can only repent and enter a plea bargain to reduce his sentence to an “unintentional” category hoping to remain in community. Also, notice that high-hand sinning carries a penalty of being “cut off,” which is being put outside the camp (exile), but willful desecration of the Sabbath had already been assigned the death penalty earlier in the Torah (Shemoth/Exodus 31:14).
What does this have to do with a man being stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath?
Because as the immediate set of verses following the warning about sins of a high hand, the context tells us this man was probably not simply gathering wood. Perhaps the backstory that is missing from the text is that he was caught and warned quite a few times already about breaking the Sabbath which is supposed to be about rest (Shemoth/Exodus 31:15), yet he repeatedly decided to gather sticks, with no regard for YaHuWaH’s Words – defiant in his manner of gathering. Remember that the reason for gathering twice the amount on the sixth day in preparation of the seventh day was a test to see whether the people would remain in YaHuWaH’s Presence by keeping His Words or not. Since YaHuWaH is the Source of Life, to not be in His Presence is death. Following the context, this passage ends with instructions for the tassels (tzitziyot) the purpose of which is to bring to remembrance the Words of YaHuWaH. Either way, YaHuWaH is within His rights to set an example for the rest by removing this (likely defiant) Sabbath violator from the community either by death or by exile. After all, YaHuWaH did the same thing in Ma’asei/Acts 5:1-11 when Ananias and Sapphira lied about the money received for their plot of land – also breaking YaHuWaH’s Words of Shemoth/Exodus 20:16. YaHuWaH made them into a valuable object lesson for the early Believing Community by striking these two dead. And this is post resurrection! I believe this is what is happening here as well.
“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” Ma’asei/Acts 20:7
In Acts 20:7 there is a mention about ‘the Lord’s day’. I am constantly told that I am living under the law because I keep the Sabbath (7th day) and I keep the Feasts.
The tradition of men handed down to us in the form of Westernized Christianity and the Marcion Religion want to convince us the commandments of YaHuWaH don’t apply to us anymore – that “Jesus” came to do away with them in spite of the fact that Yahusha Himself stated otherwise in Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:17-20. The man-made religion of Christianity, therefore, is based on a flawed foundation and, as with any structure; if the foundation is flawed then the whole structure becomes unsupportable. Their foundation is based on a spiritualized “change” in the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday – an underlying premise of Christian theology designed to alienate their constituency from anything Hebrew. While scripture is used to underpin that theology, there is no scripture to be found that concretely states the Sabbath has changed, been altered or moved from that established in the Tanakh (OT). If we are to use scripture to define truth, then we have to be unwavering in what the only words of Truth we are given say and actually mean.
To begin with, there is only one scripture in the entire bible that is translated into the English “the Lord’s Day” and it is found in Revelation 1:10. The Greek wording of that verse actually reads: “I had became in unto-a-currenting-to in unto-the-one unto-authority-belonged-of unto-a-day.” In the Hebraic world of the Hebrew apostle Yohanan/John, there was no other day the authority of which belonged to anyone other than YaHuWaH – the seventh day Sabbath. Because of the wording in Ma’asei/Acts 20:7 that says the early believers met on Sunday, the first day of the week, Christianity has hijacked that wording completely out of the Hebrew context these words were written from to mean that these Hebrew believers in Yahusha as the Hebrew Messiah completely abandoned their Hebraic upbringing. That they met on the first day of the week was only after keeping Shabbat on the seventh day. Ma’asei/Acts 2:46-47 says the faithful met together every day to worship and break bread. Neither of these verses says anything about excluding or replacing Shabbat. The same is true for Qorintiyim Aleph/1 Corinthians 16:2. The context surrounding the comment about the first day of the week in this verse is because the Hebrew word for “work” in Shemoth/Exodus 20:9-10 (“…you shall do no work on the Sabbath”) comes from the Hebrew word melakah which means “occupation, work, business; the work of an artisan for public consumption”. In other words, you don’t do on the Sabbath what you would normally do on the other six days to make a living. That includes engaging in any kind of commerce; i.e., the exchange of money or goods “prospered” from that commercial activity.
Those who come under the umbrella of traditional Christianity, regardless of how it is presented, have become blinded to the truth. The definition of the English word “tradition” comes from the Greek word paradosis meaning to give up, to surrender. We give up access to the Truth when we surrender ourselves to someone else’s interpretation of the Truth – consequently, we miss Truth altogether. The underlying premise of Christianity, by its own admission, is based on writings of the “early church fathers” – meaning the founders of the Roman Catholic Church. The writings of Ignatius, Marcion, Tertullian, Origen, Martyr and others began the process of syncretism (the merging or fusion of different systems of thought or belief) into what they thought this “new religion” should consist of. Their writings coincide with the period from which the dominance within the Hebraic community called “the Way” began to wane and a shift in perspective from ancestral Hebraism to Greek philosophy emerged. Concurrent with the rejection of the Way of the Nazarene by the rabbinic leaders of ethnic Yisra’El and, with more and more Gentiles coming to faith over the next several hundreds of years, the Hebraic roots of Yahusha began to be forgotten. This “forgetfulness” was solidified by the aggressive promotion among various Gentile teachers of the first few centuries who, influenced by Greek philosophy, advocated severing themselves from the historic Hebrew root. The Gentile “Church” then came into prominence as a distinct entity from Yisra’El, with its own mission and purpose – thus “replacing” the Hebrew root with a new religion. Sampling the teaching of many of the early Christian leaders, considered the “fathers” of modern Roman Catholicism reveals the “Gentilization” of what became known as the Greek ekklesia – which is still embraced by Protestant Catholics today.