Sabbath Breakers

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Jesus’ observance of the commandments has been a topic of vigorous scholarly debate. However, when the Synoptic Gospels are carefully examined, one sees that Jesus never violated written or oral Torahs. But did his disciples?

And it came to pass on the second Sabbath between Passover and Shavuot that he was going through the grainfields, and his disciples plucked heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands and ate them. And some of the Pharisees said, “Why do you do that which is not permitted on the Sabbath?”

And Jesus answered them and said, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his men were hungry, how he entered the house of God and took the shewbread, which only the priests are permitted to eat, and ate it and gave it to his men?”

And he said to them, “Man is master of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6:1-5)

This story is also narrated in the other two synoptic Gospels (Matt 12:1-8 and Mark 2:23-28), but Luke’s version is more complete, mentioning such details as the exact time of year when the events took place—spring, the second Sabbath in the cycle of the counting of the omer—and the fact that it was only some of the Pharisees who accosted Jesus.

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Workers reaping barley harvest (1919). American Colony Photo Department via Wikimedia Commons.

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