Sabbath as an Equality-Maintaining Institution in Ancient Israel

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Summary Hypothesis

Joseph Livni:

"The Sabbath assemblies started before the exile. Since local assemblies obstructed the central authority of the monarchy, these assemblies were tolerated only because they were inherited from the pre-monarchic settlements. Cultural evolution explains how a random habit of a seventh day of rest facilitated a covenantal pre-monarchic Israel and led to its current cultural descendants. .In a pre-monarchic settlement farming was prohibited on the seventh day; the day was consecrated to public affairs like enforcing the covenant. The seventh day of rest and its linkage to the covenant is the reason why “whatever its origin was, the Sabbath took on a peculiar meaning which made it an institution peculiar to Israel.”



Article: Cultural Evolution of an Institution: The Sabbath. By Joseph Livni. Cliodynamics Volume 8, Issue 1, 2017



"According to the biblical account the Sabbath has been commanded at Mount Sinai during the Exodus. Reasonably, there can be no archaeological evidence to confirm that. However, the archaeological evidence points to a rankless society in pre-monarchic Israel. Lack of social layers in settled societies does raise questions about controlling the lawlessness. Livni and Stone mathematically established that the Sabbath could keep unruliness under control and that later, starting with the Second Temple, it did so. This multi-disciplinary report portrays the history of the Sabbath in terms of socio-cultural evolution combining analyses of anthropologists, archaeologists, biblical scholars and computation methods. The report shows that the Sabbath is at least 3000 years old."