Sabbaths and Sundown
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The sabbaths are special days to be kept to Yahweh for all time by His covenant people. They are days to remember Him and all that He has done. If they are not observed, He is not remembered. Yahweh set apart the seventh day of the week as a day of rest, a sabbath (Exodus 20: 8-11; Leviticus 23: 3). In addition to the weekly sabbath, Yahweh declared seven other days in the year to be sabbaths (Leviticus 23), keeping the same guidelines as the weekly sabbath. These seven special sabbaths are described in the essay The Feasts of Israel and Their Christian Replacements.

Looking at Matthew 28: 1, we need to be aware that since the time of Genesis the Jews have started and ended their day at sundown. However, for most of the world today, the day begins and ends at midnight. This simple difference has caused problems in interpretting this passage. Also, let us not forget that there are times when there may be more than one sabbath in a week, as shown above.

Yahshua was impaled on Passover (Thursday) and was placed in the tomb before the "sabbath," this case being the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This day would have been a Friday. The following day (Saturday) was the weekly sabbath. Yahshua would have been in the tomb over these two days before rising on the third day (Sunday), the Feast of Firstfruits. There were two successive sabbath days that week, explaining why the women had to wait until the third day to check the tomb.

The following comparison of 53 versions will illustrate the confusion translators have when regarding the end of the sabbath (ie., sundown vs. midnight) and over how many sabbaths there were that week.


Versions Compared

 

AAT An American Translation (Beck)
AB Amplified Bible
ANT The Authentic New Testament
BNT Barclay New Testament
CEV Contemporary English Version
CJB Complete Jewish Bible
CLNT Concordant Literal New Testament
CNT Cassirer New Testament
CTNT Centenary Translation of the New Testament
DHB Darby Holy Bible
DRB Douay-Rheims Bible
EBR The Emphasized Bible
GW God's Word
HBME The Holy Bible in Modern English
HBRV Holy Bible, Revised Version
IB Interlinear Bible
IV Inspired Version
KJV King James Version
LB Living Bible
LBP Lamsa Bible
MCT McCord's New Testament Translation
MNT Moffatt New Translation
MRB Modern Reader's Bible
MSNT The Modern Speech New Testament
NAB New American Bible
NAS New American Standard Version
NBV New Berkeley Version
NCV New Century Version
NEB New English Bible
NET New Evangelical Translation
NIV New International Version
NJB New Jerusalem Bible
NKJ New King James Version
NLV New Life Version
NNT Noli New Testament
NRS New Revised Standard Version
NSNT Norlie's Simplified New Testament
NWT New World Translation
PRS Phillips Revised Student Edition
REB Revised English Bible
RSV Revised Standard Version
SGAT An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed)
SNB Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible
SSBE Sacred Scriptures, Bethel Edition
SV The Scholar's Version
TDB The Dartmouth Bible
TEV Today's English Version
TM The Message
WAS Worrell New Testament
WET Wuest Expanded Translation
WMF The Word Made Fresh
WNT Williams New Testament
YLR Young's Literal Translation, Revised Edition


Matthew 28: 1
AAT After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the grave.
AB Now after the Sabbath, near the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to take a look at the tomb.
ANT When the sabbath was over, as the day after the sabbath began to dawn, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to inspect the burial place.
BNT Late on the Sabbath, just as the day was breaking on the Sunday, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary came to look at the tomb.
CEV The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
CJB After Shabbat, toward dawn on Sunday, Miryam of Magdala and the other Miryam went to see the grave.
CLNT Now it is the evening of the sabbaths. At the lighting up into one of the sabbaths came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to behold the sepulcher.
CNT The day after the Sabbath, as the first light of another week began to dawn, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went forth to look at the grave.
CTNT At the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came down to see the sepulcher, ... .
DHB Now late on the sabbath, as it was dusk of the next day after sabbath, came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to look at the sepulchre.
DRB And in the end of the sabbath, when it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalen and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre.
EBR And <late in the week when it was on the point of dawning into the first of the week> came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to view the sepulchre.
GW After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
HBME After the Sabbaths, towards the dawn of the day following the Sabbaths, Mary, the Magdalene, and the other Mary, came to examine the tomb.
HBRV Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
IB After the sabbaths, at the dawning into the first of the sabbaths, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the grave.
IV In the end of the Sabbath day, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, early in the morning, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
KJV In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
LB Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to the tomb.
LBP In the evening of the sabbath, when the first day of the week began to dawn, there came Mary of Magdala and the other Mary to see the tomb.
MCT After the sabbath, as Sunday dawned, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to see the tomb, ... .
MNT At the close of the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
MRB Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
MSNT After the Sabbath, in the early dawn of the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to see the sepulchre.
NAB After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
NAS Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
NBV After the close of the Sabbath, with the dawning of the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to look at the tomb.
NCV The day after the Sabbath day was the first day of the week. At dawn on the first day, Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary went to look at the tomb.
NEB The sabbath was over, and it was about daybreak on Sunday, when Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
NET After the Sabbath, as Sunday was dawning, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
NIV After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
NJB After the Sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre.
NKJ Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
NLV The Day of Rest was over. The sun was coming up on the first day of the week. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the grave.
NNT After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
NRS After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
NSNT Now, late on the sabbath, as dawn was appearing on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb.
NWT After the sabbath, when it was growing light on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to view the grave.
PRS When the Sabbath was over, just as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
REB About daybreak on the first day of the week, when the sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
RSV Now after the sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulchre.
SGAT After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
SNB And late in the week when it was on the point of dawning into the first of the week, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to view the sepulchre.
SSBE Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Miriam Magdalene and the other Miriam to see the sepulchre.
SV After the sabbath day, at first light on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary came to inspect the tomb.
TDB [Omitted.]
TEV After the day of worship, as the sun rose Sunday morning, Mary from Magdala and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
TM After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb.
WAS Now, in the end of sabbaths at the dawning toward the first day of sabbaths, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
WET Now, the sabbath having passed, as it was growing light toward the first day of the week, there came Mary, the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to inspect the tomb.
WMF After the sabbath day had passed Miss Alabama and the other Mary came at the crack of dawn ... .
WNT After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to get a look at the tomb.
YLR And on the eve of the sabbaths, at the dawn, toward the first of the sabbaths, came Mary the Magdalene, and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre, ...


Commentary

 

The Interlinear Bible starts well, but then makes the mistake of calling the "first day" a sabbath day. The two previous days were sabbaths; therefore the plural is correct. However, Sunday, the first day of the week (Firstfruits), cannot be a sabbath. Young's Literal Translation reads the same.

The passage in the Darby Holy Bible is confusing, even when considering the differences in the sabbaths. Also, dusk cannot be the proper time period. A footnote offers little help: "Now, late on the sabbath, as it was dusk of the next day after the sabbath ... .' or 'the first day of the week' as Mark 16: 2."

The Holy Bible in Modern English translates the passage well. However, the footnotes are questionable. The footnote reads, "The Greek original is in the plural, 'Sabbaths,' which is retained. Readers should remember that all seven days of the Paschal week were 'sabbaths' in the old Hebrew Kalendar. -- F. F." On the contrary, only the first and seventh days of that week would be sabbaths (Leviticus 23: 6-8), in addition to the usual weekly sabbath. Also, keep in mind that the Jewish people could not kindle fire or prepare their meals on sabbath days. Try that one for a week!

The Worrell New Testament takes the issue one step further by introducing a doctrinal change. In his footnotes, the translator states:

The New Testament never refers the Sabbath being moved from the seventh day to the first day. Meeting together to worship on the first day of the week does not mean that the Sabbath has changed.

The reader may now appreciate the difficulties the translators have in explaining Matthew 28: 1. Viewing Biblical passages from a "Western" point of view can be confusing. In order to avoid misinterpretations, we should be careful not to remove the Jewishness from the Scriptures. As seen in this comparison, a simple misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge of the Jewish customs as found in the Old Testament can lead to frustration, -- or even a new doctrine.