Friday, July 10, 2015

Work's Covenantal Relation to the Sabbath

I've been reading through Jewish theologian and Civil Rights activist Abraham Heschel's The Sabbath in preparation for a church talk on the same subject. During my reading I came across this gem:
 
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Labor is not only the destiny of man; it is endowed with divine dignity. However, after he ate of the tree of knowledge he was condemned to toil, not only to labor “In toil shall thou eat … all the days of thy life” (Genesis 3:17). Labor is a blessing, toil is the misery of man. The Sabbath as a day of abstaining from work is not a depreciation but an affirmation of labor, a divine exaltation of its dignity. Thou shalt abstain from labor on the seventh day is a sequel to the command: Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work [Ex. 20:9]...The duty to work for six days is just as much a part of God’s covenant with man as the duty to abstain from work on the seventh day.[1]

Placing work and labor in a covenantal context fits very well with my developing theology of work.

NOTES

1. Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning For Modern Man (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005 [1951]), Kindle edition, 15-16.

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