The essay explores the implications of the Sabbath commandment in the Decalogue for a theological understanding of work, partly via its reception in a variety of Jewish and Christian contexts; it is argued that wherever in Christian texts Sunday rest is justified by the Decalogue, we are dealing with the reception of the commandment. It is further argued that the main elements of the texts convey the sense that God’s purposes for creation as a whole and for human beings take priority over all human work. The commandment itself implies that the working week is a preparation for its culmination in the Sabbath when the rest offered by God is enjoyed, and only God’s work may be done. The motivation in Deuteronomy implies ultimately the liberation of all slaves, and the end of alienated labor in the modern economy. The motivation in Exodus demands the subordination of the human economic project as a whole to the enjoyment of creation and the adoration of its creator. The conclusion argues that this interpretation supports the validity of some traditional Christian interpretations of the commandment, specifically the spiritual and the eschatological interpretations.

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