This article examines the innovative focus on Sabbath observance that characterizes the Holiness legislation (H). By comparing H’s conception of the Sabbath with what is known about this sacred time from other biblical and extrabiblical sources, I demonstrate that H creatively blends two aspects of the Sabbath that were not always connected: (1) the idea, already present in the Decalogue and Gen 2:2–3, that the Sabbath is a time of cessation held every seventh day; and (2) the more traditional associations of the Sabbath with sacrificial rites at the shrine. I conclude by assessing the implications of H’s dual requirements of Sabbath observance—that is, both the cessation of labor and the accompanying sanctuary rituals—for contextualizing the H materials in the history of ancient Israel. I suggest that the prominence of the Sabbath in Lev 17–26 may not reflect H’s origins in the “templeless” situation of the Babylonian exile, as is often argued. H’s distinctive concept of the Sabbath may rather reflect a Persian-period context, when collective obligations to the cult were renegotiated to ensure the success of the Second Temple.

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