Failed Attempts to Change the Seven-Day Cycle
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
In the very beginning of the Bible, we learn about creation and the establishment of the seven-day week. During the first six days, God worked to fashion creation. On the seventh day He rested; the day was blessed and set apart from the other six days.
Genesis 2:1-3 reads: “1 And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.” (ASV)
One of the proofs that God created everything is the seventh-day Sabbath and by extension, the seven-day cycle. The seventh day completed the first week of Creation. Knowledge of the seven-day weekly cycle continued after that time. It was understood in the days of Noah as explained in Genesis chapter 8.
“10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11 and the dove came in to him at eventide; and, lo, in her mouth an olive-leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 12 And he stayed yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she returned not again unto him any more” (Gen 8:10-12).
A further proof that God is the Creator is that there has been a continuous seventh-day cycle from Genesis 1 and 2 until the present.
Did you know that there have been attempts to change the seven-day cycle? ALL of them have resulted in failure! This means there have always been humans observing this cycle despite these attempts. God will not let us forget that the seven-day cycle, culminating with the Sabbath, points us back to the Creator!
We will take a look at some of these failed attempts. It is a valuable lesson for us all to remember.
Among the first attempts to force people to break the seven-day weekly cycle was by the ancient Babylonians. They observed lunar weeks. This means that they waited for the new moon to appear and re-started the week accordingly. They kept a sort of lunar Sabbaths with periodic sabbaths every seventh, fourteenth, nineteenth, twenty first, and twenty eighth days of the month (Sayce, The Higher Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments, p 74). The problem with this reckoning of time is that their Sabbath fell on different days of the week every month! It also creates weeks that are longer than seven days (because the lunar month is more than 28 days).
Well, this scheme fell apart at some point in history. The Babylonians eventually went back to the seven-day weekly cycle that was started in Genesis. Unfortunately, the lunar Sabbath has made a comeback in recent decades. It is a heretical viewpoint that causes a complete disconnect from God’s seven-day weekly cycle. Anyone who follows this viewpoint is literally going back to Babylon. To learn more about the danger of the lunar sabbath, CLICK HERE.
Another attempt to deviate from God’s original weekly cycle occurred in ancient Egypt. The Israelites dwelt there for four hundred years; they were enslaved for the last portion of their time in that land. During their stay, they became acclimated to some Egyptian ways, which included a 10-day week (Fagan, p 476). This explains why God had to reveal to the Israelites the Sabbath through the giving of the manna (Ex. 16). Eventually, the Egyptians went back to the seven-day week. The Greek peoples would also try the ten-day week without success.
Going back as far as the eighth century BC, the ancient Romans used the eight-day week. Every eighth day was called nundinae or market day. By the first century BC, the seven-day week increased in popularity. They had a dual system of reckoning weeks for a time! By the fifth century, only the seven-day cycle was used.
In modern times, humanity has tended to look upon ancient peoples with condescension. To sober ourselves from these thoughts on this subject, I will provide you with some modern examples where humans tried to deviate from God’s weekly cycle.
In 1788, the Frenchman Pierre-Sylvain Marechal developed a new calendar. It had a much different reckoning of time than the Gregorian Calendar. A ten-day week was recommended with three weeks making one month. Each month was renamed to fit the season in which it occurred. It was instituted in 1793 and is commonly called the French republican calendar. It lasted until Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor in 1806; the seven-day week was reinstituted.
Note: The French word for Saturday is Samedi; it comes from the vulgar Latin word sambati dies, meaning Sabbath day.
In 1929, the USSR instituted a five-day work week. The goal was two-fold. First, the Soviets wanted to maximize their work force and keep machines running non-stop. People were assigned random rest periods during these five days. The second goal was to make religious adherence to any Sabbath by Christians, Jews, or Muslims impossible. Neither goal was met; machines broke down and people were not always off work at the same time as other family and friends. This caused people to experience a social disconnect with friends and family and thus a type of social disintegration began. Furthermore, it resulted in decreased productivity. After two years they moved to a six-day work week. By 1940, they abandoned the project and reinstituted the original seven-day week (Frost).
Note: the Russian word for Saturday is subbota, which means Sabbath.
These historical examples show attempts by mankind to disconnect humanity from our Creator. God instituted the seven-day weekly cycle and the Sabbath in Genesis. It was established by HIM, so any attempts to go contrary to it will result in failure. Furthermore, these examples show us that God will never allow us to fully separate from His timing; our way does not work. Every seven days we are reminded that God created all things, including time itself.
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org
Catholic Encyclopedia 1910: General Chronology, French Revolution
Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edtion: Calendar
Encyclopedia Britannica online: Pierre-Sylvain Maréchal
Fagan, Brian M. ed. The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press. New York, 1996. p 476.
Frost, Natasha. “For 11 Years, the Soviet Union Had No Weekends.” History.com. August 30 2018. https://www.history.com/news/soviet-union-stalin-weekend-labor-policy.
Sayce, A.H. The “Higher Criticism” and the Verdict of the Monuments. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1910. p 74.