Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Judeo/Christian Riddle of the Seven Day Week

Why Seven Days?

No more logic supports seven days than, say eight or five, yet the seven-day week has resisted any and all attempt at change.

- Why the Week Has Seven Days, The 1988 Old Farmer's Almanac

Some believe that the theory of Seven Heavens and also the Seven days of Creation was originally in direct connection to the other planets and it all 'goes back to astrology.' Others go even further and contend that the Biblical legend of Seven days of Creation and the Judeo-Christian Seven-day week comes from Mesopotamia, possibly through the Biblical Patriarch Abraham who was once a citizen of that civilization.

Astrology has had a major influence on our weekly calendar in which it is responsible for the order of the days. Ancient Mesopotamian astrologers linked a planet-god to each hour of the day and then arranged them to their correct cosmological order. They used a seven-sided figure to keep track of the proper names of the hours and days in relation to the planet gods where each vertex was marked with a planet’s name in the proper order. Some Asiatic languages such as Hindi, Japanese and Korean have a similar relationship between the week days and the planets.

- The Days of the Week,

Why can't one say that ancient cultures were affected by the Seven-day week tradition of Adam and his descendants? There is no reason to deny the claim that Mesopotamia (or Sumeria) may have been influenced by other factors including the ancient Biblical Patriarchs who were renowned astronomers, astrologers, and time-keepers. Today's Hebrew calendar which is now at the year 5772 is considered one of the oldest known in the world. The date, 5772 is the number of years which have passed since God created the universe in Seven days. Wikipedia notes that 'the number 7 in Biblical references symbolically represented perfect completion, as in the seven-day week, the seven eyes and horns seen on the Lamb of God in The Book of Revelation, and the seventh in the generations of Adam: Lamech who was completely wicked, and Enoch who walked with God.' Some still claim otherwise:

It is a mistake to believe that our 7-day week has its origins in the command of the biblical YHWH, since the 7-day week is older than the Hebrews, having been used by the Sumerians and Babylonians.

- Hermetic Systems, Why Seven Days in a Week? by Peter Meyer

Apparently, ancient observers of the skies were only able to see seven planets in this solar system. Because of this they identified 'seven great heavenly objects and assumed each was floating in a separate heaven.' This is a highly dubious proposal and is just as absurd as claiming the age-old Seven-day week tradition which cuts across numerous cultures actually comes from God and the Bible. Interestingly enough, these seven celestial objects were the same across many different societies and religions. They were as follows:

1) Moon
2) Sun
3) Mercury
4) Venus
5) Mars
6) Jupiter
7) Saturn

This isn't the only order of sequence that the ancients utilized. A certain Muslim scholar named Ibn Kathir 'stated in his Tafsir that the Seven Heavens contained the moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn in that order.' In English at least, the Seven days of the week are partly named for these stellar bodies. One source notes in particular:

Most Latin-based languages derived the names of the seven days of the week from the Roman period where they related each day of the week with the seven planets, the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The English language has retained these names for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, however the planet names for the other days of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday) were replaced by their equivalent Norse gods.

- The Days of the Week,

As of now, some scholars surmise this may imply the true origins of mankind's Sacred use of the number Seven as possibly derived from the Persian and Babylonian Pagan time-keeping systems. This simply cannot be true, mainly because of the original Book of Genesis, which specifically also mentions Seven Days of Creation. According to many, if not most, scholars of today this Biblical text dates from long before Persia and Babylonia ever became individual civilizations with their own distinct Pagan religion. Indeed, the prophet Abraham most probably practiced this system long before Moses wrote the Biblical story of a Seven-day Creation sometime around 1,450 BC.

The origin of the seven-day week is the religious significance that was placed on the seventh day by ancient cultures, including the Babylonian and Jewish civilizations.

- Seven Day Week, Wikipedia

For countless millennia, Jews have 'celebrated every seventh day, within a continuous cycle of seven-day weeks, as a holy day of rest from their work.' Even so, some believe that 'it is possible that the Hebrew origin of the seven-day week was lunar, and not perpetual,' meaning it was structured around 12 lunar cycles which occur each year. What seems the most likely point of origin is that this came directly from the Bible and from Hebrew traditions dating back thousands of years. At least one modern author agrees. Judeo-Christian researcher Frank C. Senn, in his book Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical, provides data which indicates the ancient Jews had been using the Seven day week for a long, long time. Specifically, he provides 'evidence of an early continuous use of a seven-day week; referring to the Jews during the Babylonian Captivity in the 6th century BCE, after the destruction of the Temple of Solomon.'  In other words, the Jewish use of the Seven Day Week was old when the Babylonian Empire was still very young.

All things considered, the majority of the evidence suggests that the Hebrew (Judeo-Christian) tradition of the Seven-day week is indeed unique and original to Judaism and Christianity- stemming from the ancient creation legend found in the first few pages of the Bible. A few scholars still try to suggest that the Biblical Seven-day week was adopted by the Jews from the surrounding Babylonian and Persian cultures. One source contends:

There are many different opinions as to how the history of the seven-day week came about, but the most common explanation is that the seven-day week seems to have originated when Babylonian astrologers assigned their planet gods to the days of the week around 700 BCE. The Romans later replaced these names with their own planet-gods.

- The Days of the Week,

Now traditional Judaism and Christianity date the Book of Genesis, and its Seven-day Creation legend, to 1,500 BC. Even the more modern scholars will claim that this Book couldn't possibly have been written after the rule of King David and Solomon around the year 1,000 BC. This means that, at a minimum, the Judeo-Christian Book of Genesis specifically describes a Divinely-ordained Seven-day week at least 300 years before the Pagan 'Babylonian astrologers'.

In summary, further evidence concerning King David's ancient kingdom indicates the Book of Genesis most definitely predates nearly all Pagan cultures and traditions by centuries. Also remember that this text is recording an age-old legend which was believed in and passed down at least 3,000 years previous to its writing. In addition, one should also note that Jewish mythology was mostly influenced by the Canaanite and Egyptian kingdoms which has no known tradition of the Seven-day week. Thus, the relationship between the number Seven and the Divine, between the Seven-day Week and God, could originate as far back as the ancient Patriarchs who supposedly lived nearly 6,000 to 4,000 years ago. In short, the legendary Adam and Eve, and their children, may be the actual founders of the Seven-day week and its key connection to the one, true God.

Historically, the Babylonian Pagans, probably through ancient Hebrew influence, celebrated 'celebrated the seventh day of each seven-day week as a holy day, just like the Jewish practice of Sabbath. However, Babylon's calendar did not consist of a perpetual series of Seven Day Week. The ancient Babylonians also had a monthly calendar which 'would always commence on the new moon.' Because of this, Babylon's months consisted of three seven day weeks, followed by a final week of varying length depending on the 12 annual lunar cycles. This tradition of Seven days can still be found 'in the contemporary and traditional Zoroastrian calendars that relates to the first, seventh and so on days of the month as pertaining to Ahura Mazda (God).' The Babylonian traditions concerning the number Seven also can be seen on a very old map, dating from the 6th Century BC. It depicts Babylon 'surrounded by a "bitter river" (Oceanus), with seven islands arranged around it so as to form a seven-pointed star.' The exact system of Babylonian time measurement can be described as follows:

Counting from the new moon, the Babylonians celebrated the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th as "holy-days", also called "evil days" (meaning "unsuitable" for prohibited activities). On these days officials were prohibited from various activities and common men were forbidden to "make a wish", and at least the 28th was known as a "rest-day".[citation needed] On each of them, offerings were made to a different god and goddess. Tablets from the sixth-century B.C. reigns of Cyrus the Great and Cambyses indicate these dates were sometimes approximate. The [lunar cycle] of 29 or 30 days basically contained three seven-day weeks, and a final week of eight or nine days inclusive, breaking the continuous seven-day cycle.

- Seven Day Week, Wikipedia

There are also other cultures and empires which utilized the Seven Day Week and Rome was one of the them. At first, the early Romans 'traditionally used the eight-day nundinal cycle, but after the adoption of the Julian calendar, in the time of Augustus, the seven-day week came into use.' For a time, the Seven-day week and the eight-day system 'coexisted, but by the time the week was officially adopted by Constantine in AD 321' the Eight-day week had ceased to be used. Remember, as noted earlier the naming of the 'days of the week with the Sun, the Moon, and the five planets visible to the naked eye dates to the Roman era (2nd century).'

For reasons still somewhat mysterious, which may not seem so mysterious to believers in the Judeo-Christian Creator God, the Seven-day week also developed independently in the east and the Asian cultures of China, Japan, and India. To be specific, 'the earliest known reference in Chinese writings to a seven-day week is attributed to Fan Ning, who lived in the late 4th century in the Jin Dynasty.' It can also be found centuries later in 'Ceylonese or Central Asian Buddhist monk Bu Kong of the 7th century (Tang Dynasty).' This Chinese tradition of Seven days and Seven planets 'was soon brought to Japan by the Japanese monk Kobo Daishi.' Some texts which survived over the centuries 'show the seven-day system in use in Heian Japan as early as 1007.' In Japan, at least, 'the seven-day system was kept in use for astrological purposes until its promotion to a full-fledged Western-style calendrical basis during the Meiji era. In India, which practiced the polytheistic Hindu religion, 'the seven-day week may have been in use during the Vedic Period.' This remains in dispute, although one Hindu text called the Garga, which dates to the 1st century BC. 'refers to the seven-day week, Sunday to Saturday.' Regardless, of the specifics, it seems that, through Divine guidance, even the Pagan nations of Asia adopted the  clumsy, awkward, Seven-day week as their own to finally culminate in the international Seven-day week of the 21st century.

Again, Why Seven?
An extremely ancient Judeo-Christian source for the Divine Seven-day week is not so hard to accept considering how awkward a number it is to calculate time, both long-term and short term. To demonstrate their ignorance as to how arbitrary and just plain odd the Seven-day week tradition is, one website actually (and mistakenly) claims the following:

It [the Seven-day week] provides a clear method of representing dates and times to avoid misinterpretation of data transferred between countries with different conventions for writing numeric dates and times.

- The Days of the Week,

Nothing could be further from the truth. Think about it. 1 week of 7 days is 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, and 604,800 seconds. These are all extremely clumsy, mathematically useless numbers. As predicted, this tends to show that the Seven Day week has nothing to do with organizational or structural perfection and is, in fact, completely arbitrary in terms of measurement precision. If the ancients wanted to be precise about numbers and calculations for the movement of the Heavens they could have used a system based upon 10, 100, 1,000 and so on. As one online source informs:

It is not immediately apparent why the seven-day week was selected by ancient cultures, rather than a week that included a number of days that was a factor of these numeral systems, such as a six-day or a twelve-day week, or a week that divided the lunation more accurately using a factor of these number systems, such as a five-day or ten-day week. There are no historical Jewish or Babylonian records that confirm that these cultures explicitly defined the seven-day week as a quarter of a lunation.

- Seven Day Week, Wikipedia

Over the course of the past 2,000 years, some radicals have been enraged at this God-given tradition of Seven days. There have even been two modern attempts at abolishing the Seven Day Week system. These coincided with attempts to abolish the Bible, Judaism, and Christianity as well. After the French Revolution, the new anti-Christian government of France called for 'a ten-day week with the introduction of the republican calendar in 1793.' Alas, this did not last long because what is historically called 'The Concordat of 1801, which re-established the Roman Catholic Church in France, also restored the seven-day week.' The Communists in the Soviet Union also attempted to get rid of the God-given Seven Day Week. This occurred in 1929 when the 'USSR discontinued the seven-day week for a five-day week, then a six-day week.' Even so, they never stopped using seven difrferent names for the days even when 'the work schedules were rotated in five- and six-day periods.'. So it should not be surprising that this new Soviet systems didn't catch on either and instead the Communist government reverted back to the Seven Day protocol. As Wikipedia records: 'the seven-day week was reintroduced on 27 June 1940.' The current situation in the 21st century can be summarized in the following manner:

The day of rest can vary for each culture and religion. According to the Jews, the Sabbath or Saturday is the day of rest and worship because it was on this day that God rested after creating the world. Most Christians mark Sunday as their day of rest and worship because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday. Muslims refer to Friday as their day of rest and worship because the Quran calls Friday a holy day or the “king of days”.Nowadays, both Saturday and Sunday are seen as days of rest, and some calendars show Monday as the first day of the week since it is the first day of the "work week"

One could tentatively conclude the actual reason the Seven Day week still exists is to commemorate the Hebrew Creator God who , according to Genesis, finished making all the Universe in just Seven Days. Indeed, this may be the only reason why the world doesn't have 1000 seconds, or 100 minutes, to the hour, perhaps translating into 10 hour days, and 10 day weeks. Logically speaking, it is far more likely that the ancient Pagans got this exact number Seven from the story in the Book of Genesis and not from the Seven Planets.

The seven-day week appears in the Creation story in the Book of Genesis, in the Hebrew Bible, where Elohim (God) is said to have created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh (Genesis 1:1-2:3). In the Book of Exodus, the fourth of the ten commandments is to rest on the seventh day, the Sabbath, which can be seen as implicating a seven-day week social institution (Exodus 20:8-11).

- Seven Day Week, Wikipedia

Copying the prior tradition from Judaism, Christianity and Islam also adopted a 7 day week unit and imposed it upon all peoples they encountered and converted. They also allowed peasants and servants, even slaves, to rest from work every Seven Days, something other societies never really did on their own.

The Jews also adopted a seven-day cycle, based on the time it took the Lord to create the universe as reported in Genesis. A new wrinkle in their week was the Sabbath, a day set aside for rest. This was the first time a culture had invented a holiday that occurred on a regular basis, unrelated to natural phenomena.

- Why the Week Has Seven Days, The 1988 Old Farmer's Almanac

Indeed, in many ways, the Sabbath proved to be a merciful institution for all those who labored hard and long throughout Judeo-Christian history. Now, because of the implacable power of this Biblical tradition, Most of the known world follows suit. Two different source relates:

Historically, a number of other cultural groups, such as Christians and Muslims, have continued to regularly hold religious events on a specific day within each seven-day week.

- Seven Day Week, Wikipedia

The seven-day week is used by the majority of the world and has become the international standard as specified by the International Organization for Standardization.

- The Days of the Week,

This lack of any logical connection between the various systems of time-measurement logically leads to the premise that the Seven Day Week comes straight from the Judeo-Christian Bible, not from so-called Pagan sources. Thus, through sheer of force of will, this ancient Hebrew tradition of Seven Days, has triumphed and has now come to dominate the international system of time organization. Christianity has proceeded to calculate time with Seven Day weeks for nearly 2,000 years. Specifically, one source writes:

The seven-day weekly cycle is reputed to have remained unbroken in Europe for almost two millennia, despite changes to the Alexandrian, Julian, and Gregorian calendars. The date of Easter Sunday can be traced back through numerous computistic tables to an Ethiopic copy of an early Alexandrian table beginning with the Easter of 311 AD.

- Seven Day Week, Wikipedia

To summarize the history involved, the current contention of Persian or Babylonian origins of the Seven-day week tradition that in time influenced the Jews is probably the exact opposite of historical reality. The Jews, and their mythology, are the true founders of the Seven-day tradition which has now passed on to both Christianity and Islam centuries ago, marking the number Seven, for whatever reason, as a Holy and perhaps even, Divine numeral for all three religions.

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