"Exodus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 5:14 refer to the stranger who is within your cities and both imply that he should observe Shabbat. I see from earlier questions that Shabbat is not to be kept by non-Jews. What then does “stranger” mean in the commandments to keep the Shabbat?

In Genesis 2, the Lord ceases from His creative work and sanctifies that holy time, forever. Doesn't this apply to all mankind/strangers?

P.S. Please answer as you wish but I will be especially grateful for answers that speak from the Tanakh.

__________My thoughts below, if allowed by forum rules___________

This breathtaking "act" makes holy this day forever--He doesn't close by saying, the evening and the morning were the seventh day--indicating to me that this Shabbat is universal and unending. Because of this, I, like others, believe the Shabbat is given to all mankind--(there are some 140 languages, ancient and modern that use the word Sabbath for the seventh day) that they should walk in it (potentially bringing them to the One True God and His ways). I don't believe anyone can make unholy that which God has made holy. To bring righteousness to all mankind, which is what the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are instructed to do (Deut 4), wouldn't this be the starting point, time is everywhere and everyone lives within time--the "holy of the Lord--the Shabbat is something everyone lives through whether they, unfortunately, are ignorant of it.

For context: My family keeps Shabbat; we are not Jewish. We spend 24 hours (sunset to sunset) in the study of the Scriptures and in worship. We do not cook, transact business, work, do housework, travel or discuss anything but the Lord and His Word. It is a time of "not doing our pleasure on His holy day", "not doing out own ways, nor finding our own pleasures, nor speaking our own words" but calling the Shabbat "a delight", "the holy of the Lord", "honorable" and honoring Him (Isaiah 58:13)

I understand this can be a sensitive issue, and I do not mean to offend.

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    I admit that I don't fully understand your initial logic, but would contribute that you should look at the language of Ex 31:12-17 where the sabbath is designated for the children of Israel to observe and not anyone else.
    – rosends
    Aug 13, 2018 at 1:21
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    Welcome to MiYodeya. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. I am not sure I see what your specific question is - could you please clarify? Welcome again!
    – mbloch
    Aug 13, 2018 at 2:47
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    Could you please edit to present one clear question? The only question I see right now is the end of the first paragraph, so if you'd like to, flesh that out to a full-fledged question (including explaining what "stranger" reference you're referring to and the conflict you see). Or, if you really want to get into the ideas in the following paragraphs, please reformulate into a question (and please, not just by retaining a long statement and adding "Right?" at the end). See here for more guidance.
    – Isaac Moses
    Aug 13, 2018 at 3:18
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    Your idealism is much to be admired. In Exodus 20, you are probably referring to verse 10: In Deuteronomy 5, you probably mean verse 14 And you suggest that “stranger” refers to a non-Jew. So you can rephrase your question very simply: "Exodus 20 (10) and Deuteronomy 5 (14) refer to the stranger who is within your cities and both imply that he should observe Shabbat. I see from earlier questions that Shabbat is not to be kept by non-Jews. What then does “stranger” mean in the commandments to keep the Shabbat?" I could change it for you, but I'd like to give you the chance first. Aug 13, 2018 at 11:20
  • I hope my edits are properly done. I left my thoughts because I felt they were helpful--if not, please let me know. I left in my question about Genesis 2 as it is really part of the same question. Should I incorporate it into the first question?
    – ElizshevaZ
    Aug 13, 2018 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


The 7th day Sabbath which began at Creation (Genesis 2:3) has NO instructions for mankind.

It merely notes that God sanctified and blessed a specific day.

Did man even know about it?

Was man commanded to observe the Sabbath in a prescribed manner?

There is no Biblical evidence that God gave the whole world the Sabbath, nor do we find any verse indicating that man observed the Sabbath prior to the Exodus.

Why doesn't the Bible mention anything about Adam, Enoch, or Noah observing the Sabbath prior to the Exodus?

The first time that we find in Scripture that man was commanded to observe the Sabbath, was post Exodus (Exodus 16), when God gave the Sabbath as a gift to the Children of Israel.

Moreover, the verse (16:29) indicates that God GAVE the Sabbath to the Israelites. First of all, it had to be "given", i.e. it wasn't "theirs" until then. Second, it was given to the Israelites. No one else.

This was followed at Sinai, where the Sabbath commandment is included in the Decalogue.

Exodus 31:16-17

  1. Thus shall the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant.

  2. Between Me and the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, it is forever a sign...

As a gentile, if you want to remember the 7th day of creation, go can out to a bar and enjoy a cold beer, in honor of the Sabbath.

If you want to praise God for the Sabbath, sing a Psalm in the bar, or whatever else floats your boat.

Scripture cannot contradict itself. As per Exodus 31, the Sabbath is a private Covenant between God and the Children of Israel.

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    I have 5 daughters and a husband, I won't be going to any bars on Shabbat, thanks. As stated, I see this is a sensitive issue given the responses to other, related questions which decreed the death penalty for non-Jews keeping Shabbat. If I can remain unoffended by that, I think you can muster kindness in your response to my sincere question. By the way, I am not offended. :^) I believe it is imperative to discipline ourselves in the art of hearing things we greatly disagree with. Is this response against forum rules for comments? If so, you may delete. Thanks!!
    – ElizshevaZ
    Aug 13, 2018 at 21:14
  • I'm aware that there are non-Jews that would like to celebrate the 7th day of creation. The going to the bar comment was made in tongue in cheek. No intent to offend. Everybody can remember the Sabbath in the manner they choose to. As per your request, I have quoted exclusively from Tanakh. The burden of proof now falls on you, to prove that the Sabbath was actually given to all of mankind, despite Exodus 16:29 indicating that God gave the Sabbath to the Israelites, and Exodus 31 describing the Sabbath as being an exclusive Covenant between God and the Children of Israel. Aug 13, 2018 at 22:09
  • You got it! Thanks for the invitation. I'll do my best.
    – ElizshevaZ
    Aug 13, 2018 at 23:53
  • @ElizshevaZ While you're working, please consider Deuteronomy 5:15 "And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord your God took you out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm; THEREFORE, the Lord, your God, commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." - Was all of mankind enslaved in Egypt, and redeemed, and THEREFORE commanded to observe God's Sabbath? Aug 14, 2018 at 17:23
  • Of course. That is absolutely a scripture that must be addressed. Don't worry, I know every scripture from cover to cover as it relates to Shabbat. :^) But, please feel welcome to send me more! I want to be thorough.
    – ElizshevaZ
    Aug 14, 2018 at 19:33

You would prefer answers based only on the written Torah. We believe that the Torah consists of two parts: the written and the oral Torah. (For further information see this short article).

This answer starts from an Oral Torah source which bases itself on the written Torah.

Background. גר can have two meanings in Torah.

1] A ger toshav is a gentile who accepts the authority of the Torah and the rabbis upon himself, but specifically as applied to gentiles.

2] A ger tzedek refers to a "righteous convert", a proselyte to Judaism.

The question here is which sort of ger is referred to in the quoted texts.

The Kesav veHakabbalah quotes a Mekhilta {for what that is see here} which says:

וגרך. זה גר צדק או אינו אלא גר תושב כשהוא אומר (וינפש בן אמתך) והגר, הרי גר תושב אמור, הא מה ת"ל וגרך זה גר צדק

The word וגרך refers to a righteous convert. Or could it be that it means the righteous gentile? The Torah also says in regards to Shabbat “and the son of the maidservant and the גר will rest” that must mean the convert rests on Shabbat – not the righteous gentile .

So we see that the “stranger” referred to in the two texts is in fact a convert to Judaism and not a non-Jew (any longer!).

There are other places where the Torah speaks about the righteous convert and obliges him in mitzvos like any other Jew, for example:

Exodus 12 (48)

If a stranger who dwells with you would offer the passover to the LORD, all his males must be circumcised; then he shall be admitted to offer it; he shall then be as a citizen of the country. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it.

Numbers 9 (14)

And when a stranger who resides with you would offer a passover sacrifice to the LORD, he must offer it in accordance with the rules and rites of the passover sacrifice. There shall be one law for you, whether stranger or citizen of the country.

  • I see that ger גר is used in both Ex 20:10 and Deut 5:14. But I do not know how the qualifier of toshav and tzedek get in there; are they anywhere in the Tanakh? I have assumed that the standards are/were different as relates to the Passover as this foreigner must be circumcised (and I would think the sacrificial/temple aspect of the festival/moedim would require a different level of "assimilation"). But nowhere is it stated that the stranger/foreigner needs to be circumcised to keep Shabbat. Nor does it qualify or create a hierarchy of ger toshav or ger tzedek, in the Tanakh?
    – ElizshevaZ
    Aug 13, 2018 at 20:51
  • I don't understand your reading of the Mechilta. From what I can tell, it's saying וינפש בן אמתך והגר refers to the gentile, and וגרך refers to a righteous convert - meaning that the Ten Commandments don't refer to a gentile resting, only a convert, but Exodus 23:12 is indeed about a gentile resting. This seems to prove the opposite of what you wrote. Your translation ignores the words וינפש בן אמתך והגר הרי גר תושב אמור
    – b a
    Aug 13, 2018 at 21:29
  • Out of respect for rules posted re: comments, I have not thanked you for your answer--so I won't, though I am thankful for all answers. However, when I followed up with clarification questions, I feel it is rude not to first thank you for your answer. I ran out of characters anyway, but what is the politeness guideline? I don't want clarification comments to be taken as rude or dismissive of the first answer. Is there something in the rules section to refer to? Thanks! oops, did it again. (This comment can be deleted)
    – ElizshevaZ
    Aug 13, 2018 at 22:26
  • @ElizshevaZ You might be looking for the tour, code of conduct or help center - but no, "thanks" isn't forbidden (though discouraged when they don't add information), but moderators can delete comments they think aren't necessary
    – b a
    Aug 13, 2018 at 23:00

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