On the Name of the Weekly Day of Rest
In antiquity, Jews developed the concept of a seven-day week with the seventh day, named ‘Shabbat’, devoted to rest and worship. This concept was later borrowed by other religions and cultures but the day of rest was shifted to other days of the week. When the name ‘Shabbat’ was transmitted through Islam, it continued to denote the name of the seventh day of the week, but no longer the day of rest. When the name was transmitted through Christianity, however, a more complicated situation developed. Some day names derived from ‘Shabbat’ now denote the seventh day of the week, but no longer the day of rest and worship, while other names derived from ‘Shabbat’ denote the day of rest, but no longer the seventh day of the week. Many terms derived from ‘Shabbat’ denote new and unrelated concepts. This paper discusses the etymology and the range of meanings of the root ‘sh-b-t’ in biblical and modern Hebrew. It then traces the semantic changes that the day name ‘Shabbat’ has undergone upon being borrowed into other languages and cultures. In addition, it examines the names of Saturday obtained from sources other than Shabbat.