|Picture adapted from Rembrant’s Moses Smashing the Tablets of the Law|
The fourth commandment of the Christian god is that you should rest on the Sabbath day or else you will be stoned to death.
According to the Bible, the fourth commandment is:
20:8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Ex 20:8-11, Deut 5:12-15)
This means that neither you, your children, your servants, your cattle or any of your visitors could work on the Sabbath. The punishment for breaking this rule was death by stoning (Ex 31:14-15).
31:14 You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who [c]profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
The god was quite specific about this punishment, and he clarified this when the Israelites were not sure what to do with a man they found gathering sticks on the Sabbath. The god confirmed that they should take him outside the camp and stone him to death, so they did this. (Num 15:32-36).
15:32 Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. 34 They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.
Since prehistoric times, humans have assigned days to various gods, so it was natural for a Bronze Age tribe to do likewise. But, whatever the benefits of resting on this day, they are far outweighed by the injustice of killing people for declining to rest.
So that is commandment number four. I will examine the fifth commandment in my next post.