Sabbaths and Holy Days – What is the Difference?

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Sabbaths and Holy Days – What is the Difference?
In the discovery of the Holy Days that are permanent Statutes in the Torah, many have described them as Sabbaths. In a sense they ARE a type of Sabbath, because they are treated similarly. But there are significant differences as a thorough study of the Torah suggests.
With the rise of the erroneous position of a Lunar-based Sabbath founded on the the idea that the lights of the heavens are time setters both Sabbaths and holy days. The text used as the basis of this theology is Genesis 1:14.

A call to deeper study is in order. This theory assumes that all holy days are based on the Hebrew word, Mo-ed. Though a listing of the word Mo-ed appears in many places, which could infer this supposition, the meanings of Mo-ed are various and since the words Shabbat and Shabbaton must also be considered, context must determine the meaning where Mo-ed is used.

What does Gen 1:14 say?
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons Mo-ed, and for days, and years.” (Gen 1:14).

The word “seasons” has a deeper implication. It is the Hebrew word Mo-ed

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Hebrew # H4150 (Mo-ed)

מועדה מעד מועד

From H3259; properly an appointment, that is, a fixed time or season; specifically a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand): - appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn (-ity), synagogue, (set) time (appointed).

Brown Driver Briggs definitions for Mo-ed:

1) Appointed place, appointed time, meeting

1a) appointed time

1a1) appointed time (general)

1a2) sacred season, set feast, appointed season

1b) appointed meeting

1c) appointed place

1d) appointed sign or signal

1e) tent of meeting

As we have observed, the word “seasons”( Mo-ed) in the King James Version of Genesis 1:14 suggests that one of the purposes of the “lights in the firmament” were for determining appointed times, feasts, sacred seasons, etc. So the obvious question is, what are these feasts, sacred seasons and appointed times? And do they include the weekly Sabbath? If the weekly Sabbath is included in the feasts that are determined by the lights of the firmament, then there may be credibility in looking to the moon to determine the ordering of the weekly cycle.

Let’s look at the word “Sabbath” in Hebrew. When doing a search for the word שׁבּת “Shabbat,” (Strong’s #7676), there are 89 places where this word is used in the Old Testament (Tenach) and 37 places in the Torah.

Outstanding references where #7676 “Shabbat” שׁבּת is used:

Lev 16: used for Day of Atonement (Apparently the most important Sabbath of the year).

Lev 19:30 used in call to remember to keep the Sabbaths

Lev 23:3 used for weekly Sabbath

23:11, 15, 16 day after (weekly) Sabbath of the wave sheaf, counting to Pentecost (Shavuot)—7 complete Sabbaths, morrow after the 7th Sabbath is Pentecost.

Lev 23: 32 atonement called a Sabbath

Lev 23:37 and 38 (An interesting note here. The mo-ed feasts are here mentioned and then it says besides the Sabbaths of the Lord…)*

Lev 25:2, 4, 6, 8: When entering the Land Israel was to do a Sabbath for the Land, one year out of 7. How it was to be done.

Lev 26:34 Speaks of letting the land rest every 7 years


* “These428 are the feasts4150 of the LORD,3068 which834, (853) ye shall proclaim7121 to be holy6944 convocations,4744 to offer7126 an offering made by fire801 unto the LORD,3068 a burnt offering,5930 and a meat offering,4503 a sacrifice,2077 and drink offerings,5262 every thing1697 upon his day:3117, 3117 Beside4480, 905 the sabbaths7676 of the LORD,3068 and beside4480, 905 your gifts,4979 and beside4480, 905 all3605 your vows,5088 and beside4480, 905 all3605 your freewill offerings,5071 which834 ye give5414 unto the LORD.3068”(Lev 23:37-38)
The word “besides” is: H905 combined with H4480

H905 בּד bad

From H909; properly separation; by implication a part of the body, branch of a tree, bar for carrying; figuratively chief of a city; especially (with prepositional prefix) as adverb, apart, only, besides: - alone, apart, bar, besides, branch, by self, of each alike, except, only, part, staff, strength.

H4480 מנּי מנּי מן min, min-nee', min-nay'

For H4482; properly a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses: - above, after, among, at, because of, by (reason of), from (among), in, X neither, X nor, (out) of, over, since, X then, through, X whether, with.

The Translators chose to use the English word “besides” which appears to be equivalent to “separated from” or “apart from.”

Now let us define the word “Sabbath.”

Sabbath: Shabbat H7676 שׁבּת shabbâth

Strong’s H7676 שׁבּת


Intensive from H7673; intermission, that is, (specifically) the Sabbath: - (+ every) sabbath.

H7673 שׁבת


A primitive root; to repose, that is, desist from exertion; used in many implied relations (causatively, figuratively or specifically): - (cause to, let, make to) cease, celebrate, cause (make) to fail, keep (sabbath), suffer to be lacking, leave, put away (down), (make to) rest, rid, still, take away.

BDB Definition:

1) Sabbath

1a) sabbath

1b) day of atonement

1c) sabbath year

1d) week

1e) produce (in sabbath year)
Some of the holy days or feasts are called Shabbaton in the Tenach. Shabbaton is Strongs #H7677:

שׁבּתון shabbaton

From H7676; a sabbatism or special holiday: - rest, sabbath.

There are 10 places where the word Shabbaton is used in Scripture. All these entries are listed from Genesis to Leviticus.

Exodus 16:23: The word interpreted the “rest” of the Sabbath is Shabbaton.

Exodus 31:15 and 35:2: Again the “rest” of the Sabbath is Shabbaton

Lev. 16:31: The “rest” specified for the Day of Atonement

Lev. 23:3: The Sabbath “rest”

Lev 23:24, 32, 39: Feast of Trumpets, First and 8th days of Tabernacles are called “Shabbaton”

Lev 25:4, 5: the 7th year Sabbath of rest (Shabbaton) for the land

Since Feast of Trumpets, 1st and 8th days of Tabernacles, Day of Atonement, are Shabbaton (Atonement is also a Shabbat), the question arises as to why the 15th and the seventh of the 1st month are not called Shabbaton, but that they are Kodesh Miq-rah or Holy Convocation and no servile (bondservant) work to be done.

Kodesh: Strongs H6944 קדשׁ


From H6942; a sacred place or thing; rarely abstractly sanctity: - consecrated (thing), dedicated (thing), hallowed (thing), holiness, (X most) holy (X day, portion, thing), saint, sanctuary.

Miq-rah: Strong’s H4744



BDB Definition:

1) convocation, convoking, reading, a calling together

1a) convocation, sacred assembly

1b) convoking

1c) reading

Servile: Strong’s H5656

עבודה עבדה


From H5647; work of any kind: - act, bondage, + bondservant, effect, labour, ministering (-try), office, service (-ile, -itude), tillage, use, work, X wrought

A look at all of this brings the idea together that not all Mo-eds have the exact same meaning, and Shabbats and Shabbaton are somewhat different as well as the other Mo-ed feasts, though all weekly Sabbaths are to have the element of Shabbaton (rest), but not all days referred to as Shabbaton are Sabbaths.

The word “besides” in Leviticus 23:37-38 signifies a separation of the feasts from the Sabbaths. (It also includes the idea of the sacrifices being a separate act from the feasts. Perhaps this means that the sacrifices though originally commanded for the feasts, when once fulfilled are eliminated in a physical sense).

The following passage presents some challenges:

Lev 23:2 Speak1696 unto413 the children1121 of Israel,3478 and say559 unto413 them, Concerning the feasts4150 of the LORD,3068 which834, (853) ye shall proclaim7121 to be holy6944 convocations,4744 even these428 are my feasts.4150

Lev 23:3 Six8337 days3117 shall work4399 be done:6213 but the seventh7637 day3117 is the sabbath7676 of rest,7677 a holy6944 convocation;4744 ye shall do6213 no3808, 3605 work4399 therein: it1931 is the sabbath7676 of the LORD3068 in all3605 your dwellings.4186

Lev 23:4 These428 are the feasts4150 of the LORD,3068 even holy6944 convocations,4744 which834 ye shall proclaim7121 in their seasons.4150

Lev 23:5 In the fourteenth702, 6240 day of the first7223 month2320 at996 even6153 is the LORD's3068 passover.6453

Look for the #4150, which signifies Mo-ed in the passage.

Let us take it apart. In verse 2; just before listing the weekly Sabbath, Mo-ed is used twice for the word “feasts.” Then verse 3 does not use the word Mo-ed when it lists the Sabbath. Then in verse 4 the word Mo-ed is used again just before the listing of the other holy days. There is a clear pause between the listing of the Sabbath right after “these are my feasts” and then a restatement as if for purpose of separation, and then another statement “these are my feasts” and another listing. Why are these things said twice and separated? Maybe we need to go back to the simple English. Take another look, it is very simple.

Verse 2 says “Concerning the feasts4150 of the LORD,3068 which834, (853) ye shall proclaim7121 to be holy6944 convocations,4744 even these428 are my feasts.4150

The Sabbath is then listed.

Verse 4 then makes another statement:

These428 are the feasts4150 of the LORD,3068 even holy6944 convocations,4744 which834 ye shall proclaim7121 in their seasons.4150

There is a clear difference in these two verses. All feasts, including Sabbaths are to be proclaimed as holy convocations (Kodesh Miqrah) but there is an addition to the second entry: “…which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.4150” What does this mean? “…Which ye shall proclaim in their appointed times or seasons.” The Sabbath is not proclaimed based on an appointed time, but the other feasts must be “proclaimed” because they are set by the new moon monthly calendar (appointed time) and thus the need for watching in order to determine when they occur. The Sabbath is not based on any lunar calendar, nor is it something that must be calculated and then “proclaimed”, but it is a Kodesh Miqrah just as the rest of them are.

So the Sabbath is still on track with the seven day weekly cycle and the other feasts are determined by the new moon at the beginning of their respective months, aside from Pentecost (Shavuot), which is calculated from the feast of the first month.

We also touched on the fact that the Spring Holy Days are not called Sabbaths and are not Shabbaton in the Scriptures, but are specified as Holy Convocations and no work of bondage (servile) is to be done in them. However the Fall Feasts are specified as Shabbaton, and Holy Convocations. They are not Sabbaths in the sense that they are not calculated by the weekly calendar.

Yom Kippur (Atonement) is considered a Holy Convocation, a Shabbaton and also a Sabbath. It is the most important feast of the year. But though it is called Sabbath, it is calculated by the moon as shown in Leviticus 23.

We also see that the seven year cycle for allowing the land to rest was called a Sabbath, Strong’s #7676. Could it be this is because it is not calculated by the moon, rather a 7-year cycle, similar to the calculation of the weekly Sabbath?

So let’s get into the Word and really understand why we understand things the way we do and why. The Bible is a rich treasure house if we learn to “rightly divide” it.

Rich blessings as we all dig deeper and deeper into the mine of truth!


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