Fire on the Sabbath

How are we to meet the argument raised against the injunction in Exodus 35:3: "Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day"? Some say that snow falls frequently in Palestine and in the section near the Sinaitic range of mountains, and that if this is true, fire would be needed for warmth.

Lynn H. Wood, Jerusalem., Palestine.

How are we to meet the argument raised against the injunction in Exodus 35:3: "Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day"? Some say that snow falls frequently in Palestine and in the section near the Sinaitic range of mountains, and that if this is true, fire would be needed for warmth.

Perhaps no better answer could be given than to quote from the Spirit of prophecy concerning this:

"During the sojourn in the wilderness, the kindling of fires upon the seventh day had been strictly prohibited. The prohibition was not to extend to the land of Canaan, where the severity of the climate would often render fires a necessity; but in the wilderness, fire was not needed for warmth."—"Patriarchs and Prophets," p. 409.

As to the temperature in the wilderness of Paran,—which evidently includes nearly all of the territory from the Wady Fikre at the southwest corner of the Dead Sea to Mt. Sinai, —I have asked people who have lived there for years, and they tell me it is never cold enough to snow. It is only seldom that Jerusalem has snow, and as I have watched the Arabs, even at this latitude and altitude, I find very few fires in their homes for warmth.

I was invited to the home of a member of the Moslem Chief Council on a cold, rainy night in the winter, and found the only fire he had in the room was a small brazier with a wee charcoal fire that would scarcely heat a tea­kettle. Certainly, if any one was financially able to have a fire, it would have been this member of the supreme council, but he liked the other better. Their clothes are of camel's hair, heavy and warm, and they prefer their houses cool. At the American School of Ori­ental Research I have seen one of them open the window when we Americans were shiver­ing with the cold.

The text seems to refer entirely to the ques­tion of doing cooking on the Sabbath, and should be compared with such texts as Exodus 16:23-29 and Numbers 15:32, which have to do with treating the Sabbath as a common day, and not as holy time.                   

 


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Lynn H. Wood, Jerusalem., Palestine.

June 1937

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