On the Meaning of the Biblical Shabbatons
Written by David M Rogers
Published: June 2010
Table of Contents
If you scan the internet for websites which explain the meaning of the biblical Shabbatons, you will be sorely disappointed. The vast majority of web pages which contain the term Shabbaton are Jewish websites which use the term as a synonym for a weekend get together, a youth event, a "special" seventh day Sabbath, or some other annual social event. None of these usages are derived from the meaning of the term as it is given in the written Torah of Moses.
Shabbatons are not parties. Nor are they the private social events of any congregation of Torah observant communities. The Shabbat Shabbatons as found in the writings of Moses have a very specific meaning and usage. It is our goal in this study to examine the biblical usage of the term Shabbaton and discern its meaning and application.
The Hebrew word Shabbaton is found 11 (eleven) times in the Tanach, all of which occur in the Torah of Moses. 6 of those times, the word is used in the phrase Shabbat Shabbaton, and the other 5 occurrences the word Shabbaton is used independent of the phrase above. The term shabbaton is used to describe the weekly Sabbath and each of the 7th month moadim. It also describes the 7th year. Our word occurs 11 times in 10 verses: Used of: Sabbath (Shemot 16:23; 31:15; 35:2; Vayiqra 23:3), Yom Teru’ah (Vayiqra 23:24), Day of Atonement (Vayiqra 16:31; 23:32), Feast of Tabernacles (Vayiqra 23:39 twice), every seventh year (Vayiqra 25:4,5).
The terms Shabbat and Shabbaton are not interchangeable. They do not have the same meaning. The Shabbat (Hebrew, שַׁבָּת) is a day of cessation from regular work. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) defines shabbat as meaning to cease, desist, rest. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) presents our word as to cease, stop; to come to an end; to rest. Almost exclusively, the term shabbat as a noun refers to the seventh day of the week, which Yehowah blessed and separated in Creation:
By the seventh day Elohim had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And Elohim blessed the seventh day and separated it, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Bereshith 2:2-3)
(More about the seventh day Sabbath below).
The Shabbaton is the Hebrew ! שַׁבָּתוֹן; (pronounced shăbătōwn). TWOT renders this word as Sabbath observance. The Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Brown Driver Briggs) defines our word as sabbath observance, sabbatism. And HALOT says this of the word:
one individual and particular שַׁבָּת;, such as one that is to be observed in a particularly strict way, or one observed as a special celebration.
The "particularly strict way" which the Hebrew ! שַׁבָּתוֹןimplies is usually indicated by its translation as "cessation, rest, sabbath observance, complete rest." In the body of our study, we will explore two theories about why some days are shabbaton and others are not.
The Sabbath שַׁבָּת as a Shabbaton שַׁבָּתוֹן
The seventh day Sabbath is called a shabbaton in four different places (Shemot 16:23; 31:15; 35:2; Vayiqra 23:3). The first reads thus:
He said to them, "This is what Yehowah commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to Yehowah. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.'" (Shemot 16:23)
The Hebrew of the key phrase is:
Exod 16:23 וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם הוּא אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה שַׁבָּתֹון שַׁבַּת־קֹדֶשׁ לַֽיהוָה מָחָר אֵת אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאפוּ אֵפוּ וְאֵת אֲשֶֽׁר־תְּבַשְּׁלוּ בַּשֵּׁלוּ וְאֵת כָּל־הָעֹדֵף הַנִּיחוּ לָכֶם לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת עַד־הַבֹּֽקֶר׃
Literally rendered this reads, "Shabbaton, Shabbat” of set-apartness to Yehowah (is) tomorrow."
The reference of "tomorrow" is to the seventh day Shabbat. Then, the instruction which follows seems to explain the significance of the Sabbath being a shabbaton.
So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.
Special instructions are given in regard to the manna which was on the ground every morning and which the benei Yisrael would gather each morning: It seems that the activity of preparing food to eat was the definitive prohibition which the Sabbath as a shabbaton requires
On the seventh day, because it is a "Shabbaton, Shabbat of set-apartness to Yehowah," the congregation was instructed NOT to go out and gather the manna, for it would not be found on the Sabbath day. On the Sabbath, Mosheh told the people,
"Eat it today," Mosheh said, "because today is a Sabbath to Yehowah. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any." (Shemot 16:25-26)
The second place where the seventh day Sabbath is called a shabbaton is in Shemot 31:
For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest (Hebrew, Shabbat shabbaton), set apart to Yehowah. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death (vs 15).
In this text, what makes the Sabbath a complete rest (shabbaton) is that no work at all is to be performed on that day. On pain of death, the sons of Yisrael are urged to set this day apart to Yehowah and not do any of their work. But nothing is said specifically about preparing food in this passage.
The third occurrence of shabbaton as delimiting the Sabbath day is in Shemot 35:2-3:
For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your set apart day, a Sabbath of rest (Hebrew, Shabbat shabbaton) to Yehowah. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. Do not gather a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day."
In this text, the special restfulness of the Shabbat as implied by the term shabbaton is described by the prohibition of "gathering a fire." (I lay out in great detail the meaning of the prohibition of "kindling a fire on the Sabbath" in my study of Keeping Shabbat).
And the final text in which the Sabbath day is called a shabbaton is in Vayiqra 23:3
There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest (Shabbat shabbaton), a day of set apart assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to Yehowah.
As in the Shemot 31 passage, this text does not specify the particular activity which is prohibited by the term shabbaton.
While shabbaton was connected to the prohibition of preparing food on the Sabbath in Shemot 16, in Shemot 35 shabbaton is connected to the prohibition of "gathering a fire" on the Shabbat. In the other two passages we are merely told that we are not to do any work on the Sabbath on pain of death. So, it’s difficult at this stage to draw the conclusion that the shabbaton is linked specifically with the preparation of food. Rather, it seems to prohibit all non essential activity - any activities that could be taken care of in advance.
What exactly does it mean that no work is permitted on these shabbatons? This is the million dollar question. People debate the meaning of work as used in this context all the time. Everybody has an opinion about what this forbidden work is. Usually, the opinions expressed are derived from one's own selfish desire to exonerate oneself from their own cherished activities which people refuse to cease doing on the Sabbath!
But, let's not guess anymore at what "work" is. Let's find the definition for "work" by its usage in the Tanak (the Old Testament). In Shemot 20:9 and 10, the Hebrew word for "work" is מְלָאכָּה. (pronounced "melacha"). So it reads, "For six days you may labor and do all your melacha, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yehowah your Elohim; on it you shall not do any melacha."
Melacha is defined by The BDB Hebrew Lexicon as "occupation, work." The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) defines this word as "work, business." And the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT) renders it "1. trade mission, business journey, 2. business, work, 3. handiwork, craftsmanship."
The first occurrences (3 times) of our word comes in the account of the seventh day following the six days of creation:
By the seventh day Elohim finished the work (melacha) that he had been doing, and he ceased on the seventh day all the work (melacha) that he had been doing. Elohim blessed the seventh day and made it set-apart because on it he ceased all the work (melacha) that he had been doing in creation (Bereshith 2:2,3).
How should we understand the meaning of melacha in Scripture? What was the nature of the melacha which Elohim was doing here?
In other places the melacha which Elohim was doing in creation is described in different terms:
The depths of the earth are in his hand, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land (Tehillim 95:4,5).
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place (Tehillim 8:3).
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands (Tehillim 102:25 NIV).
In each of these Scriptures, the melacha of creation is described as the "work of his fingers" or "work of his hands."
Hold that thought while you consider this:
If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house will be brought before the judges, to see whether he has laid his hand on his neighbor's goods (melacha) (Shemot 22:8)
...then there will be an oath to Yehowah between the two of them, that he has not laid his hand on his neighbor's goods (melacha), and its owner will accept this, and he will not have to make it good (Shemot 22:11).
Sometimes the Hebrew melacha is translated "goods" (in the NIV of these verses above, it is translated "property") and refers to the end result of the work of one's hands.
We should understand, then, that the word melacha refers to human activity (work) that results in the production of a finished end product. Just as the "work" of Elohim's hands produced heaven and earth (an end product), the work which we are forbidden to do on the Sabbath is that melacha which results in products which are made or produced by the skill and labor of our hands. It is easy to see how melacha could also be translated "occupation," "business," "handiwork," or "craftsmanship." All of these terms have to do with the work that people do to produce goods and services.
But keep in mind that this is just a human attempt to understand the meaning of melacha. If we use my definition above for work, then we will still run into problems in the grey areas. At this point, we must use common sense and reasonability. For example, Yahusha said it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. And he ordered a man to pick up and carry his mat on the Sabbath. Thus, reason and the example of Messiah should show us that there are many things which are perfectly fine to do on the Sabbath, but which we will be criticized for doing. The important thing to remember is that your daily occupational tasks should cease on the seventh-day.
With that in mind, we can produce a kind of general "list" or rule of thumb (but this is not a "law") regarding work that is forbidden on Shabbat. Activities which produce an end product are not permitted, such as any occupational work done to produce an income (one's normal business affairs) including craftsmanship, work in a field which ultimately will produce a crop, chores done in a home (which requires the work of one's hands to accomplish) such as gathering wood for a fire (or grocery shopping!), and cooking which produces an end product (a cooked or prepared meal), or anything that requires someone else to work on your behalf (you are commanded to let your servant rest, too!). [More on cooking being explicitly prohibited by Scripture in section below.]
Activities which are permitted on Sabbath include (clearly) Scripture study which makes us wise in our walk before Elohim, personal hygiene tasks, games which exploit friendship and fellowship, rest, eating (as long as it doesn't require melacha on the Sabbath to prepare said meal), and the like. Also included in activities which are permitted are those acts of mercy and compassion to help men and animals in a situation which endangers their health and life. Remember, "it is always right to do good on the Sabbath." But "good" is not an activity which profits you.
Each of the appointments (moadim) of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar are also called shabbaton. And so, the next 5 occurrences of the Hebrew word shabbaton refer to Yom Teru’ah (Vayiqra 23:24), Day of Atonement (Vayiqra 16:31; 23:32) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Vayiqra 23:39 twice).
Of Yom Teruah, which falls on the first day of the seventh month, Scripture says,
Say to the sons of Yisrael: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a set apart assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present an offering made to Yehowah by fire.'" (Vayiqra 23:24-25)
The Hebrew reads,
Lev 23:24 דַּבֵּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם שַׁבָּתֹון זִכְרֹון תְּרוּעָה מִקְרָא־קֹֽדֶשׁ׃
Lev 23:25 כָּל־מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָֽה׃ ס
Literally, this reads in English, "Shabbaton v.24), a remembrance of trumpet blast, a set apart proclamation." And “melacha” (work v.25)
Though we are told that Yom Teruah is a shabbaton, no specific details are given regarding prohibitions. We are merely told that no regular work is to be performed. What is this "regular work" which is prohibited on the shabbatons? The Hebrew phrase here is:
Lev 23:25 כָּל־מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדָה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם אִשֶּׁה לַיהוָֽה׃ ס
which literally is rendered, "all work of service you shall not do." The Hebrew word for "work" is מְלָאכָּה. (pronounced "melacha"). And the Hebrew word עֲבוֹדָה (pronounced ăvōdăh) means simply labour, service. So, in Vayiqra 23:24, the instruction is telling us all work of service is not to be done. In other words, any activity of our hands which produces a product or service is forbidden on this day. As we saw above in the examples given regarding the seventh day Sabbath, these forbidden activities would include such things as preparing food and gathering a fire.
Yom HaKippurim - the Day of Atonement - is twice said to be a shabbaton.
This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work-- whether native-born or an alien living among you-- because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before Yehowah, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a sabbath of rest (Shabbat shabbaton), and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. (Vayiqra 16:29-31)
And also later,
The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a set apart assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to Yehowah by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before Yehowah your Elohim. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a sabbath of rest (Shabbat shabbaton) for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath." (Vayiqra 23:27-32)
Again, as above, no melacha is to be done on Yom HaKippurim. All work is banned for the day. Because it is a Shabbat shabbaton, all work is forbidden. Yet, because it is a day of fasting, it makes sense that preparation of food is forbidden on this day.
The first and eighth days of the Feast of Tabernacles (Chag HaSukkot) are called shabbaton.
So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to Yehowah for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest.
Lev 23:39 אַךְ בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר יֹום לַחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁבִיעִי בְּאָסְפְּכֶם אֶת־תְּבוּאַת הָאָרֶץ תָּחֹגּוּ אֶת־חַג־יְהוָה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים בַּיֹּום הָֽרִאשֹׁון שַׁבָּתֹון וּבַיֹּום הַשְּׁמִינִי שַׁבָּתֹֽון׃
literally, "on the first day - shabbaton - and on the eighth day - shabbaton."
The prohibition against work is given in verses 34-36 of Vayiqra 23:
Say to the sons of Yisrael: 'On the fifteenth day of the seventh month Yehowah's Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a set apart assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present offerings made to Yehowah by fire, and on the eighth day hold a set apart assembly and present an offering made to Yehowah by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.
Here, again, the word translated as work is melacha.
There are three annual biblical appointments (moadim) that are not said to be shabbatons. Two of these occur in the springtime. The 1st and 7th days of Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread) are NOT called shabbaton. Nowhere in all the Torah are these days commanded to be shabbaton. Thus, it is notable that on these days, food is permitted to be prepared - presumable the reason they are never called “complete rests.”
For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. Surely on the first day you must put away the yeast from your houses because anyone who eats leavened bread from the first day to the seventh day may be cut off from Yisrael. And on the first day there will be a set-apart miqra, and on the seventh day there will be a set-apart miqra for you. You must do no work of any kind on them, only what every person must eat--that alone may be prepared for you (Shemot 12:15,16).
Here, we are told not to do "all melacha" (any melacha), except to prepare that which you need to eat! The Hebrew is somewhat emphatic:
Exod 12:16 And in the first day [there shall be] an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work (melacha) shall be done in them, save [that] which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
literally rendered becomes, "all work shall not be done for them, except that which is eaten by every person - that alone shall be done for you."
The Hebrew אַך (pronounced ahk), here rendered only or except, is a restrictive adverb used to contrast what precedes it with what follows. The result is that while work is forbidden, an exception to the rule is being established here. The conclusion we may draw from this curious statement is that preparing (boiling, baking) food falls under the umbrella of melacha. So, while melacha is restricted on the first and last days of Unleavened Bread, there is an exemption from the rule for this one thing: to prepare your food.
It is important that we assimilate the point just made. The prohibition against all melacha includes the preparing of food, except in those cases where special permission to prepare food is granted. The term shabbaton implies "no melacha" and visa versa - "no melacha" means "no work of any kind" (except where an exception is made).
The third annual biblical appointment (moed) which is nowhere said to be a shabbaton is Chag Shavuot (Feast of Weeks), more commonly known as Pentecost. If the term shabbaton is always associated with "no preparation of food," then we might be quick to assume that on Shavuot, food preparation is permitted, since it is not called a shabbaton.
But before we jump to that conclusion, consider this: the first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread are not designated shabbaton, but the permission to prepare food on those days is explicitly made as an exception to the rule of "no work of any kind is to be done." So, the combination of not calling those two days shabbaton with the explicitly given instruction permitting the preparation of food is what causes us to conclude that we may cook on those two appointment days.
But what about Shavuot? Neither occurs here. Shavuot is not called a shabbaton. But neither is explicit permission given for preparing food! However, there is an explicit instruction about not doing any melacha! Here is what Scripture says of Shavuot:
On that same day you are to proclaim a set apart assembly and do no regular work. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. (Vayiqra 23:21)
"Do no regular work" is from the Hebrew
Lev 23:21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, [that] it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile (abodah) work (melacha) [therein: it shall be] a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
again using melacha followed by avodah - "works of service." The prohibition is clear - all work of service is banned on Shavuot. No work of any kind is permitted. If the definition of melacha includes preparing food (and that is clearly implied in Shemot 12:15-16), and no exception here is given, is it permissible to prepare food on Shavuot? What gives?
On balance, since melacha includes all work done for the benefit of ourselves, including preparing of food, we conclude that the ban on "all works of service" on Shavuot must surely include the prohibition against preparing of food, even though Shavuot is not designated as a shabbaton. We do not need to find a reference to Shavuot being a shabbaton to conclude that cooking is prohibited on Shavuot, because the prohibition against all works of service includes preparations for food.
The two remaining occurrences of the term shabbaton in the Scriptures are used to describe the seventh year land rest. The instruction is given as follows:
Speak to the sons of Yisrael and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath (Heb. shabbat) to Yehowah. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest (Heb. Shabbat shabbaton), a sabbath (Heb. Shabbat) to Yehowah. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest (Heb. shabbaton). Whatever the land yields during the sabbath (Heb. shabbat) year will be food for you-- for yourself, your manservant and maidservant, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten. (Vayiqra 25:2-7)
Every seventh year while living in the Land, all the sons of Yisrael were to give their fields rest. They are to neither sow nor reap their fields. All the produce which grows up of itself could be taken for food. But the crops were not to be harvested for storage or for sale. Thus, the seventh year was the designated shabbaton.
The usage of shabbaton to describe the "complete rest" of the land in the seventh year is evident. No work at all was to be done in the fields. Though shabbaton when it applies to the appointed days appeared to have had a direct correlation to the preparation of food, that correlation does not exist here where the seventh year is in view. As such, it would be incorrect to connect the primary significance of the term shabbaton with the instruction not to do any food preparation. The primary biblical significance of the word shabbaton must lay somewhere else. This primary meaning is what we shall next explore.
The Jewish Rabbis have long held that the seventh day Sabbath is a little foretaste of the Messianic Age. They have a phrase they use which expresses this thought. Yom shekulo Shabbat is that saying. It means, "a day that is all Shabbat." What they mean by this is that the Sabbath day was designed to be a rehearsal of the time of Messiah's reign over the kingdoms of men. The Sabbath is to be a day of ceasing from all of our own work, pleasure and pursuits in order to enjoy fellowship with our Maker. As a shadow of the Messianic Age, the Sabbath is a time of joy and delight and great blessing.
The writer to the 'Ivrim (the Book of Hebrews of the Brit Chadashah) talked at length about the rest that is connected with the Sabbath day. This rest he speaks of corresponds to the Yom shekulo Shabbat.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as Elohim has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day Elohim rested from all his work." And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest." It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore Elohim again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." For if YHUSHA had given them rest, Elohim would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of Elohim; for anyone who enters Elohim's rest also rests from his own work, just as Elohim did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. ('Ivrim 4:1-11)
It is clear to anyone who will hear that the writer is talking about keeping Sabbath and the promises connected with keeping Sabbath as a sign of fidelity to Elohim. The "promise of entering his rest" is identified as that rest Elohim established at "the creation of the world" and of which it says that "on the seventh day Elohim rested from all his work." And yet, entering that rest also speaks of another rest to which Elohim's may enter into. Those who were disobedient in the wilderness did not go into that rest. It is clear that "that rest" was the entering into the land of promise under Elohim's authority. The disobedient ones all fell in the desert and failed to enter the promised land.
So, he goes on to say, the opportunity to enter the rest still stands. Who will go into that rest? - that is, the "rest" of the Messianic Age? "Anyone who enters Elohim's rest also rests from his own work, just as Elohim did from his." In other words, participating in the Sabbath day rest and ceasing from all melacha is the avenue by which Elohim's faithful ones will enter into the Messianic rest.
Of interest to us here is that the word translated "a Sabbath rest" in verse 9 is the Greek sabbatismo,j (pronounced sabbatismos). The BDAG Lexicon lists this word as meaning sabbath rest, sabbath observance - a special period of rest for God’s people modeled after the traditional sabbath. Thayer's Greek Lexicon says this word means 1. a keeping sabbath. 2. the blessed rest from toils and troubles looked for in the age to come.
Used only this one time in the Greek New Testament, sabbatismo,j answers to the Hebrew shabbaton. The "Sabbath rest" (sabbatismos) is entered into by resting on the Sabbath day. By participating obediently in the Sabbath commandment, the covenantee is "making every effort to enter into that rest." So the "complete rest" (shabbaton) of the Sabbath day is a participating in the foreshadowing experience of the Messianic Age.
What's peculiar about the usage of the Hebrew shabbaton in the Torah is that the days and times which are declared to be shabbaton are all foreshadowings of the Messianic Age and they all find their fulfillment in the Messianic Age. Think about it. The first and last days of Unleavened Bread and Shavuot are not called shabbaton. These all had their fulfillment in Messiah's appearance as "Messiah ben Yoseph" - the suffering servant nearly two thousand years ago.
But the seventh day Sabbath, the four appointment days of the seventh month, and the seventh year are all presented as shabbaton. Each of these finds its fulfillment in the Messianic Age. The Sabbath depicts the Yom shekulo Shabbat, Yom Teruah finds fulfillment at the appearing of Messiah ben David with the sounding of the trumpet blasts, Yom HaKippurim occurs when Messiah punishes all his enemies and binds HaSatan, and the first and eighth days of Sukkot depicts Messiah ruling and reigning in his kingdom. And the land Sabbaths also foreshadow and find fulfillment when Messiah rules from Yerushalayim.
We suggest, therefore, that the primary intent and meaning of the Hebrew word shabbaton is to indicate the complete rest of the Messianic Age. All of its usages and applications point toward the fulfillment of the Messianic Hope.
The Shabbatons are those appointed times which depict the Messianic Age. As such, Elohim draws our attention to this by requiring a complete rest on those days and years. By ceasing from all our work, even from preparing food, we are better able to hear and respond to the proclamation of the coming of the Age of Righteousness with Messiah as the king of all the earth.