Exodus 31:17It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

Isaiah 40:28Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.

Without even reading the passages, I actually smiled by the suggestion that God ‘get tired’. It’s amazing though, how they pick and chose the Exodus account of this same passage; rather than the Genesis one (Genesis 2:1-3); because then, it would have been very easy to see the obvious of the meaning of the word ‘rest’.

But anyway, let’s respond to the one they chose:

I think we all agree on Isaiah 40:28; but is Exodus 31:17 contradicting Isaiah?

Exodus 31:17It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

What does the word ‘rest’ here mean?

I wish English was a language rich in vocabulary like Hebrew and Greek because then, people wouldn’t have made all these blunders. The word ‘rest’ in this verse derives from the Hebrew word שׁבת (shâbath); which means cease, celebrate…It is akin to the Greek word ἡσυχάζω (hēsuchazō); which also means, to cease, be quite…

Luke 23:56And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested (hēsuchazō) the sabbath day according to the commandment.

This is where the word Sabbath derives from, not that they were tired from working but God told them to stay away from working:

Exodus 20:10But the seventh day is the sabbath (shâbath) of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

Clearly, not all their children (especially infants) worked, that they would get tired; but it’s a day of not working (a holiday); it’s a commandment of God. Not necessarily that they were exhausted from working.

This is different from the other Hebrew words translated as ‘rest’ in the Bible:

נוּח (nûach)To settle down, remain, let down…

Genesis 8:4 – And the ark rested (nûach) in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.’ (C.f Exodus 10:14)

נוּח (nûach) is also used in the same meaning/context of שׁבת (shâbath) in Exodus 20:11.

 שׁכן  (shâkan) – To reside or permanently stay, abide, lay, remain…

Numbers 10:12 – And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested (shâkan) in the wilderness of Paran.

שׁקט (shâqaṭ) – To repose, appease, quiet, be still…

Joshua 11:23 – So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested (shâqaṭ) from war.

דּמם (dâmam) – To stop, to perish, be cut down (off)…

Job 30:27 – My bowels boiled, and rested (dâmam) not: the days of affliction prevented me.

I have to mention all of these because of the misunderstanding of skeptics of what does it really mean to rest in the verse about they translate as ‘being tired’. The notion of being ‘tired’ (physical exhaustion) isn’t even in that verse; it’s just something they make up, thinking that just because God ‘created’ the world, therefore He must have been ‘tired’ as though He is a limited being.

If we are going to translate all the use of the word ‘rest’ in those passages above as being ‘tired’ (physical exhaustion); then we are going to have a colossal problem; because they wouldn’t make any sense.

With that being said, let me give you the word ‘tired’ (physical exhaustion) in Hebrew because then you should ask yourself, why wasn’t this particular word used describing ‘God rested’, if it really means being ‘tired’?

Tired (physical exhaustion) in Hebrew, is עיף (‛âyêph), יגע (yâgêa‛), פּגר (pâgar), or עוּף (‛ûph); in other versions of the Bible they are translated as languid, faint, thirsty, weary

Deuteronomy 25:18 – How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint (‛âyêph) and weary (yâgêa‛); and he feared not God.

1 Samuel 30:10 – But David pursued, he and four hundred men: for two hundred abode behind, which were so faint (pâgar) that they could not go over the brook Besor… 21 And David came to the two hundred men, which were so faint (pâgar) that they could not follow David, whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David, and to meet the people that were with him: and when David came near to the people, he saluted them.

2 Samuel 21:15 – Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint (‛ûph).

Genesis 25:29 – And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint (‛âyêph): 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint (‛âyêph): therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

Judge 8:4 – And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint (‛âyêph), yet pursuing them. 5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint (‛âyêph), and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. (C.f 1 Samuel 14:28, 31; 2 Samuel 12:2)

As you can see, all the concept of עיף (‛âyêph), יגע (yâgêa‛), פּגר (pâgar), or עוּף (‛ûph) in these passages are describing people being tired (physical exhaustion) because of hard works or battle. So why aren’t these words used in Exodus 31:17 if, indeed, God was tired (physically), instead of using the word שׁבת (shâbath) – Cease or celebrate)?

Interesting enough, the context of the supposed contradictory verse used by the Atheists (Isaiah 40:28) is using the word עיף (‛âyêph) as faint and יגע (yâgêa‛) as weary; not שׁבת (shâbath) as used in its counterpart from Exodus 31:17 when describing God ‘resting’:

Isaiah 40:28 – Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not (yâ‛aph), neither is weary (yâga‛)? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint (‛âyêph); and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint (yâ‛aph) and be weary (yâga‛), and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary [יגע (yâga‛)]; and they shall walk, and not faint (yâ‛aph).

(yâ‛aph) is negative or future form of עיף (‛âyêph)

(yâga‛) is negative or future form of יגע (yâgêa‛)

Just in case they want to talk about the word ‘refresh’ in that Exodus. It’s from the Hebrew word נפשׁ (nâphash), meaning to breathe, to be breathed upon, to be satisfied…Not necessarily because of exhaustion; but also in relaxation or satisfactory way. It’s like when someone says, ‘the sermon today was refreshing’. Not because he was tired before hearing the sermon but it inspired him.

Conclusion

So what we have here? A contradiction? I don’t think so; it’s a misunderstanding of the word ‘rest’. They have no clue about the original Hebrew word used in there. Again, Atheists’ argument crumbles like they always do.

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