Do Not Kindle A Fire

I’m often amazed at how many doctrines of men are a result of verses in Scripture ripped from their immediate contexts.  Sadly, so many are unaware that much of what they believe to be true is not supported in Scripture when rightly divided. This is why we need to test everything, studying to show ourselves approved.

matchThere’s a familiar instruction in the Hebraic community to “kindle no fire” on the Sabbath day. The forbiddance of lighting candles and oil lamps, building campfires and heating homes, and cooking or heating food on the Sabbath stem from this particular instruction. However, this instruction is only found one time — in the book of Exodus.

Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do. Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.” (Exo 35:1-3 ESV)

Is this verse telling us we are not allowed to light a dark place, heat a home, or cook a meal on the Sabbath day or is there something else going on here?

To better understand this instruction, let us read further, because evidently Moses has more to say on the subject.

Moses said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “This is the thing that the LORD has commanded. Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen; goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, and goatskins; acacia wood, oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, and onyx stones and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. (Exo 35:4-9 ESV)

Moses calls for an offering to YHVH, and the first three things listed are gold, silver and bronze. He goes on to say…

Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the LORD has commanded: the tabernacle, its tent and its covering, its hooks and its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases; the ark with its poles, the mercy seat, and the veil of the screen; the table with its poles and all its utensils, and the bread of the Presence; the lampstand also for the light, with its utensils and its lamps, and the oil for the light; and the altar of incense, with its poles, and the anointing oil and the fragrant incense, and the screen for the door, at the door of the tabernacle; the altar of burnt offering, with its grating of bronze, its poles, and all its utensils, the basin and its stand; the hangings of the court, its pillars and its bases, and the screen for the gate of the court; the pegs of the tabernacle and the pegs of the court, and their cords; the finely worked garments for ministering in the Holy Place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, for their service as priests.” (Exo 35:10-19 ESV)

Moses also calls for every skillful craftsman to make things as commanded by YHVH. Earlier we were told YHVH instructed Moses on the mountain how to make these things, and much of them consisted of using the gold, silver and bronze. For example…

And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. (Exo 25:11-13 KJV)

And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons. And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards: And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. (Exo 26:19-21 KJV)

And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof: his horns shall be of the same: and thou shalt overlay it with brass. And thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his basons, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof thou shalt make of brass. And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass; and upon the net shalt thou make four brasen rings in the four corners thereof. (Exo 27:2-4 KJV)

Clearly these metals were required for practically every aspect of the tabernacle and its furnishings, even the crafting of the priestly garments.

The following verses in chapter 35 indicate the kind of things people brought for these offerings.

Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. So they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart brought brooches and earrings and signet rings and armlets, all sorts of gold objects, every man dedicating an offering of gold to the LORD. And every one who possessed blue or purple or scarlet yarns or fine linen or goats’ hair or tanned rams’ skins or goatskins brought them. Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the LORD’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it. And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair. And the leaders brought onyx stones and stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastpiece, and spices and oil for the light, and for the anointing oil, and for the fragrant incense. All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. (Exo 35:20-29 ESV)

GoldMeltingIn a later chapter we read an accounting of how much gold, silver and bronze used for the completed project was recorded by Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest (Exo 38:21-31). Given the fact that these offerings of metals consisted of brooches, earrings, signet rings, and armlets as well as other items, it was necessary for these metals to be melted down in order to use them. This would clearly require a fire.

Now, let’s go back to the opening statement and see what Moses is really saying there in light of the greater context.

Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do. Six days work (H4399 “melakah”) shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work (H4399 “melakah”) on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.” (Exo 35:1-3 ESV)

He is reminding the Israelites of a command given by YHVH a few months prior…

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work (H4399 “melakah”), but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work (H4399 “melakah”), you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. (Exo 20:8-10 ESV)

Also, this is the last thing YHVH told Moses after receiving the instructions concerning the tabernacle in chapters 25-31 before he came down the mountain.

And the LORD said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'” And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exo 31:12-18 ESV)

The thrust of the command is to not do any work on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath to YHVH. YHVH clearly says, “whoever does any work on this day shall be put to death”, reiterating the issue at hand is the “work”.

What are the people getting ready to do starting in chapter 35? Are they not making preparations to work on constructing the tabernacle, by starting with a free-will offering?

And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. (Exo 35:21 ESV)

The word translated as “be used” in this verse is “melakah” (H4399), which is the “work” that is to be done in six days but forbidden on the seventh day. Here are some alternate translations…

And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. (Exo 35:21 KJV)

and they come in–every man whom his heart hath lifted up, and every one whom his spirit hath made willing–they have brought in the heave-offering of Jehovah for the work of the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. (Exo 35:21 YLT)

and they brought an offering to the Lord for all the works of the tabernacle of witness, and all its services, and for all the robes of the sanctuary. (Exo 35:21 Brenton)

But is this the only time “melakah” is mentioned as it pertains to the building of the tabernacle? Nope. In fact, it’s mentioned again, and again, and again in this chapter alone.

Every one that did offer an offering of silver and brass brought the LORD’S offering: and every man, with whom was found shittim wood for any work of the service, brought it. (Exo 35:24 KJV)

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses. (Exo 35:29 KJV)

And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work. (Exo 35:31-33 KJV)

Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work. (Exo 35:35 KJV)

It also appears ten more times in the next eight verses…

Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.

And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it: And they received of Moses all the offering, which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the sanctuary, to make it withal. And they brought yet unto him free offerings every morning. And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made; And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make.

And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much. And every wise hearted man among them that wrought the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work made he them. (Exo 36:1-8 KJV)

I contend that the part of the instruction that says, “you shall kindle no fire” is specifically pertaining to the “work” they are getting ready to perform. In my opinion this command has nothing to do with lighting a dark place, heating a home or even cooking a meal. I don’t believe it even has to do with the exertion required to build a fire, rather I believe it has everything to do with the work of making the tabernacle and all its furnishings.

EDIT 5/31/16: I think it’s important to clarify what are the LORD’s words vs. Moses’ words.

We can see at the end of Exodus 31 (verse 12-18), just prior to Moses coming down the mountain to discover the children of Israel with the golden calf, it is recorded what YHVH told Moses concerning the Sabbath (See the full passage above). Notice, there is nothing that says, “Do not kindle a fire.”

When Moses speaks in Exodus 35:2-3, the words spoken in verse 2 relay what YHVH actually said in Exodus 31:15, whereas the words spoken in verse 3 do not appear anywhere else.

And the LORD said to Moses, “…Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death…” (Exo 31:12,15 ESV)

“Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.” (Exodus 35:2 ESV)

I believe Moses was expounding on what YHVH said, making it relevant to the immediate task at hand, that being the tabernacle construction project.

About Carrie Wigal

Homesteading Wife, Homeschooling Mom and perpetual Bible student, continually taking the road less traveled. (@messyanic)
This entry was posted in Sabbath Day - Shabbath, What About? verses. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Do Not Kindle A Fire

  1. Bobby says:

    Then why was a man stoned to death for gathering fire wood on the Sabbath?

    I’ve listened to some Hebrew scholars talk this one out, with someone saying pretty much what you did about it being a “work” fire, and he got shot down by the context and usage of the Hebrew words.

    So while I don’t believe I’m going to hell because my heat is running, or that I would if I had to start a fire during a life and death situation, I still (try to) limit my use to what some would consider “the letter of the law” until I received revelation otherwise.

    Everyone is entitles to their opinion though, because they have to answer for it. Shalom Shalom all!

    • Isha says:

      Who says the man was gathering “fire” wood? It just says he was gathering sticks/wood/trees. 😉

      I believe his sin was in the intentional breaking of the Sabbath command, which is to keep the Sabbath set apart by not doing any work (“melakah”) on it. The question is what constitutes “melakah”?

      From what I understand “woodcutter” was an occupation of that day. Maybe he was gathering wood for a fire, maybe it was to build a fence. Who knows, it doesn’t tell us. But whatever he was doing, it seems to me that it was in defiance of the Sabbath command.

      Thanks for your comment, Bobby. Shalom. 🙂

  2. Alan says:

    Do not Kindle a fire simply means we cannot gather, split, or shave, wood or any other thing that is reduced into small pieces to be used in starting a fire. You have 6 days to stockpile wood, split, stack, and to shave small slivers for starting the fire used in heating and cooking. Also one may break small branches or twigs with their hands into kindling to set fires any day other than the Sabbath. Again, you have 6 day to work and do all your labor. And very big part of this, is for the righteous to plan to enter into HIS rest with thanksgiving and joy, knowing that everything has been prepared.

    • Isha says:

      While I agree for six days we are to labor and do all our work, and cease from that work on the 7th day, I don’t see Torah laying out the specifics you mentioned here, but thank you for your perspective.

  3. Alan says:

    The key word here for this instruction is, “Your dwelling places.” YAH’S house is where HIS dwelling place is and the instructions for work to be done were totally different than for our house. For example the Levites and Priest were required to work on the Sabbath to prepare the grain offerings and burnt offerings. Animals were slain, slaughtered, and roasted with fire. Grain was grounded into a paste and made into bread. HIS house was filled with soothing or pleasant aromas of food that was prepared. Those that were hungry, poor, or a traveling pilgrim, never left HIS house hungry. Their hearts were fill with thanksgiving because of HIS loving kindness. If at any time they did leave hungry, this was never the intent of our Father who provided for the widows and orphans just like HE provided for the Levites.

  4. Wayne says:

    Unless I missed it, there is an important instruction missing.
    Exodus 16:23 And he said to them, “This is what YHWH has said, ‘Tomorrow is a rest, a Sabbath set-apart to YHWH. That which you bake, bake; and that which you cook, cook. And lay up for yourselves all that is left over, to keep it until morning.
    This instruction would indicate no cooking on the Sabbath, which means no fire is to be kindled.

    • Isha says:

      What is the “all that is leftover”? I can see how one might think it is leftover baked/cooked manna, but if we look at the surrounding text it seems to indicate it is the leftover manna that was not baked or cooked.

      Exo 16:24 So they laid **it** aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and **it** did not stink, and there were no worms in **it**.
      Exo 16:25 Moses said, “Eat **it** today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find **it** in the field.

      What will they not find in the field on the 7th day? Baked/cooked manna or manna in its raw state?

      Also if you look at the verses that precede, what was it that was carried over the days before that stank and bred worms? There was nothing to indicate it was leftover baked/cooked manna, but rather simply manna.

      • Wayne says:

        Isha

        The sixth day portion would have been a double portion to cover the sixth day and the seventh day. On any of the other days nothing was to be left over. The command by Moses is being given on the sixth day, otherwise known as the preparation day. They were to prepare it how they wanted, but leave a portion for the seventh day as there would be none in the fields. Israel is being trained and tested to follow instructions. This training and testing would later be expanded to the seventh year Sabbath of the land and the Jubilee year. In the book of Jubilees we learn it didn’t take long for Israel to stop keeping the seventh year Sabbath of the land and the Jubilee year. I guess it comes down to perception, but our Father doesn’t expect us to have to be lorded over or tended to like a child.

        • Isha says:

          Where is the sixth day ever referred to as “the preparation day” in the Torah?

          I agree Israel was being tested in Ex 16 to see if they would follow YHVH’s instructions, but I believe the emphasis was on the gathering of the manna, not on the cooking of it. In fact, when it was evident that YHVH was not pleased in verse 28 for their disobedience to his instruction, it was because they went out *to gather* on the 7th day, not because anyone was cooking on that day.

          Also, there is no instruction at that time to not kindle a fire on the Sabbath, nor was there given one at Sinai when YHVH spoke in the hearing of the people.

          • Wayne says:

            Exodus 35:2“Work is done for six days, but on the seventh day it shall be set-apart to you,
            a Sabbath of rest to YHWH. Anyone doing work on it is put to death.
            3“Do not kindle a fire in any of your
            dwellings on the Sabbath day.”

          • Isha says:

            Yes, and that instruction is given within the context of building the tabernacle and its furnishings as this blog post addresses.

  5. Wayne says:

    Isha

    The instruction clearly specifies “dwellings”. For reasons of safety and expedience the smelting, forging and molding of the metals used to make the furnishings would not have taken place in the dwellings but in a specified location, where the artisans would be assured of room to work and away from the children, pedestrian traffic and preparation of foods.

    • Isha says:

      The word translated as “dwelling” (H4186 “moshab”) is not particularly speaking of *the insides of a personal tent*. Consider its first uses in Torah:

      Gen 10:25-30 KJV And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. (26) And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, (27) And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, (28) And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, (29) And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan. (30) And their *dwelling* was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.

      Gen 27:39 KJV And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy *dwelling* shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above;

      Gen 36:40-43 KJV And these are the names of the dukes that came of Esau, according to their families, after their places, by their names; duke Timnah, duke Alvah, duke Jetheth, (41) Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, duke Pinon, (42) Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, duke Mibzar, (43) Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: these be the dukes of Edom, according to their *habitations* in the land of their possession: he is Esau the father of the Edomites.

      Ex 35:3 can simply be understood to not kindle a fire in any of *the places they were situated/seated or remained* on the Sabbath.

  6. Kelly Howard says:

    In past times we needed fire to do the most menial of chores. Evening washing clothes often needed water heated over the fire. I do NOT, and will not ever believe that Abba Yah would have us to be cold on the Sabbath. He doesn’t want us to kindle a fire to do WORK. Also, it was not difficult to keep a fire going throughout the day prior to Sabbath and simply add wood already cut to be both warm and provide light. Our six days are not only to work but also to prepare for Shabbat, not only the day before that we have deemed Preparation Day. This day prior was the last day to gather what you needed. We can prepare, even now, better than most of us are willing to do, but I still don’t believe that Yah would have us to have no heat in winter or light to study His Word.

  7. Pingback: No Work vs. No Servile Work | Messyanic Misfits

  8. Mario Dominguez says:

    Shalom
    After reading your comments on kindling a fire on Sabbath we can say that it seems to us that you are mistaking in saying what is clearly being prohibited which is NOT to kindle a fire on the Sabbath day. Yes we do agree with you on several issues and we are blessed on your way of seeing His Word, but on this clear prohibition of kindling a fire on His Sabbath day we think you missed the point.
    Yes the context of chapter 35 of Exodus is the building of the tabernacle and the gathering of the material needed specially the gold, the silver and the brass. And yes the beginning of the chapter promptly reminds the children of Israel to keep the seventh day Sabbath to work six day and keep His Sabbath day even though they are about to begin the construction of His Sacred temporary dwelling place, which some of the Israelites would conclude that the work of the tabernacle is so important that it must be done eve on the seventh day Sabbath, but as we see the keeping of the Sabbath day was more important than continuing the construction. And yes we agree that the commandment of not kindling fire is in relation of the construction of the tabernacle as we see in this chapter, but we are commanded to keep the seventh day Sabbath not only during the pilgrimage of the desert but “throughout their generation for a perpetual covenant” Ex 31:16 meaning not only for the building of the tabernacle, which is including the restriction of kindling a fire.
    Also we also agree with you about the manna something we must confess we hadn’t seen it like you mentioned, that it is talking about the raw state form that was left over not that it was the cooked portion of it. But also it could be either, or, the cooked or the raw state manna. But again we need to take into consideration the fact that its telling us “bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe” Ex 16:23 Yes it could be well talking about the manna or the flesh that was also provided in the evening, but the idea is to cook it the day before the Sabbath day, in other words NO COOKING on the Sabbath day period. Yes you could eat the manna, it seems, in that raw state since we have the description of the taste of it. “and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Ex 16:31 And thus no fire even is needed for the consumption of the manna on the Sabbath day.

  9. Soe Thing Kai says:

    When the Lord gave the command for kindle no fire? At the time they were in the wilderness. They lived in tents. What the Lord said? “Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.”
    The command: “Ye shall kindle no fire”
    When? upon the sabbath day
    Where? throughout your habitations。
    Clearly He said “thrughout your habitation” not said “at your work place”, so in means began during sun set for He knew they need to take rest. So no fire throughout their habitations.
    The Lord knew that they needed to take a rest

    • Isha says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      I think it’s important to clarify what are the LORD’s words, and what are Moses’?

      We can see at the end of Exodus 31 (verse 12-18), just prior to Moses coming down the mountain to discover the children of Israel with the golden calf, it is recorded what YHVH told Moses concerning the Sabbath (See the full passage cited in the post above).

      Notice, there is nothing that says, “Do not kindle a fire.”

      When Moses speaks in Exodus 35:2-3, the words spoken in verse 2 relay what YHVH actually said in Exodus 31:15, whereas the words spoken in verse 3 do not appear anywhere in the surrounding verses.

      And the LORD said to Moses, “…Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death…” (Exo 31:12,15 ESV)

      “Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.” (Exodus 35:2 ESV)

      I believe Moses was expounding on what YHVH said, making it relevant to the immediate task at hand, that being the tabernacle construction project.

  10. Stephanie N Johnson says:

    Hello!

    In reading the comments, I feel a lot of people did not come to this with a very open mind, instead they came to just express their opinions, on what they already believe.
    I fully understand what you mean, and you have continually placed things in context, like we should always do. We are too quick to take things at face value, and then we place so many burdens on ourselves, which YHVH never intended. Reading this, Jesus came to mind, and how he was like you, always going back and forth with Jews who had been tainted by tradition on what you really can do on the Sabbath. Thank you for this post, and the one prior, which I am glad I read before this one, “No Work vs. No Servile Work”

  11. WildwoodCastle YouTube says:

    Kindle – light, ignite, set alight, set light to, set fire to, put a match to
    “he kindled a fire”… It would seem to me that the labor of gathering fuel and starting a fire is what is forbidden. I know from my own experience that keeping coals alive under ash until the next time fire is wanted, then simply adding wood / fuel will get it going again. My point is that the labor is forbidden on the Sabbath not keeping a fire burning which was started before the Sabbath…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *