What is prohibited on the Sabbath?

Question: money

“What about taking a bath on a Sabbath day? …it looks like there are two classes as far as this concept is concerned. What’s your opinion?”


“Is it a sin to buy food, drink or anything on the Sabbath? (I am not talking about doing business, thus buying and selling.)”


(I will answer these two related questions together.    Editor)


First of all my opinion is not worth a hill of beans. We must not be concerned about people’s opinions on a given subject, but rather we must be concerned about what God says.

The Bible prohibits working upon the Sabbath day. In the heart of the Ten Commandments, we read,

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath 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: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

We learn from other Scriptures some of the things this includes, such as: gathering sticks (Exodus 15:32-36), gathering food (Exodus 16:22-28), kindling a fire (Exodus 35:3), buying anything including food (Nehemiah 10:31),  selling anything including food (Nehemiah 13:15), harvesting fields (Nehemiah 13:15), bearing burdens (Jeremiah 17:21), doing your own ways, finding your own pleasure, and speaking your own words (Isaiah 58:13). All manner of secular work is prohibited on the Sabbath day, which begins at sunset Friday evening and ends at sunset Sabbath evening. (Leviticus 23:32; Nehemiah 13:19)

Although these things are prohibited on the Sabbath day, let us not become like the Pharisees and condemn the innocent. We read:

“At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” (Matthew 12:1-7)

The priests were not only permitted, but required, to perform many tasks related to the sanctuary service upon the Sabbath day, which tasks would be a sin if they were performed by anyone else for any other reason. The priests were innocent while performing these tasks for God’s service upon the Sabbath day.

The disciples who were engaged in God’s work were innocent when they plucked and ate “the ears of corn” upon the Sabbath. This was done to nourish their bodies while they were about their Father’s business.

Jesus also demonstrated that acts of mercy to relieve the suffering upon the Sabbath day is in harmony with the commandment. Many times Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:10-13; Luke 13:10-13; 14:1-4, etc.)

Regarding taking a bath on the Sabbath, to my knowledge there is nothing in the Bible that prohibits bathing on the Sabbath. In fact, during the years of the earthly sanctuary service, there were many requirements for God’s people to wash themselves. They were required to wash themselves under many circumstances, including if they had touched a dead man or animal, or if they touched anything that a dead animal had touched. Many of these circumstances that required bathing undoubtedly occurred on the Sabbath, and therefore required bathing upon the Sabbath. God wants us to be clean and presentable upon His holy day, if that can be done by bathing just before the Sabbath, that would probably be better than bathing on the Sabbath, but there is no command prohibiting bathing on the Sabbath. If bathing is a weekly occurrence as was common several years ago, and still may be common in some parts of the world, then it would be best to bathe the day before the Sabbath so you can be clean on the Sabbath.

I hope this helps to answer your questions.