Why Seven Days?
Have you ever wondered why, all over the world, in civilization after civilization, we find people scheduling their lives based on a seven-day week? The origins of other units of time are easy to understand. For instance, a year is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun. A day is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to make a complete rotation on its axis. A month is the approximate time between new moons. And seasons are determined based on an equinox or solstice. But no celestial, lunar, or planetary movement or system accounts for our seven-day week.
A brief look back into history shows that the seven-day week has prevailed as the paramount routine for humanity in general as far back as historical records can go. Although some societies and cultures did use weeks other than the seven-day week, it still has stubbornly maintained its preeminence. Today, the seven-day week is universally accepted, even though the French attempted a ten-day week during the French Revolution in 1791, and the Soviet Union, as late as the early 1900s, attempted a five-day week—to no avail.
Where did the seven-day week originate? The most plausible explanation comes from the book of Genesis. The first chapter of Genesis explains that God created the entire Universe is six, literal twenty-four hour days. The beginning of chapter two states, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (2:2).
Exodus 20:8-11 gives an explanation as to why God framed His creative activity according to a seven-day week. This passage teaches us that God worked six days and rested the seventh day in order to provide a pattern for the Jewish workweek. Because God worked six days and rested on the seventh day, the Jews were instructed to do the same.
In truth, an all-powerful God could have created the Universe in seven seconds, seven years, seven decades, or seven million years. God’s week of seven days, however, was given purposefully to man as a pattern to follow. This pattern has prevailed for several thousand years. The Sun, Moon, and stars were given “for signs and seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14), but not for the week. The week was instituted specifically by God, based on His creative activity. The seven-day week is yet another testimony to the truthfulness and accuracy of the Genesis account of Creation.