The Literal Week

The Literal Week

Seven is a special number.  The western musical scale contains seven basic notes – Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, and Ti.  The mnemonic, ROY G. BIV, reminds us of the seven basic colors of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  Mathematically, we can see the following pattern:

1 divided by 7 gives 0.1428571428571429…
....2 divided by 7 gives 0.2857142857142857…
..3 divided by 7 gives 0.4285714285714285…
........4 divided by 7 gives 0.5714285714285714…
..........5 divided by 7 gives 0.7142857142857142…
..................6 divided by 7 gives 0.8571428571428571…

…and so forth.  There are many sevens around us, yet when we look to nature to understand the origin of the seven-day calendar week, we can find no obvious reason for its existence.

The solar cycle, or year, lasts 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds and is measured by the time the Earth takes to complete one orbit around the sun.  A "year" of 52 weeks would have just 364 whole days, so there is no direct connection between a week and a year.  The lunar cycle, or month, is the time in which the moon orbits the Earth.  Though it is generally considered a twenty-eight-day cycle, twenty-nine days, twelve hours, forty-four minutes, and three seconds (29.5306 days) elapse between new moons.  Because a precise quarter of the lunar cycle amounts to the uneven figure of 7.38625 days, any week using that true quarter-length would begin at different times of the day with each cycle.  Clearly, there are no known external rhythms explaining the near-universal existence of the seven-day social week.

The Week in History

Various “weeks" from three to nineteen days have existed in various cultures, though none have enjoyed the longevity of the seven-day week.  For example, there have been 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, and 8-day cycles in Africa, all associated with market days.  (Along the Congo River, the local word for week is the same as the word for market.)  The Mayas of the Yucatan, the Persians, and Malaysians have all followed a five-day week in the past.  The ancient Etruscans had an eight-day cycle.  Emperor Constantine eventually established the seven-day week in the Roman calendar and in 321 A.D. set Sunday as the first day of the week. 

So far as is known, in all the ancient world there was no seven-day calendar cycle except for the Jewish week.  The planetary week, with its names attributed to the seven celestial bodies visible to the naked eye (and their associated gods), developed later.  The modern week is a combination of both.

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Since then, both Christianity and Islam inherited the seven-day week from the Jews, and both religions established worship days separate from the Jews: Sunday for most Christians, and Friday for the Muslims.  Together, these three religions with their three worship days clustering together have played key historical roles in bringing the beat of a seven-day week to all the world.

The Week under Attack

The week, with its Judeo-Christian connection, has come under attack at various times in Earth’s history.  When, during the 1789 French Revolution, a new Age of Reason arose to replace regressive religious superstition, the ten-day "decade" was born.  A decade was comprised of ten days.  Each day was divided into ten hours, of 100 minutes each, with each minute divided into 100 decimal seconds.  Every tenth day, the "decadi" was reserved for rest and celebration of various natural objects and abstract ideas.  A second, even more radical experiment occurred approximately 140 years later in the Russian Revolution.  In Russia, the aim was the same – to facilitate the abolition of religion by abolishing the seven-day week.  A five-day continuous work week was instituted, which called for 80 percent of workers to be on the job on any given day while the remaining 20 percent enjoyed a day off.  One can easily see how families and friends would find difficulty in enjoying days off together if time off work was arbitrarily assigned.  Both recent attempts to obliterate the week failed and today, both Russia and France still follow the seven-day week.

The Origin of the Week

So where does the week come from?  Two main schools of thought exist today: 1. some claim that the week is a cultural/religious invention of unknown date which gradually took root in the ancient world, evolving with time to near universal acceptance today and, 2. others can take the biblical record of the origin of the week (Genesis 1-2) at face value – it was made by God at creation.  The second premise is supported by the way that the Sabbath remains embedded in many different languages:

Although many world languages still name the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, the science of linguistics is not the only field where seven-day cycles can be found.

The Week in Science

In 2014, Titze et al. published a study in Kidney International.[1]  Previously, the relationship between the body’s sodium intake and excretion had been shown.  When sodium intake is increased, the level of total-body sodium and water increases until sodium excretion is able to match sodium intake.  Conversely, reducing sodium intake causes the opposite effect: total-body sodium and water decrease until sodium excretion ramps down.  “However, careful balance studies oftentimes conflict with this view and long-term studies suggest that TBNa [total-body sodium] fluctuates independent of intake or body weight.”  So the scientists held a person’s sodium intake at a fixed level for three weeks and collected all urine output.  At the end of the study, they found that despite holding sodium intake to a fixed level, the level of sodium excretion varied according to a weekly pattern.  The scientists could not explain how hormones related to maintaining the body’s sodium balance varied according a circaseptan, or weekly, pattern.  Hence, the title of their study, “Spooky Sodium Balance.”  Lacking a natural explanation for an internal weekly biorhythm, the study’s title implied a supernatural explanation.

Other circaseptan (weekly) and semi-circaseptan (half-weekly) rhythms have also been found, such as malignant tumor growth patterns, the regeneration of kidney tissue following nephrectomy, rejection episodes after kidney transplants, urinary 17-ketosteroid excretion, blood pressures of term babies, sudden infant death syndrome incidence, and sudden death of adults from myocardial infarction and stroke. 

Circaseptan rhythms have also been discovered in other lifeforms, such as algae, rats, honeybees, plants, and face flies.  If the seven-day week is merely an invention of culture and religion, as secular historians would have us believe, how does one explain these innate circaseptan rhythms?  These forms of life have no calendar.

The Purpose of the Week

Certainly, circaseptan rhythms are but echoes of creation week, but do we know for whom the week was made?  

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…” (Romans 1:18-20).  

“The things that are made,” such as the seven-day week, clearly reveals truths about God that would otherwise remain invisible.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18).  Adam, being made first, was not created for Eve; Eve was created for Adam.  In the same way, “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath…” (Mark 2:24), for Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day, while the Sabbath was created on the seventh.  If Eve was made for Adam, and if the Sabbath was made for humanity, for whom were made the first five days of the week?  Adam and Eve were not around to experience them, so creation days one through five were not made primarily for the benefit of mankind.  From Adam and Eve’s perspective, there would have been no difference between God spreading out His work over five days versus condensing all that work into one day.

Job 38: 4, 7 give a hint: “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding…when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”  The sons of God, or angels (see Revelation 1:20), witnessed the creation of the Earth.  Could it be that the creation week was formed for their benefit?  Possibly.  Yet, it was not merely for the righteous angels that God might have made the week: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them” (Job 1:6).  Satan, once the first and highest of angels, would also have witnessed the first week of this world.  In a forthcoming article, we will explore the reason for the creation of a literal seven-day week and its role in settling the great controversy between Jesus Christ and Satan.


[1] Titze et al. “Spooky Sodium Balance.” Kidney Int. 2014 Apr; 85(4):759-67.