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In ancient Babylon no work was done during the "Shabattu," a festival for conciliating the gods. The Hebrew "Shabbath" was a day of rest with many prohibitions. In the days of the Israelites, Moses' decalogue in the book of Exodus cautioned his people to "remember the Sabbath." In the earliest of Christian times, Jesus was criticized by the scribes when He healed the sick on the Sabbath; in response He said that "man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man," an observation worth remembering.
An early Hebrew law extended the philosophy of the Sabbath day to the observance of a sabbatical year by enjoining that, in every seventh year, the land should lie fallow and the vineyards and olive trees should remain uncultivated. When the Jews further petitioned Rome for the release of debts and tributes during those years, the Roman emperor, Tacitus, complained
FRIESEN SR. Sabbatical Leave for Surgeons. Arch Surg. 1990;125(3):297. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1990.01410150019002