The Old Testament makes it clear that the Israelites were not supposed to work on the Sabbath. It is a day of rest. How flexible was the original interpretation of this rule? Obviously if absolutely no one works for one whole day, society collapses. Did religious authority at the time grant special exceptions for, as we might say today, essential service workers–such as those in charge of sanitation, health care, etc.? At the time this idea was codified, was it viewed as not to be taken literally? If so, were all other ideas set forth as rules similarly viewed?
The reason I ask this is because it seems like if someone was working on the Sabbath, even fulfilling a necessary service, they would clearly be breaking the law. Was this one of the ones taken “with a grain of salt?”
A related question is this: Was there actually a time when people adhered strictly to all, or almost all, of the laws explicitly written down in the Bible? I know from a contemporary standpoint we kind of take the spirit of the laws more seriously than the actual laws themselves. But I’d imagine a society where unclean menstruating women must be separated and purified wouldn’t last very long.
Enlighten me, please! I always learn so much from you all.