Do Karaites stay in their homes on Shabbat?


Yochanan Zaqantov


In the miqra, we find the Yisraelim learning about when Shabbat is.  In Exodus 16, it is not an academic exercise but them learning by being shown when Shabbat is and what to do and not do that day.


Shemot/Exodus 16:1-5


1 They moved on from Elim, and they came, the entire community of the Children of Israel, to the Wilderness of Syn, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day after the second New-moon after their going-out from the land of Egypt. 2 And they grumbled, the entire community of the Children of Israel, against Moshe and against Aharon in the wilderness. 3 The Children of Israel said to them: Would that we had died by the hand of YHWH in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, when we ate bread till (we were) satisfied! For you have brought us into this wilderness to bring death to this whole assembly by starvation! 4 YHWH said to Moshe: Here, I will make rain down upon you bread from the heavens, the people shall go out and glean, each day's amount in its day, in order that I may test them, whether they will walk according to my Instruction or not. 5 But it shall be on the sixth day: when they prepare what they have brought in, it shall be a double-portion compared to what they glean day after day.

 (Everett Fox translation)


They are only about 30 days journey after leaving Egypt the 15th day of the first month.  Here the children of Yisrael are about to be provided for and taught about when Shabbat is and how to prepare for it.  They are being instructed that day after day for 5 days Manna will fall in the morning.  This is also a test for them.


Shemot/Exodus 16:11-18


11 YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying: 12 I have hearkened to the grumblings of the Children of Israel- speak to them, and say: Between the setting-times you shall eat flesh, and at daybreak you shall be satisfied with bread, and you shall know that I am YHWH your God. 13 Now it was at sunset a horde-of-quail came up and covered (vatekhas וַתְּכַס) the camp. And at daybreak there was a layer of dew around  (saviyv  סָבִיב) the camp; 14 and when the layer of dew went up, here, upon the surface of the wilderness, something fine, scaly, fine as hoar-frost upon the land. 15 When the Children of Israel saw it they said each-man to his brother: Mahn hu/what is it? For they did not know what it was. Moshe said to them: It is the bread that YHWH has given you for eating. 16 This is the word that YHWH has commanded: Glean from it, each-man according to what he can eat, an omer per capita, according to the number of your persons, each-man, for those in his tent, you are to take. 17 The Children of Israel did thus, they gleaned, the-one-more and the-one-less, 18 but when they measured by the omer, no surplus had the-one-more, and the-one-less had no shortage; each-man had gleaned according to what he could eat.  (Everett Fox translation)


So Manna was given to them each day.  The Manna was around or encircled the camp.  We see this from looking at saviyv, which is from the word savav that means, “to encircle”.  So we see that in order to collect Manna it meant they must leave the camp to collect it.  This is an important fact we need to remember in order to understand verse 29.


Shemot/Exodus 16:19-20


19 Moshe said to them: No man shall leave any of it until morning. 20 But they did not hearken to Moshe, and (several) men left some of it until morning; it became wormy with maggots and reeked. And Moshe became furious with them. (Everett Fox translation)


Remember this was a test to see if they would follow his commands or not.  Some did not and so the Manna did not last to the next day.


Shemot/Exodus 16:21-26


21 They gleaned it in the morning, (every) morning, each-man in accordance with what he could eat, but when the sun heated up, it melted. 22 Now it was on the sixth day that they gleaned a double-portion of bread, two omers for (each) one. All the exalted-leaders of the community came and told it to Moshe. 23 He said to them: It is what YHWH spoke about: tomorrow is a Sabbath/Ceasing, a Sabbath of Holiness for YHWH. Whatever you wish to bake-bake, and whatever you wish to boil-boil; and all the surplus, put aside for yourselves in safekeeping until morning. 24 They put it aside until morning, as Moshe had commanded, and it did not reek, neither were there any maggots in it. 25 Moshe said: Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath for YHWH, today you will not find it in the field. 26 For six days you are to glean, but on the seventh day is Sabbath, there will not be (any) on it. (Everett Fox translation)


So every morning they went out to get it.  They had to get it before the sun melted it.  Now the sixth day they had to collect double.  Remember every other day, it was a single portion.  The lesson was for them to understand that the Shabbat was to be prepared for.  They were gathering enough food for two days, the 6 and 7th days to prepare for it.  Additionally, they were to do with that double portion was to bake it or cook it.  Whatever was surplus was kept over until the next morning.  What was left over did not reek nor have maggots.  Notice also Moshe just says to eat it today.  He does not indicate to bake, cook or prepare it on the 7th day (Shabbat).  We know that preparing food is considered Melakhah/Work which is not to be done on Shabbat.


Shemot/Exodus 12:16


16 And on the first day, a proclamation of holiness, and on the seventh day, a proclamation of holiness shall there be for you, no kind of work is to be made on them, only what belongs to every person to eat, that alone may be made-ready by you. (Kol-Melachah lo-yeaseh bahem ak asher yeakhel lekal-nefesh hu lebado yeaseh lakhem   כָּל־מְלָאכָה לֹא־יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶם אַךְ אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל לְכָל־נֶפֶשׁ הוּא לְבַדֹּו יֵעָשֶׂה לָכֶֽם)


Returning to Shemot 16.  There was not going to be Manna encircling the camp on Shabbat.  So what did some of them do?


Shemot/Exodus 16:27-30


27 But it was on the seventh day that some of the people went out to glean, and they did not find. 28 YHWH said to Moshe: Until when will you refuse to keep my commandments and my instructions? 29 (You) see that YHWH has given you the Sabbath, therefore on the sixth day, he gives you bread for two days. Stay, each-man, in his spot (tach’tayv 8478 תַּחְתָּיו); no man shall go out from his place (mimaqomo 4725  מִמְּקֹמֹו) on the seventh day! 30 So the people ceased on the seventh day. (Everett Fox translation)


Yes, after they were given a double portion some still went out to glean some outside the camp.  Remember, this was to be a test.  This was also the second time some Yisraelim did not listen about the manna.  We finally come to the verse in question.  Tach’tayv al-yetzeiysh mimaqomo bayom hashevi’i (יֹומָיִם שְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחְתָּיו אַל־יֵצֵא אִישׁ מִמְּקֹמֹו בַּיֹּום הַשְּׁבִיעִֽי) which can be rendered “in his place no goes up man from place in day the seventh”.  This would appear to say that one should stay in his place or dwelling on the Shabbat day.  So looking at maqom today we are going to see what it means and thus, answer the question posed.


Maqom which is translated as place or location can be used to denote a large area.


Bereshit/Genesis 1:9


9 Elohim said: Let the waters under the heavens be gathered to one place (maqom מָקֹום), and let the dry land be seen! It was so.


All of the water was assembled into one place or location separated from the land.


Shemu’el Aleph/I Samuel 12:8


8 When Yaaqov came to Egypt and your fathers cried out to YHWH, YHWH sent Moshe and Aharon they brought your fathers out of  Egypt and settled them in this place (bamaqom  בַּמָּקֹום). (Everett Fox translation)


Notice maqom also used for the entire area of land the Yisraelim lived on in Shemu’el’s time.

Yesha’yahu/Isaiah 33:21

21 For there YHWH in His greatness shall be for us Like a region (maqom מְקֹום) of rivers, of broad streams, Where no floating vessels can sail And no mighty craft can travel—Their ropes are slack, They cannot steady the sockets of their masts, They cannot spread a sail. (JPS)

Maqom here is used to denote an area of rivers and streams.


Yermi’yahu/Jeremiah 7:6-7


6 if you do not oppress the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; if you do not shed the blood of the innocent in this place; if you do not follow other gods, to your own hurt—7 then only will I let you dwell in this place (bamaqom בַּמָּקֹום), in the land that I gave to your fathers for all time. (JPS)


Again, the place was the whole of the land given to their fathers.  So first we see that maqom can be a large place within some boundaries.  Now maqom can also be a city or specific area.


Bereshit/Genesis 19:12-14


12 The men said to Lot: Whom else have you here-a son-in-law, sons, daughters? Bring anyone whom you have in the city out of the place (min-hamaqom מִן־הַמָּקֹֽום)! 13 For we are about to bring ruin on this place, for how great is their outcry before YHWH! And YHWH has sent us to bring it to ruin. 14 Lot went out to speak to his sons-in-law, those who had taken his daughters (in marriage), and said: Up, out of this place (min-hamaqom  מִן־הַמָּקֹום), for YHWH is about to bring ruin on the city! But in the eyes of his sons-in-law, he was like one who jests.  (Everett Fox translation)


The city was the place being referred to here.


Bereshit/Genesis 22:14

14 Avraham called the name of that place (Shem-hamaqom שֵֽׁם־הַמָּקֹום): YHWH Sees. As the saying is today: On YHWH's mountain (it) is seen. (Everett Fox translation)


This was the place of the offering.


Bereshit/Genesis 28:18-19


Yaaqov started-early in the morning, he took the stone that he had set at his head and set it up as a standing-pillar and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of the place (et-shem-hamaqom אֶת־שֵֽׁם־הַמָּקֹום): Bet-el/House of God- however, Luz was the name of the city in former times. (Everett Fox translation)


Again the place is that of a city.


Bereshit/Genesis 40:2-3


Pharaoh became infuriated with his two officials, with the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he placed them in custody in the house of the chief of the guard, in the dungeon house, the place (maqom מְקֹום) where Yosef was imprisoned. (Everett Fox translation)


Here we see the prison was the place.


Shemot/Exodus 3:4-5


When YHWH saw that he had turned aside to see, Elohim called to him out of the midst of the bush, he said: Moshe! Moshe! He (Moses) said: Here I am. He said: Do not come near to here, put off your sandal from your foot, for the place (hamaqom הַמָּקֹום) on which you stand-it is holy ground! (Everett Fox translation)


Now we see that the maqom/place was the area surrounding the burning bush.  So, we can see from all of these references from the Miqra that maqom is a location of different dimensions that depends on the area being spoken about. 


But was there a boundary made earlier in Shemot/Exodus 16?  Do you remember where I wrote: “The Manna was around or encircled the camp.  We see this from looking at saviyv, which is from the word savav that means, “to encircle”.”  The place did have a boundary in this case the place being referred to was the camp.  They had to leave the camp to get to it.


Tachat is also best used in another verse which describes what they did on that day.


Yehoshua/Joshua 5:8


8 After the circumcising of the whole nation was completed, they remained where they were (tach’tam תַחְתָּם), in the camp, until they recovered,


Were they were in the camp was the same here as what is being said in Shemot/exodus 16:29  It wasn't a specific spot in their tent but in the area of the camp.


So what do we do today?  Well the Tanakh tells us what would be the boundaries of a city then.


Bamidbar/Number 35:1-5


YHWH spoke to Moshe, in the Plains of Moav, by Jordan-jericho, saying: Command the Children of Israel, that they may give over to the Levites, from their inherited holdings, towns to settle in, and pasture-land for the towns around them, give to the Levites. The towns shall be for them to settle in, and their pasture-lands shall be for their cattle, their property and for all their animals. And the pasture-lands of the towns that you give to the Levites (shall be) from the wall of the town and outward, a thousand cubits all around; you are to measure outside the city, the eastern limit: two thousand by the cubit, and the Negev limit, two thousand by the cubit, and the seaward limit, two thousand by the cubit, and the northern limit, two thousand by the cubit, with the town in the middle. This shall be for them the pasture-lands of the towns.


So 2000 cubits from the walls of the city is the distance that is included with the city.  A cubit is about 18 inches.  So we are talking 3000 feet from the city walls or 1000 yards.  This is a little more than a ½ (.568) mile outside the city walls.


For those who use metric measurements, convert the yards by 0.9144 and get the measurement in meters.  So 1000 yards would be 914.4 meters. 


Thus the boundary of the town would equate today for the boundary of the camp.  Thus, we should not go out of our maqom/place further than a ½ mile beyond its boundary or 914 meters.  This is the distance one may travel with in on the shabbat day.  You may visit friends, go out side your homes. This is permissible with the restriction of not working your animals or burning a fire (driving a car) on Shabbat.