Searching for "week" in the LXX Septuagint, I think hebdomas is used for the entire week as a whole, whereas Sabbath for weekdays, and weekend. But hebdomados could be used for the week as well, and in the NT we see hebdomos is used for "seventh". ἕβδομος, ἑβδόμῃ, ἕβδομον, seventh: Joh 4:52; Heb 4:4; Jud 1:14; Rev 8:1; Rev 11:15, etc. (From Homer down.)

Why did the Jews used Sabbath for weekdays or week, and what's the difference between hebdomos and sabbaton? Also, when exactly did the names of weekdays started?

Exod 34:22 Lev 23:15 Lev 23:16 Lev 25:8 Num 28:26 Deut 16:9 Deut 16:10 Deut 16:16 1Sam 11:5 1Chr 9:25 2Chr 8:13 Ps 24:1 Ps 48:1 Ps 94:1 Dan 9:24 Dan 9:25 Dan 9:26 Dan 9:27 Dan 10:2 Dan 10:3

Sabbaton is used for week, Thayer:

  1. seven days, a week: πρώτη σαββάτου, Mar 16:9; δίς τοῦ σαββάτου, twice in the week, Luk 18:12. The plural is used in the same sense in the phrase ἡ μία τῶν σαββάτων, the first day of the week (see εἷς, 5) (Prof. Sophocles regards the genitive (dependent on ἡμέρα) in such examples as those that follow (cf. Mar 16:9 above) as equivalent to μετά with an accusative, the first day after the sabbath; see his Lex., p. 43 par. 6): Mat 28:1; Mar 16:2; Luk 24:1; Joh 20:1; Joh 20:19; Act 20:7; κατά μίαν σαββάτων (L T Tr WH σαββάτου), on the first day of every week, 1Co 16:2.

2 Answers 2


I think most of your questions are addressed here:


Very briefly: hebdomas means “group of seven” (Classical) and specifically “week” (Jewish and Christian usage only). Sabbaton means “sabbath/Saturday” and “week” (both only in Jewish and Christian usage). There is thus a partial overlap in that both can mean “week”, but otherwise they do not overlap.


Also, when exactly did the names of weekdays started?

The Koine noun is ἑβδομάς (nominative) - ἑβδομάδος (genitive). The ending in your title is the modern Greek colloquial form, definitely not in the Testament. Same with the skipped consonant ending of the linguistically unrelated Hebrew Σάββατον. The non-numerical names for Friday, Saturday, Sunday in the early church, Παρασκευή, Σάββατον, Κυριακή, appear in use in the early Byzantine Empire. Possibly established at the time of Nicaea.

Even if you did not read Greek, the english quotes from Dennis H. Green, Language and History in the Early Germanic World in here would give you more discussion of the names.

They are Greek adaptations of the Hebrew names, so, Preparation (for the Sabbath), Sabbath, and the Lord's day (supplanting the first after the Sabbath of the Hebrews). The rest are bland feminine cardinal numbers. They appear to be in use in the 2nd century, in cohabitation with the pagan names. I know little about the establishment stages of the church to judge when they firmly displaced the pagan names, apparently not before the 4th century. You might probe the Nicaea Council.

Here are the quotes,

[p 236] The seven-day week is fist attested with the Hebrews from the fifth century BC. Only the Jews developed the week as a unit of time constantly repeating itself without interruption and cutting across other units such as the month and the year. The turning-point in the Jewish week was the Sabbath as the day of rest […] Friday was designated by the word for ‘evening’ (the eve of the Sabbath), whilst the others were counted by numbers. Sunday was therefore literally ‘one in the week‘, Monday ‘two in the week‘, and so on through to Thursday.

[p 237] The week is first attested in Greek amongst Greek-speaking Jews (e.g. in the Septuagint). […] Friday is therefore rendered by paraskeue ‘(day of) preparation (for the Sabbath)’, already in the New Testament […] where prosabbaton serves as an alternative rendering for this day of the week and is attested amongst non-Jews from the second century.

[p 237] So far, the Greek words we have considered have a clearly Jewish background, but a specifically Christian term is found, also from the second century, to designate ‘Sunday’. This day was rendered by Kyriake hemera, literally ‘the Lord’s day’, frequently shortened to kyriake, with the adjective serving now as a substantive. […] Apart from ‘the Lord’s day’ for Sunday, therefore, Greek terminology was based on the Hebrew model.

[p 238] However, from the second century there is evidence for the episodic use in Greek, as more frequently in Latin, of planetary names for days of the week. By this method an entirely different nomenclature was devised, pagan insofar as the planets were associated with gods of antiquity. The Greek sequence for the week refers therefore to the day of Kronos for Saturday, the day of Helios for Sunday, of Selene from Monday, of Ares for Tuesday, of Hermes for Wednesday, of Zeus for Thursday, and of Aphrodite for Friday. The difference between this astrological or pagan terminology and that devised by Greek Christians on the Hebrew model could not be more striking.

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