We will pick up in scripture in Genesis Chapter 2. Genesis 2:1 "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." This verse is the conclusion from Genesis 1 about the finishing of creation of the heavens and earth. So on the sixth day all of Gods creation work was done.
We move into the seventh day and God's finishing preparations of earth. Many think all this was done before and God just laid down and rested on the seventh day. This is incorrect. That is NOT what scriptures tell us. In fact in Genesis 2:2 God tells us he finished his work on the seventh day. "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made."
So what did God do on the seventh day. We pick up God's activities in Genesis 2:6-23 "6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. 7 And the Lord God [Jehovah] formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 8 And the Lord God [Jehovah] planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground made the Lord God [Jehovah] to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. 15 And the Lord God [Jehovah] took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 And the Lord God [Jehovah] commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. 18 And the Lord God [Jehovah] said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground the Lord God [Jehovah] formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. 21 And the Lord God [Jehovah] caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the Lord God [Jehovah] had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
So let us review what is the definition of the word 'rested' used in Genesis 2:2. However, before we review the Hebrew definition we need to remember that we are still dealing with no time element in God's time. We do not know how long light was in place and night was in place. We are told is that the cycle of a day (could be thousand years or a thousand years could be one day) is night to light back to night - is one day. So when we look to the definition of rested we need to consider the literal Hebrew meaning.
Taken from My Jewish Learning
In the it is written, “On the seventh day God finished the work… and ceased from all the work … and God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation…” (Genesis 2:2-3). Most people reading that passage find it a bit of a shock. “On the seventh day God finished the work. . . ” But what did God create on the seventh day? Didn’t God “cease. . . from all the work of creation” on the seventh day? What God created on the seventh day, the ancient rabbis tell us, was rest.
The Hebrew word used here is menuchah, and “rest” is an inadequate translation. To say that menuchah means a “Sabbath of rest” only tells half the story. In the Shabbat liturgy we are given a more complete, many-layered understanding of the word. It is, the Minchah (afternoon) service tells us, “a rest of love freely given, a rest of truth and sincerity, a rest in peace and tranquility, in quietude and safety.” Yet, at the same time, it is a rest yoked in the same breath to “holiness.” And inextricably linked to that concept is the fact that this rest comes from the Almighty and exists so that we might glorify God’s name, to bring holiness to God.
The Sabbath is the only day of observance mentioned in the Ten Commandments. In the first version of the Decalogue we are enjoined to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8); in the second version, we are told to “observe” the Sabbath (Deuteronomy 5:12). What more compelling evidence can one find for the paramount importance of this day?
But not to work? An enforced rest? The rabbis who began to codify Jewish law (halakhah) during the time of the Second Temple, specified 39 categories of prohibited activities– based on the activities that were involved in the building of the Tabernacle as described in the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. One should not handle a hammer or money. One should not rearrange the books on a shelf. What sort of holiday is this?
We are commanded in the Torah, “Six days shall you labor and do all your work.” To abstain from labor on the seventh day is, as Abraham Joshua Heschel says in his magnificent little book, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (1951), “not a depreciation but an affirmation of labor, a divine exaltation of its dignity.” We are suddenly lifted out of the process of time, removed from the world of natural and social change. Instead of creating the world anew, we are at one with the world created.
We are not beasts of burden. We should not live to work. We should not be chained to routine. Shabbat unchains us.
Shabbat is meant to be a day of peace. It offers us a chance for peace with nature, with society, and with ourselves. The prohibitions on work are designed to make us stop–if only for one day of the week–our relentless efforts to tame, to conquer, to subdue the earth and everything on it. The prohibition against making fire is also said by the rabbis to mean that one should not kindle the fires of controversy against one’s fellow humans. And, finally, the Sabbath offers us a moment of quiet, of serenity, of self-transcendence, a moment that allows us to seek and perhaps achieve some kind of internal peace.
Shabbat is also a time of joy, of good food and wine (even if the food preparation must be done beforehand). Judaism is most decidedly not an ascetic religion. It is no accident that it is considered a mitzvah (a commandment) to have sexual relations with your spouse on the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was designed to be “a delight,” as our liturgy tells us. It is a time when families and friends gather together for meals, songs, and stories. The Friday night rituals of candle-lighting, making kiddush (blessing the wine for the holiday) and ha-motzi (blessing before eating bread) are followed the next day by the tradition of the seudah shlishit, the third meal, on Shabbat afternoon, another festive gathering, often accompanied by Torah study and lively discussion, and finished off with more singing of zemirot (songs). Even as the Sabbath ends, there is a tradition that allows us to extend the pleasure, the melaveh malkah (farewell to the [Shabbat] Queen), when Jews gather to reluctantly bid goodbye to the Sabbath after Havdalah, (ceremony of separation) with more songs, food, and wine.
But what about rest, menuchah? Rest means many things to different people and the crush of the modern world buffeting us has changed its definition for many. There is a significant body of halakhah governing Shabbat. Discussions of these laws comprise two major tracts of the Talmud, Shabbat, and Eruvin, and include almost 200 chapters in the Shulhan Arukh, an important code[collection] of Jewish Law.
For the traditionally observant Jew, these are the laws that one abides by, to refrain from the 39 categories of forbidden actions and the post-rabbinic rulings that apply those categories to the modern world. But what of those whose lives are not guided by halakhah? Their Shabbat observance is based on the fulfilling the precepts of Shabbat joy and rest according to varied interpretations. An observant Jew, whether traditional or liberal, will spend much of Sabbath in the synagogue or at the Shabbat table with family and friends.
Perhaps we should be guided by a relatively simple principle, one derived from the quotation from Genesis with which we opened. We rest in a Sabbath sense when we no longer interfere with the world. In this way, we emulate God’s rest on the Sabbath, when the Creator ceased working on the world. During the six days of Creation, God asserted mastery over the universe by actively changing it. Then came a day in which the Creator relinquished that mastery to rest. We emulate God when we relinquish our mastery over the world on the Sabbath, by refraining from altering nature. For one day, we declare a truce between ourselves and the rest of God’s creations.
So what did we learn?
In the morning of the seventh day God made it rain, formed man, planted the Garden in Eden and did the first surgery taking a rib out of Adam and making Eve.
In the afternoon God blessed His work with love and joy.
Now we need to consider a couple of things. God breathed into the nostrils of man his breathe of life. This means that the breathe that they had to breath after coming animated would have to be the same as what God put into them to kick start their bodies. So we can conclude that the air they breathed was that of God on a continuous basis.
If we took the word rest and applied it to God we would be placing an inferior condition of a Holy God. In looking at rest through this lens we find the following.
The Hebrew verb translated as "rested" in the above verses is "shabath", from which the noun "shabbath" is formed. But the verb "shabath" does NOT mean "to rest"!
The verb "shabath" really means "TO CEASE DOING SOMETHING"! It means: "to come to an end, to terminate, to conclude"; but it does not mean "to rest"! The antonym for "shabath" is NOT "to work"; the correct antonym for "shabath" is "TO START"!
Jewish scholars know quite well that the Hebrew verb "shabath" means "to cease doing something", but they have ADDED THE MEANING of "to rest" to this verb. In a sense, they have simply "extended" the meaning of this verb. But that added meaning, that extension, is not really correct! The reason why Jewish scholars of old added this meaning of "to rest" to the verb "shabath" is TO UPHOLD THEIR TRADITIONS REGARDING THE SABBATH!
It is a trick that was commonly used by the "tannaim", the Jewish sages of the first and second centuries, simply assigning an additional totally new meaning to a biblical Hebrew word, for the explicit purpose of supporting their own teachings, which were in conflict with the actual biblical instructions.
Of the better-known English translations only Young's Literal Translation (YLT) has retained the correct meaning of this verb. Here is that translation:
Genesis 2:2-3(YLT) "and God completeth by the seventh day His work which He hath made, AND CEASETH by the seventh day from all His work which He hath made. And God blesseth the seventh day, and sanctifieth it, for in it HE HATH CEASED from all His work which God had prepared for making."
The emphasis in Genesis 2:2-3 is not on "resting", but on the cessation of the activities God had engaged in up to that point in time. "Resting" is often a consequence of "ceasing to do things", though not necessarily always. Nor does the cessation of some activities preclude the continuation of other activities. It is always the context in which the Hebrew verb "shabath" is used that makes this clear.
This matter is explained in great detail in my article "FURTHER UNDERSTANDING ABOUT THE SABBATH COMMANDMENT", located in the main article directory of this website. See also the other article entitled "REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY, TO KEEP IT HOLY" in that directory.
OK to each his own on how they want to believe the scriptures but it is my opinion that what God did was bless His creation and providing for it with His love and the ability to leave. God rested on the earth in His breathe providing the air by which all of humanity can survive.