Distance a Jew in Jesus' day considered ritually legal to walk on the seventh day. This phrase appears only once in the Bible (Acts 1:12
), describing the distance from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem. Scholars have surmised that the expression came from God's instruction to the children of Israel as they prepared to cross the Jordan into Canaan (Joshua 3:4
). As they followed the priests bearing the ark of the covenant, they must maintain a distance of 2,000 cubits from it. Earlier, while in the wilderness, they had been told not to leave home on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:29
). Rabbis eventually interpreted these commands as limiting Sabbath travel to 2,000 cubits. That was the farthest that a loyal Jew should be from his center of worship on the Sabbath. The length of the cubit depended on who was counting. Greeks said it was 1 foot, 6 inches; but Romans claimed it was 1 foot, 9 inches. Thus, 2,000 cubits could be from 3,000 to 3,600 feet, somewhat more than a half mile. Anyone who wanted to “bend” the rule could carry a lunch sometime before the Sabbath to a place about half mile from his home. Then, by eating it on the Sabbath, he could claim that place as a “legal” home and go another Sabbath day's journey. See Sabbath .
W. J. Fallis