Does God Refresh Himself?

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi has an issue with the Holy Bible’s claim that Yahweh God rested and was refreshed after completing his work of creation (here). He says:

The Bible says in the Book of Exodus, Chatper 31, Verse 17...

It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.

The Hebrew word for 'refreshed' here is naphash

Naphash means...

to take breath, refresh oneself


The word is used in other verses...

Exodus 23:12

Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed (naphash).

2 Samuel 16:14

And the king, and all the people that were with him, came weary, and refreshed (naphash) themselves there.

So its clear that naphash is used to signify panting of breath or refreshing oneself from weariness. How can God get wearied? The translators of the NIV Bible probably got too embarrassed to even mention it.


It must first be pointed out that the Holy Bible clearly teaches that God has inexhaustible energy and does not grow weary:

"He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." Psalm 121:3-4

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable." Isaiah 40:28

God’s true Word also states that there is nothing too hard for Yahweh:

"Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son." Genesis 18:14

"‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts, …’ The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: ‘Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?’" Jeremiah 32:17-18, 26-27

"Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.’" Mark 10:27

"And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt.’" Mark 14:36

"And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’" Luke 1:34-37

In light of the foregoing we can now more fully appreciate and understand the point God was making to the Israelites in Exodus 31:17. The text is essentially saying that God was refreshed in the sense of receiving satisfaction from what he had created since he saw that everything he made was very good:

"And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day." Genesis 1:31

Putting it simply, saying that God rested and was refreshed is simply a vividly poetic way of saying that Yahweh received great delight and pleasure after surveying the work of his creation.

This shouldn’t be too hard for Zawadi to comprehend since the word refreshed is even used in a similar way in the English. One can speak of being refreshed in the sense of restoring one’s physical energies or in the sense of being delighted. For instance, if a person were to say that his heart was refreshed then the obvious meaning would be that the person was glad and joyful, not that he was physically restored.

Moreover, the Holy Bible, as well as the Quran, often uses anthropomorphic language to describe God's relations with man. The context of this passage deals with the necessity of Sabbath observance as a sign between God and Israel, and as such God is speaking to his covenant people in relational terms:

"And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Say to the people of Israel, "You shall keep my sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; every one who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign for ever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed."’ And he gave to Moses, when he had made an end of speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, the two tables of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God." Exodus 31:12-18

Note the reference to the "finger of God" at the conclusion, which is obviously anthropomorphic. God expressly says that just as he rested on the seventh day Israel must therefore do likewise, especially in light of their being his chosen people called to imitate him by observing all his commands. Thus, even if Zawadi were to insist that "refreshed" couldn’t be taken to mean that God was pleased with his creation, this still wouldn’t prove his case. The most this would prove is that Yahweh was using anthropomorphism in communicating to his people how central Sabbath observance was for them.

Zawadi thinks that the Quran corrects this "mistaken" view of God in his true Word:

The Quran corrects this gross error of the Bible...

Surah 50:38

We created the heavens and the earth and all between them in Six Days, nor did any sense of weariness touch Us.


Contrary to Zawadi’s wishful thinking, what this text from the Quran proves is that its author was ignorant regarding how the literary forms of the Holy Bible function. It shows that the author of the Quran took things in a hyper-literal fashion such as assuming that if God had a son then this meant that he had sex with a woman etc. Zawadi has only managed to demonstrate that the Quran’s author failed to understand and appreciate the Bible’s use of metaphors, similes, hyperboles, anthropomorphisms, prose, poetry etc. Hence, the "gross error" rests solely on the author of the Quran due to being ignorant regarding the nuances of Biblical depictions.

Bassam Zawadi has another paper on God being wearied (here) which has already been refuted before (1, 2).

For more on these issues please consult this article as well.

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