I've been searching the web and can't seem to find much. Was the concept of setting aside one day just for rest started exclusively by the Jews as a result of Mosaic Law (Ten Commandments)? Or was this a tradition in any other cultures/religions in any time period(s) pre-dating Judaism?
I'm no expert on the Bible but I've always believed that God worked (if that's the right word) six days to create the world and took off on the seventh. That's the day he put aside to bless and pray to Himself.
Also, when He kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He curseth them saying, "Thou shalt work in the MUD," for six days, but "Thou can take a brake on the seventh, Sunday."
I nice question to add to this would be, Where did the "week" come from?
You might start looking into the benefits of having such a rule... if everyone is working then they wont beable to attend the village gatterings... as religious leaders wanted more people to listen to them... the masses the working poor... what might have started as an ideal way to give people a break to go to religous gatherings turned into a hardcore rule that if you used it to relax or go fishing, they killed you...
I suspect the concept was developed over time, possibly in neighboring cultures, but that's just speculation on my part. What strikes me ironic about the whole thing, among the religious, is this. What's the one day where they go to church/temple/mosque? The sabbath. What do they do there? Pray. In other words, they're bombarding their diety with with all these requests and favors on his day off! The one freaking day he decides to rest is the day he gets the majority of the work orders. It's his day off!! Leave him alone, so he can screw with the point spread in the big game!