23 Jesus was going through the grain fields on a Sabbath, and his disciples began to pick some heads of wheat as they made their way. 24 So the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is against the law on the Sabbath?” 25 He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry— 26 how he entered the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the sacred bread, which is against the law for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to his companions?” 27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. 28 For this reason the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Other tanna’im debated this same issue. Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says that it is stated: “But keep my Shabbatot” (Exodus 31:13). One might have thought that this applies to everyone in all circumstances; therefore, the verse states “but,” a term that restricts and qualifies. It implies that there are circumstances where one must keep Shabbat and circumstances where one must desecrate it, i.e., to save a life. Rabbi Yonatan ben Yosef says that it is stated: “For it is sacred to you” (Exodus 31:14). This implies that Shabbat is given into your hands, and you are not given to it to die on account of Shabbat.