While we're looking at the first verses of the parsha, let's take a closer look at verse 2:
(2) Your m'lacha will be done for six days and on the seventh it will be holy to you, a shabbat shabbaton to God; anyone doing m'lacha on it will die.
You probably noticed yesterday that I didn't translate the word m'lacha (or shabbat shabbaton--but maybe we'll talk about that tomorrow). That's because there is no simple translation. JPS, both old and new (because it is still under copyright, I cannot provide a link) translations say it means 'work.' This is problematic because it doesn't necessarily seem any different than the word עבודה avoda which can also be translated in some contexts as work.
In an earlier post I talked about how the word malach (angel) seems to come from the same root as m'lacha. The malach is the being doing m'lacha -- that is performing an act or task under a Divine directive.
Maybe we can understand something about the meaning of m'lacha from malach, as well. A malach, we might assume, is tasked with performing a specific duty with a specific purpose. Thus, we would understand that m'lacha is something which has a specific intended purpose.
Famously, the first appearance of the word m'lacha is here: