“These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their ‘appointed times’: the LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Matzah Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work” (Leviticus 23:4-7).
The seven days of Unleavened Bread follow the Passover as a memorial to the exodus from Egypt. The first day of the exodus, the first day of unleavened bread, is the exact day that completed the 400 years of oppression and slavery prophesied to Abraham. The oppression began when Abraham chose Isaac over Ishamael on Isaac’s ‘day of weaning’ and ended when over one million of Jacob’s descendants quickly exited Egypt.
After losing his firstborn son to death, Pharaoh set the Hebrews free. The Egyptians were more than willing for the Hebrews to leave and God made the Egyptians favorably disposed to His people. They allowed the Hebrews to take whatever they wanted from livestock to cloth to gold. The Egyptians just wanted them to leave their land. For seven days the children of Israel traveled from Egypt to Sukkoth eating only matzah.
“They baked matzah loaves from the dough they had brought out of Egypt, since it was unleavened; because they had been driven out of Egypt without time to prepare supplies for themselves” (Exodus 12:39).
Soured Dough – Chametz
“You are not to eat any chametz with it; for seven days [of Unleavened Bread] you are to eat with it matzah, the bread of affliction; for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste. Thus you will remember the day you left the land of Egypt as long as you live” (Deuteronomy 16:3).
Leaven’ in Hebrew is chametz and literally means ‘soured dough.’ In ancient times, leavening was done through a soured-dough starter. The starter was a mixture of flour combined with water and allowed to sit for several days to gather wild yeast. Half of this soured dough would be mixed with more flour that 24 hours later would create a leavened bread dough. A little more flour would be added to the other half of the starter to keep the wild yeast alive. By removing the chametz from their homes, the Hebrews literally threw away a ‘lump of dough’ in order to start over with a new batch.
“Get rid of the old lump, so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Centuries of foreign gods and Egyptian world culture had infiltrated the Hebrews’ lives and faith. God commanded His people to remove all ‘soured dough’ from their homes because He wanted His people to leave behind the leaven of Egypt. He wanted them to become decontaminated from the ways of Egyptian culture. For seven days they were to eat nothing but the matzah and search their souls. They were to turn away from everything that had soured their hearts and minds to His light in Egypt’s culture of darkness and slavery.
Yeshua used the leaven of ‘soured dough’ to symbolize the false teachings and traditions of the elders that diluted the truth of the Word. Just as a little leaven infects a whole loaf of bread, centuries of distorted teachings and man-made practices had contaminated the Word of God; today, centuries of anti-semitic teachings and idolatrous practices continue to contaminate the truth of the Word.
The Bread of Affliction
The ‘bread of affliction’ symbolizes death and decay. As the little yeasty bugs puff up the dough by souring it, they are actually dying and decaying. If the dough is allowed to rise too long, those little guys run out of energy and the loaf flattens or ‘dies.’ This is the essence of the new pure lump of dough. Once there has been affliction, those yeasty bugs that puff up the dough with pride and unbelief die, and a new lump must be created –– one of humility and faithfulness.
When making unleavened bread or matzah, it is important to prick the dough. This allows air and steam to escape and keep the dough flat. As it bakes, it turns brown between the piercings giving the bread the appearance of stripes. In the Passover seder, a piece of matzah is broken in half, wrapped in a white cloth, and hidden. It is called the afikomen and means ‘the coming one.’
After the Passover meal, Yeshua used the afikomen to reveal himself as ‘the coming one.‘ He broke the pierced and striped matzah, his personal ‘bread of affliction,’ and gave it to his disciples to eat. He was arrested later that night, beaten in the morning, and hung on the cross in the afternoon where his broken and afflicted body died (Mark 10:45).
“Also, taking a piece of matzah, he made the blessing, broke it, gave it to them and said, “This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19).
“You are to observe the Feast of matzah, for on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you are to observe this day from generation to generation by a perpetual regulation” (Exodus 12:17).
As a permanent regulation through all generations, Paul reminds Corinthians that followers of Yeshua are to remove the ‘soured dough’ lump of false teachings. They are to celebrate the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and Passover not with the puffed-up bread of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and sincerity in the truth of God’s Word.
“For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of purity (nobility, honor) and sincerity and [unadulterated] truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8, The Amplified Bible).
The Burial of Yeshua
“It was Preparation Day [for Unleavened Bread], and the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the stake on Shabbat, since it was an especially important Shabbat. In the vicinity of where he [Yeshua] had been executed was a garden, and in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been buried. So, because it was Preparation Day [for Unleavened Bread], and because the tomb was close by, that is where they buried Yeshua” (John 19:31, 41-42).
The day this event took place was the Preparation Day for Unleavened Bread known as a ‘high sabbath’ and different from the weekly Sabbath. Because sunset was approaching and the Feast of Matzah would begin, Yeshua was hastily removed from the cross, rubbed with myrrh, wrapped in linens, and placed in a tomb of a rich man. Yeshua lay buried, left to decay. He remained in the grave for three days and three nights as he fulfilled another of his Father’s ‘appointed times’ –– the Feast of Matzah.
For more about Yeshua fullfilling the ‘appointed times,’ purchase Yeshua in His Father’s Feasts.
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2 thoughts on “Feast of Unleavened Bread – Matzah”
Hi Julie, Ive been wondering if anyone knows what kind of meal or flour the people would have been using. Barley? Wheat? etc.
Barley is an ancient Egyptian grain that was first to be harvested so I would ‘assume’ barley. The Feast of Firstfruits included an offering of barley and the omer was during the barley harvest. At the time of the Exodus, it is important to remember that with the judgments, there probably wasn’t much grain at all, let alone barley that was ‘ripe’ or abib. They probably used what they had ‘stored.’ I have often wondered what they used in the wilderness as they didn’t grow crops. I tend to lean toward Unleavened Bread being made of manna …