The Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Feast of Unleavened Bread occurs the day after Passover and gives us a picture of removing sin from our lives immediately as we are set free from bondage in Egypt. In this feast we can see the sinless Messiah and the sanctifying work of YaHuWaH’s Ruach haKodesh.
As we remove the physical leaven from our homes we should also strive to remove the spiritual leaven of sin from our lives.
Consider what Scripture says about this festival and the commandments surrounding it: what are we to do and when are we to do it? And we should never forget the One for whom we do all of it: our Maker and Redeemer.
We should also consider the millennia-old traditions associated with the feast and see how those traditions can enhance our celebration and understanding of the event.
We should “open our eyes” to see Yahusha in the feasts. Scripture was given to speak of Him and we should listen and hear its voice… His voice… during these times.
What Scripture Says About The Feast of Unleavened Bread
Who: All the congregation of Yisra’El. (Exodus 12:3)
The Hebrew word translated as “congregation” is עדה, (edah– Strong’s #5712) literally means an “assembly” or “congregation”. Exodus 12:3 is the very first time in Scripture that this word is used.
Normally references to Yisra’El as a group are made as “the children [benei] of Yisra’El“. Why is edah used instead of benei? Maybe because it wasn’t just “the Jews” that YaHuWaH brought out of Egypt. There was a mixed multitude of many peoples who came out of Egypt with children of Yisra’El (see Exodus 12:38) and it was this entire group that comprised the “congregation” or edah.
What: cease from having and eating leaven.
Here are the specific commandments regarding the feast:
Unleavened Bread [מצה, matzah, plural matzot, Strong’s #4682] shall be eaten for seven days (Exodus 12:15, 13:6-7).
Unleavened Bread [מצה, matzah] is to be eaten from the fourteenth day of the first month (i.e. Passover) until the twenty-first day of the month at evening (Exodus 12:18).
In all your dwellings [מושׁב, moshav] you shall eat matzah (Exodus 12:20).
For seven days you shall eat matzah (Leviticus 23:6, Numbers 28:17).
Leaven [שׂאר, seor, Strong’s #7603] shall be removed from your home on the first day (Exodus 12:15).
Whoever eats anything leavened [חמץ, chametz, Strong’s #2557] from the first day until the seventh day shall but cut off from Yisra’El (Exodus 12:15).
Seven days there shall be no leaven [seor] found in your houses (Exodus 12:19).
Whoever eats what is leavened [מחמצת, machmetset, literally “that which is leavened”] shall be cut off from the congregation [edah] of Yisra’El, whether an alien [ger] or a native [ezrach] of the land (Exodus 12:19).
You shall not eat anything leavened [machmetset] (Exodus 12:20).
Nothing leavened [chametz] shall be seen among you nor shall leaven [seor] be seen among you in all your borders (Exodus 13:7).
On the first day is to be a set-apart assembly [מקרא-קדש, miqra qodesh] (Exodus 12:16).
On the seventh day is to be a set-apart assembly [miqra qodesh] (Exodus 12:16) and a feast to YaHuWaH (Exodus 13:6).
No work [מלאכה, melakhah] is to be done on the first and seventh days except the work of preparing food (Exodus 12:16).
Feast of Unleavened Bread is to be observed because on that day the Yisraelites were brought out of Egypt (Exodus 12:17).
Feast of Unleavened Bread is to be observed throughout all generations as a permanent ordinance [chuqat olam] (Exodus 12:17).
The first night is to be observed to YaHuWaH for having brought them out from the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:42).
On the first day shall be a holy convocation [miqra qodesh] and no “laborious work” or “servile work” [מלאכת עבדה, melakhet avodah] shall be done (Leviticus 23:7, Numbers 28:18).
The seventh day is a set-apart assembly [miqra qodesh] and no “laborious work” [melakhet avodah] shall not be done (Leviticus 23:8, Numbers 28:25).
There is to be a “solemn assembly” [עצרה, atsarah] on the seventh day and no work shall be done on it (Deuteronomy 16:8).
The week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is one of the three times when all the males of Yisra’El are required to appear before YaHuWaH (Deuteronomy 16:16).
The men shall not appear before YaHuWaH empty handed (Deuteronomy 16:16).
The offerings were made once the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) was built.
For seven days you shall present an “offering by fire” [אשּׁה, isheh] to YaHuWaH (Leviticus 23:8).
The “offering by fire” [isheh] includes the following:
Two bulls and one ram and seven male lambs one year old without defect (Numbers 28:19).
A grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil; three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the ram (Numbers 28:20), and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs (Numbers 28:21).
A male goat for a sin offering [חטאת, chata’at] to make atonement (Numbers 28:22).
These sacrifices were brought in addition to the regular morning offering (Numbers 28:23).
Two bulls, one ram, and seven male lambs were to be offered each day during the seven days of the festival (Numbers 28:24)
There are 4 places in Scripture where we are commanded to tell our children regarding the Passover and the Exodus from Egypt. The telling (Hebrew: הגדה, hagadah) and recollection of YaHuWaH’s work in removing His people from Egypt is a significant part of the feast.
“And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to YaHuWaH who passed over the houses of the sons of Yisra’El in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.'” And the people bowed low and worshiped. (Exodus 12:26)
“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what YaHuWaH did for me when I came out of Egypt.'” (Exodus 13:8)
“And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand YaHuWaH brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery.” (Exodus 13:14)
“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which YaHuWaH our Elohim commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and YaHuWaH brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand.” (Deuteronomy 6:20-21)
When: the fifteenth day of the first month (Abib) through the twenty-first day of the first month.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread shall be observed at the appointed time in the month Abib (Exodus 23:15, Exodus 34:18, Leviticus 23:6, Numbers 28:17).
The Feast shall be for seven days (Exodus 23:15, Exodus 34:18, Leviticus 23:6).
The feast of Unleavened Bread and the Exodus provides a picture of the physical redemption of Yisra’El from bondage in Egypt. Since YaHuWaH had chosen this people and marked them as His own, Egypt drove them out (Exodus 12:30). The Egyptians feared that YaHuWaH’s selection of the Yisraelites meant death for them (Exodus 12:33). Leaving their bondage and service to Pharaoh, the Yisraelites became YaHuWaH’s slaves and served Him instead. (Exodus 7:16)
This festival is also a picture of the spiritual redemption of believers from bondage to sin. YaHuWaH has chosen His people and marked them as His own (Revelation 7:4) and the world hates them, drives them out, and rejects them (John 15:18, 19, 20) because the witness of believers regarding YaHuWaH’s righteousness and salvation means death for them. Leaving our bondage and service to sin (2 Timothy 2:22), we have become YaHuWaH’s bond-servants and serve Him instead. (2 Timothy 2:24)
Physical leaven is used throughout Scripture to represent spiritual sin. It should be removed from our homes on the first day (Exodus 12:15)… without delay. Just as YaHuWaH removed Yisra’El from bondage to Egypt in one day and just as He removed believers from bondage to sin in one day, we are to remove the leaven from our lives in a single day. We are commanded to remove leaven from all our borders and no leaven shall be seen among us (Exodus 13:7). Note that the leaven is not hidden away… it is removed. Our sin should not be hidden away. We should not put “on a show” of sinlessness. Sin should be removed from our lives.
What is “leaven”?
There are three very specific Hebrew words used in Scripture that provide commandments for this feast:
חמץ, chametz, Strong’s #2557
שׂאר, seor, Strong’s #7603
מחמצת, machmetset, Strong’s #4263
Chametz is any type of dough made from grain that is allowed to rise. The word chametz is found only 11 times in Scripture:
Anyone who eats chametz during Unleavened Bread shall be cut off from Yisra’El (Exodus 12:15).
Nothing chametz shall be eaten during the festival (Exodus 13:3).
Nothing chametz shall be seen among you during the seven days of the festival (Exodus 13:7).
The blood of sacrifices shall not be offered with chametz (Exodus 23:18, Exodus 34:25).
No grain offerings shall be made with chametz (Leviticus 2:11, 6:17).
Peace offerings for thanksgiving shall contain cakes of bread with chametz (Leviticus 7:13).
Two loaves of bread with chametz shall be brought as the wave offering for first fruits (Leviticus 23:17).
The Passover lamb shall not be eaten with chametz (Deuteronomy 16:3).
A leavened thank-offering is referenced in Amos 4:5 using the word chametz as well.
Traditionally chametz a product that is (a) made from five types of grains , and (b) has been combined with water and left to stand for longer than eighteen minutes without being baked. The five types of grains are the native grains of the Land of Yisra’El: wheat, barley, spelt/emmer, rye, and oats. Just about every form of fluffy bread, cake, cookie, etc, fits this definition.
Seor is a leavening agent… something that causes dough to become leavened. The word seor is found only 5 times in Scripture:
You shall remove seor from your houses (Exodus 12:15)
Seven days there shall be no seor found in your houses (Exodus 12:19).
Nor shall any seor be seen among you in all your borders (Exodus 13:7).
You shall not offer up in smoke any seor or any honey as an offering by fire to YaHuWaH (Leviticus 2:11)
For seven days no seor shall be seen with you in all your territory (Deuteronomy 16:4)
Yeast is probably the most common leavening agent but vinegar, baking powder, and other, similar agents also exist.
The word machmetset is derived from chametz and means “anything leavened”. It is found only twice in Scripture:
For whoever eats what is machmetset, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Yisra’El (Exodus 12:19).
You shall not eat anything machmetset… (Exodus 12:20).
A sandwich made with leavened bread would be considered machmetset.
Finding Messiah in The Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Unleavened One
Leaven represents sin. Leaven causes things to “puff up” and become “prideful”. Scripture refers to One who is without sin (Hebrews 4:15) who was sent as an offering for sin (Romans 8:3)… the Messiah Yahusha. Just as Messiah Yahusha was sinless we are called to be perfectly sinless (i.e. without leaven) for seven days… seven represents perfection or completion.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:20 that Yahusha was resurrected as the first fruits from those who are “asleep” (i.e. dead). First fruit grain offerings were consumed completely and were to be offered without any leaven (Leviticus 2:11).
Consider a piece of matzah (unleavened bread) and how it pictures the Messiah:
Matzah is not puffed up with leaven. Messiah was without sin (Hebrew 4:15).
Matzah is pierced. Messiah was pierced for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5).
Matzah is striped. Messiah was whipped and striped and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
Traditionally speaking, the seventh day of Unleavened Bread, the last day of the feast, is when the Yisraelites passed through the Red Sea. The entire nation was immersed and “baptized” so to speak. When we are spiritually baptized into Messiah we are baptized into His death (Romans 6:3) that we might live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24).