Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):


The Feast of Unleavened Bread
 (Hag HaMatzah)


Historically, Israel learned that keeping the feast meant a complete separation from Egypt’s religion, bondage, food, and slavery, as well as its worldly glory, wisdom, and splendor. As believers, we are to flee the world’s way and philosophies that are contrary to the Word of YEHOVAH God.  Sincerity involves purity and sanctification, which means holiness and separation.


by HOIM Staff

“Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.  Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.  And on the first day you shall have a holy assembly; and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.  You shall also observe the feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance" (Exodus 12:14-17).

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a seven day feast that begins on the fifteenth of Nisan and continues to the twenty-first of Nisan, commemorating the passage through the desert without the time to bake leavened bread.


Israel’s second feast is named after the bread that is required to be eaten during the holiday. This feast is a reminder of YEHOVAH God’s miraculous deliverance from Egyptian bondage, for when Israel fled from Egypt in the middle of the night, there was no time for bread dough to rise. So the YEHOVAH commanded, “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bhe bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste) that you may remember the day in which you dame out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (Deut. 16:3).


Because this feast begins the day after Passover, the two holidays are often celebrated as one -- and in fact this is the modern custom. 


Unlike the other feasts, Unleavened Bread, along with Passover, were instituted before the Hebrews left Egypt. Unleavened Bread is the first of the three annual pilgrimage feasts, when all males in Israel were required to present themselves at the Temple in Jerusalem.  In keeping with this commandment, the Messiah journeyed to the Temple for each of the feasts. It was after Unleavened Bread when Yeshua was twelve, that he remained in the Temple without his parents’ knowledge, teaching the Rabbis. 


The Biblical record gives only three instructions for the feast of Unleavened Bread. Special sacrifices were to be offered in the Temple each day of the feast. The first and seventh days were sabbaths, with work strictly forbidden. And no less than six different passages emphasize the prohibition of leaven during this feast of seven days. 


In Hebrew, leaven is known as hametz, which literally means “sour”. Leaven, usually yeast or baking powder, is used to produce fermentation especially in bread dough. As leaven sours the dough, tiny gas bubbles are produced which cause the dough to rise.  Not only is the eating of leavened foods such as bread and rolls forbidden during the feast, but even the presence of leaven within one’s house is unlawful. The YEHOVAH God commanded Moses, “ Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel" (Ex. 12:15). 


Modern Observance


Observant households begin a painstaking cleaning process weeks before the arrival of the Passover. Walls are washed, cooking utensils scalded, clothing is washed with pockets turned inside out, carpets cleaned, vacuum bags are discarded, special china washed.


On the night before Passover eve, after evening prayers in the synagogue, the father of each household will perform the Bedikat Hametz, or “Search for Leaven”. After reciting the benediction for the occasion, the father begins the search. He uses an old wooden spoon in one hand and a goose feather in the other. By candlelight, he searches from room to room to discover the distributed bread scraps. The children follow behind with great excitement as he carefully uses the feather to sweep the bread he finds onto the wooden spoon. Finally the bits of bread, the wooden spoon, and the feather are placed inside a bag or wrapped in a cloth. This is tied with a thread and set aside to be burned the next morning.


Historical Message


Two primary events occurred at this time in history: 1) The burial of Yeshua (who is the Bread of Life) on the 14th of Nisan, after his crucifixion; 2) the Exodus journey began from Egypt on the 15th of Nisan, and the bread eaten is called, “the bread of affliction.” In fact, Yeshua’s place of birth, Bethlehem (Beit Lechem) means “House of Bread”. This festival is a fixed appointment in time, saying what YEHOVAH God will perform and the exact time He will perform it. The Judahites had to hurry to put Yeshua’s body in the ground because the Sabbath was drawing near. This Sabbath was a weekly Sabbath AND the first day of Unleavened bread. This would mean that Yeshua was in the sepulcher the day following his crucifixion, which was the fifteenth of Nisan, the first day of Unleavened Bread. 


The Picture YEHOVAH God has Painted with the Feast of Unleavened Bread


Sin is often pictured as leaven in Scripture. The ancient rabbis also believed that “leaven represents the evil impulse of the heart”. Leaven is well suited as a picture of sin since it rapidly permeates the dough, contaminating it, souring it, fermenting it, and swelling it to many times its original size without changing its weight. In fact, this souring process (the first stage of decay) is operative solely because of the curse of death decreed by YEHOVAH God when Adam sinned. 


Since leaven pictures sin, only unleavened bread was used in the Temple. Offerings had to be pure, and any thing leavened was deemed impure and unfit. 


As with the other feasts of YEHOVAH God in Leviticus 23, the prophetic meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is found in the work of the Messiah. Passover pictures the substitutionary death of the Messiah as the Passover Lamb, the Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the burial of the Messiah and Firstfruits pictures the resurrection of the Messiah. There is great significance surrounding the burial of the Messiah in that his body did not return to dust. King David prophesied of the Messiah, “For You will not leave my soul in the (the grave), Nor will You allow Your Holy One [the Messiah] to see corruption [decay]” (Ps. 16:10). Obviously King David did not proclaim this about himself, since his grave has been a revered site in Jerusalem for almost 3,000 years. David’s body did decay (as has the body of every other person who has died in history) but the Messiah’s body did not. The sons of Adam are sinners under the divine curse, “To dust you shall return”.  As a pure, sinless sacrifice, the Messiah was not under the curse to return to dust. Therefore, the Messiah came forth from the grave on the third day after he had carried our sins far away. 


The Search ceremony has the father search for the leaven in the house by candle light only. When he finds some, he brushes it into a wooden spoon with a feather, places it inside a linen cloth, and throws the cloth outside the house. In the morning, the cloth is taken to the synagogue and the cloth and its contents are burned.


Spiritually, believers are the house of YEHOVAH God, leaven is to be cleansed out of our house, which is our body. This is done by allowing the holy spirit, ruach hakodesh, to reveal to us, through the knowledge of Yeshua and the Scriptures, the sin that is in our lives. It is only through YEHOVAH’s Word that we are able to identify sin in our lives as it is written Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” So the spiritual understanding of the candle is that it represents the holy spirit. The feather represents the Word of God. Even though we have the word of YEHOVAH God, we need the spirit to illuminate it for us. The wooden spoon represents the crucifixion tree. The leaven was swept onto the spoon just as our sin was cast upon Yeshua. The leaven was then wrapped in linen, as Yeshua, carrying our sins, was wrapped in grave clothes. He then went to hell (the grave), just as the linen cloth with the leaven in it is burned and destroyed.


Paul elaborated on this message in 1 Cor. 5:7-8. For believers who have by faith, accepted the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb upon the tree, Passover is past history. The deliverance by the Messiah, the true Passover Lamb, has already been experienced in their lives. They are now living in the Feast of Unleavened Bread where purity and separation from leaven are required.


Unleavened bread is used for consecration and separation. It is also anointed with oil. The believers in the Messiah Yeshua are to be consecrated and separated to the work YEHOVAH God has called us to do and to live a life that is holy  to Him. If we do this, the anointing of the holy spirit will rest upon our lives.


The bread represents consecration -- Leviticus 8:1-2, 26-27.

It was included in the sacred vow of separation of the Nazarites -- Numbers 6:1-21.

It was the food for the priests in the meal and peace offering -- Leviticus 2:1,4,14-16

It marked Israel’s divine separation from Egypt’s life of slavery and bondage -- Ex. 12:17. 30-34.

All leaven was to be put away -- Ex. 12:15, 19-20.  When leaven or yeast is placed in an unleavened batch of dough, the leaven puffs up the dough. Likewise, when we allow sin into our lives it will puff us up in pride and arrogance.


Leaven was often used as a picture of sin: Leaven of Herod -- Mark 8:14-15; the leaven of the Pharisees -- Mark 8:15, Matt. 16:5-12; the leaven of the Sadducees -- Matt. 16:6-12; the leaven at Corinth -- 1 Cor. 4:17-21.


Historically, Israel learned that keeping the feast meant a complete separation from Egypt’s religion, bondage, food, and slavery, as well as its worldly glory, wisdom, and splendor. As believers, we are to flee the world’s way and philosophies that are contrary to the Word of YEHOVAH God.  Sincerity involves purity and sanctification, which means holiness and separation. The Bible uses water and washing to instruct us concerning sanctification and separation.


Sources: Howard and Rosenthal, The Feasts of the Lord, pp. 65-71; Chumney, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah, pp 57-65.



Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!

Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.

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