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What Does the Bible Say about the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

While many Christians know what Passover is generally, less know about the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Bible emphasizes that this event was deeply important, something that reminded the Hebrews of their past and foreshadowed what was to come.

Contributing Writer
Feb 15, 2022
What Does the Bible Say about the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

After God rescued Israel from Egypt’s cruel bondage, He commanded His children to commemorate their deliverance through the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Throughout the ages, God’s chosen people faithfully observed all the requirements of the festival, which was part of the larger Passover celebration, but little did they know that their rituals also symbolized a greater deliverance to come through Christ.

What Is the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

For over 400 years, the Hebrew people lived under Pharoah’s harsh tyranny. God heard the cries of His children and raised Moses to deliver them from Egypt and lead them into the Promised Land (Exodus 3). But before their freedom journey began, God had to demonstrate His power, crush Pharoah’s will, and set into motion an integral piece of His redemptive plan for humanity.  

God sent ten successive plagues upon Egypt. Through the first nine plagues, Pharaoh’s grip on the Hebrews grew tighter. But his resistance and his yoke of slavery would soon be shattered forever—when God issued the final plague of judgment:

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord” (Exodus 12:12)

Before the last plague’s fulfillment, God gave the Hebrews specific instructions to spare them from the coming devastation. His people were to paint their doorposts with the blood of a spotless, sacrificial lamb; this was to be a sign to the death angel to “pass over” their homes and exclude their firstborns from the impending wrath. Then, they were instructed to use the meat of the sacrifice to prepare a commemorative meal—which consisted of fire-roasted lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread. 

Each component of their last meal in Egypt symbolized the slaves’ readiness for deliverance and God’s power to save them. God commanded the Hebrews—soon to be Israelites—to observe this feast annually and call it “the LORD’s Passover” (Exodus 12:7-14). Included with this celebration is a separate festival called the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Is Passover Separate from the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

Today, Jewish people still celebrate Passover as one of Israel’s seven annual festivals. The day after the Passover meal, a second festival begins called the Feast of Unleavened Bread—which lasts for seven days. Many see these two celebrations as one long eight-day festival. However, God gave special instructions to spotlight the symbolism of the unleavened bread:

“For seven days, you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day, remove the yeast from your houses … on the first day, hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.” (Exodus 12:15-17)

Since the Hebrew slaves had to leave Egypt quickly, they didn’t have time to prepare bread that would require additional time to rise. God commanded Israel’s future generations to remember the hasty departure from Egypt by eating only unleavened bread during their memorial feasts.

Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 16:3)

Scripture commonly uses leaven or yeast as a symbol of sin. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9). Just like that, a little sin can quickly contaminate a person, church, or nation until everything it touches is cursed with death (Romans 6:23, 1 Corinthians 5:6). Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin for all those who accept Him as their sacrifice (1 Peter 1:18-19).

When Do People Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

The Feast of Unleavened Bread, or Chag HaMatzot, begins in early spring on the 15th day of Nisan, during the same month as Passover. The feast begins at twilight on a Sabbath day and ends seven days later on another Sabbath day. These Sabbaths are not the same as weekly Sabbaths but are considered high holy days and may occur on any day of the week. 

Devout Jewish people still celebrate this feast and festival annually and observe all the scriptural obligations, including purging leaven from every corner of their homes. Christians are not required to celebrate Jewish festivals like Passover or the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Colossians 2:16, Galatians 4:9-11, Hebrews 10:1). However, the messianic symbolism in these festivities makes these celebrations an exciting way Christians can visualize Christ’s redemption, as God foretold it through the Israelite nation. 

What Does the Feast of Unleavened Bread Tell Us about Jesus?

Jesus’s teaching about leaven in the New Testament expands upon the meaning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Once, while they were ministering abroad, Jesus’s disciples realized they had forgotten to bring bread for their journey. Even though Jesus had just fed thousands of people with a few loaves and fishes (Matthew 15:29-39), the disciples expressed their concern about the lack of food. 

When Jesus replied, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” the disciples assumed Jesus was referring to literal bread. But Jesus was using the example to teach them the symbolism of leaven. The Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ sin had permeated their culture, and Jesus was there to eradicate it. (Matthew 16:5-12)

Jesus is the true Bread of life (John 6:35, John 6:48-51). His pure and spotless resurrected life lives inside every Believer through His Holy Spirit. His blood cleanses us from sin, and His Spirit sanctifies us until the day of His return. (Philippians 1:6

During the entire week that Jewish families celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, they remove all leaven from their homes and eat only yeast-free bread called Matzah. The baking process stripes and pierces this flat, baked bread—just as Jesus was pierced and striped for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). 

What Did Jesus Do at the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

Jesus is not only the Bread, but He is also the fulfillment of the ancient Jewish feast. Just before His crucifixion, Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples: “He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them [his disciples], saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19

In the same way, after supper, Jesus lifted his cup and proclaimed, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Courtney Whitney writes that in this Last Supper with His disciples, “Jesus brought new meaning to the elements. He explained to the disciples that through his body and blood, mankind would find redemption and deliverance. Therefore, a new pattern of gathering and remembrance should be observed (Luke 22:19-20).”

Christians today celebrate Christ’s sacrifice by following Jesus’s command to “do this in remembrance of me.” Since then, The Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion has played an essential role in the worship life of every Believer. 

How thrilling it is to explore the Old Testament symbolism that foreshadows Christ. As Easter approaches, we can add depth and dimension to our worship by recognizing God’s unfolding plan that begins with a sacrificial Passover lamb and is fulfilled with The Lamb of God, who takes away the world’s sins.

Further Reading:

Why Is Leavened Bread Forbidden During Passover?

What Is Pascha, and Is It Part of Easter?

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Gulsen Ozcan

Annette GriffinAnnette Marie Griffin is an award-winning author and speaker who has managed and directed children’s and youth programs for more than 20 years. Her debut children’s book, What Is A Family? released through Familius Publishing in 2020. Annette has also written curriculum for character growth and development of elementary-age children and has developed parent training seminars to benefit the community. Her passion is to help wanderers find home. She and her husband have five children—three who have already flown the coop and two adopted teens still roosting at home—plus two adorable grands who add immeasurable joy and laughter to the whole flock.

Learn more about the meaning and significance behind the Easter holiday and Holy Week celebrations:

What is Palm Sunday?
What is Maundy Thursday?
What is Good Friday?
What is Holy Saturday?
What is Easter?

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

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