Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Biblical Basis
There are seven passages from the Hebrew Scriptures and two in the New Testament that make reference to the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
1. Exodus 12:15-20 Instructional
2. Exodus 23:14-15 Instructional
3. Leviticus 23:6-8 Instructional
4. Numbers 28:17-25 Instructional
5. Deuteronomy 16:3-4, 8, 16 Instructional
6. II Chronicles 30:23-27 Observance
This is a historical reference from the days of King Hezekiah with reference to two additional points: they observed this feast with rejoicing in verse 25 with the greatest joy that Jerusalem had experienced since David and Solomon.
7. Ezra 6:21-22 Observance
A historical reference to Ezra and the captives that return from Babylon and they celebrated the feast with joy.
8. Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:1, 12; Luke 22:7 Observance
In Yeshua’s day the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread were unified into one celebration that lasted for 8 days. So often in the Gospels Passover was included in references to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
9. 1 Corinthians 5:8 Applicational
Here in Corinthians the Apostle Paul references it as a point of exhortation and application to both Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah.
There are ten things that the passages above lay down as the foundations for the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the Torah [Books of Moses] in the first five passages listed above:
1. Date of the Feast – Exodus 12:18:
It was to be observed on the month of Aviv. After the captivity the first month was renamed Nisan. It was to begin on the 15th day and be observed, which included Passover, the 14th, for eight days through the 21th day of the first month.
2. Duration of the Feast – Exodus 12:17:
The Duration of the Feast: Leviticus 23:6b states that it was to last for seven days, the 15th day of Aviv [Nisan] through the 21st day of the first month.
3. Sanctity of the Feast – Exodus 12:16:
These were days of sanctity, the first and last day of the feast, which were holy convocations.
4. Offering on the Feast – Leviticus 23:8; Numbers 28:19-24:
The offering of the feast: Leviticus 23:8a states that an offering was made by fire. In Numbers it states that there were daily offerings to be made. There were three types of offerings:
a. Burnt Offering in verse 19
b. Meal Offering in verses 20-21
c. Sin Offering in verse 22
These are to be additional offerings and did not take the place of the regular daily sacrifices commanded by the Mosaic Law.
5. Reason for the Feast – Exodus 12:17:
It was on this day that Israel began its exodus from Egypt. It was a mandatory feast to be observed throughout their generations.
6. The Law of Leaven – Exodus 12:15:
For the next seven days bread could be eaten but it must be unleavened bread. As in Passover all leaven must be removed from their homes. This continued throughout the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So leaven was not only forbidden to be eaten, but it was forbidden to be found in Jewish homes.
7. Instituted as a Pilgrim Feast – Exodus 23:14:
The meaning of a Pilgrim Feast was that all Jewish males were to appear before God at the Tabernacle or Temple to worship Him. The Passover is a Pilgrim feast and because it immediately follows the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened bread also became a pilgrim feast.
8. Four Laws of the Feast – Exodus 23:15:
(1) The feast was mandatory, not optional.
(2) Only unleavened bread was to be eaten.
(3) It was an appointed feast for it was the time of the Exodus.
(4) All were to come with an offering; none were to appear before the Lord empty.
9. Sanctity of the First Day – Leviticus 23:7:
The Sanctity of the First Day: Leviticus 23:7 states that it is to be a holy convocation with no servile work being done.
10. Sanctity of the Seventh Day – Leviticus 23:8:
The Sanctity of the Seventh Day: Leviticus 23:8b states that the seventh day was a holy convocation and no servile work.
11. Rule Concerning the Absence of Leaven Bread – Deuteronomy 16:4:
a. First, they could eat no leaven during these seven days.
b. Secondly, there could be no leaven in their homes.
c. Thirdly, a third thing is added in this text. There could be no leaven be found anywhere in all the borders of Israel – the whole country had to be cleansed of leaven.
Practiced Today by Rabbinic Judaism
In Orthodox Judaism today and in the past there are Scripture readings for each of the days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. There was also Haftorah readings to coincide with the reading from the Torah on three of the days. The background for the Haftorah goes back to the days of Antiochus IV Epiphanes of [Seleucid] Syria, prior to 165 BC when he abolished the reading of the Torah in the synagogue. So the rabbis of the day carefully selected readings from the Prophets that directly or tangentially related to the theme of the Torah reading.
This is reflected in two passages in the New Testament. First is Luke 4:17 when Yeshua read from the scroll of Isaiah. It was also customary to read three verses, but Yeshua read only one and a half breaking tradition because it applied to the First Coming whereas the rest of verse 2 and 3 applied to His Second Coming. The second reference is found in Acts 13:15 where Paul read from both the Law and the Prophets.
The following are the Passages from the Law on the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Haftorah readings from the Prophets:
1. First day – Leviticus 22:26-23:44 2 Kings 23:1-9, 21-25
2. Second day
3. Third day
4. Fourth day
5. Fifth day
6. Sixth day – Exodus 13:17-15:26 2 Samuel 22:1-51
7. Seventh day – Exodus 33:12-34:26 Ezekiel 37:1-14
Messianic and Prophetical Implications:
The difference between leaven and unleavened bread is that leaven bread has yeast where unleavened bread does not. In Scripture leaven is clearly symbolized as meaning sin whereas unleavened bread clearly symbolized no sin. Both Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread have the probation against the use of leaven in either feast. In Passover the rabbis say that unleavened bread must have three characteristics to be Kosher:
First the bread or matzo must be unleavened.
Second it must have the appearance of being striped.
Third it must be pierced.
It pictures Messiah Yeshua and His voluntary sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary in three ways:
First He was without sin; He was the sinless perfect Lamb of God that became the vicarious sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Second He took our strips as Isaiah 50:6 and Isaiah 53 clearly shows.
Third He was pierced on the cross of Calvary, His hands, feet and side as Psalm 22:16, Zechariah 12:10; 13:7 state.
Yeshua clearly stated in Luke 22:19 at His last Passover, This is my body, which is given for you. Also see John 6:31-35, 49-51 where Yeshua refers to Himself when He said I am the Bread of Life.
In this feast Paul gives us instruction and an exhortation in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 that we are to live a life that shows we are sanctified and set apart for his use. Therefore, purge out the leaven in your lives (1 John 1:9), for sin is not to have first place in our lives, but we are to live like Him (Colossians 3:15-17). That is progressive sanctification.
See Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s manuscript #115 on the Feast of Unleavened Bread from Ariel Ministries. www.Ariel.org