Unleavened Bread

UNLEAVENED BREAD. Unleavened bread is bread made without yeast. In the preparation of household bread, a piece of fermented dough from a previous baking was placed in the kneading trough along with fresh flour, kneaded into cakes, and then baked. Unleavened bread lacked the fermented dough. Unleavened bread (מַצּוֹת, literally unleavened cakes) is associated with the elements eaten at Passover, the feast that commemorates the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Only unleavened bread was to be eaten for the seven days that followed Passover (Exod 12:15-20; 13:3-7). Some scholars think that the feast of unleavened bread (seven days) which followed the Passover was originally a nature festival associated with the occasion of the barley harvest, and that it was transformed later into the historical feast, the Passover. The prohibition of leaven eventually became most scrupulously observed. A Heb. who did not eat unleavened bread was “cut off,” that is, excommunicated from the camp of Israel. In eating unleavened bread, the Hebrews were reminded of their haste in leaving Egypt during the great Exodus. They could not wait to bake bread to take with them, but carried dough in their bread troughs in their hurried flight into the desert. They baked their bread as they traveled, as do the desert Bedouin today. Israel, in eating the “bread of bitterness,” remembered that dark night in Egypt and then began a period of one week using unleavened bread.