Yeast – Before Passover
“For seven days no yeast is to be found in your homes.” (Exodus 12: 19) NIV
God had prepared His people to be out of Egypt. He had made the Egyptians weary of them and their God. His Passover would be the final straw and He set the stage for them to go; He gave specific meal instructions. It covered what to cook and eat and how it was to be done. As Christians we take a lot of symbolism from this meal and even more has come from Jewish traditions. Getting rid of yeast is very important to the Passover Feast and is rich for us as Christians. But why yeast!?
I like the spiritual lesson Chabad.org has in its post on Passover. (I am paraphrasing bigtime.) The difference between crackers and bread is yeast. It fills the dough with gas and makes it puffed up; while the cracker stays flat and humble. Wow! Yeast in most places of scripture carries a negative thought.
My question, “Why yeast” still stands? Yes, we should take time and view our lives and houses and get rid of things that are not pleasing to God. The Jews do this before Passover and they are serious about it. How would these first participants in Passover make that connection when all yeast had ever done is make their bread rise? For the most part we Christians will say that yeast symbolizes sin, but Jesus compared yeast to the action of the Kingdom of God. I believe that He would ban it on what it would come to shadow, but I also think more has been at play here.
In Exodus 12: 34 the people took their dough in the kneading troughs wrapped them in extra clothing and moved quickly out of town. My second thought of “why” is the speed of their departure. Adding yeast and letting it rise in order to bake can take time. By the text it sounds like they were leaving quickly and God knew they would be on the move for several days. Flat bread cooks quicker than yeast bread.
A third “why” could be the Egyptian cult worship that involved yeast? The frog goddess Heqet was also involved with yeast. It was a bread-making/ beer cult and could have been one of the deities that Israel had become involved with. (See Frogs in the Bible)
Yeast in itself is not bad and could be used the rest of the year, but for this time period it did pose a problem. It could be one or all three of these or it may be something else, but for the trip out of Egypt it had to go. Please see my other posts on yeast: What I Learned From Studying Yeast; Yeast, All Bad; Yeast, A Model of Church Growth.
Take Away – A more “modern” custom that Jews may do in preparations for Passover is selling their yeast. I see it as a picture of what Judas did to Jesus. Jesus became our sin (yeast); Judas tried to give the money back but was refused. Yes, modern Jews can buy back their yeast products after Passover.