Yeast – Before Passover

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 has in its post on Passover. (I am paraphrasing big time.)  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.  Flatbread 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 YeastYeast, All BadYeast, 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.

Reflections on the Judgments in Exodus

When God purposed to remove His children from Egypt He had to show Himself and His power to Israel. Since they had been in Egypt several hundred years they knew Egyptian gods very well. His “attack” on the polytheistic belief system started on the human connection with the gods – Pharaoh. He was the mediator between the gods

and the people and the cobra was his protection. It was sculpted into a uraeus (the hood flared cobra) which pharaoh wore on his head. This all deals with one of their creation stories. Pharaoh set the tone for the beliefs of the nation and the swallowing of his symbol and that of the magicians set the tone for the rest of the Exodus.

Many documentaries have been made tying all of the Plagues together but I noticed an interesting connection between the first three (see Start to Out of Egypt). The Nile River was not only their source of water but also the major trade route. Several gods/goddess served as water deities so this judgment was also a major sign for the children of Israel. The third plague was on the land and again several deities are recognized as soil/sand/desert gods. It is interesting that plague number two was frogs/toads as they are amphibians and live in or on both water and land. The frog/toad binds the first and third plague together. There was an animal (besides man) that was affected with each of the first three plagues (1st fish, 2nd frogs, 3rd gnats/mosquitoes with the livestock). The Hebrew word associated with plague three could have been fleas, gnats, mosquitoes, or lice. There are logical connections for Plagues One through Four because bad water and dead fish would have contributed to frogs then mosquitoes african toadand the piles of dead frogs would have supplied meat for the flies.   As I said in my post Frogs, beer was important to Egyptians and a favorite type of beer was “red as human blood.”

Plague Three the magicians could not reproduce the plague and finally had to admit that God was stronger than they were. I did find it notable that they only attributed this plague as being the “finger of God” and not the hand or arm. Maybe they at least realized that it could get a lot worse.

In studying this I have wondered how long the Nile stayed polluted? Was it just seven days? It does not say but if God were also teaching Israel about the weakness of Egyptian gods making them work to get their water would have been major! So the first three plagues “defeated” the gods of Pharaoh, water, fish, frogs (beer/bread), and land.