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 Chabad.org 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.

http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1742/jewish/What-Is-Chametz.htm

Frogs in the Bible

Frogs

In the Bible frogs are mentioned in two contexts: in Exodus 8 as the second plague and in Revelation 16 where evil spirits look like frogs. In Exodus, the Lord is freeing His people from Egypt. Pharaoh and his country have been selected to show the glory of God and the plagues are Jehovah showing His power over the gods of Egypt. His “miraculous signs and wonders” start in chapter 7 with Aaron’s rod/snake swallowing the magician’s rods/snakes. (Reflections on these later; so, back to the frogs.)

Chapter 7 ends with a timestamp of “seven days.” Chapter 8 begins with Moses asking for the release of the people or frogs will invade the land. I believe in the supernatural but I also think that God uses His natural laws. I don’t see where the Nile was changed back so did seven days allow for clearing of the water? Since Father God had been planning this it seems reasonable that the tadpoles were in place so they would have been breathing air by this time. I looked for the life cycle of Egyptian toads/frogs and couldfrogs_210648african toad not find times for the growth of the animals. Their predators (fish, another god) had been killed in the polluted water so more would have been available for the invasion.

A frog goddess Heqet (Heket) was revered and connected with fertility and childbirth. Her depictions were either a frog or a woman with a frog’s head. She symbolized new life and/or fruitfulness and it is possible that her priestesses were midwives. The frog became the symbol for 100,000 or “immense number.” The “hefnu” (symbol) was because of their fertility and the association with water (another god) made them a positive and potent symbol. Because they were held as sacred the Egyptians would not have killed the invaders. In researching Egyptian toads/frogs some of the species have a mildly toxic secretion, which could have caused some people to scratch the area where they were touched. So contact with the animals would have been very unpleasant. They also would have been active during the day or night and the toads could have traveled away from canals. Part of the judgment was that they would come upon the people and into ovens and bread kneading troughs. At first, you think this is just so the people would have a hard time making food but beer in ancient Egypt was made in conjunction with bread making. Beer was a very important commodity in Egypt and was actually a payment for labor. In God’s sense of humor shutting down beer making actually shut done all work in Egypt. Oh, one Egyptian word for beer is heqet or heket the name of the frog goddess. (Father God shut down another Egyptian god in the beer/yeast cult.) (See yeast) One complaint against the children of Israel was that they very abundant so this judgment on Heket is even more ironic since frogs were the symbol for abundance.

This plague and the actions of Pharaoh and his magicians are interesting in their own right. In know in Exodus 8:22 God makes a distinction between Israel and Egypt but with the frogs, everything is “you and your people” so it makes you wonder exactly who was plagued. Because “bedroom and bed” are mentioned it leaves to wonder if the plague started at night. With the blood and frogs, it seems that all the magicians could do was add to the misery of the people by calling more of the plague upon them. It seems that Pharaoh would have told the magicians to rid the land of the frogs but it is Moses and God who is finally left with ridding the land of the frogs so they could make them but not get rid of them. My question is why did Pharaoh wait to get rid of the frogs? The piling up of the frogs instead of burying or throwing them back into the Nile probably stems from the fact that they were sacred. One commentary mentioned that they may have died of anthrax or of dehydration while others suggest lack of food.

The other mention of frogs in the Bible is the Seven Bowls of Wrath that are poured out in Revelation 16. These Bowls closely resemble the judgments of Egypt’s gods but the frogs here are evil spirits that come out of the mouth of the dragon, beast, and false prophet. They are released after the Euphrates River is dried up. Their mission is to perform miraculous signs thus bringing the kings of the earth to Armageddon. Going back to the first appearance you have to think that those signs will be abundant and probably deal with the economy and may have a religious overtone.

(See Reflections on First Four Judgements)

Bible and Science-Yeast, A Model of Church Growth

Bible and Science-Yeast, A Model of Church Growth

Matthew 13:33 “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”(NIV)

To understand this passage we need to look at how yeast grows. Yeasts are eukaryotic and can divide by a process called budding. (Most cells divide into two even sized cells.) In budding a small uneven sized pouch of cell material forms on the “mother cell.”yeastS_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopy In this pouch go all of the organelles and other chemicals that are needed for it to live; since it is eukaryotic DNA also goes into the bud. The mother cell has given the bud everything it needs to live on its own including the reproduction information – DNA. The bud may stay attached to the mother cell and actually start its own bud. (Under a microscope I have seen several of these all strung out from the mother cell.)

Churches may grow the same way. The church can send out a few people who are equipped with everything needed to start and grow a new church. (Personal Opinion: I see Hillsong Church growing in this method around the world.)

∞Jesus, let me be like Isaiah and say, “Lord, send me.” Isaiah 6:8

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/bread.htm

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/get-know-nutritional-yeast?sf28652915=1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast

pic from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeast#mediaviewer/File:S_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopy.jpg

What I Learned From Studying Yeast

What I Learned From Studying Yeast

This study started with Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21 and as usual it spread from there.   The fact that it is paired with the Parable of the Mustard Seed in both of these passages is important. Jesus was showing the importance of small things done in and for His kingdom. Many times we overlook the little things we do as not important. Most of the literature I read about yeast in ancient cultures seemed to agree that they did not know about the yeast cell and that they were infusing something living into the bread dough. In our normal thinking that would be right because microscopes were not around but you have to wonder if Jesus knew!

Depending on the translation you will need to look for the words yeast, leavened, and unleavened if you want to study more on this topic. KJV does not have the word yeast but NIV does.

The amount of flour was interesting as the passages stress it was a large amount. In the NIV that amount is referenced three times: Genesis 18: 6, Judges 6:19, and in 1 Samuel 1:24.   In Genesis, Abraham tells Sarah to make that much bread for the visitors. In Judges, Gideon uses that much flour to make a meal for the angel and in Samuel Hannah took that much flour with her as an offering when she dedicated her son to God. The amount roughly translates to twenty quarts or forty cups. If you have ever made bread that is enough for at least eight to ten loaves of bread. The regular offering amount with a sacrifice would have been four quarts. I guess Abraham and Gideon were putting their “best foot forward” to impress their guests or to make sure they had extra to take with them.

In 1 Corinthians 5: 6- 8 Paul clearly says to get rid of the “old yeast” (NIV) because Jesus had gone through the Passover. But he names the yeast as “malice and wickedness,” which is also done in other places in the Gospels and the New Testament (the yeast were named Ex. yeast of the Pharisees and Herod). If you have ever used a sourdough starter you may understand the idea of old/bad yeast. If the starter goes bad you WANT to throw it away and start over, as it really smells bad.

At a small home fellowship, we once attended the pastor had an interesting revelation during communion one Sunday. (We used real wine and sometimes yeast bread. I know but that is what happened. We also used saltines if that is all we had.) Anyway for the wine and the bread to become what they were many grapes and grains of wheat were brought together but it required yeast to convert them into that usable form.

A final thought on wine and yeast. Wine/beer was/is made with the action of yeast. Wine was allowed/required to be presented as part of the offering at a sacrifice (Leviticus 23:13). The yeast in wine makes enough alcohol to kill itself and when bread is baked that normally kills off the yeast. One was required and the other was forbidden! The Biology teacher in me still will wonder if it has something to do with the living organism? NOTE: From my reading, the Egyptians apparently made their beer from baked bread.