The Messianic Implications of Hag Hamatzot

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By Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum

Hag Hamatzot, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is the second holy season on the Jewish calendar.

A. The Name

The Hebrew name of this feast, Hag Hamatzot, means the “Feast of Unleavened Bread,” which is the common name for the holy season in English. The designation is also used in Exodus 23:15:

15 The feast of unleavened bread shall you keep: seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib (for in it you came out from Egypt); and none shall appear before me empty.

B. The Biblical Observance

The biblical practice was rather simple. Hag Hamatzot lasted for seven days and immediately followed Pesach, which makes the combined holy seasons eight days long. This is the reason Jews often speak of “the eight days of Passover,” although technically, only the first day is Pesach. The next seven days are Hag Hamatzot. Furthermore, just as during Pesach, the biblical practice of Hag Hamatzot demands that no leaven be eaten during this period. Other than that, no special food requirements were provided.

In ancient times, leaven was not yeast as we would think of it today. When making bread, the Israelites would have used only flour and water. The bread dough was then leavened in one of two ways: either with a “starter” or by leaving the dough out in the open so that naturally-occurring yeast in the air would leaven the bread.

A starter usually consists of a mixture of flour, water, and a leavening agent. The mixture is allowed to ferment for a period of time and then is added to bread dough as a substitute for, or in addition to, yeast. Whenever a batch of dough is made, a small piece is removed before baking and kept so that it can be added to the next day’s batch of dough. The old piece of dough, the starter, thereby leavens the new batch. Paul refers to this process in I Corinthians 5:6-7:

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?
Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened.

This passage will be discussed further at the end of the chapter.

At the time of the Exodus, the making and baking of bread was a daily, laborious task, with the grain being ground into flour by hand. Once the dough was made, the leavening was a slow process. This helps to understand the context of what is said in Exodus 12:33-34 and 39:

33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, to send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We are all dead men. 34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders  . . . 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victuals.

The Hebrew says: “This is my blood. This is my body.”

Isaiah 53:9 prophesied that the Messiah would do no violence, meaning He would not be guilty of committing any outward sin, and that He would not have any deceit in his mouth, meaning He would have no inward sin either. He would not be guilty of any outward or inward sin. Hence, His death would be substitutionary; He would not die for His own sins. The New Testament confirms this. One of those crucified with Yeshua recognized His sinlessness and said to the other criminal, 

we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing amiss 

(Lk. 23:41).

One of Yeshua’s executioners came to the same conclusion:

And when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man 

(Lk. 23:47).

Hebrews 9:11-10:18 confirms that Messiah’s blood was sinless and could accomplish what animal blood could not: 

how much more shall the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 

(Heb. 9:14) 

For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins 

(Heb. 10:4).

The offering of Messiah’s sinless blood accomplished three things: first, the cleansing of the heavenly tabernacle (Heb. 9:11-12); second, the removal of the sins of those saints who lived under the Mosaic Law (Heb. 9:15); third, the application of His blood to the New Testament saints (Heb. 10:10).

The third point is important in the context of the believer’s sanctification. According to Hebrews 10:10, God views the believer as being in a state of permanent sanctification. The verse reads: 

By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Yeshua Messiah once for all.

This is positional sanctification: Believers are brought into this position of sanctification because they are now in the Messiah. Messiah’s sinless blood saved them and sanctified them once for all. Positional sanctification is always in effect regardless of the degree of unholiness a believer might show forth in this life. So, once a believer is saved, he is automatically in a state of positional sanctification where he is viewed by God as having been completely sanctified (Acts 20:32; Rom. 6:1‑10; I Cor. 1:2; 6:11; Heb. 10:10, 14). The Messiah fulfilled Hag Hamatzot by the sinlessness of His blood offering. Because of what He did, we no longer need to be under the permeating influence of sin.

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Feasts and Fasts of Israel: Their Historic and Prophetic Significance (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2019), p. 84-85, 98-99.


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