Yesterday (in Australia) was Pesach – The Feast of Passover. Today is Matsot, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which takes place from the 15th to the 21st of the month Aviv. You can see my feastly calendar at Feast Calendar. You can see my explanation of the calendar at Yom Teruah – The Feast of Trumpets.
Matsot and Pesach are often confused with each other, and some view them as one, celebrating Passover on the 15th of Aviv. However, Scripture is very clear that they’re separate feasts. Passover is the 14th. Here are the Biblical instructions (for both feasts):
14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. (Exodus 12:14-20 KJV)
Further instructions for Unleavened Bread:
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
9 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord.
13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.
14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. (Leviticus 23: 6-14 KJV)
(When it says “servile work”, the Hebrew word is #5656 avodah, which means “work of any kind”. A better translation would be “you do no work of any kind”.)
The sacrificial part is out of the question, but other than that, that’s what you do on Unleavened Bread. Like most Biblical feasts, there are surprisingly few instructions, leaving plenty of room for individuals and families to make up their own traditions – if any.
What is the origin of Matsot?
XVIII. And God said to him, “Abraham, Abraham”; and he said, “Behold, (here) am I.” 2. And He said, “Take thy beloved 3 son whom thou lovest, (even) Isaac, and go unto the high country, 4 and offer him on one of the mountains which I will point out unto thee.” 3. And he rose early in the morning and saddled his ass, and took his two young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood of the burnt-offering, and he went to the place on
the third day, and he saw the place afar off. 4. And he came to a well of water, and he said to his young men, “Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad shall go (yonder), and when we have worshipped we shall come again to you.” 5. And he took the wood of the burnt-offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife, and they went both of them together to that place. 6. And Isaac said to his father, “Father”; and he said, “Here am I, my son.” And he said unto him, “Behold the fire, and the knife, and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt-offering, father?” 7. And he said, “God will provide for himself a sheep for a burnt-offering, my son.” And he drew near to the place of the mount of God. 1 8. And he built an altar, and he placed the wood on the altar, and bound Isaac his son, and placed him on the wood which was upon the altar, and stretched forth his hand to take the knife to slay Isaac his son. 9. And I stood before him, and before the prince of the Mastêmâ, 2 and the Lord said, “Bid him not to lay his hand on the lad, nor to do anything to him, for I have shown that he feareth the Lord.” 10. And I called to him from heaven, and said unto him: “Abraham, Abraham”; and he was terrified and said: “Behold, (here) am I.” 11. And I said unto him: “Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything to him; for now I have shown that thou fearest the Lord, and hast not withheld thy son, thy first-born son, from me.” 12. And the prince of the Mastêmâ was put to shame; and Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, a single ram caught 3 . . . by his horns, and Abraham went and took the ram and offered it for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son. 13. And Abraham called
that place “The Lord hath seen,” so that it is said “(in the mount) the Lord hath seen”: 1 that is Mount Sion. 14. And the Lord called Abraham by his name a second time from heaven, as he caused us to appear to speak to him in the name of the Lord.
15. And He said: “By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord,
Because thou hast done this thing,
And hast not withheld thy son, thy beloved 2 son, from Me,
That in blessing I shall bless thee
And in multiplying I shall multiply thy seed
As the stars of heaven,
And as the sand which is on the seashore.
And thy seed will inherit the cities of its enemies,
16. And in thy seed will all nations of the earth be blessed;
Because thou hast obeyed My voice,
And I have shown to all that thou art faithful unto Me in all that I have said unto thee:
Go in peace.”
17. And Abraham went to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba, and Abraham dwelt by the Well of the Oath. 18. And he celebrated this festival every year, seven days with joy, and he called it the festival of the Lord according to the seven days during which he went and returned in peace. 19. And accordingly hath it been ordained and written on the heavenly tables regarding Israel and its seed that they should observe this festival seven days with the joy of festival. (Jubilees 18)
Going by the dates in Jubilees 17, this occurred on the 15th of Aviv, thus the 7-day festival instigated then was Unleavened Bread. The unleavened bread part of it seems to have been “added” at the Exodus, but nonetheless the feast originates with Abraham and Isaac.
And I might as well finish the description of the events of the Exodus.
14 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so.
5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?
6 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:
7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
9 But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.
10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.
11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.
21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,
25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
26 And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.
29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.
31 And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses. (Exodus 14 KJV)
I can only imagine what a sight that would have been!
This event – along with the rest of the Exodus – is often dismissed as a fantasy, a fiction. It is frequently claimed there is no extra-Biblical evidence to support the Exodus. Is that the case?
The Ipuwer Papyrus and the El-Arish inscription provide Egyptian documentation of the events of the Exodus. See Immanuel Velikovsky’s take on it here:
Quotations from the Ipuwer Papyrus, compared with the Bible:
And then of course there’s the chariot wheels found on the Red Sea floor (ignore Snopes on this one: the claim that it derives solely from an article on a satirical site is blatantly false).
(The last one got the location of the Red Sea Crossing wrong, but otherwise nails it.)