The first mention of Unleavened Bread is directly related to and following YHVH’s visit to Abraham, along with two other men, at the Oaks of Mamre (Gen 18:1). In the encounter, Abraham and Sarah rush to prepare unleavened cakes, a choice calf, along with curds and milk, and Abraham presents them to the three men. Yahweh then reveals his plans for Abraham to have a son the following year at this same time as well as reveals his plans for Sodom. Abraham then intercedes for Sodom, bargaining for grace for the city if as few as ten righteous men could be found there. Clearly ten cannot be found since the city is destroyed. However, the first mention of the word “unleavened bread” or מַצּ֥וֹת (matzot, which is plural, also known as matzah in the singular) is tied into the narrative between the two related stories (YHVH’s visit to Abraham and the events surrounding Lot before Sodom is destroyed). This connection is revealed in the words surrounding hospitality. Abraham’s plea to be allowed to show hospitality to the visitors and Lot’s similar actions in pleading and showing hospitality to the two angels sent to ultimately destroy Sodom. The key texts read as follows:
2 When he (Abraham) lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men שְׁלֹשָׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor מָצָ֤אתִי חֵן֙ in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 4“Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” . . . Genesis 18:19 19“For I have chosen (known) יְדַעְתִּ֗יו him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep (guard) וְשָֽׁמְרוּ the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”
1Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
2And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” 3Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread מַצּ֥וֹת, and they ate.
This first mention of Unleavened Bread or Matzot in Genesis 19:1-3 and the greater context of the story and homophones used in the story is significant, because it sets the stage for everything that comes after it: the meaning in the symbolism, the first Exodus prototype, and the Greater Exodus fulfillment in Yeshua. Each repetition of the words and themes brings greater clarity and significance (i.e. progressive revelation) to what was revealed initially in regard to the Good News given in “seed” form to Abraham and Sarah. One such significance relates to the homophones found in the Hebrew word “matzah.”
There are two different meanings and ways of spelling a word pronounced in Hebrew as “matzah.”
The first is spelled mem-tzade-aleph מצא and it occurs in Gen 18:2 above. It means “to find, obtain, or reach.” In Gen 18:2, Abraham rhetorically states, “if I have found favor (or grace)” in Yahweh’s sight as the basis for the visitor’s (which included YHVH’s) acquiescence for heeding Abraham’s request for hospitality. The language implies or hints at a unique type of relationship between Abraham and YHVH that ultimately had enough weight to influence the Lord to turn aside and visit with Abraham. This gives Abraham the opportunity to serve the Lord, receive The Promise of a future son, and bargain with God on behalf of any righteous men in Sodom.
The second “matzah” is spelled mem-tzade-hey מצה. This type of “matzah” shows up in the very next chapter and is within the same related narrative (Gen 19:3). Here “matzah” refers to the unleavened bread or “cakes” that Lot quickly makes the two angels sent from God following YHVH’s visit with Abraham.
Therefore, in the context of this first mention of matzah, or unleavened bread, which later becomes a central moed (or Appointed Time that we keep today), we have a significant introduction of several major themes.
- The “finding” of grace is, by way of homophone, connected to unleavened bread and centers on hospitality.
- The season in which the events occur is in the spring and what will later become the season where we observe Passover/Unleavened Bread.
- The central Gospel Message of The Promise of a coming son and the interceding on behalf of the righteous for the sake of The Promise God made to Abraham is developed.
- Finally, the concept of being “chosen” by God or literally in the Hebrew being “known” by God is revealed (i.e. compare the theological idea of being “chosen” or “elect” and being “known” by God or, for some, sadly not being “known” by Him. See for example, Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’)”
- AND, that the purpose (Gen 18:19) of this choosing of Abraham (and by extension all of those who are chosen by God or Abraham’s physical and spiritual seed or children) is so that Abraham and his children might command their children and households to keep (guard) the ways of YHVH through “doing” righteousness and justice so that or for the purpose of allowing the Lord to bring about this Promise God spoke of concerning Abraham’s Seed (singular, i.e. Messiah, Gal 3:16).
There are so many interesting and thematic rabbit trails one could go down here, connecting these themes between the various stories. Suffice to say, the depth of the meaning of the Gospel that God has embedded in the text never ceases to amaze and inspire as one learns to read the text in the original language. Only God could tell such an amazing story in such an amazing way.
Praying you have a blessed Passover-Unleavened Bread holy week of feasting, rejoicing, and remembering, and retelling of the faithfulness of God to bring about our redemption.
Chag Pesach Sameach! (Happy Holiday of Passover)