Symbolic Meaning of Egypt, and Being Leavened or Unleavened

It can be assumed that none of those who participated in the Exodus from Egypt, except perhaps Moses, Aaron, Aaron's sons, and the priesthood, understood the symbolic and prophetic nature of the worship system that God had given them. However, God eventually revealed the meaning of his worship system and its rituals for his prophets and servants to record for future understanding and use.

It is also clear that most of the prophecies and symbolism of the Old Testament could not be understood until after the advent of Jesus Christ and the writings of the New Testament. See Matt.13:11-14; 1.Cor.1: 4-5; Col.1:25-27; Rom.16:25-26.

In order to discover the literal and symbolic meaning of the Festival of Unleavened Bread as it pertains to the elect of God today, this study goes into detail about what has been written by the prophets and the apostles concerning the symbolic meaning of Egypt, leavening, and unleavened bread.


The nation of Egypt and its people are mentioned over 700 times in scripture, and almost all prophetic and symbolic references to Egypt show it as an example of rebellion against God, bondage and slavery to sin, and the embodiment of sin.

While instructing the Israelites to avoid idolatry and the worship of heavenly bodies, Moses compares their suffering in Egypt under its evil worship system to being in the fire of an iron smelting furnace, and he compares their deliverance to being pulled out of that fire:

"And lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, and should be driven to worship them, and serve them. . . But the Lord has taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be to him a people of inheritance, as you are this day" (Deut.4:19-20 KJV).

There are dozens of scriptures that give a detailed description of the future punishment and destruction of sinful people by fire. Fire is the most destructive force known to man, because it can reduce physical things to their lowest form of existence, which is pure energy. It is from this fire, which is the result of sin, that the Israelites were delivered. See. Job 18:5-6; Mal.4:1-3; Rev.20:13-15; Lk.16:19-31.

Joshua 24:14

Before Joshua died, he gathered the leaders and elders of Israel and reviewed what God had done for them and warned them to leave the evil worship system of Egypt alone:

"Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve you the Lord" (KJV). See also verses 1-13.

Here, we see that the gods which the Egyptians served were the same ones that led the first humans into great wickedness and caused these people's destruction in the flood.

The Egyptians worshiped the natural and supernatural alike; they were a nation devoid of an understanding of the true God or how to worship him. Therefore, Egypt was used by God to symbolize idolatry, which is sin.

During the 430 years that the children of Israel were in Egypt, they forgot the God of their forefathers and began to practice the religion of Egypt. This became apparent when they made and worshiped the golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving God's laws.

Hosea 8:8-14 KJV

"Israel is swallowed up: now they are among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself. . .Because Ephraim has made many altars to sin, . . . I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing. They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of my offerings, and eat it; but the Lord accepts them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt." See also Deut.28:15-68.

The prophet Hosea was inspired to show that Israel's unrighteous behavior will return them to a condition of bondage and slavery, such as their forefathers experienced in Egypt. Here, we see Egypt used to symbolize the bondage and slavery of sin.

Sodom and Egypt

The apostle John's record of the revelation of Jesus Christ makes the symbolic and prophetic meaning of Egypt crystal clear.

While speaking of God's two witnesses who will bring a close to the final chapters of this age of human rule, John records the following: "And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified" (Rev.11:8 Para.). See also Rev.18:4.

As we know, the city of Sodom was completely erased from the face of the earth because of the great sinfulness of its occupants. Sodom and Egypt are shown together as being symbolic of evil. Because both Sodom and Egypt are used to picture the spiritual decadence of Jerusalem at the end of this age, it can be assumed that both are symbolic of a totally sinful condition.

Egypt Symbolic of Sin

Understanding that Egypt, as a national entity, is spoken of prophetically and symbolically as sin is very important to understanding the many scriptures that concern coming out of sin and remaining free from the bondage and slavery of sin.


Blood Sacrifices and Leavening

God gave very clear instructions that no leavened bread or leavening products were to be offered with the blood sacrifices. The only exception to this rule was the two loaves of leavened bread that God commanded to be presented to him on the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). However, this leavened bread was not burnt on the altar, it was offered as one person would offer a gift to another, and it was then given to the priests to eat with their meals. See Lev.23:15-20.

Bread of Affliction

"You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shall you eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for you came forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that you may remember the day when you came forth out of the land all the days of your life" (Deut.16:3 Para.).

Unleavened bread was also a symbolic reminder of the pain and agony which the Israelites endured in Egypt and how quickly they had to leave Egypt.

The Wickedness of Israel

"When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief comes in, and the troop of robbers spoils without. And they consider not in their heart that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face. They make the king glad in their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers as an oven heated by the baker, who ceases from the raising after he has kneaded the dough until it be leavened" (Hos.7:1-4 KJV).

Leavening is symbolic of the great wickedness that permeated the whole nation of Israel, from its general population to its national leaders.

Attitude of Rebellion

Amos, chapter 4, contains God's rebuke to Israel for their attitude of rebellion against him and his law. Amos records that one of the reasons God will pour out his wrath upon Israel is that they symbolically offer him sacrifices with leaven in them.

"Come to Beth-el, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes every three years: And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven" (Am.4:4-5 Para.).

This same rebuke is also found in the Book of Malachi:

"A son honors his father, and a servant his master: if I then be a father, where is my honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you O priest that despise my name. And you say wherein have we despised your name? You offer polluted bread upon my altar; and say Wherein have we polluted you? In that you say, the table of the Lord is contemptible" (Mal.1:6-7 KJV).

False Teachings and Hypocrisy

In a warning for his disciples to be on their guard against the lies of the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus uses the word 'yeast' as symbolic of false teachings:

"Be careful Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. They [the disciples] discussed this among themselves and said, "It is because we didn't bring any bread." Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand?. . .. How is it you don't understand that I was not talking about your bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matt.16: 5-12 NIV). See also Mk.8:15-21.

In Luke's account of this warning to the disciples, leavening products are seen as symbolic of false teachings and hypocrisy:

"Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy" (Lk.12:1 NIV).

In his warning to the Galatian church about the false teachings concerning circumcision, Paul says, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump" (Gal.6:9 Para.).

Leavening agents like yeast are not evil; they are just symbolic of something that is very invasive and prolific. Jesus uses leaven in his example of the growth and expansion of the Kingdom of God (Matt.13: 33). He also uses it as a symbol of the expansion of sin in a person's life (Matt.13:38; Lk.13:21; Matt.16:6;11-12). In Paul's writings and in most of the prophetic scriptures, leavening is used as an example of sin and the increase of sin in a person's life (1.Cor.5:6; Gal.5:9).

God gave very specific instructions that no leavened bread or leavening products were to be offered with a blood sacrifice (Ex.23:18; 34:25; Lev.2:11), and it is clear from many scriptures that nothing impure may be offered to God; therefore, logic tells us that leavened bread must be symbolic of sin.


Prior to the Exodus Passover, the only scriptural references to unleavened bread are the accounts of Abraham having Sarah prepare unleavened cakes to serve the Lord and the two angles as they were on their way to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen.18:1-7), and the account of Lot serving the two angels of God unleavened bread with their meal (Gen. 19:1-3).

There is little doubt that both Abraham and Lot could have served leavened bread to their guests if they wanted to, but both chose to have bread without leavening prepared and served.

The account concerning Abraham does not specifically mention unleavened bread, but the account concerning Lot does state that unleavened bread was served. What does this mean? After studying this subject further, it becomes apparent that these first two accounts of unleavened bread are a part of the symbolism that pertains to purity, righteousness, and things that are holy to God.

There is no doubt that the Israelites had leavened bread and leavened products in their homes before the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. It is also clear that they were told to remove these products from their homes before the sacrifice of the Passover lamb.

The Passover Bread

When Moses gave the instructions to sacrifice and eat the Passover lamb he also gave instructions that unleavened bread should be eaten with it:

"And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it" (Ex.12:8 KJV) See also Num.9:5-11.

"You shall therefore sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God, of the flock of the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name. You shall eat no leavened bread with it;" (Deut.16:2-3 KJV).

The Creator gave very specific instructions concerning the eating of the Passover lamb with bread:

    • It was mandatory that unleavened bread be eaten with the lamb.
    • Eating leavened bread with the lamb was strictly prohibited.

All Leavening Left in Egypt

"The people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders" (Ex.12:34 KJV).

"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 victual" (Ex.12:39 KJV).

The prophetic and symbolic lesson of leaving products containing leavening in Egypt is that, in order to walk with God, come under his protection, and receive his blessings, one must get rid of sin and replace it with righteousness.

Christ the Unleavened Bread

We know from the writings in the New Testament that the unleavened bread to be eaten during the Passover of the gospel age represents Jesus Christ's sinless body as the Passover lamb of God.

Because the unleavened bread of the Passover during the gospel age represents the purity and sinlessness of Christ, it seems logical that the unleavened bread eaten during the original Passover also represents purity and sinlessness.

Jesus the Bread From Heaven

The Creator God who became Jesus Christ gave the Israelites of the Exodus bread from heaven (manna) to help sustain their lives. This same being, while in human form, called himself the bread that was sent by the Father to give eternal life:

"Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, he gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world" (Jn.6:31-33 KJV).

"I am the bread of Life" (Jn.6:48).

Unleavened bread is always symbolic of righteousness and it is always associated with things that are holy, clean, and pure.


There are several parallels between the physical salvation of the children of Israel through the sacrificial blood of the lamb, the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and the spiritual salvation of humanity through the blood of Jesus Christ (the Lamb of God). In this section, analogies will be drawn between the events and instructions that surrounded the first Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and the way to salvation as shown in the New Testament.

The Calling of Sons

As God spoke to Moses of his intent to free the Israelites, he told Moses that they were his firstborn sons (Ex.4:22-23). God considered the Israelites to be his children even before they were released from Egypt and before they made a promise to obey him through a formal covenant.

Just as the Creator God had already determined that the Israelites were to be his sons before he called them out of Egypt, those who accept the Father's call to salvation (Jn.6:44, 65) under the terms and conditions of the New Covenant are also already considered to be his sons.

The Sacrifice

Israel was instructed to sacrifice a lamb and place its blood upon their houses for protection against the destroyer (Ex.12:12-13). Only after they had complied with God's instructions concerning the lamb's blood were they protected from the destroyer.

Prior to the Father's call to salvation, each individual is in bondage and slavery to sin and under the death penalty for the violation of God's law, unless their sins are forgiven. It is only through the atoning power of the sacrificial blood of Christ that the power of sin over a person's life can be destroyed and a person can be set free from the death penalty.

Just Before Coming Out of Egypt

After the lamb was sacrificed and the Israelites had accepted the protection offered through its blood, they were to roast it and eat it with unleavened bread. This is the first eating of unleavened bread during the days of Unleavened Bread.

It is important to note that this commanded eating of unleavened bread was before Israel's release from Egypt. The eating of this bread with the lamb was in preparation for their departure from Egypt and the covenant agreement that they would make with God in the wilderness. Symbolically, the Israelites were sinless (unleavened) and worthy of protection from the destroyer.

The eating of the bread and lamb was also prophetic and symbolic of the new Passover ritual in which unleavened bread is eaten as a symbol of the sinless body of Christ (Lk.22:26; 1.Cor.11:23-24).

Under the New Covenant, a person may only partake of the Passover symbols after they have:

    • Been called by God to salvation.
    • Availed themselves of the sacrificial blood of Christ as their Savior and Redeemer.
    • Repented of their sins (i.e., made a commitment to come out of sin) and received the holy spirit.

Just as the Israelites were protected from the destroyer and set free from Egypt (symbolic sin) because they followed God's instructions pertaining to the sacrifice and eating of the lamb and the unleavened bread, those who are called to salvation are also set free from sin because they follow God's instructions pertaining to the sacrifice of Christ and the putting away of sin (leavening).

Leaving Egypt

"The people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders" (Ex.12:34 KJV).

"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 victual" (Ex.12:39 KJV).

The Israelites left Egypt (symbolic sin) without leavened bread (symbolic sin). The primary reason that they did not bring leavened bread with them is that the day they left was the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. However, the symbolism is unmistakable; the Israelites were symbolically sinless and righteous (unleavened) because of the blood of the sacrificial lamb. They symbolically left the evil worship system and practices (leavening) of Egypt (sin) behind them forever by bringing only unleavened bread (symbolic of righteousness) on their journey to the promised land (symbolic of the Kingdom of God).

Just as the Israelites were required to leave Egypt (sin) in order to serve God, anyone who desires to follow God must also leave their former sinful (leavened) lifestyle behind as they journey toward the goal of immortality in the Family of God.

After Being Released From Egypt

After being released from the slavery and the bondage of Egypt (symbolic sin) by the mighty power of God, the Israelites were instructed to continue to eat unleavened bread for seven full days. Further instructions show that, if any of them did not comply with this law, they were to be cut off from the nation of Israel, which meant they would also be cut off from God.

Both Egypt and leavening are used to symbolize sin. Unleavened bread is used to represent the sinless and righteous nature of Jesus Christ as a part of the Passover during the gospel age.

With the understanding of the symbolic meaning of Egypt, leavening, and unleavened bread, it can be safely assumed that the reason unleavened bread must be eaten for seven days during the feast of Unleavened Bread has to do with being sinless and righteous:

    • When someone becomes a son of God, they become sinless through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.
    • From the moment that someone becomes a son of God, they must live a righteous life and leave all sin.


This study has covered the following symbolic meanings, lessons, and parallels:

    • Egypt is symbolic of sin.
    • Leavening is symbolic of sin.
    • Leavened bread is symbolic of sin.
    • Unleavened bread is symbolic of righteousness.

The putting away of all leavened bread and leavening products by the Israelites was symbolic of breaking the cycle of sin and making a new beginning as a nation faithful to the Lord. The Israelites did not put away leaven in order to be redeemed; they put it away because they were already redeemed by and through the sacrificial lamb. This same principle applies to all those who have been redeemed throughout the ages—salvation is by grace, not by works (Eph.2:8-9).

The unleavened bread also pointed toward the time when God would make a new agreement with national Israel and the rest of humanity. Under the new agreement, unleavened bread is to be eaten as a reminder that those under this agreement have put away sin and must remain sinless before God the Father and Jesus Christ. See Rom.6:1-16; 1.Cor.5: 6-8; Jn.3:6-10.

By B. L. Cocherell b5w48