What is leaven?

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What does leaven picture during the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

During the Days of Unleavened Bread we are to have no leaven or leavened products in our home (Exodus 12:15 Exodus 12:15Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread; even the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
American King James Version×
; Exodus 12:19 Exodus 12:19Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whoever eats 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.
American King James Version×
; Exodus 13:7 Exodus 13:7Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with you, neither shall there be leaven seen with you in all your quarters.
American King James Version×
). Leaven is a food additive, which causes bread or bread products to rise. The apostle Paul used this property of leaven to teach Christians that a “puffed up” attitude is sin (compare 1 Corinthians 5:2 1 Corinthians 5:2And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this deed might be taken away from among you.
American King James Version×
with 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 6 Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
American King James Version×

Leaven pictures sin. It is compared with malice (wrong motives) and wickedness (breaking God’s law). Since leaven puffs up bread, it provides an object lesson about pride and hypocrisy. And Jesus Christ used it as an analogy of the wrong teachings (doctrines) of the Pharisees that had been derived by human reasoning, yet were given more importance than the actual laws of God. Jesus gave several examples of these human traditions of His day (Mark 7:1-13 Mark 7:1-13 1 Then came together to him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. 2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashed, hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not your disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands? 6 He answered and said to them, Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 However, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do. 9 And he said to them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. 10 For Moses said, Honor your father and your mother; and, Whoever curses father or mother, let him die the death: 11 But you say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me; he shall be free. 12 And you suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; 13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many such like things do you.
American King James Version×
), and by implication Christians must be careful not to follow teachings today that stray from the Bible (1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×
; Luke 12:1 Luke 12:1In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, so that they stepped one on another, he began to say to his disciples first of all, Beware you of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
American King James Version×
; Matthew 16:11-12 Matthew 16:11-12 11 How is it that you do not understand that I spoke it not to you concerning bread, that you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
American King James Version×

What spiritual lessons can we learn by removing leavening from our homes?

Like leaven, sin easily grows, spreads and can permeate our lives. Putting out leavening from our homes is symbolic of putting both the visible and hidden sins out of our lives. Christians come to realize that we can’t do this on our own. We need to examine ourselves and repent and strive to change, but it is Jesus Christ’s help, as we submit to Him living in us, that produces true spiritual progress (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 6 Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×
; 2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Corinthians 13:5Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?
American King James Version×
; Ephesians 4:22-24 Ephesians 4:22-24 22 That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
American King James Version×

Looking for leavening

Leaven includes yeast, a biological leavening agent that produces fermentation, and chemical leavening agents such as baking powder, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and potassium bicarbonate.

Items such as bread, cake, crackers, cookies and prepared cereals and pies that contain leavening must be put out. Doing this is symbolic of putting both the visible and hidden sins out of our lives.

Homemade cream puffs, angel food cake, popovers and sponge cake, while light and fluffy, need not contain any of the above ingredients. Most pie crust recipes (except for graham cracker crusts) are unleavened. However, these products, when purchased from stores or bakeries, frequently do include leavening. Check the ingredient list.

Even though pita bread, flour tortillas and graham crackers are flat, they do contain leavening. Even some brands of matzos marked “kosher for Passover” can also list baking soda or baking powder in the ingredients! So be careful.

Although the following ingredients are associated with leavening products; they are not, by themselves, leavening agents: brewer’s yeast, yeast extract (a flavoring), cornstarch and cream of tartar (a dry acid). Cream of tartar, being an acid, merely neutralizes the alkaline nature of baking soda and does not, by itself, cause dough to rise.

Is it leavening?

Leavening Agents

Leaven is any agent that produces fermentation and causes dough to rise, by causing the formation of carbon dioxide gas to bubble into and spread throughout the dough. This is accomplished either chemically (as with baking soda) or biologically (as with yeast).

• Baking Soda: a crystalline alkaline salt that gives off gas when an acid is added. The following are different types of baking soda:

• Sodium bicarbonate, also known as “Saleratus.”

• Potassium bicarbonate, or potash.

• Ammonium carbonate, or “baker’s ammonia.”

• Ammonium bicarbonate, also known as “hartshorn.”

• Baking Powder (baking soda + acid-forming ingredients + starch filler).

• Sourdough starter (a wild yeast colony that is maintained with flour and moisture).

• Yeast (a single-celled fungi, used to leaven).

Not Leavening

* Autolyzed yeast: A yeast that has ‘self-destructed’ and is sterile – incapable of leavening.

* Brewers Yeast: A dead form of yeast that cannot leaven bread; a ‘nutritional’ yeast.

* Torula Yeast: A dead yeast that cannot leaven bread, considered a ‘nutritional’ yeast. Also hickory smoked torula yeast. Used as a savory seasoning that imparts smoky aroma to foods.

* Yeast extract(s): Derivatives of yeast, which are sterile and cannot leaven bread.

* Cream of Tartar: Tartaric acid – potassium bitartrate or potassium hydrogen tartrate. This is an acid used to combine with baking soda. By itself, this is not leavening.

* Tartrate powder: Phosphate powder or sulfate powder – usually added with cream of tartar. By itself this is not leavening.

* Alum: A metallic double salt, usually added with cream of tartar. Most common is sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS or sulfate powder), and potassium aluminum sulfate (or potash alum). By itself this is not leavening.

* Sorbitan monosterate: A flavor and texture enhancer. Not leaven of itself.

* Sodium Caseinate: A milk protein, not a leaven

* Sodium Silicoaluminate: A fine powder that is used to keep cocoa, salt and other products dry, not a leaven

* Polysorbate 60: A preservative; not a leaven.

* Egg whites: Not a leavening agent. While beaten egg white can be stirred into dough, it does not spread through dough as leavening does and is not leavening.

* Steam or air (such as in popovers or angel food cake). The same principle as egg whites (above) applies; there is no leavening agent mixed through the dough.

What spiritual lessons can we learn by eating unleavened bread?

Jesus Christ living in us helps us overcome and remove sins, and Christ in us also helps us develop His positive character. Eating unleavened bread is symbolic of feeding on every word of God, and becoming like Jesus, the bread of life (Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
American King James Version×
; John 6:35 John 6:35And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.
American King James Version×

Submitting to our Savior and Deliverer is the only appropriate response to His incredible sacrifice and love. An appreciative, forgiven Christian will seek Christ’s help to not repeat the sins that earned that death penalty.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a reminder of our deliverance from slavery to sin and of the transformation we can have by allowing our Deliverer to live in us.

If you would like to make some unleavened bread to eat during the Days of Unleavened Bread check out the unleavened recipes available on the website .