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Spiritual symbols of significance

A metaphor is a figure of speech which expresses the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar. In most instances, a common, usually physical object, is used to illustrate a more abstract or less familiar idea or concept. There is an implied comparison between the two, but this comparison does not always use the words "like" or "as". An example of this is the statement “my Father is my rock.” Most people easily understand this to mean that the father is strong, is consistent, is a place of safety, etc. No one would take it to mean that the Father is an actual piece of granite or limestone. The spiritual meaning is always related to the qualities or use of the object. This is the link between physical and spiritual meanings.

Scripture uses metaphor all the time in order to illustrate spiritual concepts with metaphors such as leaven, bread, blood and clothing. These metaphors can cause confusion as there are also many instances in Scripture where clothing means exactly and literally clothing. It is critical for readers to recognise the instances where metaphor are used and to understand its meaning. Metaphors were often used by the Messiah in a number of his parables, they have deep spiritual meaning So let’s look at the spiritual meaning associated with these words.

The following symbols are listed here, click on the one you have interested in and you should be taken to it.

Spiritual significance of the word “atonement”

It's possible to understand the general idea that atonement is part of our salvation without understanding the specifics of what atonement actually means in terms of our relationship with the Father.

One of the reasons people often feel confused about the concept of atonement is that the meaning of that word is different depending on whether you are talking about atonement in the Old Testament or atonement in the New Testament. Below you'll find a quick definition of atonement.

When we use the word "atone" in a secular sense, we mean making amends. For instance, if I do something to hurt my wife's feelings, I may damage or lose my relationship with my wife. Although she still loves me, I have hurt her, she is upset with me, and she does not want me around. I may be very sorry for whatever I did, bring her flowers in order to make up for the damage I caused in our relationship, seek forgiveness and reconciliation. That is, by such an act, the relationship is restored. I have made atonement.

There is a similar sense of meaning in the biblical definition of atonement. When we sin, we lose our relationship with the Father. We need a way to restore that relationship. That is, we need to recognise, truly repent and remove the sin from our lives and seek atonement and forgiveness.

Atonement in the Old Testament

When we talk about forgiveness or the removal of sin in the Old Testament, we need to start with one word - sacrifice. The act of sacrificing an animal in obedience to the Father was the only method of making atonement, removing the sin and restoring the relationship with the Father.

By setting up the sacrificial system, the Father allowed the death of innocent animals to cover for the sins of human beings. By shedding the blood of an innocent animal, the Israelites were able to transfer the consequences of their sin (death) to the animal. This is explained in Leviticus 17:11

Leviticus 17:11 ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the slaughter-place to make atonement for your lives, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the life.’


The sacrificial system was prophetic, setting out the sacrifice that would be made by the Messiah in His first coming.

This concept was illustrated through the Feast known as the Day of Atonement. As part of this ritual, the high priest would select two goats from among the community. The use of two goats was important for this ritual. The live goat offered a picture of the peoples' sins being carried out of the community -- it was a reminder of their need to have their sins taken away. The second goat was sacrificed in order to satisfy the penalty for those sins, which is death. Once the sin had been removed, the people were able to make amends in their relationship with the Father. This was atonement.

Isaiah 59:1 Look, the hand of Yahuah has not become too short to save, nor His ear too heavy to hear.  2 But your crookednesses have separated you from your Aluah. And your sins have hidden His face from you, from hearing. 3 For your hands have been defiled with blood, and your fingers with crookedness; your lips have spoken falsehood, your tongue mutters unrighteousness.  4 No one calls for righteousness, and no one pleads for truth. They trust in emptiness and speak worthlessness; they conceive trouble and bring forth wickedness.


This was a promise of better thing to come. The Old Testament sets out a prophecy of the atoning sacrifice that would be made by Messiah in Isaiah 53


Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, but He did not open His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, but He did not open His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment. And as for His generation, who considered that He shall be cut off from the land of the living? For the transgression of My people He was stricken. 9 And He was appointed a burial-site with the wrong, and with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was deceit in His mouth. 10 But Yahuah was pleased to crush Him, He laid sickness on Him, that when He made Himself an offering for guilt, He would see a seed, He would prolong His days and the pleasure of יהוה prosper in His hand. 11 He would see the result of the suffering of His life and be satisfied. Through His knowledge My righteous Servant makes many righteous, and He bears their crookednesses. 12 Therefore I give Him a portion among the great, and He divides the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His being unto death, and He was counted with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


These verses set out the Messiahs life at the time of his first coming

Atonement in the New Testament

Wikipedia defines Atonement (also atoning, to atone) as “…the concept of a person taking action to correct previous wrongdoing on their part, either through direct action to undo the consequences of that act, equivalent action to do good for others, or some other expression of feelings of remorse. ….. Atonement "is closely associated to forgiveness, reconciliation, sorrow, remorse, repentance, reparation, and guilt". It can be seen as a necessary step on a path to redemption.

It's important to remember that the basic principle of atonement has not changed with the Messiahs death on the cross and resurrection. The wages of sin is still death, which means death and sacrifice are still necessary in order for us to atone for our sins. This is made that clear in Hebrew 9:22.

Hebrews 9:22 And, according to the Torah, almost all is cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

The difference between atonement in the Old Testament and atonement in the New Testament is what was sacrificed. Under the Old Testament covenant, it was the blood of a pure and innocent animal that brought atonement for sin. But under the New Testament, we have a renewed covenant where the Messiahs death on the cross provides the blood sacrifice that covers all the sins of all the people who have ever lived, and who will ever live.

By taking the punishment of death for our sin, the Messiah opened the door for all believers to make atonement with the Father for their sin and once again enjoy a relationship with Him. This is of course provided that we remove sin from our lives, truly repent of our sin, seek forgiveness, and accept the atonement offered by the Messiah sacrifice. Atonement through the blood of the Messiahs sacrifice is the renewed covenant between the Father and believers referred to by the Messiah in the three synoptic Gospels.

Matthew 26:28 “For this is My blood, that of the renewed covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Mark 14:24 And He said to them, “This is My blood, that of the renewed covenant, which is shed for many.


Luke 22:20 Likewise the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the renewed covenant in My blood which is shed for you.


In John, the language of eating and drinking is a metaphorical way of saying that we must take the Messiah into our innermost being. Hearing the Messiahs parable must have been a challenge for Israelites to understand as they had been instructed not to eat blood. Take for instance Leviticus 3:17.

Leviticus 3:17 ‘An everlasting law throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you do not eat any fat or any blood.’


In John 6:53, I think that the Messiah is metaphorically saying, you must accept the atonement I offer you, take that atonement within you, and have a relationship with me. There must be real change in your life, it is about the indwelling of belief and atonement.

John 6: 53 Yahusha therefore said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Aḏam and drink His blood, you possess no life in yourselves. 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood possesses everlasting life, and I shall raise him up in the last day. 55 “For My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. 56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood stays in Me, and I in him.


The blood of innocent animal sacrifices in the Old Testament brought a temporary atonement for sin. But the blood of the Messiah in the New Testament gives us salvation. It gives permanent atonement and a renewed everlasting life. This is the difference between the old covenant atonement and the new covenant atonement.

Spiritual significance of the word “blood”


Blood is a powerful metaphor in the Scriptures, and it is often associated with sacrifice and redemption. In Leviticus 17:11, it is written, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul." This metaphor teaches us that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins. It also reminds us of the great sacrifice of the Messiah, who shed his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

Even in modern English the words “bad blood” has significance. In the Old Testament Exodus 12, Moses was instructed by the Father to tell the Israelites to slaughter the Passover lamb, and take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood of the Passover lamb and put the blood on the two doorposts and the lintel. None of the Israelites were to go out of the door of his house until morning.

Exodus 12:5 ‘Let the lamb be a perfect one, a year old male. Take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 ‘And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same new moon. Then all the assembly of the congregation of Israel shall slay it between the evenings….

Exodus 12:7 ‘And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it…..

Exodus 12:13 ‘And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I shall pass over you, and let the plague not come on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt……

Exodus 12:22 “And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin, and you, none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning

The sacrificial blood was a sign that death passed over that house, when the Father exacted judgement on Egypt. This was not the atonement of sins as many have presumed, that is a separate sacrifice. The blood of the perfect and innocent Passover lamb symbolised the blood to be shed by the coming Messiah in the salvation plan, and the passing over of the wrath of the Father and death in the final judgement by those that do not have the covering of the Messiahs blood.

What is interesting is that once receiving the covering of the sacrificial lambs blood, the Israelites were instructed to be set apart from the rest of Egypt by not going out of their house (Exodus 12:22). When we accept the sacrifice of the Messiah, we accept his sacrifice as both the passing over of death, and the sacrifice for the atonement of our sins. We should then be set apart from the rest of the world, seeking the Father, his truth, and learning his Word. Like the Israelites, we are exiting Egypt for the promised land, our journey has begun but will not be without trials. The Exodus story is so powerful and represents so closely what our walk as believers should be. The story of the Israelites in the desert, disobedience, demands, people wanting to turn back, shows the discipline that we need to accept into our lives from that point. This is the renewed covenant between believers and the Father.

In the Old Testament, Israel was prohibited from eating blood.  The reason for this prohibition is given in the Torah. 

Leviticus 17:11 ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the slaughter-place to make atonement for your lives, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the life.’

Deuteronomy 12:23 “Only, be strong not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, do not eat the life with the meat.


At that time, no one knew that blood carried food and oxygen around the body, and carried waste away. But people did know that without blood, living beings died. Blood sustains life, without blood there is no life. Without a heart pumping blood around the body there is also no life. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For out of it are the sources of life.

Since blood is the sustainer of life in the body, it is blood that the the Father required to make atonement for our sins. Since the source of life came from the heart, the Scriptures often refer to the heart as being the organ that contains a persons character.

Hebrews 9:22 tells us, that the shedding of blood of an innocent being is necessary for the forgiveness of sins, and Hebrew 9:28 repeats Isaiah 53:12, and tells us of the Messiah having made a blood sacrifice, to cover the sins of many

Hebrews 9:22 And, according to the Torah, almost all is cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Isaiah 53:12 Therefore I give Him a portion among the great, and He divides the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His being unto death, and He was counted with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


Hebrews 9:28 so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to those waiting for Him, unto deliverance.

Hebrew 10:10 goes on to tell us that the Messiahs blood sacrifice was only required once for all of time

Hebrews 10:10 By that desire we have been set apart through the offering of the body of Yahuah Messiah once for all. 11 And indeed every priest stands day by day doing service, and repeatedly offering the same slaughter offerings which are never able to take away sins.12 But He, having offered one slaughter offering for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of Aluah,

How important is it that the Messiah shed His blood for us? There are many references in the New Testament to the atonement of our sin through His blood.

After the Messiahs sacrifice, the apostles realised what had happened and the significance, and the relevance of the Messiahs death to the new covenant. Take for example a few as follows

John 1:29 On the next day John saw Yahuah coming toward him, and said, “See, the Lamb of Aluah who takes away the sin of the world! (refer to Titus 2:14 and 1John 3:8).

Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Set-apart Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of Aluah which He has purchased with His own blood.

Romans 3:25 whom Elohim set forth as an atonement, through belief in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His tolerance Elohim had passed over the sins that had taken place before,

Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been declared right by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Ephesians 1:7 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of trespasses, according to the riches of His favour,

1 John 3:5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin.

Spiritual significance of the word “bread”

Bread is another metaphor used in Scripture, and it is often associated with the Word of the Father. It is mentioned at least 492 times in the Scriptures beginning in Genesis and continuing right through Revelation with a variety of meanings and symbolism. In John 6:35, the Messiah declares, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." This metaphor teaches us that the Word of the Father spiritually sustains us, nourishes us, and satisfies us. It also reminds us that just as bread is made from grain that is crushed and ground, so the Word was made flesh and suffered for us.

The earliest agricultural activities began in the Middle East where bread was a staple food, essential for life. It is the fact that bread was essential for life, it became one of the most important symbols. The staple food was created from the grain harvest which was part of the metaphor of the Feasts, particularly the Autumn Feast which is dress rehearsal for the second coming of the Messiah

Bread in the Scriptures is not just a natural food offering nourishment to the body, but it also represents spiritual food which is Yahusha in the Scriptures. In John 6:32-35 and Matthew 26:26, the Messiah refers to himself as the bread of life.

John 6:32 Therefore Yahusha said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Mosheh did not give you the bread out of the heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread out of the heaven”, “For the bread of Aluah is He who comes down out of the heaven and gives life to the world.”  34 So they said to Him, “Master, give us this bread always.”  35 And Yahuah said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall not get hungry at all, and he who believes in Me shall not get thirsty at all.

Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Yahusha took bread, and having blessed, broke and gave it to the taught ones and said, “Take, eat, this is My body.”

Bread is also found in the Messiahs Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” This prayer is actually a request for both actual bread which was a staple food in the Israeli economy, but can also be understood as a reference to spiritual food.

Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is the way you should pray: ‘Our Father who is in the heavens, let Your Name be set-apart, 10 let Your reign come, let Your desire be done on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us today our daily bread.

In Matthew 15:22-28 Yahusha refers to the healing he can offer to those willing to follow him with their whole heart in the encounter with a woman from Canaan

Matthew 15:22 And see, a woman of Canaan came from those borders and cried out to Him, saying, “Have compassion on me, O Master, Son of Daviḏ! My daughter is badly demon-possessed.” 23 But He did not answer her a word. And His taught ones came and asked Him, saying, “Send her away, because she cries after us.” 24 And He answering, said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 26 And He answering, said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.”  27 But she said, “Yes Master, for even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 And Yahusha answering, said to her, “O woman, your belief is great! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.


The Messiah offers spiritual bread that feeds our spiritual lives. It’s why, during the Last Supper, the Messiah took the unleavened bread and broke it to symbolise His broken body and His death on the cross on our behalf.

Unleavened bread also has significant. Unleavened bread is bread that is made without leaven, which is another word for yeast. Yeast makes bread rise, so when bread is unleavened, it remains flat and dense.


Leaven is a spiritual symbol of sin, and the way sin spreads through its host, affecting the entire organism is similar to the way that yeast spreads through dough. Once it has been introduced, it cannot be separated from the dough.. Even a small amount of leaven is sufficient to affect an entire lump of dough. Similarly, a little sin or discontent will affect an entire church, nation, or the whole of a person's life. Paul referred to this in his letter to the Galatians and also to the Corinthians


Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leavens all the lump.

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the entire lump?The old leaven is to be purged out 7 Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was slaughtered for us. 8 So then let us celebrate the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sin starts out small. But if left unchecked, it eventually may lead to spiritual death

James 1:14 But each one is enticed when he is drawn away by his own desires and trapped. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.


The Messiahs sacrifice paid for our sin, our leaven has been removed.

Spiritual significance of the word “clothing”

One of the first mentions of clothing as representative of something truly important occurs in the parable of the wedding feast in the New Testament. Here, the Messiah tells of a man in attendance at the wedding, but when the host spotted him, he orders the man to be thrown out into outer darkness for apparently no other reason than that he was without an appropriate wedding garment.


The wedding garment in this parable represents the righteousness and holiness that is required to enter into the kingdom of the Father. It symbolises the spiritual clothing that every believer must put on in order to be in right standing with the Father. The man who did not have a wedding garment represents those who try to enter into the kingdom by their own works or their own righteousness, rather than by faith in the Messiah.

Matthew 22:11 “And when the sovereign came in to view the guests, he saw there a man who had not put on a wedding garment, The punishment of him that wanted the wedding garment  12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here not having a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.

In Matthew 22:14, the Messiah concludes the parable by saying, "For many are called, but few are chosen." This means that while many are invited to enter into the kingdom,but  only those who have put on the wedding garment of righteousness by faith in the Messiah will be chosen to enter.


The tearing of one’s clothes is an ancient tradition among the Jews, and it is associated with mourning, grief, and loss. Sometimes, the tearing of one’s clothes was accompanied by other signs of humility and grief, such as shaving one’s head (Job 1:20), throwing dust on oneself (Job 2:12), and wearing sackcloth (2 Samuel 3:31). Tearing one’s clothes was a public and powerful expression of grief in ancient times. But more important than outward shows of grief is true sorrow for sin and genuine repentance of the heart. The prophet Joel relayed the Fathers command,

“Rend your heart and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). The One who sees the heart requires more than external ritual, there needs to be an internal change.

It is interesting that the high priest was not allowed to tear his clothes,

Leviticus 21:10 ‘And the high priest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil was poured and who is ordained to wear the garments, does not unbind his head nor tear his garments,

and yet the high priest tore his clothes when speaking with the Messiah on the Passover day. The special nature of the high priestly office dictated a separation from some of the common customs, but that was not the case in that incident.

In Matthew 26:64 Yahusha said to the high priest,


Matthew 26:64 “You have said it. Besides I say to you, from now on you shall see the Son of Aḏam sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of the heaven.”   Then the high priest tore his garments, saying, “He has blasphemed! Why do we need any more witnesses? See, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 “What do you think?” And they answering, said, “He is liable to death.” 67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him, and others slapped Him,

Not only did the high priest reject the Messiah, he encouraged others to do so. In contradiction to the explicit instruction from the Father, the high priest tore his own clothes when condemning the Messiah. He was clearly stepping out of the Fathers will and instruction.

Spiritual significance of the word “covenant”

In the Scriptures, it was customary for people who were under a covenant to sit down and share a meal after the signing of the covenant. This meal was called the covenant meal or the fellowship meal, and it symbolised the trust, unity and solidarity of the covenant partners. Such a covenant was formed by the people of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt

Exodus 24: 7 And he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that Yahuah has spoken we shall do, and obey.”  8 And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “See, the blood of the covenant which Yahuah has made with you concerning all these Words.”

The covenant meal followed the sprinkling of blood

Exodus 24:9 And Moshes went up, also Aharon, Naḏaḇ, and Aḇihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel,  10 and they saw the Aluah of Yisra’ĕl, and under His feet like a paved work of sapphire stone, and like the heavens for brightness. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the chiefs of the children of Israel! And they saw Aluah, and they ate and drank. 12 And Yahuah said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there, while I give you tablets of stone, and the Torah and the command which I have written, to teach them.”


The tablets of stone were the ten commandments which recorded the covenant between The Father and Israel. This covenant was sealed with blood and then there was the covenant meal.

The Old Testament prophesied a renewed covenant being established between the Father and Israel. However, the original covenant with Moses is not obsolete. The Messiah followed the original covenant and taught it to his disciples. Similarly, the Ten Commandments still have relevance today as does the renewed covenant.

Jeremiah 31:31 “See, the days are coming,” declares Yahuah, “when I shall make a renewed covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Juḏah 32 not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I strengthened their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,” declares Yahuah 33For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Israel after those days, declares Yahuah: I shall put My Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their Aluah, and they shall be My people. 34 “And no longer shall they teach, each one his neighbour, and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know Yahuah for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares Yahuah. “For I shall forgive their crookedness, and remember their sin no more.”

If we believe in the Messiah and follow his commandments, we have the renewed covenant within us, this is behind the parable of eat my body and drink my blood, and in the indwelling of the Set-Apart Spirit.

The Passover supper that the Messiah shared with his disciples was such a covenant meal not unlike the one we read in Exodus above where the Messiah introduced the renewed covenant. The Messiah connected the Passover supper to the ancient covenant meal tradition for the covenant between the Father and Israel. Take for instance Matthew and Luke

Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Yahuah took bread, and having blessed, broke and gave it to the taught ones and said, “Take, eat, this is My body.”  27 And taking the cup, and giving thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 “For this is My blood, that of the renewed covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.  29 “But I say to you, I shall certainly not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on till that day when I drink it anew with you in the reign of My Father.”

Luke 22:19 And taking bread, giving thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me.”  20 Likewise the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the renewed covenant in My blood which is shed for you.

When we partake of the bread and wine in remembrance of Yahusha, we are enacting a covenant meal for the renewed covenant. It is a serious issue if we partake of the covenant meal, but then do not comply with the covenant terms, i.e. the ten commandments and the torah. If we do not comply with the covenant terms, the covenant does not apply. Once broken, the covenant benefits will not apply to us



Spiritual significance of the word “leaven”

Leaven is a metaphor used in the Bible to represent sin and corruption. In Matthew 16:6, the Messiah warns his disciples to "beware of the leaven of the pharisees and sadducees," which meant that they should be cautious of the false teachings and hypocrisy of the religious leaders. Leaven is also used to represent the spread of sin in a person or in a community, as yeast spreads through dough. This metaphor teaches us to be vigilant and guard against sin in our own lives, and to be aware of the influence of sin in the world around us.

Yeast is referred to as “leaven” in the Scriptures. Leaven is a common ingredient in bread that produces fermentation and causes dough to lighten, expand and rise.  When making bread using leaven, a small amount of leaven quickly spreads through the entire dough, multiplying rapidly, and apart from its activity it is invisible. Once leaven is introduced into dough, it becomes impossible to eradicate, and only ceases when exposed to the heat from fire during the cooking process.

In Exodus 12:15, regarding the Feast of Unleavened Bread, leaven was not permitted.  It was not permitted in the Passover meal and Yahuah forbade leaven to be used in the grain offering.

When used negatively, leaven represents pride and false teaching and the dough represents the Fathers set apart people. Leaven by definition can also be referred to as false doctrine. It works hidden, you can see the effect of the growth of the yeast– the rising lump of dough– but you cannot see it working internally. Once introduced, it cannot be isolated. Yahusha used leaven in this negative context when talking of false doctrine in the Gospels

Matthew 16:6 And Yahusha said to them, “Mind! And beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Matthew 16:11 “How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread, but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?”  12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.


Paul also used leaven in this negative context when talking of false doctrine introduced into believers

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the entire lump?  7 Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was slaughtered for us.  8 So then let us celebrate the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Galatians 5:7 You were running well, who held you back from obeying the truth?  8 That persuasion does not come from Him who calls you.  9 A little leaven leavens all the lump.

Leaven is also used in a positive context when Yahusha uses the term in two parables in Matthew 13:31.

Matthew 13:31 Another parable He put before them, saying, “The reign of the heavens is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,  32 which indeed is less than all the seeds, but when it is grown it is greater than the plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the heaven come and dwell in its branches.” Another parable He spoke to them, “The reign of the heavens is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until all was leavened.”

The general message of these parables is the same: the growth of false doctrine, and the growth of the Kingdom will be exponential and once started, unstoppable.

We must always remember that our enemy, the devil, uses mistranslations, false doctrine, mysteries and deceptions to deceive people into thinking that they are worshiping the Father when they may actually worshiping something else. It is important that we know what we are worshiping and have a personal relationship with the Father and the Messiah. This what the Messiah referred to when talking to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:22

John 4:22 “You worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because the deliverance is of the Jews. 23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father also does seek such to worship Him. 24 “Aluah is Spirit, and those who worship Him need to worship in spirit and truth.”

Our protection against deception is to have a pure view of only the teaching of the Scriptures, unpolluted by church doctrine, have a relationship with Yahusha and the in dwelling of the Set Apart Spirit.

Spiritual significance of the word “shewbread”

In the Holy Place, opposite the golden lampstand, on the North side of the Tabernacle, was placed the Table of Shewbread. The bread of the Presence (also called the showbread or shewbread in some translations) was 12 loaves of special bread (leavened), also known as the Bread of the Presence, were placed on the table in two rows of six loaves each and were replaced every Sabbath day with fresh hot loaves. (and later in the temple).

The twelve loaves, representing the the Fathers provision for the twelve tribes of Israel. The bread was before the symbol of the Fathers presence — the Tabernacle veil only intervening. The bread represented the provision of the Father for the twelve tribes of Israel, and it symbolized the sinless source of sustenance for the people.

The word "shewbread" or "bread of the face" means bread set out before the face or presence of the Father. This emphasises the importance of the bread as a symbol of the Father's presence and provision for His people.


Every Sabbath day, fresh hot loaves were provided by the priests. The priests were entitled to eat the old loaves while standing in the Holy Place on the day that the bread was replaced. The historian Josephus indicated that the bread was unleavened. 'Shewbread' literally mean 'bread of the face', i.e. bread set out before the face or presence of the Father.These loaves represented the 12 Tribes of Israel. They represent a sinless source of sustenance for the 12 Tribes of Israel.

The recipe for the preparation of the flour, the directions for the composition and fashioning of the loaves, and their baking, and placing on the table are meticulously given in Scripture.

Exodus 25:30 “And you shall put the showbread on the table before Me, continually.

Leviticus 24:5 “And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it, two-tenths of an ĕphah in each cake. 6 “And you shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the clean table before Yahuah “And you shall put clear frankincense on each row, and it shall be on the bread as a remembrance portion, an offering made by fire to Yahuah “On every Sabbath he is to arrange it before Yahuah continually, from the children of Israel – an everlasting covenant. 9 “And it shall be for Aharon and his sons, and they shall eat it in the set-apart place, because it is most set-apart to him from the offerings of Yahuah made by fire – an everlasting law.”

The shewbread was a continual offering, it reminded Israel of their covenant with the Father which was also remembered with the Passover, and that man does not live by bread alone. It was the Old Testament version of the prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread"; and in the fact that the holy table was never for a moment left without some loaves lying on it, we have the symbol of man's continued and unbroken dependence upon God.

Web page last updated 4 March 2023

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