An image of matzah and a text overlay that reads The Significance of Bread in the Bible
Spiritual Growth

The Wonderful Symbolism of Bread in the Bible

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Bread in the Bible is about as rich in symbolism as any other symbolic reference in scripture. Before we dive into the significance of bread in God’s Holy Word, let’s talk about food in the Bible as a brief introduction.

For more on other symbolism in the Bible, see this post.

An image of matzah and a text overlay that reads The Significance of Bread in the Bible

 

Food in the Bible

In nearly every book of the Bible, there are reference to food. There are recipes (see below for a recipe for Ezekiel bread), dietary restrictions, meals shared with friends and of course, symbolism.

 

Of course, we need food to survive. Eating is enjoyable, too. Especially, when the food is good or one of your favorites. It is one of the pleasures that God has given us. God intended for food to give us pleasure:

 

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” –  1 Timothy 6:17 

 

and 

“They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.” –  1 Timothy 4:3 

 

Enjoying a meal with friends and family makes eating even more gratifying. We see many references to Jesus dining with his disciples and people from all walks of life. Our Savior appreciated dining on good food with others. This is another example of how good and gracious God is to us – He wants us to enjoy what He has given us with others.

 

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,” –  Acts 2:46 

 

Food in the Bible is also evidence that we are dependent on Our Heavenly Father. He provides us with sustenance to live. That, in itself, is quite humbling, isn’t it? He gives us everything that we have – our shelter, our loved ones, every thing we have and need to live, including our food.

 

“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” –  Genesis 9:3 

 

Moses even mentioned this to the Israelites when he reminded them that God orchestrates their lives and provides for them:

 

“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 8:3

 

Bread in the Bible

Bread has been a staple food since the days of Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, God punished Adam to grow his own food (and bread) instead of having it all just given to him as was available in the Garden. Adam and Eve went from gathering food to having to grow their food and, eventually mankind learned how to turn this vegetation into bread.

 

“It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.” –

Genesis 3:18-19 

 

When humans learned and perfected bread making, they ate and prepared it in many different ways. They made bread from wheat, barley, spelt or millet. They learned to season it with different oils and herbs.

 

They ate round and flat bread and even created bread flavored with grapes and honey.

 

Of course, unleavened bread, or matzah, called the ‘bread of haste’, was the bread which the Hebrews brought with them when they fled Egypt and did not have time to allow their bread to rise. It continues to be eaten today at Passover meals to remind celebrants of their ancestors release from slavery in Egypt.

 

“Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.” –  Deuteronomy 16:3 

 

Symbolism of Bread in the Bible

Bread continues to be one of the most powerful symbols in our Christian faith. It is mentioned at least 492 times in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation and, throughout, has a variety of meanings and symbolism.

We’ll cover six of the most profound and important symbols for bread in the Bible, but one of the most important mentions of bread in the Bible is in the Lord’s Prayer:

 

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.'” –

Matthew 6:9-13 

 

In the Lord’s Prayer, this request to God is for both physical food (sustenance) and spiritual food. (See this post on how to pray according to scripture).

 

Another significant symbolism for bread in the Bible is, of course, how bread symbolizes Christ’s body, which He gave up for us. We’ll cover that in detail below.

 

Take a moment to think of as many references to bread in the Bible as you can, then compare it to my list below. You may be amazed as how the symbolism of bread in the Bible illustrates God’s faithfulness, grace, and, even life itself.

 

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Bread Symbolizes God’s Provision and Our Survival

As mentioned above, one of the first things we think about when we think about the significance of bread in the Bible is in Exodus 16. God provided daily manna to sustain the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. He did this because He provides for His children and their survival depended on it.

 

While manna doesn’t rain down from heaven today (oh, that it would!), we still depend on God for our sustenance today. He allows the crops to grow and gives us everything else we need to live this side of heaven.

 

Look around and remember that Jehovah Jireh promises to give us what we need. He will never fail us.

 

Bread Symbolizes Life and Salvation

 

Also mentioned above, the Israelites had to flee without having time to allow their dough to rise. Bread symbolizes God saving (salvation) His children from Egyptian slavery. Even today, as Passover celebrations around the world, the Jewish people still use unleavened bread to remember God’s saving them from Pharoah.

 

Of course, most Christians are more familiar with another symbolism of bread in the Bible as life and salvation. When we celebrate holy communion, we celebrate Jesus dying on the cross for us.

 

The “bread” or eucharist is taken as a remembrance of Jesus’ body.

 

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” – Matthew 26:26 

 

The broken bread symbolizes His broken body on the cross. When I really stopped to think about that, it changed the way I viewed partaking in holy communion. He died for us! Communion is a small way that we can tangibly remember this incredible act that changed history and us. 

 

There are several occasions in the Bible where Jesus calls Himself the bread of life, as well.

 

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35 

An image of bread with John 6:35 quoted over it

While physical bread is nourishment for our bodies, Jesus offers us spiritual bread that feeds our spiritual lives. He brings our souls to life and gave us salvation and eternal life in heaven with Him. 

While physical bread is nourishment for our bodies, Jesus offers us spiritual bread that feeds our spiritual lives. He brings our souls to life and gave us salvation and eternal life in heaven with Him. Click to Tweet

 

Bread Symbolizes Forgiveness

So, we know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but did you know that the name Bethlehem means “House of Bread?” 

 

Here’s a short video about the Hebrew word, Lechem, or bread and it’s deeper meaning in the Bible.

 

 

And, we learned in the above section that Jesus called Himself the bread of life. (He gave us salvation, forgiveness and freedom).

 

Jesus, the bread of life, symbolizes God forgiving our sins and giving us eternal life.

 

We also read in several scriptures about breaking bread. When we sit down to share a meal with an enemy or adversary and “break bread” with them, we are extending an olive branch of forgiveness.

 

 

Bread Symbolizes the Bible, God’s Holy Word

You may have also heard scripture referenced to as bread. Jesus was the physical embodiment of God’s Holy Word. They are one and the same. So if Jesus is the bread of life, we can connect the dots that the Bible is meant to feed us spiritually.

“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” –
Deuteronomy 8:3 

 

The Bible, however, cannot nourish us if it sits on a shelf, unopened. For it to feed us spiritually, we need to spend time reading it.

 

If you truly want to experience God’s grace and feel His presence, we have to read His Word. We must spiritually eat the bread He has given us. 

 

If you truly want to experience God's grace and feel His presence, we have to read His Word. We must spiritually eat the bread He has given us. Click to Tweet

 

Click below for a printable of the Lord’s Prayer

Give us this day our daily bread: The Lord's Prayer

God’s Eternal Presence

When Moses received instructions for the Holy Place of the temple, the high priests were directed to build a table made of acacia wood and place it on the north side of the Holy Place. On the table, they were to lay twelve loaves of “showbread” to represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

 

“Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.” – Exodus 25:30 

 

“Take the finest flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using two-tenths of an ephah for each loaf. Arrange them in two stacks, six in each stack, on the table of pure gold before the Lord. By each stack put some pure incense as a memorial portion to represent the bread and to be a food offering presented to the Lord. This bread is to be set out before the Lord regularly, Sabbath after Sabbath, on behalf of the Israelites, as a lasting covenant. It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in the sanctuary area, because it is a most holy part of their perpetual share of the food offerings presented to the Lord.” – Leviticus 24:5-9 

An image of a stack of matzo and Exodus 25:30 quoted

This “bread of the Presence” was was matzah. Although, it sat in open air for an entire week, it didn’t become stale. It’s preparation required special expertise of the priests.

 

The bread, unlike offerings to pagan Gods, were a show of gratitude and thanksgiving for God’s constant care, provision and presence. In this way, bread in the Bible symbolizes God’s eternal presence.

 

Bread Symbolizes Sharing

When Jesus multiplied the bread to feed the crowd, bread became a sign of sharing (and provision, again.) It also symbolized the Word of God which nourished the crowds, spiritually.

 

“And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” – Matthew 14:19-20

 

Other Symbols of Bread Found in The Bible

in this post, we’ve covered just a few important signficances of bread in the Bible, but you can find bread in many other places in scripture, as well. Here are a few additional references for the symbolic meaning of bread in the Bible.

 

Unity of the church

“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” –  1 Corinthians 10:16–17

 
An enemy who can be consumed

“Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” – Numbers 14:9 (ESV)

 

A symbol of meeting people’s needs

“Cast your bread upon the waters,
for you will find it after many days.” –  Ecclesiastes 11:1 (ESV)

 

Wealth

“until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!” – 2 Kings 18:32 

 

 

Being lazy or unproductive

“She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.” – Proverbs 31:27 

 

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Want to Dig Deeper with Bible Symbolism?

My FREE BIble Study Worksheets can help! With a SOAP Study Worksheet and instructions plus an in-depth worksheet to help you apply His Word to your life.

Grab it below!

 

 
Accepting wisdom

“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.” –  Proverbs 9:5  (ESV)

 

Poverty or lack

“I gave you empty stomachs in every city
and lack of bread in every town,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.” – Amos 4:6 

 

Betrayal

“Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.” – Psalm 41:9 

 

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’” – John 13:18

 

As you can see, the Bible is rich in the many ways that bread can represent things or concepts. It is, of course, nourishment, but most importantly, it is Jesus, Himself. He is the bread of life and if we choose Him (He has already chosen you!), you can experience fullness of life and God’s grace.

A woman smiling at the camera with a large bouquet of white flowers in her hands and a text overlay of Proverbs 31:27

 

Biblical Recipe for Bread

 

Ezekiel’s Bread Recipe

Ezekiel, one of the prophets of the Old Testament who lived around the 6th century BCE, wrote instructions on how to prepare bread. His ingredients are nourishing to and, even today, many bake this bread for health.

“Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side.” – Ezekiel 4:9 

 

Of course, we aren’t told at what temperature to bake it or for how long, but this recipe will help with that. The ingredients vary a bit but the baking instructions will help you make this delicious, healthy, Bible bread recipe.

 

There’s also a great product, available on Amazon, with all of the ingredients in Ezekiel bread in one mix.

 

What other scripture comes to mind when you think of bread in the Bible? Drop it in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Because He Lives,

Sue

An image of various bread and a text overlay that reads The Significance of Bread in the Bible

 

 

 

Susan is a writer, speaker and the creator of Women of Noble Character ministries. She is passionate about helping Christian women deepen their walk with God through Bible study and creative worship and strengthen their marriages.

She lives in rural North Central Missouri with her handsome and hilarious husband and a myriad of dogs, cats and chickens.

Susan runs on Jesus, coffee and not enough sleep.

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