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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.
Food in the Bible
References to food can be found in nearly every book of the Bible. There are recipes (see below for a recipe for Ezekiel bread), dietary restrictions, meals shared with friends, and, of course, symbolism.
Obviously, we need food to survive, but eating can also be enjoyable, too. Especially when the food is good or one of your favorite cuisines. It is one of the many pleasures that God has given us for the duration of our lives in the world. God intended for food to give us pleasure:
What makes eating even more gratifying is enjoying a meal with friends and family. We see many references to Jesus dining with his disciples and people from all walks of life, even causing an uproar by eating with sinners and tax collectors (Matthew 9:10-17). 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.
Food in the Bible is also evidence that we are dependent on Our Heavenly Father. He provides us with sustenance to live. That, in and of itself, is quite humbling, isn’t it? It is not ourselves that pave our way on this earth, but rather, it is through Him that we are given everything that we have – our shelter, our loved ones, everything we have and need to live, including our food.
Moses even mentioned this to the Israelites when he reminded them that God orchestrates their lives and that everything they have was provided by the mouth of the Lord:
Bread in the Bible
Bread has been a staple food since the beginning of the life of the world and will be until its last day. At the start of Bible times, in the days of Adam and Eve, when they were banished from the Garden of Eden, God punished Adam to put work into growing his own food (and bread) instead of having it all just given to him as it was ready and 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.
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, a certain kind of bread, which was 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 the Passover meal to remind celebrants of their ancestor’s release from slavery in Egypt.
Symbolism of Bread in the Bible
Bread continues to be one of the most powerful symbols of our Christian faith. It is mentioned at least 492 times in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, with a variety of meanings and symbolism throughout.
We’ll cover six of the most profound and important symbols for bread in the Bible, starting with one of the most important mentions of bread in the Bible: the Lord’s Prayer:
In the Lord’s Prayer, this request to God is for both physical food (sustenance) and spiritual food, daily bread for life itself, and the bread of life. (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 at how the symbolism of bread in the Bible illustrates God’s faithfulness, grace, and even life itself.
Bread Symbolizes God’s Provision and Our Survival
As mentioned above, one of the first pieces of scripture we think about when it comes to the significance of bread in the Bible is Exodus 16. God provided delicious, daily manna, like the physical daily bread, to sustain the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. He did this because He provided 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 the living Father God for our sustenance today. He allows the crops to grow and gives us everything else we need to live on 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) the children of Israel, His children, from Egyptian slavery. Even today, as Passover meal celebrations are held around the world, the Jewish people still use unleavened loaves of 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 salvation and eternal life. When we celebrate holy communion, we celebrate Jesus dying on the cross for us.
As it was in the Last Supper, the “bread” or eucharist is taken as a remembrance of Jesus’ body.
The breaking of bread, first seen in the Last Supper, symbolizes His broken body on the cross, the flesh of the Son of Man. 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 both history and us as Christians. We are not just eating our little piece of bread and taking our drink offerings; we are accepting and partaking in His new covenant, brought to us in the loving grace exhibited on the cross, where Jesus fulfilled the position of the High Priest, leaving behind the Holy Spirit, the great intercessor.
There are several occasions in the Bible where Jesus calls Himself the bread of life, as well.
While a physical loaf of bread is nourishment for our bodies, Jesus offers us true bread; the spiritual, living bread of God that feeds our spiritual lives. He brings our souls to life and gave us salvation and eternal life in heaven with Him.
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 living bread, 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, just like the Lord Jesus has done for us. As the apostle Paul puts it:
Symbolizes the Bible, God’s Holy Word
Not only is bread in scripture, with symbolism specific to both modern day and Bible times, you may have also heard scripture itself 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.
The Bible, true bread breathed out by the mouth of God (2 Timothy 3:16), 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, you have to read His Word. We must spiritually eat the living bread of God, the living father, that He has given us.
Click below for a printable of the Lord’s Prayer
Click below for a printable of the Lord’s Prayer.
God’s Eternal Presence
When Moses received instructions for the Holy Place of the temple, the high priest was 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.
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, summarized as his sovereignty. In this way, bread in the Bible symbolizes God’s eternal, sovereign presence.
Bread Symbolizes Sharing
When Jesus multiplied the loaf of bread to feed the large crowd, bread became a sign of sharing (and provision, again.) It also symbolized the Word of God which nourished the crowds, spiritually.
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 old testament and new testament scriptures, as well. Here are a few additional references for the symbolic meaning of bread in the Bible for you to add to your daily Bible study:
Unity of the church
An enemy who can be consumed
A symbol of meeting people’s needs
Being lazy or unproductive
Poverty or lack
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.
Are You a Foodie? Do you want to learn more about food in the Bible and its symbolism?
A guide to the symbolism of many foods in the Bible, including milk, honey, bread, and more. Looking at scripture to describe food in biblical times and what it represents in our spiritual life.
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 and, and even today, many bake this bread for health.
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.
You may enjoy this video: The House of Bread | The Deeper Meaning Behind Bread In The Bible by Jonathan Cahn
Or this recommended resource on bread in the Bible:
The Sacred Life of Bread: Uncovering the Mystery of an Ordinary Loaf by Meghan Murphy-Gill
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,
ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”