Last Supper: Unleavened Bread or Leavened?
Recently, I was asked an intriguing question, “Did Jesus use bread or Matzah on Passover?” I was a bit puzzled at first. Because in my mind, of course, he used Matzah (מַצָּה), the unleavened bread. So I had to clarify, what exactly gave my questioner an impression that Jesus would eat anything besides Matzah during the festival week in ancient Jerusalem. And as we discussed the topic further, it became clear that this was a really well-informed question. I am aware that some churches use regular bread for communion: sourdough, ciabatta, baguette and etc. So my conversational partner was not alone in supposing that Yeshua used regular bread during the “holy week”.
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matt 26:26 NASB)
The Gospels literally say that “Jesus broke bread” and use Greek word ἄρτος (artos). That is a direct equivalent of Hebrew לֶחֶם (lechem) and the word indeed means “bread”. The confusion comes from the fact that “unleavened bread” is a special term in the Greek language – ἄζυμος (asumos) and gospels do not say that this is what the Messiah broke and distributed to his disciples. So this is when it dawned on me that this is a simple misunderstanding based on the ambiguity of language and lack of cultural knowledge. What was a mundane and implicit fact to me was not at all obvious to my questioner.