Leavened in 18 minutes?
There are varying ideas about how long it takes dough to become leavened. There are even more varying ideas as to what qualify as leavening agents.
I found on several websites that a common belief among many is that it takes about 18 minutes for dough to become leavened by spores in the air. This specific amount of time has been determined by various Rabbis and Orthodox Jews.
Here is an excerpt from an article I found on Wikipedia:
"Matzah dough is quickly mixed and rolled out without an autolyse step as used for leavened breads. Most forms are pricked with a fork or a similar tool to keep the finished product from puffing up, and the resulting flat piece of dough is cooked at high heat until it develops dark spots, then set aside to cool and, if sufficiently thin, to harden to crispness. Dough made from the five grains is considered to begin the leavening process 18
minutes from the time it gets wet; sooner if eggs, fruit juice, or milk is added to the dough. The entire process of making matzah takes only a few minutes in efficient modern matzah bakeries. Noodles are now made from Passover flour and eggs, as used for egg matzah, then baked under Rabbinical supervision.”
I even found a few websites that claimed it only takes 13 minutes for dough to become leavened by spores in the air once wet.
For those of us who observe Unleavened Bread, this is of interest because we certainly don’t want to have leavening in our homes during this time.
Exodus 12:15 says, “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread…”
It is not enough to put away leavening these seven days, we must also put in unleavened bread. For those who are making this unleavened bread, if it becomes leavened in 13 or even 18 minutes, that doesn’t leave much time to get it ready and baking!
However, this leads me to a scripture that comes to mind on the night that all of this occurred for the Israelites as they were leaving Egypt.
34. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their
clothes upon their shoulders.
35. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:
36. And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.
37. And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that weremen,
38. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, evenvery much cattle.
39. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
We see that they had dough before it was leavened, BEFORE they left Egypt according to verse 34. It says there were 600,000 men, besides children. Does this account for women also? They also had flocks, herds, and cattle. According to multiple sources, it is estimated that there were well over a million people, maybe closer to two or even 3 million, plus animals. Imagine moving this multitude from one place to another. It would take a lot of time it would seem!
Once this multitude arrived at Succoth, they then baked unleavened cakes according to verse 39. So how far was it from Rameses to Succoth? Well, even in this there are varying theories. The most common that I found was that Succoth is identified as Tell el-Maskhutah, ten miles east of Pithom. This is about 23-25 miles from where they left. It makes sense that they would have wanted to put some distance between themselves and Egypt. If you and many generations before you had been slaves and in bitter bondage in a place, wouldn’t you want to distance yourself from it? I would think so.
How long would it take approximately two million people plus their animals to travel 23-25 miles? According to history, large bands of soldiers during the Civil War traveled about 10 miles per day. Of course they could travel farther in a day if pushed. Imagine the Israelites though with older people, children, and animals! If these calculations are close, that would mean it would have taken 2 or 3 days!
Remember Exodus 12:39 says, “And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened.”
So they had this dough before they left Egypt, and traveled to Succoth and then made unleavened cakes, for it was not leavened! If dough leavens in 13 or even 18 minutes, why does the scripture say it was NOT leavened? Even if you don’t think Succoth was as far as estimated, how far can you get a mixed multitude of people and animals to move in 18 minutes? Once you get to the stopping point, you still have to build a fire and prepare to cook the unleavened cakes. Seems like a lot to contend with in 18 minutes!
I certainly am no expert, but it seems that we should question these things since they are so important. I would rather rely on the scriptures rather than rely on another man’s judgment. Remember we are to prove all things!
We should do the very best we can to observe these days properly. There are physical requirements because we are still physical people. However, we need to focus on the spiritual aspects of these days more so than technicalities other men have determined. Were the Israelites more concerned with their dough not being out in the air for 18 minutes, or with putting Egypt behind them?
This article was written to hopefully make you think. I don't see how that many people and animals could have moved hardly at all in a mere 18 minutes. Scripture says the dough was not leavened when they got to Succoth! Therefore my conclusion is that bread cannot be leavened in such a short time period. You, however, must judge for yourself!
We absolutely must put leavening away during this time appointed by God. But, we should be even more concerned with the sin it represents!