“And you shall set the showbread on the table before Me always.”
Today we’re going to talk about the 12 loaves of bread that were placed on top of a table located on the North wall of the Holy Place.
Recall that the Holy Place was the 2nd zone of Holiness and was the room adjoining the Holy of Holies (where the Ark of the Covenant was placed).
Like the Ark of the Covenant, the table that this bread was to be placed on was to be made out of Acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold.
The measurements of the table were 3 feet in length, 1.5 feet in width, and about 2.5 feet tall.
The Hebrew for these loaves of bread is LECHEM PANIM (לחם הפנים).
LECHEM means “bread”.
PANIM means “face”.
However, the meaning of “face” being used here is different than how we would think of it today.
When the Bible talks about the Lord’s face being upon you, what it really means is that His Presence is with you.
So although the King James version uses the weird sounding word “Showbread” which might have made sense to its 16th century audience, you’ll notice that more modern translations like the NIV or the Complete Jewish Bible will use the phrase “BREAD OF THE PRESENCE”, which I think is much more accurate.
Later we will be given a recipe on how to make this “Bread of the Presence”.
The Lord will command that every 7th day or every Sabbath, the bread is to be replaced by 12 fresh loaves.
The old loaves will serve as food for the priests but it is to be eaten ONLY inside the area of the Tabernacle.
In chapter 21 of 1st Samuel, the incident is told of how David, when he was on the run from King Saul, entered the tabernacle dwellings and ate some of the showbread.
Yeshua also related this incident in Matthew chapter 12.
One important point.
Do NOT confuse the showbread with the Challah bread that Jews bake every Sabbath for their own use.
These two are COMPLETELY different with one major distinction being that the Showbread was to be unleavened (no yeast).
How do we know this in spite of no specific Scripture reference?
Because it was a meal offering.
And ALL meal offerings were to contain ZERO leaven or yeast.
Remember, in the Bible leaven symbolizes sin.
Now the Scriptures don’t give us much explanation about the symbolic meaning of this “Bread of the Presence”.
As a result, wild theories abound (especially in the gentile Christian camp) about what the true symbolic meaning of these loaves of bread really are.
Probably one of the most common explanations you’ve heard is that the loaves represent the “bread of life” and are therefore representative of Yeshua’s ministry and that He is the bread of life for the church.
While that explanation may not be entirely incorrect, I think it overlooks a whopping MAJOR POINT.
These 12 loaves of UNLEAVENED bread represent the 12 Tribes of Israel.
They represent a sinless source of sustenance for ONLY the 12 Tribes of Israel.
The Bread of Presence was NOT for non-Hebrews.
Remember, the Tabernacle and everything in it was ONLY for the 12 Tribes of Israel.
So let this be a sober reminder if you are a gentile (and that would include me).
The covenants of God, both the Old and New Covenants, have ONLY been made with Israel.
There is no such thing as a universal covenant for all mankind or a gentile covenant.
Remember the Apostle Paul said gentiles have been joined or grafted in to the covenants God has ONLY made with Israel.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“I ask then:
Did God reject his people?
By no means!
I am an Israelite myself,
a descendant of Abraham,
from the tribe of Benjamin.
God did not reject his people,
whom he foreknew.”
“If some of the branches have been broken off,
and you, though a wild olive shoot,
have been grafted in among the others
and now share in the nourishing sap
from the olive root,
do not consider yourself to be superior
to those other branches.
If you do, consider this:
You do not support the root,
but the root supports you.”
Then Yeshua said to the woman,
“I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep
–the people of Israel.”
“Haven’t you read what David did
when he and his companions were hungry?
He entered the house of God,
and he and his companions
ate the consecrated bread—
which was not lawful for them to do,
but only for the priests.“