I have been working on what I am referring to as a theory even though the observations I have been making are based on “black letter” statements in the Torah. So, there really ought not to be very much of a feeling of discovery that that the word theory engenders.
We eat matzah on Passover so if you ask most anybody what the Jews who were about to leave Egypt the night of the Passover ate in the way of “bread” it would be a pretty good guess that they would all say the bread that was eaten then was matzah; unleavened bread. My theory is that on the night of the exodus the food that was actually eaten by the Jews who had slaughtered the Pascal lamb and marked their door posts and lintels with the blood of those lambs consisted of the meat of those roasted lambs and bread; that is not unleavened bread but leavened bread; whatever the leavened bread of the day might have been.
I have not had sufficient time to document my theory completely but, from what I have been able to pull together, the evidence is pretty clear that matzah comes into play and into the story only the next day, in the morning after the meal of the roasted lamb since the bread they had mixed and would have been baked in an oven had they stayed where they were, but, instead, the dough "baked" on the backs of the Jews as they were leaving. It would not have been baked as matzah before they left. There was, simply stated, no reason for them to have baked matzah.
Further more, as much as we often refer to matzah as "lechem oh-ney" or "poor man's bread," the Jews were clearly used to eating leavened bread while slaves in Egypt since they were reported to have yearned for it during the "chait ha meragliem" -- the "sin of the spies" which happened early on after the Jews left Egypt and were going through the preparatory steps to conquer Canaan. But, of course, that first move to take Canaan directly was aborted because the Jews were simply not ready nor up to the task; i.e. they did not have the necessary faith in the Lord, which was demonstrated by their longing for slavery and the ample amounts of bread they had then, etc.
Later, the eating of matzah at the commemorative Seder meal each year was made a requirement for those who followed that generation of the Exodus. But, that does not indicate that the matzah was eaten on that night; on the eve of the Exodus; it is only used, in my opinion, as a kind of tool to help us get in the mood, if you will, to feel what those people might have felt as they demonstrated their faith in the Lord.
Just killing the lamb was enough; then, roasting it in public was perhaps even more of a frightening thing and an undeniable proof that they believed; and then painting the outside of their homes; the door posts, with the lamb's blood to show not only the angel of death, but the Egyptians too, that they believed in the Lord more than they feared the Egyptians and their supposed god (small “g”); i.e. the lambs, which the Egyptians believed were gods, and then, of course, eating the roasted lambs, even though that was done in the privacy of their homes, every morsel they ate must have been scary, even if it was delicious. So, with that clearly understood, having asked them to have done anything else, like having them eat matzah at that meal when they ate the Pascal lamb, would have been "over the top" like gilding a lily; totally unnecessary.
I fully intend to be able to site chapter and verse to solidify the accuracy of my theory or, rather to clarify what I believe is clearly what happened but which so many of us, if not all of us, have assumed to have happened differently. The Jews of the Exodus did not conduct a Seder. Their meal that night was simple. There was no Haggadah, no order, no symbols, no prayers as we know them, no stories that were related, no four cups of wine, no four questions; nothing of what we do was done by the Jews who were slaves in Egypt and about to leave Egypt forever; and free. Not one single thing. What we do at our Seders is done to help us appreciate what they did and what they felt. It is not at all a reenactment.
We can discuss this separately, or, if you would like, I invite you to read the piece I wrote about the Sedrah for Shabbas Ha Gadol, which is posted at the following URL address:
Please remember, none of what I offer for consideration is offered in arrogance, but rather to help us all understand better where we are in all of this and why those people way back then went through what they did, what it must have been like for them; really, not just on the surface, but deep down, and what it really is for us or what it can be, if we choose to open up to the experience and not just keep our observances at an "on the page" level; quoting this and that sentence but not allowing ourselves to feeling anything.
Thank you for your kind interest.
PS – There is a book that I feel might be illuminating regarding certain aspects surrounding the Passover holiday, though it has little if anything to do with the matzah discussion above, except that the author sites the chapters and verses I will surely site when I get to nailing down the details so I can present my theory more formally.
The book is Exodus and Emancipation by Kenneth Chelst