A Small Donated Slice 

No traditional Sabbath meal is complete without a loaf of braided bread called חַלָּה challah. This word comes from the root HLL ח.ל.ל meaning “hollow” or “pierced”. Before it came to refer a braided loaf, the original biblical meaning of the word challah was a small portion of dough donated to the priests (Numbers 15:20) - perhaps because it needed to be “cut off” or “pierced” from the main batch of dough.

The Braided Bread of the Messiah

Bread was also a central theme in many of Jesus of Nazareth’s teachings. He referred to himself as the “bread of life” (John 6:35) and said of the bread, “this is my body” (Mark 14:22). Why? The answer exists in the Hebrew word challah. The prophet Isaiah used this very same word when he said that that the crucified Messiah would be “pierced for our transgressions” (Isa. 53:5). In the original Hebrew the word for pierced is mecholal מְחֹלָל – very similar to the word challah.

The Challah of Life

During the Last Supper, Jesus compared his body to bread because, like the pierced challah, he too would be pierced on the cross. Do you want to become a better reader of the Bible? By enrolling in our online Biblical Hebrew course, you will acquire the crucial linguistic skills you need to unlock the authentic meaning of the Scriptures.