Spoiling the Egyptians (Bible study)
What can we learn from this event in ancient history? Exactly when did this event occur? Was it all done on the daylight of the 14th of Abib or Nisan?
What is the importance of understanding this and what can it reveal about you and me and our diligence to learn? Check the Scriptures as you go through this Bible study, because you may be surprised at what you find!
This “Spoiling” event is one of the interesting acts carried out by the Israelites, commanded from God through Moses, before their departure from Egypt. Israel was actually being “called, or drawn out” of Egypt by the God of the Old Testament; Egypt as a type of the sins of this world the New Testament Church would be called out of. (John 6:44-45) These called out ones, willing to change and accepting Christ as savoir and the conditions for salvation, Jesus would build into His Church/Bride (Matt.16:18-19) to become the ruling Family of God with Christ at his return. Israel was to be a model nation to the rest of the world, a kingdom of priests (Exo.19:6) but failed miserably. There is a time order for all things in God’s plan, as many other Scriptures relate. So let us begin by seeing the time order of these physical events, as we can find them in Scripture.
First, we should try to learn the truth of scripture by being sure of the proper timing of this spoiling event, which is the subject of this Bible study. So, when exactly did this act take place? Let us ponder a few questions on this before actually getting into this subject too far, and then we will go to scripture that will, hopefully, answer our questions for us.
Was this plundering or spoiling done on the very day that the Israelites were gathering to leave, and only after being “passed over” by the death Angel and the killing of all the firstborn? This has previously been assumed and taught in sermons and literature for many years in the past and still is by some today. We must be searching the scriptures, continuing to grow while striving to “prove all things and hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) So we need to prove this out for ourselves, in our quest to continue to grow in grace, knowledge and understanding. (2 Pet.3:18)
Does the scripture leave us to guess, speculate and assume, or does it actually reveal the time frame for this to have taken place? Another question in the context of these events; Did Moses actually appear before Pharaoh on the night of the “Passover,” as has also been assumed and taught in church of God literature in times past, and still today? These are the two main questions we need to answer and fix solidly in our minds through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit and the scriptures. Examine these scriptures closely as you go through this study, proving these things out for yourself, and believe the bible! There is one other thing that we should do that is vitally important for us, in understanding the answers to these questions. Something that Herbert Armstrong strongly recommended years ago—we must strive to erase from our minds any pre-conceived assumptions or notions that we already have, because if we do not do that, then our minds may not want to accept what the scriptures, rightly divided as best we can, actually do reveal. (2 Tim.2:15)
So, we must approach this subject as if it were being revealed to us for the very first time, and as if we do not know anything about it! It would even be very helpful to go and pray about it, asking God to guide us by His Holy spirit in our understanding. Then, as we go through this subject we must also apply Christ’s very own instructions given in Luke 4:4 & Matt.4:4 and also consider what is recorded in Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. 6 Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”
As we can see from the above, it is not wise to make assumptions on what God’s Word says without solid scriptural support. We may find ourselves teaching error based on human reason, instead of truth! Even when applying what has just been stated, we can still make mistakes if we are not diligent and thorough. (Isa.28:9-10) It is easy to overlook something, especially if we do not follow the scriptures and their instructions to us. So we should go back and review this subject, answering the questions above, with scriptural content if possible, about the spoiling of the Egyptians and learn what we can from it. In doing so, we will be paying attention to every Word of God and the context of what is being said, like the scripture instructs us to do. There are two places in scripture that people in times past and even today, (using only the KJV wording coupled with human reason) have misunderstood this subject and taught error. They are these scriptures listed below, but here we are using the wording from the NKJ along-side the KJV, for clarity!
Let us go now to the scriptures and see what they say on these matters.
First Exod. 12:35-36 (Which mentions the spoiling.) Then Exod. 12:31 (Moses “sent for” by Pharaoh.) This will be the focus of this study.
35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. (NKJ)
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: (KJV)
36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” (NKJ)
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. (KJV)
The emphasis above has been placed there for a reason, and that is to give us more clarity, showing that those events are being explained as already done, past tense at this time frame in Scripture, in the NKJ! (The same thing is revealed in the KJV, but is not as easily noticed.) What is the time frame for these spoken words in these verses? The time frame being referred to in the two verses above, strongly indicates it was NOT early on the 14th or during the early morning and daylight hours as Israel was being forced out. They had to begin assembling to leave Egypt, and this clearly indicates that the events being spoken of as the “spoiling” had already been accomplished before this time! They were being thrust out at this point, just as God had revealed to Moses & Moses had predicted to the Pharaoh before this plague was ever brought on!
So what we should do at this point is go back to the beginning, when God is giving Moses the instructions at the burning bush account. We will bring it up through the scriptures from there. But before we do that let us consider this commentary, given below, which seems to be in agreement with what the NKJ seems to reveal, as well as other translations, on the time frame of the spoiling. We will get to Exodus 12:31, (which says— “And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.” KJV)
We will attempt to determine if Moses went back to Pharaoh for a meeting that night, as we come through the scriptures on this. Below is a statement from a Commentary, as we get started.
Exodus 12:35 PP1 “This demand, however, was not made, as has been alleged, only at the eleventh hour. The order for making it was issued, and, doubtless, acted upon, previous to the infliction of the last plague.< Exo. 11:2>. (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary) So if this is true and supported by Scripture, it gives us a clue as to WHEN the event began to occur.
So let us go back now and see the scriptural proof of this, if we can find it. One thing to note, as we go, is to see if there is actually any command to do this on the 14th, or any specific day, and if there is any real evidence that it was actually done on the 14th! Some church leaders and writers have assumed that in the past, and so we need to know if this needs corrected in our teaching and learning today. We must determine if the Church leaders were correct in assuming what has been taught in the past on these events, and if not, then be willing to correct it according to what Scripture does reveal.
We must be careful not to close our minds to understanding Gods Word on any given subject, and end up following the teachings and ideas of men instead of the Bible! What is presented here in this Bible study is a scenario a little different than what has been presented in the past, but one in which you will see has some scriptural support for each step in these events. Be sure that you read this carefully and search it out yourself, in your own bible! (2 Tim 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” NKJ As in many cases throughout the scriptures, some details are inset in other passages—Moses writing this gives some of the story and then jumps back and fills in more detail in later chapters, therefore we have to search this out—as we will see herein. We also must pay close attention to the wording and watch for “PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE” tense statements in the context, as we have already seen.)
When Moses turned aside at the burning bush event, is where the instructions on this begin, so let us pick it up there, in Exodus, chapter 3.
Exod. 3:21-22 "And I will give (Future tense) this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. 22 "But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians."
Here, we can see that this was all a part God’s plan from the beginning and the next passage reveals to us that the death of the firstborn was also a part of the plan, if Pharaoh did not obey. God having already planned this out in advance, step by step.
Exod. 4:21-23 And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD: "Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 "So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn."
This shows that Pharaoh was going to be given a choice! It also reveals another interesting thing about the great mind and straight-forward approach and power of our God. That is the fact that once He visualizes and then establishes a plan, set’s it in motion, he already knows what is going to happen, step by step, before it happens. (Isa.46:8-10) So, Moses had the knowledge that all this could play out this way step-by-step, before he went back to Egypt, as these scriptures clearly reveal. Although Pharaoh could have given in at any time, God knew his heart and that he would probably not. (Jer.17:9-10)
There may be many things in scripture that relate to these events that we have not yet come to understand, perhaps needing to understanding these events first. So going on through these events, hitting the pertinent scriptures, you will find that Moses put in an appearance before the Pharaoh after each of these plagues, up to and including the 9th plague, giving him the opportunity to let the people go, and then announcing the next plague. (I am leaving much of the details of previous plagues for the reader to discover, and coming down now to just before the 8th plague, where we pick it up in chapter 10.)
Exod. 10:7 Then Pharaoh's servants said to him, "How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?" 8 So Moses and Aaron were brought again to Pharaoh,-----
Pharaoh still does not want to let them go. But we can see here, that even before this 8th plague, his very own servants are already weary of what is happening to Egypt, and they are starting to put pressure on Pharaoh to let Israel go, or at least the men, as we see above. Then comes some more devastation from the 8th plague and Moses is again summoned by the Pharaoh. But if you notice that by now, Pharaoh is becoming more threatening and angry toward Moses, and this might be because his own servants are now leaning toward giving in to Moses, as well as the people, (Exod. 11:3, last part) and Pharaoh may fear he is losing control! It may be helpful to remember this, from this point forward.
Exod. 10:10 “Then he said to them,(Moses and Aaron) "The LORD had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. 11 "Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the LORD, for that is what you desired." And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence. Then, as stated above, the 8th plague is brought on and again there is a meeting. Scripture shows that Pharaoh puts in a plea for relief and Moses goes out from his presence.
Exod. 10:17 "Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the LORD your God, that He may take away from me this death only." 18 So he went out from Pharaoh and entreated the LORD.
But as you go on through this, Pharaoh again, once relief has come, is allowed to “harden his heart” and does not let them go and the 9th plague of darkness comes on them. This plague is so terrifying and the darkness so thick that they could not even feel their way around, but Israel had light! Egypt had NO light at all and could not see anything, but Israel had LIGHT! V.22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
It becomes so very clear to the Egyptians through this that Israel’s God is all powerful and has made a difference, for Israel’s benefit, between these people and that Israel’s God is GOD! Moses is again summoned into the Pharaoh’s presence! But Pharaoh is still holding out and wants to keep the flock’s and herds to insure these people will have to come back. By Pharaoh’s actions, Moses knows what’s going to happen next! V.25 But Moses said, "You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. 26 "Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the LORD our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there." 27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go.”
At this point we need to bring to the reader’s attention that the details begin to jump around in scripture (as is the case in most of the scriptures—Isa.28:9-10) and are not given in exact sequence of events from one verse to the next, but are revealed in other chapters, so we will have to be diligent in our study, getting to them in the proper context and perspective, for the right story flow. Remember Moses is still in Pharaoh’s presence at this point, after the 9th plague and this is approximately the order of events, according to scriptural wording and some prominent commentary, as we go now to the next chapter. Exod. 11:4-7 “Then Moses said, "Thus says the LORD: 'About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt; 5 'and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the animals. 6 'Then there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as was not like it before, nor shall be like it again. 7 'But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.'
Possibly, this threat of death to the Pharaoh’s house infuriates him and he then threatens the life of Moses! (Back to chapter ten)
Exod. 10:28 Then Pharaoh said to him, "Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!"
By Pharaohs refusal, Moses also knowing this death is coming, he now becomes angry himself! V.29 And Moses said, "You have spoken well. I will never see your face again." (Now to Exod. 11:8) "And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, 'Get out, and all the people who follow you!' After that I will go out." Then he went out from Pharaoh in great anger”. So then, now that we have these details in a little better order, did Moses go back to him in the night of the plague, after stating in anger that he would not see his face again? It is very unlikely that he did! What does God tell Moses at this point?
Exod. 11:9 But the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh will not heed you, so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt."
Going back now to verse one of this chapter, (Which fits better after ch.10:27) and remember, the positioning of wording is very hard to determine at this point, but God most likely put this next verse we are about to read in Moses’ mind right on the spot before Pharaoh, but Moses did not say these specific words to Pharaoh.
Exod. 11:1------ "I will bring yet one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether.”
Again, did he go back in the night to meet with Pharaoh after the plague had destroyed the firstborn? Part of the instructions given to Israel was that they were to remain in their houses, under the protecting blood of the lamb until morning. (Ch.12:22-23) Moses would have obeyed those instructions, fearing God more than Pharaoh! Besides that, remember, Moses already knew what was going to happen, when he told Pharaoh he would never see his face again! He did not go back. Pharaoh sends his servants to thrust them out, just as God said to Moses in ch.11:1, then Moses says to Pharaoh, V.8 given above.
Now to Exod. 12:31 (NKJ) “Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said.”— this is confusing for some, but nothing here really suggests that the Pharaoh wants another meeting, but instead, he now wants them gone! It is clear from previous scripture that there are no more meetings between Pharaoh and Moses. The Egyptians are now desperate to get rid of Israel, for fear the Egyptians will all die, and have been given orders to “drive them out”, as God said they would do! (ch.11:1) 12:33 And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, "We shall all be dead."
This brings us back now to the spoiling event and when it took place. Was it done totally on the 14th as has been taught in the past? Let us go back now and get the details on that, as God had instructed Moses, and when. We must pay very close attention to the details of scripture. Exod. 11:2-3 God say’s this after the 9th plague: (See V.1) "Speak now (Present tense to Moses) in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold. (V.3) And the LORD gave (can be Past or present tense) the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover (Meaning also or already) the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people.”
Now we can see, by the scriptures given thus far, and the wording of them, that this command was given to spoil the Egyptians at that time, (“Speak now”) between the 9th and 10th plague, seemingly without any doubt. But when was the command carried out? Well, let us go forward in scripture and find out some more of the details of the time order of these events. How long before the 10th plague could this have been? Was it only hours—or could it have been days?
In chapter 12:1-2, we see recorded that God say’s “this month” and the word month, as we know, stems from the word moon, so it is quite possible that this was literally on the new moon, or first day of the month, that God is now speaking to Moses! Admittedly, there is some speculation involved here at this point, not knowing exactly when the 9th plague occurred, but let us remain open minded and read verse 3: "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month (Which had not yet arrived) every man shall take (Future tense) for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.” (Israel could not have complied with the Command if that time had already passed.)
Obviously these instructions were given long enough in advance that Israel could do as they were commanded, as God would not command them to do something that was impossible for them to carry out, the dates already being past! Going on through this chapter we read some of the details God is giving Moses for the Passover. We come to the point of Moses actually calling for the elders to go and implement these instructions, but clearly no real evidence as yet, that they have actually done anything to this point, dealing with these Passover instructions. There is one possible exception, for in verse 3 of chapter 11, there is indication that when they received that command they went and did the “spoiling”, God giving them favor to do so. But it is possible that they have not done so yet, as they are still receiving instructions, at least before the 10th day of the month for Passover, and possibly as early as the 1st day. So they might have already been spoiling the Egyptians before the 10th day! This is all very possible, but it is speculation, based on the scriptural evidence thus seen. So let us go forward.
V.21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb.--
Here, again, is more evidence that this was done at least before the 10th day of the month, when they were to “pick out” lambs, and then to keep them to the 14th before killing them. (V.3&6) Then we can come on through scripture to the point of the end of all these instructions, and here we find, V.28, which says: “Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”
Now this is the first time this is mentioned since the instructions to go and spoil the Egyptians, so it seems very plausible, from yet another scripture, that Israel had also spoiled the Egyptians long before the death of the firstborn, which is yet to happen, as we see in verse 29! When one looks up the meanings of some of the words given in verse 28, such as “went away” and “did so” and “so they did”, these words all seem to convey the meaning that they went at that point in time and carried out all these instructions that they had been given! And this was all done before the death angel passed over the night of the 14th, and somewhere between the 9th and 10th plagues! Possibly even between the 9th plague and the 10th day of the month! But, concerning the spoiling, it is possible this was done between the choosing of the lambs and the time to actually kill them, if not before. God has not given us the exact details except what we have already seen, but we should notice what is recorded in: Ps 105:28, “He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they did not rebel against His word.”
Noticing the context indicates that after that plague, they obeyed God’s Word! There is never any indication whatsoever that any of this was actually done after the night of the14th and during those daylight hours, even though some have taken some scriptures to mean that in the past, not recognizing they are written in the past tense, coupled with these other Scriptures! So what did they do, on the daylight part of the 14th?
It is revealed in scripture that the Israelites were settled in the land of Goshen, which stretched over many miles of territory. The first thing that they were commanded to do after leaving their houses that morning after Passover was to burn the remains of the lamb. Keeping in mind that there were anywhere from1.5 to 3 million of them in all, and they had to also gather their flocks and herds and get to Rameses for departure, in what may have been less than 12 hours! (Num.33:2-4) They spent that time in gathering together in order to leave in an organized manner. They also probably had much of this already done, as much as was possible under the circumstances. As they were making these previsions to leave, these scriptures reveal that they observed the Egyptians burying their dead. There would need to be some light for this, and of course, after gathering throughout the day to one focal point for departure, they did go out by night and the light of a full moon. Exodus 13:18 below, also reveals that they done all this in orderly fashion, not a haphazard way of running wildly and fleeing in every direction, but with a “high hand” (KJV) and in “Boldness”, taking the time to do this orderly and at the direction of God through Moses!
Exod. 13:18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.
Num. 33:3 “They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.”
There were very many Egyptians that died on the previous night. Scripture says that not one house did not have at least one dead in it! Some surely had more than one if the father of a firstborn was also a firstborn, they would have both died! The mother also could have been a firstborn and would have died. But the dead also included animals that had to be dealt with. These Egyptians were very busy themselves that day! God knew that many of those that would die were the very people that had this wealth of gold and silver, and fine clothing, that He wanted the Israelites to have. Israel could not “ASK” (ch.11:2) or receive “Favor” of the dead for those spoils! Many historical sources and modern day discoveries of ancient Egyptian burial sites reveal that the more Prominent and wealthy sometimes had their wealth buried with them. The land of Goshen was a very fertile area, so there may have been many wealthy Egyptians living in that area. The only way they could have received the “Spoils” from some of them was to do so before they died! Another very good reason that God said “speak NOW in the hearing of this people” before that plague occurred.
So what can we see from scripture, measured against what we do not see? No Command what-so-ever to actually do this on the 14th—after the plague—while trying to assemble for departure— no real evidence of such, according to the wording of these scriptures in several translations. Knowing that what has been taught in the past was innocently taught in error more by human assumption, for whatever the reason may be—we should, now—after examining these scriptures, correct our own thinking and all new literature. Why?? Simply for the people of God and their benefit, as we move forward to Christ’s soon return. We cannot cling to error once the truth has been revealed! (Of course I realize that many will dismiss this study as if there were no truth in it, simply because they do not want to admit error and in order to hold onto what they have become comfortable believing and teaching for many years.)
We are commanded to continually grow in GRACE and KNOWLEDGE, (2Pet 3;18) so it is the hope of this author that no one will make the mistake of rejecting these clear points of knowledge from scripture, and would examine this thoroughly to see if it is a more plausible explanation to these events than what was being taught in the past. May God’s Holy Spirit guide us and open our minds to whatever else we might need to see and learn from these past events and Scriptural revelation, while we still have the time and can repent and correct our understanding and teaching for the benefit of others. However, we must remember to let the clear Scriptures help us understand the unclear, not making the mistake of others in assuming something that is not clear and may even cast doubt on what is clear.
Reflecting on the fact that the TRUE CHURCH of GOD is made up of individual saints who have and are being led by the Holy Spirit, we should come to understand it is NOT corporate structures or organizations of man—but a spiritual organism that makes up the true COG. The truth is revealed from God through Jesus Christ and then given to those saints, or SERVANTS, as the scriptures clearly show under the guidance of the Spirit. (John 16:13 & Rev.1:1) Those zealous saints are in preparatory training now, in order to become teachers in the future. They should be striving to be like their teacher, as it indicates in Matt.10:25. That is why we all must be willing to acknowledge truth when we see it and change. None of us will ever come to perfect knowledge without God instilling that into us, but we must be trying to attain the stature and fullness of Christ while in this human form, in order to qualify to rule with Christ as a teacher and spirit being in the millennium. If we reject true knowledge as revealed from scripture, or “water” down the truth or cling to error as some are doing in various “splinter” groups, then we are limiting our growth and will become unacceptable to be a first fruit. May God bless us with the open mindedness to be willing to learn, by focusing on what His Word reveals using the method of here a little and there, (seen in the introduction) precept upon precept, line upon line and “rightly dividing” the Word of truth! (2Tim.2:15)
(Editor for TCOGMSO)