Today we begin Exodus Chapter Nine.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
“But if you refuse to send them off and you still hold on to them, look, the hand of the LORD is about to be against your livestock which is in the field, against the horses, against the donkeys, against the camels, against the cattle, and against the sheep— a very heavy pestilence.”–Exodus 9:2-3
Today is a great chance to go over some important Biblical principles that become increasingly pronounced as God’s plagues against Egypt intensify.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on one’s perspective I guess), one has to have an understanding of the subtle nuances embedded in the Hebrew language in order to properly grasp the theological implications.
Let’s take a look at the expression “the hand of the Lord is about to be“.
Though hidden in the English, the Hebrew verb here H-Y-H has a spine-tingling effect for which there is no obvious English equivalent.
What’s being communicated here is that God’s strikes against Egypt are about to get ramped up.
We are being told that God’s unique capacity for being is not just a matter of static condition but an awesome power of action – the hand that is “about to be” against all the livestock of Egypt.
What’s going to happen next is that a terrible sickness will come upon the livestock of the field.
This plague is the 5th or the second stroke of the 2nd set of plagues.
Again, this entire second set of plagues will ONLY affect the Egyptians.
Though the wording may differ slightly depending on which Bible translation you’re reading, we’re told the following two sets of animals will be affected.
“horses, donkeys, and camels”
“herds and flocks”
The Hebrew here is BAQAR and TSO’N.
BAQAR refers to cattle though it can mean oxen.
Again, any Bible translation that says there were “camels” are just flat out wrong.
Camels were not used in Egypt until several centuries later.
TSO’N refers to any SMALL livestock.
So basically these two words are referring to animals specifically eaten for food.
They do NOT include wild animals because they aren’t owned by anyone except God.
Now when Pharaoh received reports that only the animals of the Egyptian people had died, he at first didn’t believe it and conducted an investigation.
However, even after confirming that it was only the Egyptian’s animals that had been affected, Pharaoh still remained stubborn as ever.
This hardening was a combination of Pharaoh beginning with a rebellious and hardened heart, and later God intervening to further harden his heart.
Why would God do this?
The Scriptures give us a clear answer.
So that BOTH Egypt AND Israel would witness all the signs and wonders.
It was important to God that every one of these 9 plagues come to pass.
Pharaoh was just God’s tool in His Hand to show the Hebrews and the common Egyptian people the worthlessness of their own false gods and religions.
The takeaway here is awesome.
God desires ALL people to come into a saving relationship with Him and in His own good timing will perform signs and wonders as a witness to who He is, so that He may persuade an unbelieving world to repent and turn to Him.
However, if we are going to properly adhere to the Torah pattern established here, a true saving relationship with God entails becoming ONE with His People Israel and this hasn’t changed even today.
When YHVH sends Moses to Pharaoh, the message is “Let My people go!“
Recall the particular Hebrew word that is used when God is referring to Israel.
That word is AMMI (or AMMIM for the plural form).
Also recall the word used when referring to non-Hebrews in the same context.
That word is GOY (or GOYIM in the plural form).
So understand that the Lord is dividing and separating the gentiles or the GOYIM from the Hebrews.
This principle still stands even today.