The fifth judgment was a plague on cattle. If we understand correctly, every animal of the Egyptians died. I would like to look briefly at the process, then the impact.
The words in the NIV are “terrible plague.” In the Hebrew though, there appears to be a complex play on words. The word translated “terrible” means “heavy,” and it comes from the same root as the glory of God. So there is a weightiness to the glory of God that is awesome, but there is a weightiness to the wrath of God that is awful.
And the word “plague” comes from the same root as “to speak.” So God can speak a magnificent world into existence or He can speak it out of existence!
Language is such fun.
More to the point, ponder the market forces at play here. The Hebrews by design were cattlemen. The land of Goshen was the best grazing land and that was their turf. Even though they were staffing the brickyard, they still had a lot of cattle.
Egypt on the other hand, had a huge appetite for good food, including meat. Pharaoh had no intention of becoming vegan just because God had spanked him again.
So my mind says that suddenly there was a HUGE market for Hebrew cattle of all sorts. It would take a while for the surrounding nations to get wind of the economic opportunity and start bringing in herds for sale to rebuild the local cattle economy, but in the short run, people needed meat to eat and the Hebrews had some in the next county over.
I think this was strategically executed by God. He was planning for the Exodus. Animals move slowly and take a lot of time to care for. They also need water and grazing. And grazing takes time.
On the other hand, gold travels well, doesn’t drink water, eat grass or need time to graze.
So God accomplished several things. First He spanked Pharaoh. Then He spanked everyone in the nation to make them consider hating Pharaoh. He also made it possible for the Egyptians to really dislike the Hebrews and to be glad when they and their lethal God left town.
But in the midst of all that, God was just helping the Hebrews thin out their herds and flocks at the absolute top of the market and turn their non-liquid assets into pure gold.
Just good business.
Copyright October 2015 by Arthur Burk
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