EXODUS CHAPTER 9
DID ALL OF THE LIVESTOCK OF EGYPT DIE TWICE?
[Ex 9:1-7, 19-26]:
(v. 1) "Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Go to Pharoah and say to him, 'This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: 'Let My people go, so that they may worship Me.'
(v. 2) If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back,
(v. 3) the hand of the LORD will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field - on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats.
(v. 4) But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.
(v. 5) The Lord set a time and said, 'Tomorrow the LORD will do this in the land.'
(v. 6) And the next day the LORD did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians [relative to the warning of Moses] died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died."
[But then we skip to v. 19 and find that the livestock again is destroyed, this time by hail]:
(v. 19) "Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.
(v. 20) Those officials of Pharoah who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside.
(v. 21) But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field.
(v. 22) Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt - on men and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.'
(v. 23) When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt;
(v. 24) hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation.
(v. 25) Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields - both men and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree.
(v. 26) The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were."
[Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe stated, 'When Critics Ask', Victor Books, USA, 1992, pp. 73-74]:
"PROBLEM: Exodus 9:6 asserts that 'all the livestock of Egypt died' in the fifth plague. Yet only a few verses later it instructs them to 'gather your livestock and all that you have in the field' into their houses (v. 19). But if all livestock died, then how could there be any left?
SOLUTION: First of all, the term 'all' is often used in a general sense to mean 'the vast majority.' Further, the plague was apparently limited to the cattle 'in the field' (v. 3). The animals in stall would not have been affected. Finally, the word 'cattle' does not generally denote horses, donkeys, and camels which could have been part of the 'livestock' that was spared.
In view of these factors, there is no contradiction between the passages. Nor would any reasonable person assume one by the same author within the same chapter who gave such a vivid, firsthand account of the events.
[John W. Haley states, 'Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible', Whitaker House, New Kensington, Pa., 1992, p. 428]:
Cattle of Egypt, - all died. Ex ix 3, 6
Ex. ix 19-21; xiv 7, 9
"The first passage seems to imply that all the horses, asses, camels, oxen, and sheep of the Egyptians, died; yet, the latter passages show that their cattle and horses did not all die.
1st. The term 'all' is often used in a loose sense to denote the mass, the great majority, - such a quantity that what remains is nothing in comparison.
[So Aben Ezra, Ben Gershon, and Keil. See examples of this use, 1 Sam 1:21-22; Mt 3:5; Lk 7:30]
This use of the word is due in part to 'the want of universal terms in Hebrew.'
[R.S. Poole in Smith's Bible Dict., iii. 2541]
2d. The plague was limited to animals 'in the field,' ix. 3. Sir Gardner Wilkinson tells us that some animals were stalled in Egypt.
[Ancient Egyptians, i. 96 (2d series); similarly Abarbanel and Rashi.]
This explains the restrictive clause, 'in the field'; as also, the existence of cattle among the Egyptians after the plague.
3d. The Hebrew word rendered 'cattle,' in the text referred to in the ninth chapter, denotes neat cattle, and the smaller animals, but seldom, if ever, includes horses.
[Gesenius says the word is 'strictly used only of sheep, goats, and neat cattle, excluding beasts of burden.... More rarely asses and camels are also comprehended.']
These considerations obviate the difficulty."