[b-hebrew] Miracles & Oxen in Exodus

tladatsi at charter.net tladatsi at charter.net
Sat Dec 31 14:27:21 EST 2005

Peter et al,

My inquiry is not into what *actually happened* as into 
what the text says happened.  First, in Ex 12 tells that 
600,000 left Egypt, laden with gold and silver goods, and 
herds, flocks, and *much cattle* (Ex 12:38).  Of course 
?cattle? can either include oxen or be made into oxen.  So 
the text of Exodus tells us that the Israelites left Egypt 
with not just the eight oxen mentioned in Numbers but great 
herds of domesticated animals.  Further, at least the 
cattle made it through the crossing of the Yam Suf as in Ex 
17:3 the people cry out that there is no water for 
themselves or their cattle. So, it is reasonable to 
conclude that the oxen mentioned in Numbers were thought of 
as having made the trek from Goshen to Sinai and were not 
acquired along the way.

The author understands that the audience would know that 
Sinai is not only inhospitable to humans (then and now) but 
to cattle as well, as Ex 17:3 makes clear.  Cattle are the 
SUVs of domesticated animals, they needs lots of water and 
fodder, neither of which is found in the Sinai (then or 
now).  So how is there presence explained?  Yahweh 
intervenes in Ex 17 to miraculously provide water.  Without 
this divine intervention, the cattle, and people, would 
have died of thirst.  There are several such miracles in 
the Sinai, mannah, quails, etc.  

Further, how did the Israelites acquire these many herds of 
domesticated animals, to say nothing of the silver and 
gold?  As slaves they did not own any such quantities of 
animals, or much anything at all I suppose.  In Ex 12:35-36 
it states that the Israelites *borrowed* these from the 
Egyptians after Yahweh put some sort of spell on the 
Egyptians who then ?looked favorably? upon the Israelites 
and allowed them to take whatever they needed, include very 
valuable gold, silver, and cattle.  The Israelites very 
possession of cattle is the result of a miracle just in and 
of it self.

So the presence and survival of the oxen to be used as 
draught animals of carts before the completed tabernacle is 
indeed the result of numerous miracles, as the author 
intended us to understand. No naturalistic explanation is 
needed.  The point of Exodus is that Yahweh is in control 
and can do whatever is necessary to accomplish His will.  
Nothing Egypt or the Sinai can throw in the way can stop 

Jack Tladatsi

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