[b-hebrew] Miracles & Oxen in Exodus

Peter Kirk peter at qaya.org
Sat Dec 31 15:10:18 EST 2005

On 31/12/2005 19:27, tladatsi at charter.net wrote:

>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.

Thank you for the reference which seems to confirm that the Israelites 
did have cattle (BAQAR) with them. So they didn't need to buy oxen. But 
there is no mention of carts, indeed "on foot" in the previous verse 
suggests they had no wheeled transport. My main point was always about 
the oxcarts rather than the oxen.

>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.

Well, it sounds to me more like that the Israelites helped themselves to 
the Egyptians' property. Call it theft, or call it taking proper payment 
for their slave labour. It doesn't take a huge miracle to take someone 
else's flocks and herds in the middle of the night - although it did 
take a miracle, at the Red Sea, to stop the original owners taking them 

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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