Q&A: Where's the Beef? Exodus 9:6 and Exodus 9:19-26

Where's the Beef? Exodus 9:6 and Exodus 9:19-26

Question

If "all" the livestock had been killed in Exodus 9:6 (the fifth plague), then how could any livestock had been left during the seventh plague? (Ex. 9:19-26)

Answer

Exodus 9:6 And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died.

Exodus 9:19-26 "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." Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field. 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." 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; 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. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields - both men and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.

In the fifth plague the term "all" is used. At times the term means inclusive of everything, but at other times it may mean, for example, all of every kind, or all in one place. We use "all" the same way today, such as in "all eyes were upon him as he testified in court." The term "all" here does not mean every eye in the world, just all the eyes in the courtroom. Exodus 9:6 is preceded by Exodus 9:3 saying, "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." Note the limiting phrase "in the field." The plague did not affect the livestock elsewhere, only the ones in the field. So, in this case the term "all" is qualified. Compare this to 1 Tim. 2:4-6 which is qualified by 1 Tim. 2:2, meaning all kinds of men - even evil kings, etc. But it should be noted that the term is not always qualified like it is here (e.g. Matt. 27:25; Mark 1:5; Luke 2:1).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).