Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What Does the Bible Say About the 10th Plague?

This is different from my normal posts, but it is absolutely worth taking the time to read to the end! I do everything I can to keep my Bible lessons and wording scriptural. This is one of those scriptures that I want to have correct. Like, for instance, Jonah and the great fish, Adam & Eve ate the fruit, etc.

This is one a lot of people have trouble with, and I really wanted a BIBLE answer after the latest Bible movie came out! Well, here it is. Ha! We have a scientist we attend worship with! Scott can read Hebrew, Greek and even speak it. Oh, it is AWESOME! So, let's go back to the ORIGINAL texts and see what God says. (Special thanks to Scott for the work and study to write this for me us!

You can see my Bible lesson on the 10 Plagues here:
 

Well, what does the Bible say?
By Scott Rathkamp
I was recently posed a question about the Exodus passage; “who actually passed over Egypt and killed the firstborn children, God Himself, or did He send the Death Angel?”  Well, the best way to answer a question like that is to look for eye witness of the event and ask him.  It so happens that we have an excellent eye witness, and he wrote a book about it, inspired by none other than God Himself.  Let’s pose that question to Moses and see what he says.  Moses tells us all about the 10 plagues that led up to the exodus in the Book of Exodus.  But before we dive into the details of the story, let’s first put to bed the question “can I trust what I’m reading is what Moses actually wrote?” 
Because the Bibles we read today have come through many translations and copies, we can never be 100% certain, but Bible scholars using very ancient manuscripts and carefully corroborating manuscripts, assure us we can get very close.  I usually begin with the NASB version to find the verses I’m looking for.  The New American Standard Bible is widely regarded as the most literally translated of 20th-century English Bible translations.  The Old Testament portion of the NASB is drawn from the 3rd edition of the Biblia Hebraica translation of the Leningrad Codex.  The Leningrad Codex (or Codex Leningradensis) is the oldest complete manuscript of the Hebrew Bible in Hebrew, using the masoretic text and Tiberian vocalization It is dated AD 1008 (or possibly AD 1009) according to its colophon. 
So what does all this mean?  It means that we can start by looking up a verse in the NASB and then drill down to the original Hebrew words that Moses used, then look up the word in a Hebrew dictionary and find out what God inspired Moses to write down, and what it meant back then.  Ready?  Let’s do it.
In Exodus chapter 11 we are told about the last plague, the death of the firstborn.  In verse 4 Moses writes God’s statement about what is going to happen and who will do it.
Exodus 11:4   Moses said, "Thus says the Lord, 'About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. [i]
God tells Moses the all the firstborn will die.  God is speaking and He is saying “I AM ..”.  Lets drill down to the original Hebrew and see if that is correct.  In the Leningrad Codex that verse is:
ויאמר משה כה אמר יהוה כחצת הלילה אני יוצא בתוך מצרים׃
(note – Hebrew is written from right to left so I reversed the word order to make is easier to read in English)
OK, the next step is to translate the Hebrew into English and find the name of the one who is doing the ‘striking down’.
g's
Transliteration
Hebrew
English
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר
said
מֹשֶׁ֔ה
Moses
כֹּ֖ה
Thus
אָמַ֣ר
says
יְהוָ֑ה
the LORD
כַּחֲצֹ֣ת
mid
הַלַּ֔יְלָה
night
אֲנִ֥י
I am
יוֹצֵ֖א
going
בְּת֥וֹךְ
the midst
מִצְרָֽיִם׃
of Egypt

The translation looks quite clear, Moses is speaking and he says “Thus sayeth the Lord”.  The words that follow are the Lord’s words.  And who does Moses say the Lord is?   Look at the 5th word – it’s the Hebrew name of God, Yahweh.  Let’s look up that word in the Hebrew dictionary (Strong’s).
h3068. יהוה Yhvh (i. e. יְהוָֹה Yehovah or יַהְוֶה Yahveh) [217d]; from 1933b; the proper name of the God of Israel:--  God (314), Lord (6399), Lord's (111).
Sure enough, it is the name of God – Yahweh, Jehovah.  Also note that this word is translated ‘God’ 314 times in the Old Testament, ‘Lord’ 6,399 times and ‘Lord’s’ 111 times.  It is not translated any other way.  And who does God say is performing the action?  Look at the 8th word – ani – I AM.  Moses tells us what was going to happen, let’s see what took place.
In the next chapter, we read about the night the 10th plague took place:
Exodus 12:29 Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle.
Again, let’s go to the original Hebrew text for Ex 12:29:
ויהי ׀ בחצי הלילה ויהוה הכה כל־בכור בארץ מצרים מבכר פרעה הישב על־כסאו עד בכור השבי אשר בבית הבור וכל בכור בהמה׃
Then translate the text and look for the ‘who did it’:
s
Transliteration
Hebrew
English
וַיְהִ֣י ׀
came
בַּחֲצִ֣י
half
הַלַּ֗יְלָה
night
וַֽיהוָה֮
the LORD
הִכָּ֣ה
struck
כָל־
all
בְּכוֹר֮
the firstborn
בְּאֶ֣רֶץ
the land
מִצְרַיִם֒
of Egypt
מִבְּכֹ֤ר
the firstborn
פַּרְעֹה֙
of Pharaoh
הַיֹּשֵׁ֣ב
sat
עַל־
on
כִּסְא֔וֹ
his throne
עַ֚ד
against
בְּכ֣וֹר
to the firstborn
הַשְּׁבִ֔י
of the captive
אֲשֶׁ֖ר
who
בְּבֵ֣ית
court
הַבּ֑וֹר
cistern
וְכֹ֖ל
and all
בְּכ֥וֹר
the firstborn
בְּהֵמָֽה׃
of cattle

Sure enough there it is, 4th word down, Yahweh struck all the firstborn of the land of Egypt.  Some additional verses that confirm this conclusion are Exodus 12:23 (twice) and again in verse 12:27.  So who did God send to strike down all of the firstborn of Egypt?  It looks like He is saying, “I did that one Myself.”


[i] NASB with Strong’s, Lockman 1995, Olive Tree Bible Software
 
[ii] http://biblos.com/exodus/11-4.htm
[iii] http://biblos.com/exodus/12-29.htm


** My note:
 Another verse to look at is Numbers 33:4:  For the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had killed among them. Also on their gods the Lord had executed judgments.
 
 

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3 comments:

  1. I am working on plans to teach the Exodus and the storyof Moses. I contacted my son, who is a minister, for exactly this type of information! Your article was so helpful in letting me see visually what he was saying over the phone. Easy to understand and follow. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by! I am glad the article could help!

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