When the Israelites were captive in Egypt, God sent a series of plagues on the Egyptians to encourage Pharaoh to free them. The fifth plague was directed against the Egyptians’ livestock, including their horses, but did it kill them all or not?
In the account of the fifth plague, it is clearly stated that all of the horses died:
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, the hand of the Lord will strike with a deadly pestilence your livestock in the field: the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing shall die of all that belongs to the Israelites.”‘ The Lord set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” And on the next day the Lord did so; all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but of the livestock of the Israelites not one died. [Exodus 9:1-6, NRSV]
Several plagues later, Pharaoh lets the Israelites go, but then changes his mind and pursues them. What is surprising, given the effects of the fifth plague, is that he pursues them with horses:
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, ‘What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?’ So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pihahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. [Exodus 14:5-9, NRSV]
So were Pharoah’s horses killed in the fifth plague or not?
N.B. All posts are written in a style sympathetic to the claim of Biblical error, even in cases where the author ("Errancy") disagrees with the claim. See the About page for the site's philosophy.
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