When God killed the firstborn in Exodus did that include the unborn?


#1

It may sound silly, but did the angel of death go after the unborn despite their not being born? Also, why is God killing babies?


#2

It may sound silly, but did the angel of death go after the unborn despite their not being born?

I don't see how the unborn would have been killed since they couldn't be the firstborn if they hadn't been born yet!

It was the pharoah's stubborness and pride that caused the plagues. God didn't just "kill babies."


#3

[quote="Birdpreacher, post:1, topic:316098"]
It may sound silly, but did the angel of death go after the unborn despite their not being born? Also, why is God killing babies?

[/quote]

The unborn aren't born but conceived, so I would say no. But your question is a whole study into the nature of God, the nature of man covenants between God and men, God's permisive and positive will, the question of good and evil, sin and the consequences of sin, life, death, heaven and hell.

A short start to answer your question would be to state that God looks as our lives in terms of eternity and not as we often do as the short period between birth and physical death. He knows that like it or not that we are here spiritually for all eternity and that our time of earth is just a drop of water compared to the unlimited sea of eternity.

While we see the loss of life through disasters, disease or crime as something immediately horrible, God is more concerned with the rest of eternity than how long we actually physically inhabit the earth. The good dying young is only terrible to us as it reminds of our own physical frailty but young is not that big a deal when we are talking eternity. Never-the-less it can be painful for us to see and God does care even if I may sound a little callous.


#4

Informative post:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=6487173#post6487173


#5

The slaughter of the Egyptians took place a long time ago, and thus we do not have the kind of emotional reaction to this account as we have seen to the bombing of Hiroshima or the Nazi death camps of Germany. Nevertheless, we must come to grips with the tremendous moral issues which this account raises. Not only is the slaughter of the Egyptian firstborn the means God used to release His people from slavery, it is the angel of the Lord who smote the firstborn. In other words, while we can refer to the deaths occasioned by the other plagues as “acts of God” (meaning that some natural disaster occurred), this 10th plague is very literally an “act of God” for God Himself slew the firstborn of Egypt (Exod. 11:4-8; 12:29).

The firstborn of all the Egyptians were smitten, while those of the Israelites were spared. We must acknowledge that God had the right (as He still does) to smite the firstborn of Egypt. Indeed, He had the right to smite the firstborn of Israel as well, and this would have happened apart from the provision of the Passover lamb and the shedding of its blood. God therefore struck down the Egyptian firstborn while He spared the Israelite firstborn. Because the sparing of the Israelite firstborn was not a matter of merit, but of grace, God owned them. Since He had spared their lives, He possessed them. The rite of redeeming the firstborn was a constant reminder to the Israelites of all subsequent generations that the firstborn belonged to God, and that this was due to the sparing of the firstborn at the Exodus. Thus, every time the first boy was born to an Israelite family, the parents were reminded of their “roots” and the reason for their blessing, and every child was retold the story of the exodus.

(1) The Passover and the plague of the firstborn was a defeat of Egypt’s gods: “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt; I am the Lord” (Exod. 12:12). As the tenth and final plague, the smiting of the firstborn of Egypt conclusively proved that the “gods” of Egypt were powerless, non-existent, while the God of Israel was all-powerful.

(2) The Passover and the plague of the firstborn served as the final blow, which compelled the Egyptians to let the Israelites go (Exod. 3:20; 6:1; 11:1; 12:31-32). After the death of the firstborn of Egypt, the Egyptians did not want to be reminded of their grief by seeing the Israelites. Thus, this final plague brought the Egyptians to the point where they virtually compelled the Israelites to leave. This plague accomplished precisely what God intended, and what Moses had been asking for all along.

(3) The plague of the firstborn was an appropriate punishment of Egyptians for their oppression of Israel (Gen. 15:14; Exod. 1 and 2; 7:14ff.). God had told Abraham that the oppressive nation (which we now know to be Egypt) which would enslave Israel would be punished (Gen. 15:14). The plague of the firstborn was exceedingly appropriate since the Egyptians were seeking to kill all of the male babies born to the Israelites (cf. Exod. 1:22).

(4) The Passover and the plague of the firstborn was an act of grace, as well as an act of judgment. I believe that there is grace to be seen in this final plague (as in the rest), not only toward the Israelites, but also toward the Egyptians. The plagues revealed the powerlessness of the gods of Egypt, and the power of the God of Israel. The plagues pointed out the sin of the Egyptians and their need to repent and believe in the God of Israel. While the account is not written to underscore the conversion of Egyptians (the thrust of the account is on the judgment of Egypt, especially her gods), I think that there is ample evidence to suggest that some of the Egyptians were converted to true faith in the God of Israel.

In the first place, most of the plagues were preceded by an announcement and a warning. Each succeeding plague was further proof of God’s existence and power, and gave greater substance to the warnings which followed. All of the Egyptians came to respect Moses (11:3), and some took heed to his warnings (9:13-21). Provision was also made for non-Israelites to partake of the Passover, if they were circumcised (acknowledging their faith in the Abrahamic Covenant, cf. Exod. 12:48-49; Gen. 17:9-14). Since there were many non-Israelites who left Egypt with Israel (Exod. 12:38), it is likely that a number were converted and physically spared from death through the process of the plagues and the provision of the Passover.

(5) The Passover and the plague of the firstborn was an occasion for God to manifest His great power: “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exod. 9:16). Like it or not, God is the Creator of the universe (in general) and of man (in particular). As man’s Creator, God is absolutely justified in dealing with His creation as He sees fit (cf. Romans 9). When the sinfulness of man is added to his creatureliness, God’s wrath is even more clearly seen to be right.


#6

[quote="Birdpreacher, post:1, topic:316098"]
It may sound silly, but did the angel of death go after the unborn despite their not being born? Also, why is God killing babies?

[/quote]

First born has a special relationship between parents and younger siblings. It is through the first born the values of the parents are conveyed to the next generation.

Recall all the sibling rivalries, between Joseph and his brothers, Jacob the heel-grabber and his twin, between Isaac and Ishmael, and even Cain and Abel, as brothers successively vied for the honour of being recognized as first born. It is a special attribute of God's chosen that they often have gone to extreme, even amoral lengths, in order to abscond the honour of first born for themselves.

By rights, Egypt really ought to have been God's first born. Egypt was in the position as the ultimate world power, the greatest, most cultured, richest, and strongest country in the world for millennia. It was theirs for the taking. The only problem is that to be the first born in the biblical sense, is not a matter of solely birth order, but of willingness to take on God's values as your own. Pharaoh hardened his heart against that. It is not a question of ignorance, as was the case initially, but of rejection of God when Pharaoh eventually recognized that God was the God of the universe, and he went on opposing him in spite of it all.
With that, God literally erased Egypt from being able to be first born son by erasing all the first born sons of Egypt. He in effect was erasing the ability of Egypt to transmit polytheistic values, by breaking the chain between parent and younger children. Instead, blood was smeared on the doorpost of the Hebrew houses, and the Hebrews passed out of Egypt like a first born exiting a bloodied womb.

Death is the fate of us all. We are all mortal, and are all called into death a time of God's choosing. For some it comes early; for others it comes later, but we are all mortal and we all die, as God chooses. For Egypt's first born, they were called to death earlier, as a story for the ages, and their loss was the Hebrews gain.

If Pharaoh had chosen differently, then no doubt God would have chosen differently too, but that is not the way it went down. Instead the honour passed on to the Hebrews.


#7

Thanks everyone for the feedback :)


#8

[quote="Darryl1958, post:6, topic:316098"]
If Pharaoh had chosen differently, then no doubt God would have chosen differently too, but that is not the way it went down. Instead the honour passed on to the Hebrews.

[/quote]

Didn't god make sure that Pharaoh chose as he did by hardening his heart?


#9

[quote="BellsMom, post:8, topic:316098"]
Didn't god make sure that Pharaoh chose as he did by hardening his heart?

[/quote]

That is an interesting discussion, for sure. My own understanding is influenced by David Forhmann, in which he examines the many nuances of pharoah having his heart hardened, either by himself, or by God. In certain cases, his heart is becoming hardened through his own determination to take an evil course in ways which he knows is against God's will, once he recognizes God's authority.

In other cases, pharoah makes his choice, believes it is the right one, but might be willing to give up, since it is really not worth it to carry through. In such cases, God is firming pharoahs resolve to see things through to the end, so that he might realize that who he is dealing with is the real thing.

In the end, when pharoah fully understands who he is dealing with, but rebels against being the subject to a universal God, God again firms up pharoahs heart in his own evil ways, to ensure that the story of the Exodus will be a epic drama for the generations to come.


#10

[quote="Darryl1958, post:9, topic:316098"]
That is an interesting discussion, for sure. My own understanding is influenced by David Forhmann, in which he examines the many nuances of pharoah having his heart hardened, either by himself, or by God. In certain cases, his heart is becoming hardened through his own determination to take an evil course in ways which he knows is against God's will, once he recognizes God's authority.

In other cases, pharoah makes his choice, believes it is the right one, but might be willing to give up, since it is really not worth it to carry through. In such cases, God is firming pharoahs resolve to see things through to the end, so that he might realize that who he is dealing with is the real thing.

In the end, when pharoah fully understands who he is dealing with, but rebels against being the subject to a universal God, God again firms up pharoahs heart in his own evil ways, to ensure that the story of the Exodus will be a epic drama for the generations to come.

[/quote]

The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay. Pharoah hardened his own heart to God's presence.


#11

"And you shall say to Pharaoh, `Thus says the LORD, Israel is my first-born son, and I say to you, "Let my son go that he may serve me"; if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your first-born son.'" (Exodus 4:22-23)

In the tenth plague, God was enacting judgment on Pharaoh for his conduct (slavery and murder) towards Israel, His own "first-born son".


#12

D-R Bible:

Ex 8:15 And Pharao seeing that rest was given, hardened his own heart, and did not hear them, as the Lord had commanded.

D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 15. Pharao hardened his own heart. By this we see that Pharao was himself the efficient cause of his heart being hardened, and not God. See the same repeated in ver. 32, Pharao hardened his heart at this time also; likewise chap. ix. 7, 35, and chap. xiii. 15. (Challoner) --- This is the constant doctrine of the holy fathers, St. Augustine, ser. 88, de Temp. q. 18, 28, 36; St. Basil, orat., "that God is not the author of evil;" St. Chrysostom, hom. 67, in Jo.; &c. Hence Origen, periar. 3, says, "The Scripture sheweth manifestly that Pharao was hardened by his own will; for God said to him, thou wouldst not: if thou wilt not dismiss Israel." Even the priests of the Philistines were so well convinced of this, that they said, (1 Kings vi. 6,) Why do you harden your hearts? God therefore hardened them only by not absolutely hindering their wickedness, and by punishing them with less severity, as they did not deserve to be corrected like dear children, Hebrews xii. --- Perdition is from thyself, Osee xiii. 9. As cold naturally congeals water, so we of ourselves run to evil. Thus God cast Pharao into the sea, by permitting, not by forcing, him to enter, Exodus xv. 4. How shocking must then the blasphemous doctrine of Zuinglius, (ser. de provid. 5,) Calvin, (Instit. 8, 17,) &c., appear, who attribute every wicked deed to God, though they pretend at the same time that he is not unjust, even when he commands and impels a man to commit murder or adultery. Idem facinus puta adulterium...quantum Dei est auctoris, motoris, impulsoris opus est, crimen non est; quantum hominis est, crimen ac scelus est. (Zuinglius, sup.) The light of reason may suffice to confute such absurdity. (Worthington)


#13

I see the hardening of Pharaoh's heart this way.

If someone i know is need of help, I may offer that help out of my own pity for their need.

If the same situation occurred and federal officers came to my door, forcing me go give for the 'poor'. I would resist. Thus, by their actions, my heart was hardened, Just be cause I do not like how they did it. It was still my choice, by now I chose opposition rather than pity.

If Pharaoh had looked at the people and seen they should be release because of their long service and the love his ancestor had for theirs, is heart would have been softened BUT the release would have been on Pharaoh's timeline rather than God's. And it may have never occurred.

When God commanded Pharaoh to release Israel, he chose not to. It was time according to God, but NOT to Pharaoh. So 'God hardened his heart' by require he release them now rather than 100 years from now.


#14

[quote="Birdpreacher, post:1, topic:316098"]
It may sound silly, but did the angel of death go after the unborn despite their not being born?

[/quote]

No, an unborn person can't be first born because they are net yet born? Is English not your primary language? Let us know what language you speak and we can explain the syntax and semantics of this expression in your native tongue. ;-)


closed #15

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