This question occurred to me while viewing The Ten Commandments for the hundredth time last evening. Did the Hebrew slaves take the spoils of Egypt with them during the Exodus and make the Golden Calf from these gold objects? Otherwise, would the slaves have had gold of their own?
It does say in Exodus:
“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” (3:19-22)
The LORD said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people. (11:1-3)
The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:33-36)
Exodus 32:2 specifies it was exactly the earrings of which the calf was made of:
And Aaron said to them: Take the golden earrings from the ears of your wives, and your sons and daughters, and bring them to me.
[quote=meltzerboy;11914457 Otherwise, would the slaves have had gold of their own?
Slavery in general does not mean being necessarily completely destitute of possessions, not even jewelry. Since there were no banks, people (including slaves) probably bought gold, silver and jewelry as a savings account. In modern slavery in colonial Brazil for example, this is how many ended up buying their own freedom (from their savings). I don’t know how it was in ancient Egypt, but one has to realize that many times slaves (in modern times)were allowed to have a side job from which they paid taxes to their owners. Like we do to the Federal Government. They were hired out and could keep some of the pay, a part of it went to their owner (their IRS). Below are some pictures of slaves in 19th century Brazil, most of them wearing expensive jewelery, a tradition they brought from Africa where many were actually silver and goldsmiths (specially the ones from Nigeria). Maybe that’s the way it was with the Hebrews in ancient Egypt too. When I was in india I noticed that even the poor people living on the street wore some kind of silver or gold jewelry. it’s their bank account, so to speak.
Thank you, Patrick. I haven’t read Exodus in quite a while and the Passover Haggadah does not include that detail.
Thank you for the very interesting information, Arrependida.
Thanks, Glacies, for the details.