Question:

Good morning,

I have always been a bit analytical, too bad it did not help me with math. My question is one that plagues me every time that I read Exodus. If all the livestock died from disease, then how could any have been around for the hail? Did a great time elapse between these to incidences? Or maybe the Egyptians acquired some from the Hebrews since theirs were not diseased?


Answer:

The overall length of the ten plagues lasted less than a year since Moses was sent back to Egypt when he was 80 (Exodus 7:7) and he dies at the age of 120 after the forty years of wandering in the wilderness (Deuteronoy 34:7).

During the cattle disease, "So the LORD did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died" (Exodus 9:6). God earlier said that the plague would affect the cattle in the fields (Exodos 9:3), which could mean those remaining in the barns survived this plague. As you noted, since the Israelites' cattle survived, it would not be a stretch to think the Egyptians took possession of a good number of these beasts.

The plague of boils came on both men and beasts (Exodus 9:10). So we know the Egyptians had possession of cattle again by the time of the next plague. How long of time is a matter of speculation, but it is likely to be less than a month.

"And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field" (Exodus 9:25). But not all animals were killed because the Egyptians had advanced warning. "He who feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses" (Exodus 9:20). However, the animals are mentioned again, so we know recovery from the earlier plague had been taking place.

Oh! OK. Now I understand. Thank you so much!