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What is the meaning of “spoiled the Egyptians” in Exodus 12:36?

spoiled the Egyptians

Exodus 12:36 says that, on the night of the first Passover, as the Israelites were leaving Egypt, “the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians” (KJV). The word spoiled here means “plundered” or “stripped of belongings.” The ESV says that “they plundered the Egyptians.” It is amazing that the Israelites did not “spoil,” “plunder,” or “strip” the Egyptians by force of arms, but simply by asking! When asked, the Egyptians willingly turned over their valuables (Exodus 12:35–36).

At the burning bush, God had predicted this turn of events: “Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:22). This had to sound absolutely impossible, as Moses’ hesitation in the next verse demonstrates (Exodus 4:1). The Israelites were slaves of the Egyptians, who had abused them for years. What oppressor willingly gives his goods to the oppressed? How are slaves going to plunder their masters?

God had promised Abraham centuries earlier that his descendants would emerge from Egypt with “great possessions” (Genesis 15:14). That is, they would spoil the Egyptians. God’s promises to Abraham and Moses were fulfilled in Exodus 12:36. After the tenth plague devastated Egypt, the Egyptians wanted to ensure God’s people left Egypt as quickly as possible (Exodus 12:33–36). If getting rid of them meant giving up their wealth, so be it. The peaceful plundering of Egypt was a remarkable fulfillment of God’s promises.

There are many lessons to be learned from the spoiling of the Egyptians. Here are a few possible application points:

• God does what He says He is going to do, however impossible it seems to us (see Matthew 19:26).

• Those who trust in fake gods will be utterly defeated (see Exodus 12:12). God’s people will win in the end. All the nations of the world are Jesus Christ’s inheritance (Psalm 82:8). There is coming a day when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). We will reign with Him (Revelation 3:21; 20:6).

• God fights for His children (Exodus 14:13–14). God’s people can place their trust in their all-powerful and loving Father, who is not bound by human limitations (2 Corinthians 12:9).

• God knows the needs of His people, and He will provide. As one commentator observes, “Here again God’s beneficent foreknowledge was operating: he knew that their sojourn in the wilderness would be very long and that a poor group hardly could expect to survive without supplies and financial reserves. So from their former persecutors he would supply those needs, further demonstrating his power and control over all people and circumstances” (Stuart, D., Exodus, The New American Commentary, vol. 2, Broadman & Holman, 2006, p. 127).

By allowing His people to spoil the Egyptians, God demonstrated His sovereignty over the entire world. The same God is at work in our world today.

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What is the meaning of “spoiled the Egyptians” in Exodus 12:36?
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This page last updated: October 17, 2022