Subscribe in a reader
Back to All Events

Exodus 12:29-42, Death of the Firstborn

Real People

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

The night finally arrived. The final plague was cast upon Egypt, and the firstborn sons of all those without blood on their doorposts were killed. The Pharaoh finally relented and let the Israelites go. They plundered Egypt, taking by coercion their silver and gold, livestock, and clothing.

Wait... what? I don't remember hearing the part about the Israelites plundering Egypt. But they did. I wonder why we are so opposed to learning the details of the stories that are less than ideal to our modern sensitivities. I think maybe we like to root for the underdog. But maybe the Israelites weren't quite as helpless and weary as we like to believe. They had the sense and the confidence to take what they could as they fled to the wilderness. Certainly, they would need some provisions. There were thousands of them, and they would need food and shelter. They could trade for their needs until the time they could settle in the land God promised and become fully self-sufficient.

This perspective makes the journey more tangible -- more real. It makes a flat, helpless, group into a dynamic, multi-dimensional, capable set of individuals and small communities that, together, were an increasingly mighty nation. I like the shades this story casts upon people -- real people who lived, struggled, bargained, stole, and escaped. Their humanness is something I can relate to. They are not black and white. They are colorful, unpredictable, and authentic. They are just. Like. Us.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 12:29-42

At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron in the night, and said, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone. And bring a blessing on me too!” The Egyptians urged the people to hasten their departure from the land, for they said, “We shall all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their cloaks on their shoulders. The Israelites had done as Moses told them; they had asked the Egyptians for jewelry of silver and gold, 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. And so they plundered the Egyptians.

The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds. They baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt; it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves. The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred thirty years. At the end of four hundred thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. That was for the Lord a night of vigil, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. That same night is a vigil to be kept for the Lord by all the Israelites throughout their generations.