Exodus 38:24 – Plunder & Miracles

Have you ever considered how much plunder the Israelites actually took from the Egyptians in their Exodus, and the implications of that?

God told Moses that the people would plunder their former captors, and they did so as we learn in Exodus 12:35-36:

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.

In the next verse (Exodus 12:37), we’re told the number of men who left Egypt was about 600,000.  We’re then given a more specific number in the text of 603,550 men in Exodus 38:26 and elsewhere.  It has been said by many Bible scholars that this number likely equated to around 2 million people when wives and children were considered.

The building of the tabernacle, the ark, and all the other associated items took a lot of materials.  In constructing the sanctuary alone, Exodus 38:24 says:

All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary.

A talent was about 75 pounds.  Twenty-nine talents at 75 pounds is 2,175 pounds, or just over a ton of gold.

The amount of silver was greater at 100 talents (7,500 pounds, or over 3.5 tons), while bronze in this particular passage was 70 talents (5,250 pounds, a little over 2.5 tons).

These metals alone for this particular project weighed about 7 tons.  Don’t forget also the amount of other materials like fabrics, etc. that were needed.

The Israelites had a lot of stuff!  They were greatly weighted down and had to transport it all.  They did so in carts with oxen, slow-moving beasts at best.  Their massive caravan would have been lucky to make 10 miles in a day.

In taking account of the massive number of people and the great quantities of plunder they brought with them, what did that really mean?

Let’s think about it from the perspective of the Egyptian pursuit once Pharaoh came to his hard-hearted senses and decided to chase them down to destroy them.  They had chariots and horses, which could move swiftly.  We aren’t told in the text how much of a headstart the Israelites had, but the implication is that it wasn’t all that long.  In addition, God had the Israelites go roundabout the long way before they reached the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-18).  In the natural, it seems reasonable to believe that the Egyptians could have and should have come upon them much sooner, perhaps somewhere in the wilderness.

But God…

Consider what God in Exodus 19:4 says:

You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

He bore them on eagles’ wings.

Might this mean their Exodus was aided by a supernatural event even before the parting of the Red Sea?

During the Tribulation we see similar language.  At the midpoint of the 7 years, the Antichrist desecrates the temple.  Israelites who have somehow heard the Words of Jesus in Matthew 24:18, “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,” and heeded them, do so.  Revelation 12:14 describes this:

But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

The woman is Israel – the people who believe Jesus’ warning.  They flee from Jerusalem to, in all likelihood, the mountains of Petra in Jordan, a distance of about 100 miles.  We don’t know the numbers, but we do know that Antichrist wants them dead.  He isn’t going to let grass grow under his feet in pursuing them.  Some of the women might be pregnant, winter might be upon them with impassable roads, it could be the Sabbath when all transportation is shut down in Israel.

Once again, in the natural, there may be great odds against the people making this journey safely.

But God…

What does the above verse say?  The people in flight were given “two wings of a great eagle.”  Just like in the original Exodus, Israel was born away on eagles’ wings.  Is this also a supernatural event?  Does God miraculously transport them to Petra as He possibly did for their journey to the Red Sea?

To use New Testament language, were the Israelites translated from one place to another in the past as they may likewise be in the future?  Were they Raptured similar to how Philip was after encountering the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:39-40)?

There are many supernatural aspects in Scripture that we pass by because we’re not necessarily taught in church to think about the Bible in this way.  However, when we begin to understand that God is actively at work on this earth among His people, we realize that  He is in our midst; He  surrounds and protects us with His presence.

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