Exodus 3:22—How could an all-loving God command the Hebrews to plunder the Egyptians of their riches?
Problem: Exodus 3:22 states, “So you shall plunder the Egyptians.” The Bible presents God as all-loving. However, it does not seem to be a loving thing for God to command the Hebrews to plunder the Egyptians.
Solution: First, it is a misunderstanding of the text to claim that God commanded the Hebrews to plunder the Egyptians. Actually, God commanded the Hebrews to “ask” the Egyptians for various costly items, and God would give them favor in the eyes of the Egyptians. By asking the Egyptians for these items they would not plunder them. Plundering, or spoiling, in this instance would be the taking of the possessions of another people by means of force. But by their asking, and the willful giving by the Egyptians, the effect would be the same as if they had plundered them.
Second, the term used in this passage is not the normal word for plunder, but is used to indicate a delivering of something or someone. It is used here in a figurative sense. It is God who had defeated the Egyptians, and now His people would also spoil the defeated foe. However, this defeated foe would willingly deliver up the spoils of victory to the liberated Hebrew people.
Third, even if taken literally, the gifts given to the Israelites could hardly be considered unjust, considering they had been Egyptian slaves for centuries. They were small compensations for centuries of slave labor to Egypt.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.