The Plundering of the Egyptians

Exodus 11:2-3

"Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold." (The LORD made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh's officials and by the people.)

Exodus 12:35-36

The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

Skeptics have charged God with acting as a manipulative thief by allowing the Israelites to plunder the Egyptians.

Was God being manipulative? It appears that God did alter the Egyptians' feelings towards the Israelites in some way, perhaps by giving them ideas or by altering their moods. However, there is no reason to suppose the Egyptians were not acting of their own free will when they responded to the Israelites' request for jewelry and clothing. God may have planted ideas or emotions in their heads, but that is different from his taking total control of them and turning them into puppets. The Egyptians could have chosen to ignore their inclination towards giving the Israelites what they asked for.

Were God and the Israelites stealing? The jewelry belonged to the Egyptians, but the Egyptians belonged to God (Dt 10:14), so God was not taking anything that didn't already belong to him. Since the Israelites were acting on the authority of God and the Egyptians were voluntarily giving them the jewelry, they weren't stealing either.

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