Plague of Death of the Firstborn
"And it came to pass at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead" (Exo. 12:29,30). Once again God made a difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians. The Israelites believed and obeyed God, but all those who weren't of Israel lost their firstborn--even the animals! This plague was the climax of the devastation God would inflict upon Egypt. None of the other plagues would have wrought such a damaging effect long-term upon the Egyptians as this one did. Bloody water had become drinkable again. The stench of the frogs had dissipated. The lice and flies were long forgotten and the boils had healed. The pestilence was gone and the animals that died would be replaced in time. The hail and locusts were history and the crops and trees would grow back in time. The extended darkness was also gone. The other plagues were very bad, but this was the worst. All the firstborn would remain dead. Though it was the middle of the night, it wouldn't take long for the Egyptians to realize what had happened, especially since Moses has announced it ahead of time and had always kept his word. I can only imagine the intense wailing and cries of agony from the darkness as those who remained realized what had happened in home after home across the nation. Every family was affected! Jehovah is such a powerful deity! No one can resist Him, and certainly no Egyptian god could compare. Where was Selket, their guardian of life? Where was Renenutet, the cobra-goddess and guardian of Pharaoh? No god of Egypt could protect them because there is only one true and living God!

"Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.' And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, 'We shall all be dead.' So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders" (12:31-34). The Egyptians fear that they will all die if the Israelites are kept any longer, and Pharaoh doesn't need any convincing this time. His will is finally broken, at least for the moment. He commands them to leave and asks that they bless him.

"Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians" (12:35,36). This was predicted back in Genesis 15:14, when God spoke to Abram - "And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions." Though several hundred years had passed, God kept His promise. It would seem the Egyptian people knew that it was wrong for Pharaoh to keep holding the Israelites against the will of the LORD. Thus, the Egyptians gave generously to the Israelites before they departed. In this sense the Israelites "plundered" them.

Moses goes on to describe the caravan that left Egypt. There were about 600,000 men plus women, children, and all their flocks and herds. There were likely two million plus people in all. Apparently some foreigners came along with them, too (i.e., the "mixed multitude" mentioned in Exo. 12:38). They left in such a hurry that they did not have provisions prepared for themselves. Pharaoh had paid such a heavy price to force them to stay and now he finally throws them out of his country in the middle of the night! This was urgent business and could not wait until morning light. As we will see, however, he will change his mind yet again in the near future and attempt to go and bring the Israelites back by force.