Exodus 3:22 – The Israelites Leave Egypt

By Wayne Jackson

As the Israelite people prepared to leave the land of Egypt, Moses charged:

“But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians” (Ex. 3:22, KJV).

There are three points that we wish to make regarding this passage.

Fulfillment of Prophecy

First, it is a striking example of the fulfillment of divine prophecy. Centuries earlier, Jehovah had promised Abraham that when his descendants finally left the bondage of Egypt, they would go out “with great possessions” (Gen. 15:14). As Exodus 3:21 suggested, the Hebrews would not “go empty.” Hence, note Genesis 15:14 in your margin and record: Prophecy fulfilled.

A Moral Lapse?

Second, this is not an example of a moral blemish in the Old Testament, as alleged by some critics. The KJV suggests that the Israelites were to “borrow” certain objects from the Egyptians. But there was never any intention of repayment.

The King James translation is poor here; later renditions, including the NKJV, translate the verb sa’al by “ask” (cf. Ex. 12:36; 1 Sam. 1:27). The same passage treats these goods a matter of “spoil.”

Actually, it was considered a form of payment for all the years the Hebrews had spent in slavery. The principle is set forth in Deuteronomy 15:12-18:

“If thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou lettest him go free from thee, thou shalt not let him go empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy threshing-floor, and out of thy winepress; as Jehovah thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to-day. And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go out from thee; because he loveth thee and thy house, because he is well with thee; then thou shalt take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maid-servant thou shalt do likewise. It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou lettest him go free from thee; for to the double of the hire of a hireling hath he served thee six years: and Jehovah thy God will bless thee in all that thou doest.”

In Exodus 3:22, underline the word “borrow” and write in the margin: payment for slavery; see Deut. 15:12-18.

The Providential Hand of God

Third, this incident provides a wonderful example of the mysterious ways of the providence of Almighty God. Moses subsequently writes:

“And Jehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians” (Ex. 11:3).

A psalmist makes a contribution to this puzzle. He states that the Lord made his people “to be pitied of all those that carried them captive” (Psa. 106:46).

How did Jehovah accomplish that? We haven’t the remotest idea; nonetheless, it is a fact that we may accept because of the solid credibility of the Book in which the affirmation is found. And so, note these passages. Beside Exodus 11:3 write: Example of God’s providential care.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.