Despoiling the Egyptians
And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed. Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth. – Exodus 3:21-22
Exodus 35:29 So the people of Israel every man and woman who was eager to help in the work the LORD had given them through Moses brought their gifts and gave them freely to the LORD.
1 Bezalel made the Ark of acacia wood – a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high.
2 He overlaid it inside and outside with pure gold, and he ran a molding of gold all around it.
3 He cast four gold rings and attached them to its four feet, two rings on each side.
4 Then he made poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold.
5 He inserted the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it.
6 Then he made the Ark’s cover – the place of atonement – from pure gold. It was 45 inches long and 27 inches wide.
7 He made two cherubim from hammered gold and placed them on the two ends of the atonement cover.
8 He molded the cherubim on each end of the atonement cover, making it all of one piece of gold.
9 The cherubim faced each other and looked down on the atonement cover. With their wings spread above it, they protected it.
Towards the end of the 20th century, people of planet Earth became concerned about the tremendous waste of natural resources and materials. The attitude had been, “use once and toss.” Things went from bad to worse. In 1960, individual Americans generated approximately 2.68 pounds of garbage per day. By 2017, the total had grown to an average of 4.51 pounds. To conserve resources and energy, modern recycling was born. For many, recycling became a way of life.
Many recycled items are repurposed. Repurposing adapts or utilizes something for a new purpose that was not originally intended. Many things are upscaled.
Recycling, reusing, and repurposing are not modern innovations. 3500 years ago, the Father had the children of Israel repurpose the secular and profane resources of Egypt to create the parts and furniture required for the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant itself. The vast treasures of pagan Egyptian gold, silver, and precise gems were repurposed and sanctified for the worship of the Father, the God of Israel. Gold and silver idols, pagan artifacts, and jewelry were melted down and formed into various items needed for Tabernacle worship (Exodus 25-28).
The Father made use of materials that were at best secular, and at worst pagan, profane, and unclean. He sanctified that which was common, coarse, and morally repugnant and set it apart for sacred purposes.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father told the Israelites to melt down the metals and skillfully craft from them the articles required for the Mosaic worship system. That which was common and idolatrous was repurposed and consecrated for the Father’s service.
Father thank You for taking that which is secular, unclean, repugnant, and even profane and transforming it into that which is clean, pure, holy, and good. I recognize that that is exactly what You did with me.
The Father made a promise to Moses. He would give the people of Israel favor in the sight of the Egyptians. They would “despoil the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:21-22, Exodus 12:35-36).
The Hebrew word translated as despoil, plunder, strip is natsal. Despoiling or plundering is a military metaphor. It is reminiscent of “the act of taking spoils from a defeated army after a battle” (Osborne and Hatton). The despoiling or plundering of the Egyptians provided wages for the work accomplished under enforced servitude. The valuables they received were long-delayed compensation for the many years they had served Pharaoh as slaves without pay. “The Egyptians were only too glad to give their wealth to the Israelites and be rid of them” (MacDonald).
As the Jewish people prepared for the Exodus from Egypt, they are instructed to ask the Egyptians for silver and gold (Exodus 11:2-3).
The Father, the God of Israel had defeated the mightiest army on planet Earth. Pharaoh who had hardened his heart in defiant resistance was now acquiescent in defeat. He couldn’t wait for the children of Israel to be out on the land of Egypt.
31 Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. “Get out!” he ordered. “Leave my people – and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the LORD as you have requested.”
32 “Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave.”
33 All the Egyptians urged the people of Israel to get out of the land as quickly as possible, for they thought, “We will all die!”
35 And the people of Israel did as Moses had instructed; they asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold.
36 The LORD caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave them whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth!
Exodus 35:22 Both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing. They brought to the LORD their offerings of gold – brooches, earrings, rings from their fingers, and necklaces. They presented gold objects of every kind as a special offering to the LORD.
What was God’s intended purpose for this vast treasure of pagan gold, silver, and gems? That which was common and idolatrous was consecrated for the Father’s service. The gold and silver were melted down, upcycled, and repurposed for Mosaic worship (Exodus 25-28).
The children of Israel were all in. Joyfully, worshipfully, they made extremely generous contributions to the Father’s work. Why did these stubborn, rebellious, difficult, and peculiar people do what they did? It was the result of the working of the Holy Spirit in their hearts (Exodus 35-36).
4 Then Moses said to the whole community of Israel, This is what the LORD has commanded:
5 Take a sacred offering for the LORD. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze;
6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread; fine linen and goat hair for cloth;
7 tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood;
8 olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense;
9 onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chest piece.
Everything that was required Mosaic worship was given in abundance. They freely gave until they had to be told to stop giving. Much more than what was needed had already been given. What was the last time that happened in the 21st century?
3 Moses gave them the materials donated by the people of Israel as sacred offerings for the completion of the sanctuary. But the people continued to bring additional gifts each morning.
4 Finally the craftsmen who were working on the sanctuary left their work.
5 They went to Moses and reported, “The people have given more than enough materials to complete the job the LORD has commanded us to do!”
6 So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings.
7 Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.
© Dr. H 2022