We all know the story. Moses wanted to take the Hebrews on a weekend getaway, but god forced the pharaoh to reject Moses’ request in order to try out his new toy: a set of plagues he just purchased from FAO Schwarz. If you want a refresher, here’s a quick rundown of the plagues in order. One of the moral problems with this story is the fate of thousands of innocent bystanders. I’m not just talking about the deaths of innocent babies caught in god’s crossfire (although that is an unforgivable crime); I’m also talking about the fate of all the cattle of Egypt. Did they all die?
The bible — once again — is not that clear. During the fifth plague god killed all the cattle of Egypt. That is, not one cattle survived. His abilities to kill every cattle in sight is more efficient than any modern day slaughter house.
During the final plague, however, god kills all the firstborn of Egypt, including innocent human babies and innocent calfs, even though there were none to be found, according to the earlier plague. This is quite a remarkable contradiction. I’m quite surprised it made it by the copy editors.
I haven’t heard any attempts to explain this contradiction, but I can venture a guess of how someone might attempt to explain it. Because these plagues, particularly the fifth plague, was aimed only at the Egyptians and not the Israelites, then could it be that the Egyptians merely stole all the Hebrews’ cows after theirs were wiped out? Sure. Of course it is. But that’s not in the bible. Indeed, if that was in the bible, it would give Moses more credibility. Early Jewish scribes would have definitely used that to further highlight their persecution.
Nope. This is precisely what happens when people go around just making up stories. They forget about the details and later contradict themselves.