Could I get a little help form my friends? Exodus 12.12

John Martin (painter), engraving "The Sev...
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The Lectionary before Easter included a bit on the Passover. Upon hearing it, because it is meant to be heard, something stood out to me:

NAB  Exodus 12:12 For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every first– born of the land, both man and beast, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt– I, the LORD!

NLT  Exodus 12:12 On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the LORD!

NRS  Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.

Think Christus Victor model.

Anyway, before we move into Christian Theological Speculation, I was wondering how this might fit into ANE material. YHWH is rescuing his people by attacking the other gods, especially the Egyptian gods. He is attacking the other gods by slaying the firstborn. Well, that’s how I read it.

It seems to me, that the firstborn was devoted to the particular god so in slaying the firstborn, that god was deprived of representation or other power on earth.

Or am I drawing a connection between the judgment against the gods and the execution (sentence) of the firstborn?

Thoughts? Any articles on this particular verse and how it fit into either henotheism or developing monotheism?

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One Reply to “Could I get a little help form my friends? Exodus 12.12”

  1. Joel:

    It seems to me that what is going on here relates to the fact that the plagues came upon not only humans but also the “beasts”. Two thoughts:
    1. Egyptians worshipped cattle, sheep and goats. Their death is a kind of judgment.
    2. Egyptians held that the Pharaoh was a god. If the son of Pharaoh died it might have also represented a death of a god.


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