23 July 2012

Something Borrowed

Had a great time at camp this past week!  Perhaps a post on that later.  For now, here are some notes from my Bible reading this morning.

In recording the events of Passover night, Exodus 12:35-36 says, “And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.”

Twice the Israelites were instructed to borrow silver and gold and raiment from their Egyptian neighbors when the Lord freed them from Egypt’s bondage (Exodus 3:22; 11:2).  According to the passage above, that’s exactly what they did on the night of the Exodus.

I’m certain I’m not the only one who finds the wording a bit odd. 

When we think of borrowing something, the expectation is that what is borrowed will be returned at some point in the future.  But that certainly does not seem to be the intent of the Israelites in Exodus 12. 

In this case, and many others, the problem is not with God’s word, but with my limited definition of a certain word (borrowed).  A quick check of the dictionary reveals that the verb borrow can also mean “to take for use something that belongs to another.”

Fast forward to Exodus 35.  God has just given Moses instructions regarding the building of the tabernacle – a place of worship; a place of sacrifice; a place where God will meet with His people; the center of the spiritual life of the Hebrew nation.  In Exodus 35, the people bring an offering to supply the materials for the construction of the tabernacle, its vessels, its furniture, etc.  And what an offering it was.  From a willing heart the people brought “gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats 'hair, And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers 'skins, and shittim wood,  And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate” (vv. 5-9).

But wait a second.  Where did the people get all that stuff?  Remember, they were slaves in Egypt.  And as a general rules, slaves usually don’t have gold, silver, expensive fabrics, costly fragrances, or precious stones.  So where’d they get it?  Oh yeah…they borrowed from the Egyptians on Passover night.  They took something that didn’t belong to them, and they had no intention of returning it, but they did use it for the construction of the tabernacle and the service of God. 

So don’t let anybody tell you and don’t think for a moment that your Bible makes a mistake in Exodus 12.  When the Bible says the Israelites borrowed, it means they borrowed.  It’s just that borrowed can mean something other than what we generally think it means.  

So don’t change the Bible.  Just learn some vocabulary.  Don’t mess with God’s word.  Just follow the suggestion of the Reader’s Digest and “increase your word power.”

Now for a couple practical applications:

1.  OUR POSSESSIONS.  Everything we have comes from and ultimately belongs to God (1 Chronicles 29:14; James 1:17).  So let’s make sure that whatever we have is consecrated to His use.

2.  OUR CHILDREN.  The word lent is used in a similar way in Exodus 12.  If there was any expectation on the part of the Egyptians of getting back what they gave to the Hebrews, it was extremely misguided.  No, their lending was in the sense of “giving or granting for use.”  Likewise when Hannah said of her son Samuel, “Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord…” (1 Samuel 1:28), it was not with the expectation that God would somehow return or give back her son; it was with the intent that Samuel would be consecrated to the service of God, given for God’s use. 


P.S.  If you still can’t accept the alternate definition for borrowed then see 2 Kings 23:35 where Egypt gets back at least some of what it had given to Israel.  

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