Why did God destroy the first born sons of the Egyptians?

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While in Egypt, “the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7). The “few” had become a “mighty” nation of “many” (Genesis 46:3; Deuteronomy 26:5). The more Egyptians afflicted them, “the more they multiplied and grew” ( Exodus 1:12; 1:20).

For this reason, the “Egyptians were in dread of the children of Israel” (Exodus 1:12).  So, Pharaoh decided to slaughter all male Israelite newborns to try to stop the growth of Israel (Genesis 12:2; 22:17; 46:3).  Pharaoh commanded “all his people” to throw Israel’s first born sons into the river (Exodus 1:22). He wanted to drown the Hebrew infants and feed them to the crocodiles in saying, “Destroy those abominable babies” (Genesis 43:32).

Murder is prohibited in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13). And it was punishable by death: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed” (Genesis 9:6; Numbers 35:30). Solomon the wisest man said, “[T]he Lord hates…hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:16-17). Romans 13:4 dileneats that governments have the God-given right to destroy murderers, and Revelation 21:8 says that all sinners, which includes murderers, “have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Thus, the nation of Egypt was guilty of the crime of murdering all those innocent babies. Those precious souls were “a heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3) and born in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27; Acts 17:25; Ecclesiastes 12:7).

Eighty years later, God punished Egypt for their crimes of murdering the innocent (in addition to their other sins of idolatry, rebellion and unbelief). He brought ten plagues upon Pharaoh and all his land (Exodus 7-12). The first plague God sent upon Egypt was turning water to blood (for the blood of the babies), while the last was destroying all of Egypt’s firstborn. This act was “the chastening of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 7:19; 11:2). “He did not spare their soul from death… and destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt” (Psalm 78:49-51). God does serve justice.

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In His service,

BibleAsk Team