So I'm cruising along (not) in my study of Moses' life...and at the end of Exodus 3 there are these kooky few verses:
"And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman in the house, for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so, you will plunder the Egyptians." v. 22-22
Imagine this wild scene! Over the past month, the Egyptians and Israelites have had plagues of frogs, bugs, boils and blood...gnarly, wild moments of horror meant to sway the impenetrable pride of Pharaoh to "let these people go!" All to no avail.
Now is the night of the plague of the firstborn. The Israelites have slaughtered a lamb, used a hyssop branch to paint blood around the doorposts of their home, have walked back in and begin to have dinner.
The night of Passover - where death will pass over the houses that have painted blood over their doorposts. Where death will take the lives of the firstborn sons (including cattle) throughout Egypt. From Pharoah, to the maid servant...death would bring on "loud wailing...worse than has ever been or will ever be again" throughout the land. (Ex 11:6)
Imagine the sounds of that night.
At midnight, an Egyptian woman rolls over to find her husband (a firstborn son) not breathing. She begins shaking him to "wake up!" but is overcome with moaning as she realizes he's dead. A father (not firstborn son) goes in to check on his baby boy, only a few months old, only to find his firstborn son cold and stiff in his "crib." Even the mama cows in the fields are bleating in between her mournful licking of their dead calves.
Screams of terror filled that night. Screams of gutterul grief escaping the lungs of agonized beloved ones. These screams echo the bleating lambs sacrificed just hours ago at twilight (12:6). The whole day, following the oddness of the past month or so, seemed eerie.
Then the rush - pack up everything all at once. There's no time to add leaven to the bread.
And in the midst of the frenetic chaos of that night - the hurry, the grievous loss, the transition - God asks the women to ask their neighbors for silver and gold and clothing. And, evidently, the Egyptian women comply.
Imagine it...what would you say? "Uh. I know you just lost your husband, but could you give me all your silver and gold and clothing?" But evidently, even with the oddity of the request in the midst of a night where you'd think it wouldn't really be polite to ask in light of the chaos, the women obeyed. "Awkward" hardly does justice to the scene.
Egypt is not plundered in the typical testoteronic way of warfare and bloodshed. No, this night, Egypt is plundered by the women asking. It is quite a wild, unpredictable methodology...so typical of the way God prefers to work. Actually, the more I think about it, it's quite comical. Not the death and wailing of the night - but in the furry of refugees fleeing, they "ask their neighbors" and receive more than they could ever imagine. Wow.
Every woman is to ask - even in the midst of the hurry of life, the transitions, the grievous losses. God is an abundant giver - and may supply in the craziest of ways.
Why are the women to ask - and not the men?
But what was given - the silver and the gold - was not to line the pockets of the Israelites. No, it was later sought as an offering toward the building of the temple (ex 35:5, 22) - the place God would dwell.
I shared this with some women a few weeks ago on a night of prayer. I said, "I feel like God is asking me to ask you, "what are you supposed to ask?"" and this not for your own gain, but for His kingdom.
One woman came up to me afterwards and said, "I don't like asking, because I don't like being seen as needy. I'll gladly ask God for others, but not for myself."
Hmmm - sounds like the book I want to write about how our inability to receive (and ask) is rather debilitating to our faith. I was proud of her for recognizing and paying attention to how she was "resistant" to the topic. I encouraged her to ask God directly, "Lord, help me understand why I am resistant to asking."
What you supposed to ask God in the midst of your grief, transition, and hurry?