The third chapter of Exodus ends with these words, “…and you shall empty out Egypt.” In Ezekiel 39:10 we find this instruction expanded with explanation: “They will plunder those who had plundered them and despoil those who had despoiled them – the word of the Lord HASHEM / ELOHIM.” Finally, in Exodus 12:36 we find the fulfillment of God’s instruction, “HASHEM gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians and they granted their request so they emptied Egypt.” (all passages quoted from the Artscroll English Tanach, emphasis mine).
We know that this instruction was given to the Israelites just before their exodus from Egypt, and we know that the Israelites were faithful in following the instruction, as their Egyptian captors gave them the riches of their personal possessions and land as they departed. From this Israel was established as a nation of wealth from its very beginning, a blessing of HASHEM drawn from the spoils of those who had enslaved them.
We understand the history of this word, but what does this instruction mean to us today? How is this ancient scripture alive today, and what are we to do about it?