In Exodus 12:23 (NASB)

For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; but when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to strike you.

In Psalms 78:49 (NASB)

49 He sent His burning anger upon them,

Fury and indignation and trouble, A band of destroying angels.

50 He leveled a path for His anger; He did not spare their souls from death,

But turned their lives over to the plague,

51 And struck all the firstborn in Egypt,

The first and best of their vigor in the tents of Ham.

Was it "A band of destroying angels" that killed the firstborn?

There's a similar question (with an already accepted answer that considers mostly Exodus) but it's not in its scope Psalms 78.

2 Answers 2


Note the consistent pattern in the Bible:

  • 2 Sam 12:9 - Why then have you despised the command of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You put Uriah the Hittite to the sword and took his wife as your own, for you have slain him with the sword of the Ammonites. [David is held responsible for killing Uriah the Hittite because he issued the order that resulted in Uriah's death.]
  • 1 Sam 11:13 - But Saul ordered, “No one shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel.” [God is given the glory of a miracle that was wrought via the army of Saul.]
  • 1 Sam 15:20 - “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul replied. “I went on the mission that the LORD gave me. I brought back Agag king of Amalek and devoted the Amalekites to destruction."" [ Saul takes credit for what the army did that he commanded.]
  • 1 Sam 23:5 - Then David and his men went to Keilah, fought against the Philistines, and carried off their livestock, striking them with a mighty blow. So David saved the people of Keilah. [David is given credit for what the men that he commanded accomplished.]
  • Job 2:3 - Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one on earth like him, a man who is blameless and upright, who fears God and shuns evil. He still retains his integrity, even though you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.” [God takes responsibility for what He allowed Satan to actually do.]

... and so forth. In the case of the Exodus and the last plague of the first born, the Bible says that God did this, Ex 11:4-5; 12:12-13, 23, 29. This does not change the fact that God issued an order to His Angels, His "ministering spirits (Heb 1:14), or a "band of destroying angels" (Ps 78:49) to actually do the destroying.

God is held responsible for the commands that He issues - God destroyed the firstborn of Egypt via a band of His destroying angels.

  • 1
    Excellent examples of how God takes responsibility for all that He commands.
    – Lesley
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 10:49
  • Right pretty much like the writing of the Bible Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 11:17

This answer may not be the traditional interpretation, but is forwarded for consideration. Some may think that a loving God would kill [innocent] first born, but, its mostly those who are persuaded by doctrine, particularly the doctrine of sovereignty, that could ‘see’ this, and then apologetically argue for it.

What they fail to understand is the principle of the firstborn. I could provide clear argument for this, but it’s outside of what’s needed for this question. Briefly, Satan had a ‘claim’ [right over] on the firstborn. If you look, you can see this right from Genesis. For example, Isaac had to be the second born!. (Would love to exegete this, but not needed for this Q). And, here, when the children of Israel were about to be let go, Satan was claiming the firstborn - but - that judgement would be taken by Jesus, as symbolised by the Passover.

The issue is, these were Gods children, his nation, and the firstborn of his people were His, not the Egyptian gods, nor Satan’s, but, they needed to be reclaimed, which had not yet been put in place.

The destroyer angel was not from God. God [had to] allow it. In Hebrew ‘thinking’, if God allowed something, then it was as if God Himself did it - that is, their understanding of sovereignty! That’s how they articulate this.

Leviticus (and in Exodus 34:20) outlines specifically how the firstborn was to be ‘reclaimed’ back to God. (Until the cross).

Appreciate this answer may provoke some, but it had to be outlined in order to present an alternative view of God.

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