Problem: Some critics of the Bible point to Exodus 9:1-7 and Exodus 9:18-21 as a contradiction in Scripture. The first passage seems to say that all of Egypt’s livestock were killed by the pestilence, but the second seems to indicate that there is still livestock in Egypt after the pestilence:
Solution: All the livestock died: Exodus 9:1-7, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me.’ 2 For if you refuse to let them go, and continue to hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the Lord will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks. 4 But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel.”‘ 5 And the Lord set a definite time, saying, ‘Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.’ 6 So the Lord did this thing on the morrow, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and behold, there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.”
All the livestock did not die: Exodus 9:18-21, “Behold, about this time tomorrow, I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 “Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die.”’” 20 The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses; 21 but he who paid no regard to the word of the Lord left his servants and his livestock in the field.”
There are three possible explanations. First, it is possible that the “all” in verse 6 above is meant generically as in “Egypt ruled all the world,” and that it did not mean every single animal. Second, it is possible that in the few days between Exodus 9:1-7 and 18-21, the Egyptians acquired cattle from other sources. After all, the Israelites were “owned” by the Egyptians as slaves. Since none of the Israelite livestock died, the Egyptians could quickly have taken some of it for their own. Third, notice that in Exodus 9:3 the prediction covers the livestock “in the field.” Therefore, it is possible that the prediction was restricted to cattle in the field, and any livestock in barns or caves would have been spared.