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There are at least five possible explanations:
Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether all of the livestock died in Exodus 9:1-7
- 9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say 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 still hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the Lord will fall with a very severe plague upon your livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. 4 But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die.” 5 And the Lord set a time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.” 6 And the next day the Lord did this thing. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.
- 18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.” 20 Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.
There are five reasonable explanations that eliminate this alleged contradiction:
Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him... (Matthew 3:5
And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Mark 1:5
Clearly, not "all" Judea went out to Jesus as in every single individual in Judea. These passages are clearly saying that a great majority of the people in Judea was going out to Jesus.
It is entirely possible that "all the livestock" in Exodus 9:1-7
If this was the case, then the hail would have killed all the livestock that the Egyptians had gained between the two plagues.
Then, again, in Exodus 9:18-21
Interestingly, verses 1-7 do not mentioned one important animal that was used as livestock: the goat. It is possible that all the livestock mentioned, but not goats, were killed in the fifth plague, and then goats were killed in the following plague.
In verses 19-20, we see that those who "feared the word of the Lord" were warned to get their livestock out of the fields and into "safe shelter" so that their livestock would be spared.
Perhaps there were those who feared God and not Pharaoah who God had mercy on, during both plagues.
Any of these five explanations would resolve the alleged contradiction. There is simply no contradiction between these passages concerning whether all of the Egyptians's livestock died.
Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:
I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.
The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.
However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.
When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.
To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.
Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.