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(דֶּבֶר, de'ber, destruction, especially by a "pestilence," as the word is elsewhere rendered; plur. "plagues" in Hosea 13:14), the fifth plague with which the Egyptians were visited when they held the Hebrews in bondage (Exodus 9:3). (See PLAGUES OF EGYPT).

This consisted in some distemper that resulted in a sudden and dreadful mortality among the cattle in the field, including horses, asses, camels, oxen, and sheep. It was, however, confined to the Egyptian cattle, and to those that were in the field; for though the cattle of the Hebrews breathed the same air, and drank the same water, and fed in the same pastures, not a creature of theirs died (Exodus 9:6). The Egyptian cattle that survived in the sheds, and were afterwards sent into the fields, were destroyed by the succeeding storm of fire and hail. Wilkinson has observed (Anc. Eg. 1:48, 49) that "the custom of feeding some of their herds in sheds accords with the scriptural account of the preservation of the cattle which had been 'brought home' from the field; and explains the apparent contradiction of the destruction of 'all the cattle of Egypt' by the murrain, and the subsequent destruction of the cattle by the hail (Exodus 9:3; Exodus 9:19-20); those which 'were in the field' alone having suffered from the previous plague, and those in the stalls or 'houses' having been preserved." In the grievous murrain, and in the grievous hail, many, if not all, the war-horses must have escaped, as they were not 'in the field,' but in the 'stables or houses' (Exodus 14:27-28; Exodus 15:21)." (See STALL).

In the Description de l'Egypte (17, 126), it is said that murrain breaks out from time to time in Egypt with so much severity that they are compelled to send to Syria or the islands of the Archipelago for a new supply of oxen. It is also stated (ib. page 62) that, since about the year 1786 a disease very much diminished the number of oxen, they began to make use of the buffalo in their place for watering the fields, and the practice is continued in later times. (See PESTILENCE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Murrain'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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