Exodus 7:14-11:10

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Exodus 7:14-11:10The Ten Plagues

At the age of 80, Moses has been called by God to appear before Pharaoh of Egypt.  Moses and Aaron, his brother, were given instructions by Yahweh to appear before Pharaoh on behalf of the Hebrew slaves.  They are to ask for permission for the Hebrews to leave Egypt for three days and go into the desert to worship Yahweh, their God.  God has told Moses exactly how Pharaoh will react

Exodus 7:3-5 “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

Pharaoh refuses to let them leave and Yahweh sets into place a series of ten plagues against Egypt, Pharaoh and the gods they worship.

As you study this lesson, print out The Ten Plagues Chart pdf to use as a study guide.  The Ten Plagues Chart

Plague 1: Blood

water-is-changed-into-blood

James Tissot “Water Is Changed Into Blood”

Exodus 7:14-24 “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake.Then say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’”The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.”Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.”

Pharaoh’s heart was not moved by the pleas of the Hebrew people as they suffered under severe hardship by order of Pharaoh.  Moses had made a request to allow God’s people to leave Egypt and take a 3 day journey into the wilderness to worship the one true God Yahweh “I AM THAT I AM”.  Pharaoh had already expressed his disdain for Yahweh by stating in Exodus 5:2 that he did not know this Lord and neither would he obey Him. As a result of Pharaoh’s hard heart, he refused to let the Hebrews go.

Khnum, guardian of the Nile

Khnum, guardian of the Nile

The Egyptians worshiped a number of gods including Pharaoh who was considered a living god.  It is not beyond reason to understand the battles that now would take place. The Lord would bring judgment upon these Egyptian gods and on Pharaoh himself.  Each of the ten plaques is associated with the Egyptian god who according to their beliefs had power over it.   Yahweh, God Most High and God Almighty, would defeat this god, testifying to the Egyptian nation that He alone is all powerful. What would now occur was a series of ten plagues that would result in God showing His mighty power over the “gods” of Egypt and would ultimately end in the death of all first born sons of Egypt.  Pharaoh was told “By this you will know that I am the LORD…” (Exodus [7:17]).

The first sign Moses performed was turning the Nile River to blood and was a judgment against three gods: Apis, the god of the Nile,  Isis, goddess of the Nile, and Khnum, guardian of the Nile. The Nile was also believed to be the bloodstream of Osiris, who was reborn each year when the river flooded. Without he river, Egypt would be a lifeless desert.  It formed the basis of all daily life and the nation’s economy.  To lose the Nile River as the source of their water supply would be devastating and millions of fish (a source of food) would die.

Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses and Aaron as they approached him on the bank of the Nile River.  Moses had been instructed by God to strike the water of the Nile with his staff turning the water to blood.  The magicians of Egypt (including Jannes and Jambres mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:8) used their magic to do the same on a smaller scale.  Scripture doesn’t say exactly what they did but that Pharaoh simply turned and walked into his palace without acknowledging what had happened. For the next seven days the river remained blood.  The people had to dig for water near the Nile just to have water to drink.  Many fish died and the smell must have been horrible.

Thought Questions for the Plague of Blood: 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge?

Plague 2: Frogs

 

frogs

Exodus 8:1-15  “Then the Lord said to Moses, Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague

of frogs on your whole country. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’  Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron, Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.  But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt. Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.’Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.‘ “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.  Moses replied, ‘It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.”  After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh.  And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them.But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.”

Heqt goddess of fertility

Heqt goddess of fertility

The plague of frogs was directed toward the Egyptian god Heqt, Heket, Heqet or Hek who was the god/goddess of resurrection and who also assisted women in fertility and childbirth. The image of the goddess was a frog.  She was also worshiped as the goddess of fertility.

Frogs would not have been destroyed as they over ran the homes and kitchens of Egypt. There were so many and so annoying that Pharaoh relented for a while and sent for Moses pleading for him to remove the frogs. Notice that the Egyptian magicians could simulate the turning water into blood and they could make the frogs come up on the land but could not get rid of either.  Notice also when the frogs became a nuisance, Pharaoh did not call the magicians to remove the problem but he called Moses. He even asked Moses to pray for the Lord to remove the frogs.  The same is true today.  Non-believers will come to Christians to pray for them even though they do not know the Lord.  They see in your life that something is different and that your God has great power to answer prayers.

Thought Questions for the Plague of Frogs: 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge? 

Plague 3: Gnats or Lice

Exodus 8:16-19 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.”  They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere,the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.”

A god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners

A god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners

The plague of gnats or lice involved those annoying tiny creatures that crawl on the body into the ears and eyes and scalp.  God told Moses to strike the dust of the ground and the dust would become gnats or lice as some translations state.  Imagine how awful that would have been.  Most of us have had minor experiences with gnats flying around our head and would not leave us alone no matter how many times we swatted at them.  Multiply that by 1000 x 1000. Either way the results would have been the same. Unbearable.

Interesting to note, while the magicians of Egypt were able to duplicate Moses signs on a limited basis with the blood and the frogs, they were not able to produce the gnats using the dark secret arts.  Even they realized that it was God who was causing these signs to happen.  But as the scripture says, Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen.  Exactly as God had told Moses and Aaron he would react.

With this plague, God was challenging the god Set, the god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners.  Set head_licewas associated with strange and frightening events such as eclipses, thunderstorms and earthquakes. He also represented the desert and all foreign lands beyond the desert.  He was considered to be very strong and dangerous.  Set was considered to be a friend of the dead because he would help them to ascend to heaven. But Yahweh “I AM THAT I AM” proved to be more powerful than Set.

Gnats

The plague of gnats was not targeted at any one Egyptian god, but against all of them. Egyptian priests had to be without any physical blemish (they shaved all their hair, were circumcised, bathed frequently, and wore white linen). These supposed “pure ones” performed daily rituals of worship to their gods. But bites and infestation rendered the entire priesthood unclean; their prayers to the respective gods would have gone unheeded because of their impurity. In this way, Yahweh shut down all practice of religion in Egypt.

Thought Questions for the Plague of Gnats or Lice: 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge?

Plague 4: Flies

the-plague-of-flies

Exodus 8: 20-31 “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.“‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.”But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.” Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”  Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.”

As the plagues grow more severe, Pharaoh’s heart increasingly gets harder.  He is more resolved than ever that the Hebrews would never leave Egypt in spite of the great suffering of his people.  Moses confronts Pharaoh by the Nile River early one morning  to deliver again the message of letting God’s people go to worship Him.  Moses relays God’s message and this time Egypt will be plagued with flies.  The flies will cover the ground, the people and the livestock.  What is different this time is the fact that God will prevent the plague from touching the whole region of Goshen where God’s people live.  This would be a sign to Pharaoh that God does protect His people and that Pharaoh will know the He (Yahweh) is the Lord.   No swarms of flies would be found in Goshen.

Uatchit

Uatchit, goddess of Upper Egypt

When the dense swarm of flies across Egypt cover everything, in despair Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron back into his presence.  He gives Moses permission for the Israelites to sacrifice to their God in Egypt.  Moses informed Pharaoh that the sacrifices his people would make to “the Lord our God” would be detestable to the Egyptians.  Why would the sacrifices offered to God be detestable to the Egyptians? Because the Egyptians worshiped nearly every creature considering them as a deity.   This act of sacrifice would have incited a riot against the Hebrews.  Pharaoh relents on the condition that Moses will not take the people far and demands Moses to pray for him and as His God to remove the flies.  Once every single fly is gone, Pharaoh changes his mind and refuses to let them leave.

Later translators of scripture have added “swarms of flies” but the original translation simply states “swarms”.  It could have been swarms of flies, swarms of gadflies or even swarms of the scarab beetle or a combination of all three.  There was no relief. Whether or not we know for sure which of these was part of the actual swarm, it would have been horrible.  God is bringing judgement against the gods of the Egyptians and even the magicians could do nothing.   Regardless of which of these swarms God actually sent, the affect is the same.  Thousands and thousands of swarms descended upon the Egyptians.  They swarmed in their beds, houses, their food and everywhere.

Amon-Ra god of the sacred beetle

Amon-Ra god of the sacred beetle

The Ichneumon fly found in Egypt lays its eggs on other living things by embedding them into their skins. The larvae then feeds on that animal or human as it grows. The blood-sucking dog fly (gadfly) was also a great abhorrence and is said to be responsible for blindness. It is very likely that the “swarms” in this passage were swarms of the scarab beetle. The scarab beetle was actually a dung beetle — an insect that feeds on the dung in the fields. The plague of swarms of scarabs, with mandibles that could saw through wood, was destructive and worse than termites!

The gods associated with this plague was a judgement on Uatchit the goddess of Upper Egypt and Amon-Ra god of the scarab beetle. The fly is regarded as a symbol of the god Uatchit, and is revered by the ancient Egyptians. The effect of this plague was so oppressive and grievous that perhaps the Egyptians would have turned against the god of the flies.  The fly, in Egyptian mythology, gave protection against disease or misfortune.  Uatchit was not just protector of Egypt but an aggressive defender of the king.  Her hood is spread in a threatening position and she is ready to spit poison on all of the pharaoh’s enemies or burn them with her fiery glare. She was a personification of the sun’s burning heat and she was called the “Lady of Heaven” and the queen of all of the gods. She was closely associated with Horus the Elder, who was the protector god of Lower Egypt.

Amon-Ra, the creator and king of the gods, had the head of a beetle. “Ra, the Sole Creator and sun god was also visible to the people of Egypt in many other forms. He could appear as a crowned man, a falcon or a man with a falcon’s head and, as the scarab beetle pushes a round ball of dung in front of it, the Egyptians pictured Ra as a scarab pushing the sun across the sky.”

Thought Questions for the Plague of Flies: 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge?

Plague 5: Livestock

plague of livestock

Exodus 9:1-7   “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’”  The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.”

Hathor Mother goddess

Hathor Mother goddess

The fifth plague was directed against the domestic animals in the land of Egypt. Horses and cattle were not only highly valued in the land of Egypt, but they were also sacred. “All Egyptians used bulls and bull-calves for sacrifice, if they have passed the test for ‘cleanness’; but they are forbidden to sacrifice heifers, on the ground that they are sacred to Isis.” (Herodotus, The Histories, p. 101).

Apis the bull god

Apis the bull god symbol of fertility

Hathor was the cow-headed goddess of the desert. “The cow was the living symbol of Isis-Hathor, represented sometimes as a cow, at others as a woman with a cow’s head, at others as a horned woman.” (How and Wells, Commentary on Herodotus, p. 185).

The goddess Hathor was the symbolic mother of Pharaoh, and the king of Egypt was referred to as “the son of Hathor.” In addition to the gods already mentioned, this plague would have been a direct insult to Khnum, the ram-god, and to Bast, the cat goddess of love.

The Apis bull was a fertility god of grain and the herds.  He was considered a protector of the deceased, and linked to the pharaoh. The Apis bull was thought to be a manifestation of the pharaoh, as bulls were symbols of strength and fertility, qualities which are closely linked with kingship The bull represented a courageous heart, great strength, virility, and a fighting spirit. 

Not one of the Israelite animals were affected by this terrible plague.  Pharaoh, who still doesn’t “get it”, sends someone out to see what happened in Goshen.  He discovered it was just as God had said. With so many animals dead in Egypt, you would have thought Pharaoh would have relented.  However, that was not the case and scripture says “his heart was unyielding (hardened) and he would not let the people go.”  Up to this point, it was Pharaoh who hardened his own heart.  With the coming of the remainder of the plagues, God would harden the heart of Pharaoh. His time of yielding to God was over. His heart had become to hard by his own choice. There would be more tragedy to come simply because Pharaoh refused God.  Moses must have been discouraged by this time but regardless of his feelings, he continued to obey God. God had already told Moses what would happen and he believed Him.

Thought Questions for the Plague of Livestock: 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge?

Plague 6: Boils

boilstooExodus 9:8-12 “Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.” So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians.  But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.”

God instructs Moses to take soot from the brick kiln or furnace, perhaps one the Hebrew slaves are using for making bricks, and toss the dust into the air in front of Pharaoh.  God tells Moses this dust will cover the land of Egypt and cause boils to fester on the bodies of the Egyptians and their animals.  Egyptians took great pride in cleanliness and went to great lengths to be physically clean.  Boils cause oozing liquid from the sores and would have rendered them “unclean”.  None of the priests or magicians would have been clean enough to offer sacrifices or perform ceremonial rituals to their gods and goddesses and neither could they stand before Pharaoh in an unclean state. By contrast Moses and Aaron were the only ones left standing before Pharaoh because they were backed by Yahweh the Almighty God.  And yet once again, Pharaoh refuses to listen to Moses and Aaron.

Boils came upon all Egyptians including the magicians and all their livestock.  All over their bodies, man and beast experience the painful open wounds that oozed smelly pus.  They could not stand for the painful boils on their feet nor lay down because of the boils all over their bodies.  Life was unbearable.  The only ones who remained boil free were the people of God and their livestock.

Isis, goddess of medicine and peace

Isis, goddess of medicine and peace

Imhotep, god of medicine

Imhotep, god of medicine

The Egyptian god of medicine, Imhotep and Isis, goddess of medicine would have been, in the eyes of their followers, the ones responsible for health and well-being. Now with boils spreading on the bodies of all Egyptians and their livestock, their worshipers would have called out to these two for help and well-being. But no help came.  The God of the Hebrews had more power than these lifeless gods.  Yahweh had made Himself known to all of Egypt but Pharaoh heart was hard and he still would not let His people leave the borders of Egypt.  Just as God had told Moses.

 

 

 

Thought Questions for the Plague of Boils: 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge?

Plague 7: Hail and Lighting

Plague of Hail by James Tissot

Plague of Hail by James Tissot

Exodus 9:13-35 “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt—on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.” When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt;  hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.  Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.” Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the Lord. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.  But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.” (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.) Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the Lord; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land. When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.

If you ever have experienced a hail storm with thunder, lightning and blowing wind and rain, you know how terrifying it can be.  Now multiply what you experienced by 100 times and you will gain some insight into the severity of this storm sent by God.  He had sent a storm of such magnitude that everything unprotected by shelter would die including people, remaining livestock and any plants in the field.  The severity of the lightning strikes alone would surely have brought terror into the depths of their soul.  God was showing the full force of His great power to the Egyptians.  The Hebrew nation remained free from the plague of hail. This was a reminder to Pharaoh that He could destroy him at any time but instead was demonstrating His power and His fame to the Egyptians, the Israelites, and all nations. 

You will note that Moses and Aaron told Pharaoh in the presence of his officials what was going to happen.  Some took note of the fulfillment of each of the past plagues and believed that Moses’ God would be true to His Word.  They left immediately and gathered their slaves and animals under shelter thus saving the lives of their possessions.  The hail beat down the crops in the field destroying all flax and barley that was in bloom.  Since the wheat had not bloomed, it was not destroyed by this plague.

Pharaoh realizing the devastation of this storm admits that he has sinned (note: this is the first time Pharaoh admits his sin or even that he did sin.  Remember he considered himself a god.). He pleads with Moses to pray to the Lord to make this hailstorm stop. Moses leaves the city, raises his staff to heaven and prays for the storm to stop. And it did.  When the hail, lightning and rain stopped, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds.  Scripture says Pharaoh “sinned again”.  His heart was hardened and in his stubbornness, he still refused to listen to Yahweh.

nut

Nut, the sky goddess

There were many gods and goddesses the Egyptians would have worshipped concerning the sky, crops and life itself. These would have included the sky goddess Nut, the protector of crops Seth and Isis, goddess of life as well as goddess of medicine and peace. Truly, with the great power Yahweh exhibited with the hail and lightning there should of been no doubt as to whose God was the one true God with power that far exceeded anything the Egyptians worshipped.  But sadly, even today we have those who see His great power in creation and still do not believe.

 

 

 

Thought Questions for the Plague of Hail and Lightning : 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge?

Plague 8: Locust

Plague of Locust by James Tissot

Plague of Locust by James Tissot

 

Exodus 10:1-20 “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”  So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.

Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?” Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go, worship the Lord your God,” he said. “But tell me who will be going.” Moses answered, “We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord.” Pharaoh said, “The Lord be with you—if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.” Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence. And the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail.” So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail—everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.” Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

This time, the Lord gives Moses another reason for the severity of the plagues upon the Egyptians.  God has hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and his officials so that Israel could tell generations to come of the mighty signs God has performed in Egypt and be amazed by His power. They would know without a doubt that the God of Israel is the one true God with power over all things.

locusts

Moses tells Pharaoh of the coming plague of locust that will devour what was left after the hail. The locust will cover the ground and fill their houses.  It will be a plague of locust larger and more devastating than any seen by Egypt in the past.  Moses continued by asking this question to Pharaoh, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me”. At this point, Moses and Aaron leave and the officials in Pharaoh’s court plead for Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go and worship their God since the seven plagues that have already happened have left Egypt in ruin.  Moses is called back before Pharaoh but this time Pharaoh agrees to let the men leave to go worship in the wilderness but they must leave the women and children behind. With this statement, Moses and Aaron are then driven from the presence of Pharaoh.

God tells Moses to lift up his staff and as he did, an east wind began to blow across the land lasting all day and all night.  In the morning, the wind brought the locust and they covered the land until all the ground was black.  The locust devoured everything that was left after the hail including the wheat that had just begin to bloom.  Nothing was left in the field or on the trees.  There was nothing left for the Egyptians to eat-no meat, no fish, nofruit, no vegetables, nothing except in the land of Goshen when God’s people had been spared the plagues.

Serapis, god of the sun and underworld

Serapis, god of the sun and underworld

This time Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron and admits he has sinned against Moses’ God and Moses himself.  He pleads for Moses to once again pray to the Lord to take away the plague.  Moses does so and God causes a very strong west wind to sweep over Egypt and carry the locust out to sea. Not one locust was left in Egypt.  But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by the Lord and he still refused to let the Israelites leave.

This plague was of unprecedented severity. By day, the locust swarmed the fields and houses, devouring everything edible in sight.  By night, they would cover the ground in layers to a depth of four or five inches.  When smashed they emitted a foul odor that was unbearable to smell.

Serapis, a god of the sun and underworld; Seth, the protector of crops; and Isis, goddess of life worshiped by the Egyptians and had authority over the fields, the sun and the locust were powerless against the God of Moses.   Once again Yahweh proves His power over the lives of all the people of the earth.  These plagues would exhibit Yahweh’s power over all the gods of Egypt and they would pale in comparison to the one true God of Israel.

 

Thought Questions for the Plague of Locusts: 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge?

Plague 9: Three Days of Darkness

The plague of darkness

The plague of darkness

Exodus [10:21]-29 “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.  No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.” But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the Lord our God. Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the Lord our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.” But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.” “Just as you say,” Moses replied. “I will never appear before you after this time.”

For three days, Egypt experienced darkness that could be felt. It was total darkness with no light at all.  No stars, no moon and no sun.  It was so dark they could not see each other or move around for fear of running into someone or something.  Have you ever felt that kind of darkness? Have you experienced a time when the power went out and there was no moon or stars or flashlight to light the way? You found yourself in a place where you could literally not see your hand in front of your face. Imagine you are in Egypt at this time. No food.  No water. Just sounds in the darkness. You can literally feel the darkness surround you.  It must have been terrifying.

The only light in Egypt that could be found was in Goshen where the Israelites lived. God protected His people and they were amazed at His power over the sun, moon, stars and all of nature.  How grateful they must have been.

In the darkness, Pharaoh sent a messenger to Moses.  Moses appears before Pharaoh and is told to take the men, women and children into the wilderness to worship but they must not take their animals.  Perhaps Pharaoh thought this would assure their return or maybe Pharaoh planned on keeping the livestock for himself.  But Moses refused to leave anything behind. Pharaoh boiled with anger and refused to let them go.  He shouted at Moses to get out of his sight and never to appear before him again.  Moses replied “Just as you say.  I will never appear before you after this time.”

There were various sun gods worshipped in Egypt.  Among those worshipped were Re or Ra, Aten, Atum and Horus. 

Horus, god of vengeance, sky, protection, and war

Horus, god of vengeance, sky, protection, war

Atum, god of creation

Atum, god of creation

aten

Symbol for Aten

Re, the sun god

Re, the sun god

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each of the gods of Egypt proved to be of no use to the Egyptians in the midst of the darkness that lasted three days perhaps they were sleeping.

 

 

Thought Questions for the Plague of Darkness: 

Who does this plague affect?

Can the Egyptian magicians replicate it or reverse it?

How does Pharaoh’s respond?

What Egyptian god does this challenge?

Plague 10: Death of Firstborn

Painting by James Tissot

Painting by James Tissot

Exodus 11:1-10 “Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely.  Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.”  (The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.) So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt.  Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.  All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh. The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart,and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

Moses had not yet departed from the presence of Pharaoh when God gave Moses the final plague. Every firstborn child whether an infant or elder along with the firstborn of the cattle would be struck dead at midnight with the exception of the Hebrews who would survive to show God’s great power to His people. After this, Moses would lead the people from Egypt.  God told Moses that Pharaoh would refuse to listen and as part of His plan His wonders would be multiple in Egypt.

Then an angry Moses left the presence of Pharaoh.  And the tenth and final plague would soon take place but Pharaoh would still not let the Israelites go out from Egypt.  Great wailing, terror and sorrow would soon spread throughout Egypt as the angel of death would pass over the land of Egypt.

 

 

Egyptian gods

Egyptian gods

 Psalm 115:1-8, 16-18 “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. 2 Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” 3 Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him. 4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. 6 They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. 7 They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them…16 The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth He has given to man. 17 It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to silence; 18 it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore.  Praise the Lord.”

 

 

 

 

Ten Plagues Quiz

 

Answer the questions concerning the ten plagues of Egypt and see how much you remember from this lesson.

 

 

Discussion Questions

1. What five things in Exodus 7:1-6 did God tell Moses would happen to the Egyptians?

2. What does the phrase “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” mean to you?

3. What reasons were given for the plagues?  See Exodus [9:13]-19

4. What plagues were the magicians able to  duplicate and why?

5. Is there a possible explanation for the plagues to have happened as part of a natural phenomenon? Defend your answer.

6. How were the Israelites affected by the plagues?

 

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