|<< Ex 6|
|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
Exodus 7-9 Listen
God sends Moses and Aaron back to Pharaoh a second time (Exodus 7:1-13)
1 So the LORD said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.
2 You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land.
3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.
4 But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.”
6 ¶ Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the LORD commanded them, so they did.
7 And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.
8 ¶ Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
9 “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, “Show a miracle for yourselves,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and let it become a serpent.’ ”
10 So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the LORD commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
11 ¶ But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.
12 For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.
13 And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.
Let's get our bearings here. This discussion with God carries over from the end of Exodus 6 (see notes). God is preparing Moses to make another appearance before Pharaoh, but pay close attention to what God says in verses 3 and 4, "And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments." So, let's see...Moses is to go to Pharaoh (again) and insist that he let the people go on a journey into the wilderness for three days to make a sacrifice to God (Exodus 3:18, see notes). Oh! By the way...Pharaoh will say, "no." His first trip to Pharaoh was in Exodus 5:1 (see notes), and sure enough, Pharaoh said, "No!" Now, here's that second trip, but this time he uses the rod God gave him that turns into a serpent. Eighty-year-old Moses goes before Pharaoh with his older brother Aaron, but Pharaoh's magicians duplicate the rod trick; their rods turn to serpents also. Of course Moses' rod serpent eats up all of their rod serpents. However, it still wasn't impressive enough to Pharaoh for him to negotiate. Of course verse 13 says, "And Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said." God had already said that wouldn't do it because God hardened Pharaoh's heart. So, I guess we're right on plan.
Now, you might be wondering what's the point. I mean...if God told Moses before he even went to see Pharaoh this time that Pharaoh would refuse his request, why go? Answer: it was an exercise - one that Moses, Pharaoh and the children of Israel needed as an important part of their preparation; all involved needed to see a series of acts of God over a period of time. The text doesn't tell us that God prepared Moses and Aaron for the magicians to duplicate their rod-to-serpent trick. That must have been a disappointing surprise. Then...the excitement of seeing your stick eat their sticks - it must have been exciting. And...when Pharaoh's magicians went back to the rod store (if there was one) to get replacements - that had to be a little embarrassing...I mean...explaining what happened to your rod.
There's one more important point that should be noticed here in verse 1. According to Exodus 4:16 (see notes), Moses was to be a god to Aaron; therefore, Aaron is here called the prophet of Moses i.e. the person who would announce to Pharaoh the revelations of Moses. Now God tells Moses, "I have made you a god to Pharaoh." That means that God has promised divine authority and power over Pharaoh. Armed with that word from God, there is no reason for him to be afraid of the king of Egypt. Moses was a god to Aaron as the revealer of the divine will, and to Pharaoh as the executor of that will. Incidentally, verse 7 tells us that Moses was 80 years old and Aaron was 83 at this point in time.
Plague #1: The river turns to blood (Exodus 7:14-25)
14 ¶ So the LORD said to Moses: “Pharaoh’s heart is hard; he refuses to let the people go.
15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning, when he goes out to the water, and you shall stand by the river’s bank to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent you shall take in your hand.
16 And you shall say to him, “The LORD God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness”; but indeed, until now you would not hear!
17 Thus says the LORD: “By this you shall know that I am the LORD. Behold, I will strike the waters which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned to blood.
18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, the river shall stink, and the Egyptians will loathe to drink the water of the river.” ’ ”
19 ¶ Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, over their ponds, and over all their pools of water, that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in buckets of wood and pitchers of stone.’ ”
20 And Moses and Aaron did so, just as the LORD commanded. So he lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
21 The fish that were in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water of the river. So there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
22 ¶ Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.
23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this.
24 So all the Egyptians dug all around the river for water to drink, because they could not drink the water of the river.
25 And seven days passed after the LORD had struck the river.
Here goes that third trip before Pharaoh, this time with a significantly more convincing miracle - turning the Nile river to blood. The Nile, along with the other fresh-water sources (verse 19) remain that way for seven days, and all the fish die. While Pharaoh's magicians duplicate the miracle to some degree, still the Egyptians lost their water source and had to get their water from the ground instead of the river for that period of time. Nonetheless, this didn't move Pharaoh to action. No surprise though; look at verse 22, "...and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said." It is important to understand that, while the ultimate outcome will be a complete release of the Hebrews to leave Egypt permanently, up to this point Moses is only asking for a week or so off from work so they can go out into the wilderness and sacrifice to God. Nothing will be revealed to Pharaoh about the big plan of leaving permanently until later. But, of course, Moses and Aaron have already been told by God that this first plague won't cause Pharaoh to comply.
By the way, I wonder why the magicians chose to make more bloody water. Wouldn't the better trick have been to turn the water back to clear again? Hmmm...you don't suppose it was because THEY COULDN'T, do you?
Plague #2: Aren't those frogs cute! (Exodus 8:1-15)
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs.
3 So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls.
4 And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants.” ’ ”
5 ¶ Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.’ ”
6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.
7 And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.
8 ¶ Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD.”
9 ¶ And Moses said to Pharaoh, “Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.”
10 ¶ So he said, “Tomorrow.” And he said, “Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.
11 And the frogs shall depart from you, from your houses, from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only.”
12 ¶ Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh. And Moses cried out to the LORD concerning the frogs which He had brought against Pharaoh.
13 So the LORD did according to the word of Moses. And the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards, and out of the fields.
14 They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank.
15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.
Frogs are kinda cute. Two frogs are twice as cute. At what point do frogs stop being cute? Look at verses 3-4 and you tell me: "So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants." Wherever the line is between cute and disgusting, we're waaaaaay there! Verse 7 is just plain ol' funny. Pharaoh's magicians get their opportunity to demonstrate to Pharaoh that this is just a party trick and no big deal. So, what do they do? Do they create mongooses to eat the frogs? No! They bring in more frogs! Pharaoh's gotta be rolling his eyes on this one. Pharaoh says (paraphrased) in verse 8, "Just get rid of the frogs and your people can have a few days off to go make their sacrifice to God!" So, does Moses cause the frogs to trail back off into the river? Naaaaa. They just die right there in the spot where they were last seen - dead frogs everywhere! There were so many dead frogs that the land of Egypt stank. But still, look at verse 15, "But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said." We're still on plan. Incidentally, do you suppose the lack of fresh water in the rivers' from plague #1 caused these frogs to seek fresh water elsewhere?
Plague #3: A few gnats (aka lice) don't cause any harm, right? (Exodus 8:16-19)
16 ¶ So the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.’ ”
17 And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.
18 ¶ Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast.
19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had said.
Many Bible scholars say the Hebrew word here (used only 5 times) is uncertain and could be gnats, sand fleas, or mosquitoes. Now here's where the abilities of these magicians start seeming a little suspicious. They could duplicate the rod-to-a-serpent trick; they could duplicate the water-to-blood; they could duplicate the frogs; but, are you telling me that they couldn't duplicate a few lice/gnats? That's right! These little ol' critters become the deal breaker for the magicians. Who wants more lice/gnats anyway? By the way, don't frogs eat gnats? Whoooops...the frogs are all dead! As a matter of fact, the magicians have some advice for Pharaoh after the gnats in verse 19, "Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God.' But Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had said." But there it is again; God had hardened Pharaoh's heart.
Plague #4: Even one fly is irritating (Exodus 8:20-32)
20 ¶ And the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me.
21 Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand.
22 And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land.
23 I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.” ’ ”
24 And the LORD did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies.
25 ¶ Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.”
26 ¶ And Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us?
27 We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He will command us.”
28 ¶ So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.”
29 ¶ Then Moses said, “Indeed I am going out from you, and I will entreat the LORD, that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. But let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.”
30 ¶ So Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated the LORD.
31 And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained.
32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.
Pharaoh doesn't like flies either...especially in these massive swarms all over Egypt, except Goshen where the Hebrews live. You don't suppose the flies were swarming over all the dead frogs, do you? Without even calling upon his magicians this time (What would be the point?), Pharaoh's resolve begins to weaken; he starts to negotiate with Moses. Pharaoh offer #1: Sacrifice to your God, but stay in Goshen to do it. Moses' counter offer: "No!" By the way, Moses points out that the Egyptians will find the Hebrew method of sacrificing very distasteful - better not do it in front of them. Pharaoh offer #2: Go sacrifice, but not three days' journey away from Egypt - somewhere closer than that; just ask your God, and see what he says. Moses agrees to ask God, but insists that Pharaoh needs to keep his word and not cheat on his offer. God causes the flies to go away, but verse 32 tells us that Pharaoh did cheat on his offer. His heart was hardened.
Isn't it interesting that the proposed deal on the table between Moses and Pharaoh at this point is still a temporary release for the Hebrews to go make a sacrifice. We know the plan is much larger than that, but obviously Pharaoh does not.
Plague #5: The Egyptian cattle die (Exodus 9:1-7)
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, “Thus says the LORD 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 be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep—a very severe pestilence.
4 And the LORD will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel.” ’ ”
5 Then the LORD appointed a set time, saying, “Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land.”
6 ¶ So the LORD did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died.
7 Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go.
It's interesting that Moses was talking about sacrificing cattle in the preceding verses and how distasteful Egyptians would find this practice. Now...the plagues move to the Egyptian cattle. We're talking a completely thorough job of wiping out Egypt's cattle "in the field." That phrase is important to note later on in chapter 9. None of the cattle belonging to the Hebrews died. Did this do the trick? Verse 7, "... But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go." Now, don't lose sight of why Pharaoh's heart was hardened. God did it! But why did God continue to cause Pharaoh's heart to be hardened? I could tell you now, but the answer is found in Exodus 10:1-2 (see notes), we'll analyze it there.
Plague #6: Everyone breaks out in oozing boils...yuk! (Exodus 9:8-12)
8 ¶ So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh.
9 And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.”
10 Then they took ashes from the furnace and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses scattered them toward heaven. And they caused boils that break out in sores on man and beast.
11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians.
12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.
Moses goes before Pharaoh and symbolically throws a handful of soot up into the air. Everybody breaks out in oozing boils. Now this is amusing: the boils even disable the magicians (verse 11). But look at verse 12, "But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses." Yup! Still on plan.
Plague #7: Really, really big hail stones (Exodus 9:13-35)
13 ¶ Then the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me,
14 for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.
15 Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth.
16 But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.
17 As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go.
18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now.
19 Therefore send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home; and they shall die.” ’ ”
20 ¶ He who feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses.
21 But he who did not regard the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field.
22 ¶ Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt—on man, on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.”
23 And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.
24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.
25 And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field.
26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.
27 ¶ And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous, and my people and I are wicked.
28 Entreat the LORD, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”
29 ¶ So Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, that you may know that the earth is the LORD’S.
30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the LORD God.”
31 ¶ Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud.
32 But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.
33 ¶ So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and spread out his hands to the LORD; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth.
34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants.
35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses.
This one is big, really big. God sends huge, heavy hail stones that kill everything outside, but Moses gives a warning first. You will recall that the cattle in the fields in verses 1-7 have already died. They had better get the remaining cattle under shelter along with their people if they want to survive this hail. This is the first plague that actually threatens human life. Obviously, the plagues have intensified. No hail in Goshen, though, where the Hebrews lived. Pharaoh does hate a hail storm; he makes a precedent-setting statement in verse 27, "...I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous, and my people and I are wicked." Hey! Moses! Pleeeeaaaase make the hail storm stop! So, how does Moses respond to Pharaoh's words of repentance. He agrees to make the hail storm stop, but says in verse 30, "But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the LORD God." Sure enough, look at verses 34-35, "And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses." Well, no surprises here; it's all working just the way God said it would.
We do see something quite interesting in verse 16, "But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." In other words, Pharaoh had been raised up by God for this very special mission of being the poster boy of God's wrath. Why? It was so that "my [God] name may be declared throughout all the earth."
Verses 31-32 contain some interesting seasonal information that directs us toward a time frame for this seventh plague. Following is an excerpt from the Old Testament commentary by Keil and Delitzsch regarding the agricultural season in which the seventh plague occurred:
The barley is ripe about the end of February or beginning of March; the wheat, at the end of March or beginning of April. The flax is in flower at the end of January. In the neighbourhood of Alexandria, and therefore quite in the north of Egypt, the spelt is ripe at the end of April, and farther south it is probably somewhat earlier; for, according to other accounts, the wheat and spelt ripen at the same time (vid., Hengstenberg, p. 119). Consequently the plague of hail occurred at the end of January, or at the latest in the first half of February; so that there were at least eight weeks between the seventh and tenth plagues. The hail must have smitten the half, therefore, of the most important field-produce, viz., the barley, which was a valuable article of food both for men, especially the poorer classes, and for cattle, and the flax, which was also a very important part of the produce of Egypt; whereas the spelt, of which the Egyptians preferred to make their bread (Herod. 2, 36, 77), and the wheat were still spared.
That puts us right on track for a Passover-season exodus from Egypt. Click here to read the notes on Exodus 10.