THE TEN PLAGUES UPON EGYPT
To escape punishment for killing an Egyptian, Moses ran away to Midian, where he met and married the daughter of a shepherd. During that time, the king of Egypt died, and the Israelites called out to God in their suffering. In the past, God had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob concerning the fate of them and their descendants, and the time had come for Him to rescue them. While Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep, he led the sheep through the desert until they arrived at Mt. Horeb. There, the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the form of flames from a bush. The Lord told Moses that He saw the misery that the Israelites were suffering at the hands of the Egyptians, and would come and rescue them. He instructed Moses to go to the Pharaoh, ask that the Israelites be freed, and then lead them out of Egypt and into the land of the Canaanites. When Moses objected that neither Pharaoh nor his own people would support him, God let him know that He knew Pharaoh’s heart would harden against Him, so He would show His power to the Egyptians by raining down calamities against them. This display of anger for the Egyptians who refused to follow His will was manifested in ten plagues. God, working through Moses and Aaron, brought misery after misery upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
1. The first plague involved changing the water of the Nile River into blood. Moses warned Pharaoh that unless he let the Israelites go to worship God, the river would turn to blood, the fish would die, the water would stink, and the people would not be able to drink. Even the water stored in jars would turn to blood. Pharaoh disobeyed, and God let loose his wrath. Pharaoh hardened his heart as God had said, and walked back into his palace.
2. The second plague occurred seven days later. When the Pharaoh refused yet again to obey God, the Lord brought frogs out of the land. They filled the Nile, and every home, bed and oven. Pharaoh then agreed to free the Israelites if God removed the frogs. God caused the frogs to die the next day, but Pharaoh hardened his heart and broke his end of the agreement. God then sent a third plague.
3. Everywhere throughout Egypt, the Lord changed dust into gnats. They covered men, animals and all of the land. Even Pharaoh’s magicians saw this was the work of God, but Pharaoh still would not listen. God knew this was going to happen and sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand freedom, or a fourth plague would descend upon him and his people. Like before, he refused.
4. This fourth plague brought flies over the entire land, except for Goshen, which was where the Israelites lives. Moses had gone and warned Pharaoh of this, and let him know that Goshen would be spared to prove God’s power to the Pharaoh. When the flies came, they poured into the palace and the homes of Pharaoh’s officials. They covered the land and ruined it. Pharaoh again agreed to free the Israelites so that they could go to the desert and make sacrifices to worship God, but only if the flies were taken away. Again, a deal was made, and God caused every last fly to leave. Yet once again,
Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.
5. Then the Lord sent Moses to warn Pharaoh of a fifth plague, in which all of Egypt’s livestock would die, but not the Israelite’s. Pharaoh chose not to obey, and the next day, God brought His plague. Pharaoh sent his men to investigate the livestock of the Israelites, and even though he saw that not one was harmed, he still disobeyed God.
6. God then created a sixth plague, the plague of boils, to sweep across the land. Moses took soot from the furnace and tossed it in the air before the Pharaoh, It became fine dust over the whole land and on every man and animal that it landed on caused a terrible outbreak of boils, but Pharaoh still refused to free the Israelites.
7. At this point, God instructed Moses to go once again to Pharaoh, only this time the punishment for disobedience would be even greater. Moses was to tell Pharaoh that God had given him many chances to let His people go, and now He would display His true power. A hailstorm unlike any seen before would fall upon Egypt. The next day, a tremendous hailstorm struck Egypt. Lightning flashed through the sky, and every man and animal outside was killed, all crops were beaten down, and all trees were stripped bare. Only Goshen was spared. Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and told them he had sinned and was wrong. He would allow the Israelites to leave if Moses would pray and end the storm. Moses said that he would, but he knew that Pharaoh still did not fear God. He left the city and spread his hands toward the Lord. The storm ended, and Pharaoh saw this and again hardened his heart even further.
8. God instructed Moses to go to Pharaoh once more. He explained how he had deliberately hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and those of his officials, so that he could perform these miracles, which were to be retold to his descendants. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and warned him that if he refused to free their people, a plague of locusts would enter the country. Pharaoh’s officials told him to let the people go, as Egypt was ruined. Pharaoh agreed, but would only allow the men to go; no women and children would leave. Moses protested that all had to come as they were to celebrate a festival to the Lord. Pharaoh refused him and drove them away. Moses stretched out his staff over the land as God instructed him to do, and a wind from the east blew across the land all day and all night. By the morning, the wind had brought locusts. They covered all of Egypt. There were so many that the ground was blackened. They ate all that was left after the hailstorm, everything in the fields, every fruit left on the trees. No plant or tree was left in all of Egypt. Quickly, Pharaoh summoned Moses and admitted his sin. He would allow the people to go, if this plague would leave. Moses prayed to the Lord, and a west wind blew in, which caught up the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea. God then hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he refused to let the Israelites go.
9. Then the Lord told Moses to stretch his hand toward the sky and darkness would spread over Egypt. Moses did this, and complete darkness covered all of Egypt for three days. No one could see anything or leave their homes, except for the Israelites, who had light in the places they lived. Pharaoh called for Moses and told him to go and worship God. Even the women and children could go, but the animals had to stay behind. Moses insisted that the animals come too, because sacrifices and offerings had to be made. Pharaoh refused and became angry. He told Moses to leave and never appear in front of him again. Moses agreed and told him he would never see him again.
10. God spoke to Moses again, and told him that He would send one more plague down on Egypt, after which the Israelites would not only be freed, but also driven out completely. For this reason, they were to go to their neighbors and ask for silver and gold. God made the Egyptians kind toward the Israelites so that they would give these items to them. Then he instructed him on the final plague. On the tenth of the month, the people of Israel were to gather firstborn male lambs and on the fourteenth they were to slaughter them for food and smear their doorframes with their blood. On that night, the Lord would pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn male, both men and animals, and would bring judgment against the Egyptian gods. The blood on the doors would be a sign to Him of the Israelites, and this horrible plague would pass over them. God gave them further instructions on what to eat and what not to, and how else to observe this event. This was to represent a lasting festival to the Lord for all future generations. It was to be a day to commemorate. Moses explained this to the elders of Israel and instructed them that this was a lasting ordinance for them and all their descendants. Once they entered the land the Lord had promised, they were to observe this ceremony. The Israelites bowed down, worshiped, and did as the Lord commanded.
At midnight, the Lord killed all the male firstborn in Egypt. Not even the son of Pharaoh was spared. Pharaoh, his officials, and every Egyptian woke up in the middle of the night and a loud wailing was heard over the land. There was not one household without someone dead. During that night, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and told them to hurry and leave as they requested. The Egyptians were frightened that they would die if the Israelites remained and hurried them on their way with gold and silver, just as God had planned. They journeyed from Rameses to Succoth where they received further instruction from God concerning Passover. The Israelites did as commanded, and on that same day they were brought out of Egypt.
The Bible, NIV Version