Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
With each plague, YHWH shows His outstanding power, rendering the many gods of Egypt impotent in the sight of the Egyptians. It is only when Moses beseeches the Lord that the plagues are averted. YHWH has also made a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites, setting His people apart as a testimony unto Pharaoh.
In filtering through the gods of Egypt, including their histories and relationships, along with the often-vulgar representations that are offered, one gets a sick sense of a pantheon of mythical debauchery, destruction, and sexual perversion that only gives a greater brilliance to who YHWH is as the Self-existent, eternal, and sovereign Creator.
Exodus 9:1-7. This is the fifth plague. The call to “Let My people go, that they may serve Me” is a direct assault against the rulership of Pharaoh. The Israelites served him, not YHWH. This call from Moses, in essence, is calling upon Pharaoh to give up a segment of his authority to YHWH.
This “pestilence” upon the cattle of Egypt is a “very severe plague,” with the Hebrew verb and participle being an unusual rendering. It is a hapax legomenon, meaning that it is the only time that it is used in the Old Testament. The distinction between Israel and Egypt is also reinforced (8:22; 9:4). Despite the devastation, Pharaoh does not relent.
Verse 3 is important, seeing that the plague was upon the livestock of the Egyptians “which are in the field.” Missing this detail could create problems when looking at 9:9, 10 when boils break out on every man “and beast,” or with the command to “bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety” in order to avoid being pelted to death by hail (9:19). How do we resolve this? First, the “beast” mentioned in 9:9, 10 could refer to something other than livestock. Also, with the detail of being “in the field” (9:3), we must not assume that all of the animals
were “in the field,” but there were also some “in the stables,” or “in the pen.” The text does not give us permission to assume that those animals “in the field” are the totality of all that there was.
There are two gods being attacked. The first is Hathor, depicted as a woman with the head of a cow (because she absorbed Bat, who was an ancient cow goddess), and it was believed that her udders supplied the substance of the Milky Way galaxy. She is considered the goddess of joy, motherhood, and feminine love. The second god is Mnevis, who is also known as Nemur, manifesting himself in a literal “sacred” bull of Egypt.
Pharaoh sends a personal inquiry about the livestock of the Israelites.
Exodus 9:8-17. The sixth plague has Moses using “ashes from a furnace” (9:8, NKJV) which brought about boils on the men and beasts through all of the land of Egypt. This is the same word that is used for the “boils” in Job 2:7. The magicians cannot replicate this (9:11).
In this section, two things stand out. First, there is no relief from the boils. At no time does Moses pray for relief, nor are we told that the boils “go away.” Second, YHWH reveals that He could do much worse to the Egyptians but that they were still “able to stand” only for the purpose of YHWH demonstrating His power against them and proclaiming His Name (9:16). Exodus 9:17 is revealing! Pharaoh’s self-exaltation (pride) persists despite the repeated commands to let the Israelites go. If God is hardening Pharaoh’s heart (9:12), how can God hold Pharaoh personally responsible for this as is seen in 9:17? (See “How Should We Understand the Hardening of Pharaoh’s Heart?”)
This plague strikes four gods at once. The first is Isis, a goddess of marriage, magic, and medicine. The second is Sekhmet, the goddess of plagues and healing. The third is Sunu, the god of pestilence, which may seem like a misapplication here, but the word “sunu” means “doctor” in Egyptian and is written with an arrowlike symbol which one would use to
lance a boil. The last god is Imhotep, who was once a man that served as the second king of Egypt’s third dynasty, but was deified as a god after
his death. He became known as a god of medicine. None of these gods, in whom they trusted, could help the Egyptians.
Exodus 9:18-35. The seventh plague involves hail large enough, or plentiful enough, to kill men and livestock. Having covered the “where did the livestock come from?” question earlier, we notice that Moses records the responses of some of the Egyptians. For those who revered YHWH (and rightly so seeing what has happened so far), their servants and livestock were told to take shelter (9:20). Those who ignored this left their servants and livestock in the field (9:21) where they died.
Goshen, which is located in the Delta region and would be the most likely place for a storm like this to occur, was completely spared (9:26). While those outside of Goshen were dying from the hail, peace was found among the Israelites, demonstrating the “set-apartness” of Israel.
In 9:27, Pharaoh’s response is different than ever before. He cries out, “I have sinned this time.” He identifies YHWH as righteous and he and his people as wicked. Clarity and sobriety cannot be overestimated when crisis hits. Pharaoh calls on Moses to intercede and he gives his word to let the people go. Moses intercedes “that you may know that the earth is YHWH’s” (9:29). As before, Pharaoh hardens his heart.
This plague attacks the goddess Nut (or in some cases Mut), the goddess of the sky from whom all goodness for growth came from.
Exodus 10:1-6. The overthrow of Egypt would be a teaching tool for the Israelites, leaving a generational legacy. We need to be reminded often about who YHWH is and what He has done. This introduces us to the eighth plague, the plague of locusts, devouring all that remained.
While Pharaoh considered letting Israel go, he sought to put stipulations upon their leave, not obeying YHWH fully, and ultimately not letting them go to worship Him.
Exodus 10:12-20. Pharaoh’s refusal to obey brings the locusts, covering everything in sight, even making it impossible to see the ground that they were walking on. Locusts can be in egg form for up to twenty years
before they hatch and they can eat as much as their own body weight in a day. A swarm of desert locusts can span 460 square miles and contain between 40 to 80 million locusts. A swarm this size could eat 423 million pounds of plants every day!
This god is Seth, the god of storms, wars, and chaos. He is mainly associated with the serpent, but is also sometimes depicted as a dog-like creature, or a beast with cloven hooves, a pointy tail, and red hair.
As before, Pharaoh acknowledges his sin (10:16) and asks Moses to intercede. The locusts are completely removed, but YHWH hardens Pharaoh’s heart to keep him from letting the Israelites go.
Exodus 10:21-29. The ninth plague is darkness, “a darkness which may be felt” (10:21) which lasted for three straight days. In this time, no one moved, one could not see the other. But in Goshen, light abounded!
Once again, Pharaoh would let the Israelites go, but they must leave their flocks and herds behind (10:24), probably resulting from the loss of livestock that Egypt had experienced. Without them, sacrifices could not be made, and YHWH could not be worshiped. With Moses’ emphatic explanation, he is cast out of Pharaoh’s presence (10:28).
The ninth god under fire is Ra, being the most well-known of the gods. He was believed to be over the sun and the creator of the world. He takes on many forms in Egyptian art but is almost always depicted as having a disk above his head representing the sun. He is believed to be “self-created” out of a primordial soup. Over this three-day span, he is shown to be useless, impotent, and silent.
Exodus 11:1-7. This final plague brings the death of the firstborn. Sin has consequences and leaders speak for their nations. When a leader speaks and acts in sin, the leader and the people pay for the sin committed. YHWH states that the Israelites plundered the Egyptians, taking all of their silver and gold (11:3). A distinction is made between the grief of Egypt and the silence of Israel. One in sin, one at rest.
The final god that YHWH strikes down is Pharaoh himself. He was believed to be the son of Ra and was considered the greatest of all the gods. The death of his offspring shows the helplessness of his power.
Exodus 12:1-13. To commemorate the release of the Israelites, YHWH resets their calendar (12:2) so that they would remember this event forever in what is known as the Feast of Passover. A lamb was to be selected and prepared. It had to be a male, young, and without blemish (12:5). Upon roasting and eating it along with bitter herbs (12:8), and being in a position of preparedness in order to leave at a moment’s notice (12:11), the doors of their houses were to be prepared with the blood from the lamb. The doorposts and the lentil were to have blood upon them. In doing this, death would “pass over” them (12:13).
Those who operated in unbelief died. Those who believed, who applied the blood as instructed, lived.
We see YHWH as the Judge, but also as the Deliverer. He alone judges because He alone sets the standard. He alone delivers because He alone provides the means of pardon!
Taking the Bible as the progressive revelation that it is, YHWH has been crystal-clear about the specifics surrounding salvation.
- He alone will provide the solution and guarantee the victory (Gen 3:15).
- He legally recognizes one as “righteous” simply by believing His Word (Gen 15:6).
- He alone provides the sacrifice necessary (Lamb-Gen 22:8).
- Death passes over all who have applied the blood (Ex 12:13).
In light of Jesus becoming our Lamb and paying for our sins, we apply the blood by faith, fully assured that death has passed over us and that we have been set free!
 http://www.touregypt.net/historicalessays/lifeinegypt10.htm. Accessed 19 February 2018.
 https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/locusts/, Accessed on 21 February 2018.