The Ten Plagues On Egypt

In the Bible account of the Exodus, Moses tried to convince Pharaoh,

One of the most popular stories in the Bible is about the children of Israel leaving Egypt. The story recounts the tale of Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea to freedom. The Red Sea parted to allow Moses to lead his people across and out of Egypt.

The Pharaoh on the throne at the time had reduced the Jewish people to little more than slaves. Moses had run away to Midian and married there forty years previously. God appeared to him in the burning bush and told him to go back to Egypt, to Pharaoh, and tell Pharaoh to let the Jews return to Palestine. Pharaoh was resistant and stubborn. He continued to make the Jew's lives even more difficult.

In an effort to convince Pharaoh to let the people go, God brought plagues upon the Egyptians. There are ten plagues listed and described in the book of the Exodus. After the first five plagues, Pharaoh hardened his heart, firm in his resolve not to let them go. After the next five plagues, it was God who hardened his heart.

Plague #1: Nile Turned to Blood

Moses and Aaron, Moses' spokesman, met the Pharaoh on the shore of the Nile River. Aaron had earlier turned his walking stick into a snake but the King's magicians had been able to duplicate that. Moses told Pharaoh that he would show him God's power.

Aaron held his stick over the river and the water turned into blood. The fish all died and there was blood everywhere in Egypt where there should have been water. The king's magicians were able to duplicate the feat and Pharaoh refused Moses' request.

Plague #2: Frogs

God told Moses: "Go to the king and tell him that the Lord says, "˜Let my people go, so that they can worship me. If you refuse, I will punish your country by covering it with frogs.'" (Ex.8: 1,2) So Aaron held his walking stick over the river and an abundance of frogs came out onto the land. They were everywhere, even in the palace. The magicians were able to repeat the trick but Pharaoh had to summon Moses and ask him to get rid of the frogs.

Pharaoh promised to let the people go if Moses would ask his God to remove the frogs. The frogs were removed but the king changed his mind and refused to let Moses lead them out.

Plague #3: Gnats

Aaron struck the ground with his stick and all the dust of Egypt was turned into gnats. There were gnats everywhere and the magicians of Egypt could not duplicate it. The magicians told Pharaoh that God had done it but he refused to let the people go.

Plague #4: Flies

Moses and Aaron approached the king again to let the Israelites go and worship in the desert. He threatened the Pharaoh with an infestation of flies if he didn't comply. This time a distinction was made between the Egyptians and the Jews. The flies would not bother the Jews. The next day God sent flies everywhere in Egypt except Goshen, where the Israelites were.

Pharaoh promised to let the people go if Moses would just get rid of the flies. Moses prayed to God and every fly died. The King remained stubborn and still would not let them go.

Plague #5: Plague on Cattle

The next disaster was the death of all of the Egyptian's livestock, horses, sheep, camels, goats, donkeys and cattle. None of the Israelite's animals were touched. The king remained steadfast and would not let them go.

Plague #6: Boils

The Lord told Moses to take a handful of ashes from a furnace and throw the ashes up into the air. The ash spread all over Egypt and everyone had boils and open sores. The magicians would not come to the king because they were too sore with their boils. The king remained adamant because now God was making him stubborn.

Plague #7: Hail

A massive hailstorm was next on the agenda. The king was warned that everyone should stay inside to avoid being killed by hailstones. The hail destroyed the crops in the field and killed the people who didn't heed the warning. It hailed everywhere in Egypt except Goshen.

Pharaoh begged Moses to ask God to stop the hail and he would let the people go. Moses prayed and the hail stopped but Pharaoh still would not let them go.

Plague #8: Locusts

Moses and Aaron went to see Pharaoh again. Pharaoh was willing to let the Jewish men go into the desert to worship, but not the women and children. Moses refused and the king denied his request. So God sent a cloud of locusts that covered the land and ate everything that the hail had not destroyed. "Not a green thing was left on any tree or plant in all the land of Egypt." (Ex. 10: 15) God continued to harden Pharaoh's heart and he would not let the people go.

Plague #9: Darkness

God told Moses to raise his hand toward the sky and darkness would fall on Egypt. There was total darkness in all of Egypt for three days. Only the children of Israel had light. Pharaoh offered to let the people go but not their animals. Moses refused that offer and the king told him that he never wanted to see him again.

Plague #10: Death of the Firstborn

Moses told the king that every firstborn would be killed. Everyone from the Pharaoh's son to the slave woman's son would die. God instructed Moses to tell his people to make sure every household had a lamb or goat, a one-year-old male without any defects. On the given day, they were to slaughter, cook and eat the animal and put its blood on their doorposts. The angel of death would see the blood when he came to kill the firstborn and would "pass over" when he saw the blood. All of the firstborn of people and animals of the Egyptians died that night and Pharaoh sent the Israelites away.


Good News Bible, Canadian Bible Society, 1992

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