The Ten Plagues

Reading: Exodus Chs 7-11

After spending 40 years in the land of Midian, Moses arrived back in Egypt. God had told him that He was going to deliver His people, the Israelites, from Egypt and both Moses and his brother Aaron were to be His representatives. God had given Moses three signs to perform before the Israelites so that they believed Moses when he said that God was going to deliver them (you can read of these in the story "Moses and the Burning Bush").

When the Israelite leaders saw the signs, they believed Moses and Aaron and worshiped God in thankfulness. Pharaoh, however, was not as happy!
Pharaoh thought that if the Israelite slaves had enough time to worship their God - and wanted to leave Egypt to do so! - then they all had too much time on their hands. The king decided that the Israelites had to work harder. Instead of making bricks with clay and straw which had been provided for them, the Israelites now had to go to the fields throughout Egypt to find and collect the straw for themselves - and they had to make the same, large number of bricks each day!
Making the bricks this way was nigh impossible and the Israelites were beaten all the more because they could not make enough bricks. This angered them and, in their fury, they turned on Moses and Aaron, believing it to be their fault because they had displeased Pharaoh.
In despair, Moses turned to God who assured Moses that His promise would be kept and, because of Pharaoh's treatment of the Israelites and his hardness of heart, God was going to punish him. A terrible judgement was going to come on the land of Egypt and its people...

Moses and Aaron returned to Pharaoh and told him what God had said would happen if he did not let God's people go. Pharaoh, surrounded by his priests, magicians and astrologers, ordered Moses and Aaron to produce a sign that their God was more powerful than the gods of Egypt. Immediately, Aaron threw his rod on the ground. It transformed into a snake. But Pharaoh was not impressed. He ordered his magicians and sorcerers to do the same. They all cast down their rods and they too were transformed into snakes. But Aaron's snake swallowed them all up and when Aaron picked it up by the tail it was, once more, a rod.
Pharaoh's heart was hardened, though, and he did not believe Moses. He refused to let the Israelites go so Moses and Aaron left his presence.

The next morning, after receiving instructions from God, Moses and Aaron went to meet Pharaoh as he walked alongside the river Nile.
"Pharaoh" Moses called out, "God sent me to tell you to let His people go. But you would not listen. Therefore the LORD says 'By this action you will know that I am God. I will smite the water and it shall be turned into blood. The fish shall die and the river shall stink and you and your people will be unable to drink of it.'"
At this Aaron struck the water with his rod and the water turned to blood. All the fish died and there was no water to drink. Even the water in pitchers and buckets was turned to blood. The Egyptians were desperate to find water and dug holes along the banks of the the Nile searching for it, but it was no use. And Pharaoh refused to listen!

Seven days later Aaron stretched his rod over the Nile once more. This time thousands of frogs came up from the river. They got everywhere - into the houses, into beds and even into ovens! This time Pharaoh listened and he asked Moses to ask God to get rid of the frogs. Then he would let the Israelites go. No sooner had all the frogs gone, however, Pharaoh changed his mind!

Again Aaron was ordered to stretch out his rod, this time to strike the dust of the land. As soon as it was done lice were all over the land of Egypt, on all the people and their animals. At this Pharaoh's magicians said "This is the finger of God" but Pharaoh refused to listen and would not let the Israelites go.

God then told Moses to go once more the next morning to meet Pharaoh on the banks of the river Nile. Moses did as he was told and pleaded with Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, but Pharaoh refused. So Moses said, "Behold! The LORD will send swarms of flies on you and your servants." This time, however, things would be slightly different. The previous plagues had affected everyone in Egypt - Israelites and Egyptians - but this time only the Egyptians would suffer. There would be no flies among the Israelites.

The plague of flies was followed by a disease which struck all the Egyptian cattle. Once again the Israelites were unaffected. The disease killed horses, donkeys, cattle and camels. Boils and sores then struck the Egyptians and their animals. Hail fell upon Egypt, but Pharaoh's heart remained hard. He refused to let the Israelites go. Even when swarms of locusts devoured all the crops Pharaoh would not change his mind. Then darkness covered Egypt. It was so dark no-one could move about and it lasted for three days, but the Israelites had light!

Time and again Pharaoh would say that he would let the Israelites go, only to change his mind. Each time Pharaoh would ask Moses to pray to God to remove the plague - then he would let the people go. But as soon as it was done Pharaoh would refuse to free the Israelites. Indeed Pharaoh grew so angry with Moses that he told him that, if he were to show his face again, Pharaoh would kill him!

Moses never did see Pharaoh again. He left, but not before warning Pharaoh of the last and most terrible plague yet to come...

You can read of this in the story of The Passover.





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