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,
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
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.