The Exodus: the Ten Plagues of Egypt

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  • Topic: Moses, Plagues of Egypt, The Exodus
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The Exodus: Ten Plagues of Egypt

The book of Exodus is the second book of the Pentateuch, or Weelleh Shemoth according to the Hebrew Bible. During the period of Exodus Israel had been in Egypt for about 215 years. The book is divided into five sections that go as follows. The first sections deals with the early life and training of Moses, and the second section explains the ten plagues. The third section explains the journey Moses took to Mt. Sinai. The fourth section explains the land of Israel, and the last section explains the construction of the tabernacle.

I will be focusing on the ten plagues brought down on Egypt by God. Moses asked for his people's freedom and the Pharaoh refused. He then brought ten plagues to Egypt water to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, death of livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death of the first born. One day Moses witnessed a taskmaster beating an Israelite for no reason so Moses killed the taskmaster. The Pharaoh then sentenced Moses to death, but Moses escaped to the land of Midian where he met his wife and was confronted by God. "One day in the wilderness, while driving the flock he came to place called Horeb where there was a mountain, which the text designates ‘the mountain of God.'" # It was here that Moses beheld the burning bush that spoke to him as the voice of God. The opening lines of God's address to Moses mention the 3 Patriarchs of the Israelites. "By recalling the three Patriarchs, God implicitly evokes the promises of redemption He had made to them."#

God then goes on to tell Moses that he must go back to Egypt to set the Israelite people free from the pharaoh. God shares with Moses the knowledge that the pharaoh will not let the people of Israel go without seeing a strong might. "'I know that the King of Egypt will let you go only because of a greater might.'"# "God makes the startling declaration that He himself will harden the heart of the king so that he will not let the people go."# This statement is saying that the pharaoh will deny Moses' demands because God has made the pharaoh do so. This is a point that I don't understand and find it hard to believe that this could happen. It's a very contradictory statement saying that Moses should go to the pharaoh with God's wishes, but God is going to cause the pharaoh to deny them.

Moses goes back to Egypt and confronts the pharaoh, and as God foretold he is denied even laughed at. "The pharaoh denied any knowledge of the Lord (YHVH), the God of Israel."# Moses is then asked to prove that he is the messenger of God by turning his staff into a snake. "On the present occasion, however, it is Aaron, not Moses, who enacts this feat of turning a rod into a snake. The reason is that in this way Moses tacitly asserts his equality of status with the Egyptian king."# The pharaoh is still hard of heart and denies them once again. God then tells Moses to confront the pharaoh the next day on the bank of The Nile and perform another fete. This is when the first of the ten plagues God brings down on Egypt begins.

The first plague is that the rivers and waters of Egypt would turn to blood and nobody would be able to drink from them. "In the sight of the Pharaoh and of his officials he lifted p the staff and struck the water in the river, and all the water in the river turned into blood, and the fish in the river died. The river stank so that the Egyptians could not drink its water, and there was blood throughout the whole land of Egypt."# Both Sarna and Humphreys give explanation as to why the river and waters of Egypt would turn to blood. Sarna explains that it was because of soil in the Blue Nile being red. During the floods, "it would be carried down the entire length of the river, and would be too much to be neutralized, as it is in the normal volume of flow. This would have led to discoloration of the waters "throughout the land of Egypt," so that they gave the appearance of being blood red."#

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