Exodus 5-13: The 10 Plagues (and the Passover)

Before the Israelites left, there were a series of plagues that befell Egypt. The final plague introduces us to the Jewish holiday of The Passover.

Introduction

The confrontation between Moses, backed by God, and Pharaoh is one of my favorite passages from the Bible. So much can be learned from the exchange and the outcome, yet I see it rarely gets quoted. Not only does the Exodus set up Jesus' fulfillment of as the perfect Passover Lamb when He is crucified (sacrificed), but Exodus shows us a glimpse of what can be expected during the end times (now)! This post is dedicated to the awesomeness that comes from the act that God continually reminds us of throughout the Bible.
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The Ten Plagues

At A Glance

Order Plague from God Duplicated by Magicians? Pharaoh Lies About Letting Israelites Go Corresponding Verses
1 Water turns to blood Exodus 7:14-25
2 Frogs Exodus 8:1-15
3 Lice Exodus 8:16-19
4 Flies Exodus 8:20-32
5 Death of the livestock Exodus 9:1-7
6 Boils Exodus 9:8-12
7 Hail and fire Exodus 9:13-35
8 Locusts Exodus 10:4-20
9 Darkness Exodus 10:21-27
10 Death of the firstborns Exodus 11, 12

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Interesting Points

There are many interesting points to be made about the 10 plagues of Egypt, most of which reveal why it is such a "popular" and one of the most well known sections of the Old Testament.
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The Desire For "Proof"

One of the major arguments of disbeliever is that there is no Egyptian record of the Israelites being held captive in Egypt. The Egyptians are known for destroying history[1] (re: Hatshepsut, who interestingly would have been co-ruler during the estimated time of the Exodus[2]), particularly for kings that fell out of favor with the people, so why would you expect them to build monuments recording God showing Pharaoh who's boss? Some destroyed artifacts were pieced together to decipher information on rulers such as Hatshepsut, but some information, like who the mother of Cleopatra was, has never been found. The fact that some damaged artifacts were restored further establishes the possibility of artifacts that have not been restored and/or artifacts that were successfully destroyed containing the "forgotten" history of the Israelites. Remember after the 10 plagues, the Israelites left Egypt. This situation is very different than that of American slavery. Those of us in America that are descended from African slaves are still here, able to fight for our side of the story to be taught, inserting our history into the dialogue, and forcing those who would rather forget, to remember what actually happened. I had a white classmate who once expressed his opinion that black history shouldn't be taught because it made him feel bad. I'm sure the Egyptians felt bad—embarrassed—that their slaves' God ransacked their city and gave much of their wealth to the slaves who walked out only to never come back. Egypt was the greatest empire in the world at that time; Pharaoh considered himself a god, but he got showed up by the real God—I'm not sure why people are so convinced the Egyptians would have kept a detailed log of their defeat as opposed to covering it up and maintaining their god-like facade. As it would have it, there is a document that has caused a debate among scholars over whether it is referencing the events of the Exodus or something else. This document is called the Ipuwer Papyrus, though it was probably written before the Exodus occurred (though no one is sure of its origin[3])[4]. An article discussing other links between the Israelites and Egypt can be found here and an interesting theory using the Egyptian histories can also be found here.
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Similarities with Revelation

Like the narrative of the Israelite's triumphant exodus from Egypt, Revelation contains ominous warnings of plagues that will befall the world during the last days. Some plagues are even the same as those mentioned in Exodus. Ecclesiastes 1:9 confirms that history repeats, and you can bet that we are told to remember and teach how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to prepare us for the future. In Exodus, God's chosen people (the Israelites) are held captive by Egypt, but in Revelation, God's chosen people (believers in Christ) are held captive by the antichrist. In both situations God gives ample warnings before pouring out His wrath. It is important to remember the behavior of the pharaoh (stubbornness and disbelief) and the actions of the Israelites (believing and taking part in The Passover on faith) as you study Revelation.
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The Significance of the 10 Plagues

From the moment we are told what happened in Egypt, all the way into the New Testament, we are constantly reminded that God is the God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt. The Bible stresses that this is a very important event and a defining attribute the Israelites' relationship with God. God could have easily killed the firstborns as the first plague, or killed all of the Egyptians but He didn't, which conveys two powerful messages. The first and possibly most important message we receive is that God is patient. God sends Moses and Aaron to articulate God's desire for the Israelites to be let go and warn Pharaoh of the upcoming plague should he fail to release the Israelites. It is only after Pharaoh denies God's request that God unleashes the plague. God starts small; He doesn't deliver a death blow on the first swing. The second message is that He is God. In Exodus 9:16, God admits that he is showing His power. The magicians of Egypt are able to duplicate God's miracles in the beginning, but eventually they discover that they cannot keep up with God. This was not just a sign for Egypt to scare Pharaoh into letting the Israelites go, but a sign for the Israelites so they would know who the God they were following was.
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The Passover

The Passover is a crucial part of the Israelites' exit from Egypt. It is a memorial, mandated by God, to reflect on, remember, and retell how God brought them out of Egypt. The events of the Passover reflect the 10th and final plague of Egypt. During this plague, God instructs the Israelites to select and set apart a male lamb without blemish. The lamb is set aside from the 10th day until the 14th day when God instructs that the Israelites should roast (but not sodden with water) and eat all of the lamb. Anything not eaten was to be burned. The blood of the lamb was to be placed on the side posts of the door as a sign for the destroyer to passover their house. For this reason the Israelites are spared from the plague.

God defines The Passover specially, from the day it is to be held to who can participate. First, God specifies that the month the exodus began in (Abib according to the ancient Hebrew calendar[5], Nisan according to the Babylonian calendar[6], and between March and April for the Gregorian Calendar[7]) should be considered the first month of the year and it is the month The Passover memorial should occur. He then specifies the following order of events:
Day of Abib/Nisan Instruction
10th Choose a male lamb in its first year without blemish and set it apart from the others
14th Kill and eat (preferably all) the lamb in the evening. Anything leftover must be burned. The meal is to be eaten while fully dressed, including shoes.
15th-21st The Feast of Unleavened Bread. For 7 days, the Israelites are to eat only unleavened bread to remind them of the haste in which they fled Egypt.

God tells Moses that strangers are not to eat of The Passover lamb, however slaves that have been circumcised may join the feast. Keeping the Passover is described as a sign upon their hands and a memorial between their eyes (in their minds) in Exodus 13:9. This will be something to keep in mind when studying/discussing the Seal of God mentioned in Revelation.

We will also see the importance/significance of the Passover with relationship to Jesus as we dive deeper in the Bible.
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Relating to Today

When I was taught about the Exodus in church, they focused on how this event related to the Jews; there was no mention of how it relates to us today. Yet, when I reread the chapters on the plague a multitude of comparisons to today's society flooded my mind. The first and one of the most important takeaways is that Pharaoh's magicians duplicated God's first three signs. Many people think of God as a magician (I discussed this in the post on creation), but this is one of the many reminders that man can use knowledge or technology to duplicate a fraction of God's wonders. While the magicians used their own methods to replicate acts of God shown through Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh became convinced that Moses and Aaron were just like his own magicians—knowledgable, but ultimately powerless. When the magicians could no longer duplicate the miracles, it was pride that kept him from admitting Moses and Aaron answered to a higher power. This is no different than scientists today. People try to provide "reason" for acts of God; they cite the science behind how things work and sometimes succeed in replicating these events. Remember that while a scientist may be able to tell you how a hurricane formed, they can neither make one appear nor stop one from occurring. Scientists talk about evolution, but they cannot create life nor can they "evolve" a species. They are much like Pharaoh's magicians, their ability to define and analyze phenomena lulls people into the idea that God was just an explanation for science, when science is actually the attempt to explain God.
10And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. 12For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.Exodus 7:10-12

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References

  1. Bond, Sarah. "Erasing the Face of History". New York Times. May 2011
  2. Hatshepsut Biography. Biography.com. 2015
  3. "Admonitions of Ipuwer"
  4. Becher, Mordechai. "The Ten Plagues". Ohr Somayach Institutions. 2015
  5. "Abib". Merriam Webster. 2015
  6. Stern, Sacha. "Abib". Merriam Webster. 2015
  7. Rich, Tracey R. "Jewish Calendar". Judaism 101. 2011

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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