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Ten Plagues Article Bookmarks - In Order That They Occurred:

1 - Nile Turns To Blood
6 - Boils
2 - Frogs
7 - Hail
3 - Lice
8 - Locust
4 - Beasts
9 - Darkness
5 - Livestock Disease
10 - First Born Death

1) The Nile River Turns To Blood:

The Nile River was very important to the Egyptians. There was very little rain in Egypt, and the Egyptians were able to use the water from the annual overflow of the Nile to grow food. They felt like the river sustained life so they worshiped the river as a god. There were a few different gods' in Egyptian mythology that were associated with the Nile River. Some worshiped the god Hapi in connection to the Nile. The god Osiris was considered to be the first king of the Nile. The god Khnum was sometimes known as lord of the cool waters. He was believed to be self-created and the creator of other Egyptian gods.

Pharaoh would go to the Nile in the morning for meditation. God told Moses to meet Pharaoh at the river so that Moses could show Gods' power over the Nile. The true God of the Hebrews in His first plague turned the Nile River into blood to show His superiority over the Egyptian gods. Ancient Egyptians considered red to be a color of evil. Tradition has it that only the Nile and its connected waterways turned to blood. Individual water wells may have been OK. Notice that the first and last plagues deal with blood. The rest are sandwiched in between.

2) Frogs:

This plague seems to be progressive from the last one. God had just shown his superiority over the Nile by changing it to blood and killing the fish that were in it. Now He was going to bring out frogs from the Nile. This would show that God could pick and choose what lives and dies in the Nile.

The frogs were considered to be one of the most timid of creatures, usually hiding in the Nile and marshes nearby and not coming into contact with man out of fear. The Egyptians respected the frogs because they helped control the undesirable insects that appeared when the Nile flooded. God showed that even the timid creatures no longer feared the Egyptians by allowing them to be everywhere, including in the presence of the leaders and on their physical bodies. The plague was so bad that Pharaoh agreed to let Israel worship their God if Moses would just get rid of the frogs. The frogs that the Egyptians could do nothing about were soon found dead in piles after Moses prayed to God for an end to the plague. These piles would serve as a visual reminder of God's power for the people of Egypt as they cleaned up this smelly mess.

It has been suggested that Isis (Ishtar) may have been the target of this plague. She was a fertility goddess. Heket was a god that was often pictured with the head of a frog, sometimes known as the frog god. It has also been suggested that perhaps one of the reasons God selected frogs was because of their nature, animals that are noisy all night long but sleep during the day. On the outside of their fancy homes, royalty in Egypt might have looked superior to all others but inside they would suffer the same plague as all the other Egyptians. The frogs would get in the way of cooking, sleeping, and even bathing. In the end, not all of the frogs died. Some went back into the Nile.

3) Lice (Gnats):

This plague also seems to be progressive. God had just shown His total superiority over water and things that live in it. Now He shows His superiority over the dust of the Earth. Here the Earth rises up to punish the Egyptians. One of the smallest things on the planet that the human eye can see, yet collectively it makes up the land that they lived on. When God turns dust to lice, He is saying, "I control even the smallest part of the land." As Pharaoh's personal magicians tried to duplicate this miracle, they realized they couldn't, and they told Pharaoh that they knew they couldn't. This was the finger of God.

The Egyptians were getting the idea of the true superiority of the Hebrew God and told Pharaoh so. Pharaoh, however, had a hard heart and would not listen. From this point on, the Egyptian magicians didn't try to duplicate anything that Moses and Aaron did. There was an Egyptian god known as Geb. He was the Earth god, and this plague may have been intended to show God's superiority over him and the physical land itself since the plague came from the dust of the Earth. At the end of this plague God had shown His total superiority over Earth and water and things that live in the water.

4) Beasts (Flies):

This plague may have consisted of more than one kind of animal. The dog fly and other insects have been suggested. Here God shows His superiority over all animals on land. God's rule over water, frogs and fish had already been addressed in plagues one and two. The gnats or lice were in plague three. Now God shows that all land dwelling animals on Earth (not animals that live in the air as this was one of the points of the locust) are subject to His control. The same way He brought animals to Noah and the Ark He brought them to the homes of the Egyptians. He was showing that if He willed, it could be that man had to make room for the animals and not that the animals had to make room for man. If flies were included in this plague, then the mythological god Baalzebub may have also been the target. One of his many names was Fly, sometimes being called the Lord of the Flies.

Baalzebub is similar in mythology to Satan. This plague was for the Egyptians only. Where the Israelites lived in Goshen, the animal problem did not exist. Notice that Pharaoh tried to get Moses to compromise what he had asked for. Moses wanted to move away from pagan influences of Egypt to worship the true God. Pharaoh wanted him to worship right there in Egypt, but Moses knew this was not what God had told him to ask. Don't be surprised if Satan is trying to get you to compromise what God has asked you to do also. It is believed by some that God removed all the animals instead of letting them die like the frogs. If the animals had died the Egyptians may have been able to use their skins for something good. Here God, is also making the statement that even if the Nile (water) and lice (Earth) were OK the Egyptians could still be run out of their land by wild animals or flies.

5) Livestock Disease:

With this plague, God continued to show His superiority over all the living animals. He had already shown how He could make animals come and go, and live and die at will in the last plague. Egyptians believed that some animals were holy. The bull was worshiped, because it was the symbol of the god Apis. The bull also symbolized the god Osiris. Another god known as Hathor was often associated with the cow. Killing these animals with a type of pestilence would show God's superiority over these Egyptian gods. If He chose, He could control diseases that could kill these symbolic figures. He could pick and choose which ones were affected and died. He proved this by allowing Israel to once again not be effected by the plague. Pharaoh couldn't believe this so he sent advisors to confirm this for him, which they did. Still his heart was hardened.

6) Boils:

With the coming of the boils, God made some very powerful statements. One is found in the miracle itself. When Moses threw a couple of handfuls of soot in the air, it became enough to cover all the Egyptians. God can make a little go a long way. We also see God sending this plague to both man and beast. You may ask why there were any cattle left after the last plague. It was because God only allowed the disease to come to the cattle that were in the field. You may ask why soot. Soot would actually help to heal a boil. Once again God is showing He rules over the ordinary laws of nature. This plague seemed to affect all of Egypt's cattle. The Egyptian medicine god Thoth couldn't cure these boils, and Pharaoh's counsel pleaded with Pharaoh yet his heart remained hard.

7) Hail:

This was probably God's most awesome plague yet. Some consider this a type of cosmic change in the atmosphere. All of a sudden Egypt had thunder, hail, rain, and probably lightning. Egypt wasn't used to getting hail; they hardly got any moisture at all. That's why they depended on the annual overflow from the Nile River so much. Even in the middle of the plagues, God showed Egypt mercy and grace. He allowed Moses to forewarn the Egyptians of the impending plague. Why would He do this? A couple of different reasons can be seen. One is God is continuing to show His superiority over the Egyptian gods. He has already shown He rules over the god of water and Earth and over the god of animals that walk the Earth. He has also shown that He rules over disease in both worshiped animals and man. He is about to remind Egypt that He controls the weather also.

He has also shown He will protect Israel if and when He chooses by leaving them out of certain plagues. Now by forewarning Egypt, God is saying, "get prepared for the next plague. Fight if off if you can. You know it is coming, so perhaps you can convince the god of the sky (Nut) you worship to stop it before it starts." He is also saying, "If you believe in me, and my messenger Moses and act on what he is saying, then you also will be saved."Even here the blessing for those who act out of faith are for both Jew and Gentile. This is a tremendous sign of mercy and grace offered along with judgment.

This was the most incredible plague to happen so far. First it was predicted, and then brought about. It affected the Egyptians but not the Jews. The rest of the plagues came from Earth, while this one appeared to come from heaven (the sky). They must have wondered if Moses now had the authority to control both Heaven and Earth. It killed everything in its path, including man and beast, and trees and crops. It was an awesome plague because of the devastation that it caused, but it was awesome for another reason also. There was fire contained inside of the hail. The ordinary nature of fire and ice would have the fire melting the ice into rain. Why did the hail not destroy the wheat? It has been suggested that this allowed Pharaoh's heart to still have some hope in his gods and some doubt in the Hebrew God. It allowed Pharaoh's heart to remain hard. It was not only the forewarning of the plague that showed Gods power, it was also the ending of the plague. What an awesome God that could stop something like that before it destroyed all of Egypt!

8) Locust:

The locust plague was incredibly powerful. Here God shows that He is in total control of the animals that live in the air. This completes His show of authority over all animals. Those that live in water, those that walk the Earth, and those that fly. The East wind that blew in was probably from Asia, a natural habitat for the locust. God showed that as easy as He can bring them into Egypt He could kill them. They were all drowned in the Red Sea. (He allowed some of the frogs to live at the end of that plague). The locust ate up whatever damaged crops were left in the fields. Egypt had been known for its great agriculture. This is what brought the Jews to Egypt in the first place. Soon the Jews would be leaving Egypt but not until there were no crops and very little cattle left. Pharaoh may have known what the results would be if the locust remained in Egypt and deposited their larva in the land. The next agriculture season could be effected the same way.

9) Darkness:

This was by far the scariest plague. When the darkness came, it was very dark. So dark that no one could move nor could you see your hand in front of your face. Wherever you were when the plague struck, it was where you stayed for about three days. Tradition has it that there was moisture in the air and that candles or lamps could not be lit. This was another plague that only affected the Egyptians and not the Jews living in Goshen. This was an attack on the biggest, strongest most powerful Egyptian god, the sun god Re (Ra). Egyptians believed that in the beginning Re was alone. He was known as the god of the sun. The sun was actually considered his eye. He impregnated himself and bore the air. There was no other god so powerful and, at one time, he had over 50 different versions of his name. With the darkness plague came God's statement, "I am in control."

God had overcome the sun, and no one could even move it was so dark. This was probably enough to convince everyone but Pharaoh, who still had a hardened heart. Moses must have told Israel in advance that this plague was coming along with the redemption. By the time that this plague was over, God had shown His superiority over the Egyptian gods, over the water and land, over its inhabitants, and now over its atmosphere. There weren't any Egyptian gods that could compete with the Hebrew God, and everyone knew it. The slaves knew they were about to be redeemed, and Egypt feared for its survival. Still, Pharaoh would not keep his word and free the slaves. God is also teaching us that without His light, we are all in spiritual darkness.

Blood, frogs, and lice were to demonstrate God's authority over water and land.

Beasts of the wilderness (flies), the cattle disease, and boils or blisters were to demonstrate Gods authority over the inhabitants who lived on the land.

Hail, locust, and darkness were to demonstrate God's authority over the atmosphere that surrounded both the land and the people who lived upon it.

10) Death Of The First Born:

This would be the final plague. The one that convinced Pharaoh to let Israel leave Egypt. This would be another sign of how God's grace can be included with His judgment. The chronological order of the scripture here is believed by some to jump back and forth from Moses talking to Israel and Pharaoh. Some believe verses 4-9 in chapter 11 actually follow verse 29 in chapter 10; (Moses already knew about the plague and could confirm with Pharaoh that he was correct about not seeing him back at the palace any more).

Israel was told to prepare for this plague. They were not automatically exempt from the slaying of their first born. They needed to be involved with what is known as the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb. They were to sacrifice a Paschal Lamb, take the blood from that lamb, and mark their two doorposts and the door lintel. The lambs were probably slain just outside the door. Under the door was a small ditch to prevent flooding. Inside of that ditch, a basin was placed there to prevent seepage of the blood. They then could easily dip the hyssop into the blood contained in the basin and apply it to the two sides and top of the door. The doors of the homes were now sealed by the blood of the lamb and the Jews were to remain inside for the entire evening. This time is known to Israel as its " dawn of their redemption."

There are other times in scripture where a special mark was needed to be immune from something bad about to happen. We find this idea in Ezekiel 9:4-6 and again in Revelations 7:2,3 and 9:4.

The Angel of Death came around midnight. Screams could be heard throughout Egypt as the judgment of the slaying of the first born arrived. Certainly God knew which houses had Jews in them so why was it necessary to paint the blood on the doorpost?

This was considered an act of faith, and a tremendous one at that. It was never the bloods physical properties that saved the Jews even in temple sacrifices later on. The Egyptians could have also killed a lamb and covered their doors. It was the faith that the Jews had that the blood of the lamb would be a substitute for their own blood and a substitute for their own first born. It was faith that Moses had really been in touch with God and was presenting them God's divine will. This show of faith was rewarded that night. Death passed over the homes of the faithful inside. This is where the holiday gets its name, Pass-over.

The Jews proved their faith by placing the blood of the Lamb on their doorpost. This was sure to bring a swift Egyptian response in the morning if Moses was wrong. Some Egyptians may have worshiped the lamb and would have looked at its sacrificial killing as an insult to their god (Some animals were believed to contain holy gods). Others in Egyptian authority may conclude the slaves had stepped out of bounds on what they were allowed to do and not do. Surely if Pharaoh could order all Jewish babies thrown into the Nile River as a precaution to being threatened, he could order all Jews killed when the plagues were actually threatening the survival of Egypt.

The blood of the lamb was also symbolic of something to come later. In the days of the Temple, there was also a Paschal Lamb. This sacrificial lamb was to commemorate the original lamb first sacrificed just before the Angel of Death came. Both sacrificial lambs looked forward to yet another event that would come: the arrival of Jesus the Messiah. The same way God protected Israel from the Angel of Death in Egypt, God offers to all of us as protection today.

While we may not have to worry about our firstborn being taken by the Angel of Death, we should be concerned about our own death.

med-Messianic-SealGod promises that the penalty of sin is death. While we all die a physical death, it is not necessary to die a spiritual death. We can mark our (spiritual) doors, our hearts, and minds with the blood of the lamb. This was one of the names of Messiah. In the book of John, as John looked up and saw Jesus coming toward him he said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" By believing in His blood as a substitute blood for our own, we can have the Angel of (spiritual) Death pass over us. This allows us eternal life with the Father. For more on this, please read the Christ In The Passover page.

You may ask yourself why did God only take the first born. God claims the first born as His own. He claims the first born offspring, the first born cattle, the first fruits of your crops, and money. In Egypt that day, God claimed what He felt was His. The idea is that we have nothing without God so why not give back to Him first. While the Egyptians had to give up their first born, the Hebrew first born were redeemed, that is bought back. The cost was not measured with Egyptian money but once again by the blood of the lamb.

Now Israel, although free from slavery, had an obligation to give to God what He had paid for. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch makes this comment. "In the Pessach offering, the Jewish nation asserts all its members, assembled in family groups, as being God's flock and at His disposal, and then, in eating the same, it receives itself back, freed from physical and civic death."

Israel was a nation with a new beginning, being bought and paid for with a price. The nation of Israel is considered God's firstborn in the Old Testament. The Nation should be dedicated to God to do as He wants. But even inside the nation as a whole, the first born of the families needed to be ceremonially given to the Lord (Exodus 13:2).

God could have freed Israel with just one plague but chose to use ten instead. This is because He wanted more opportunity for His actions to be remembered, more opportunity to prove that He was lord over all the gods in Egypt, not just one of them. God knew that the story of Passover would remain alive, in fact, He commands the retelling of it every year. Jews and Christians both can learn from God's example here. Sometimes we unintentionally lift things up in our own life like a god, money, perhaps our careers, members of our family, or perhaps even ourselves. We can draw comfort in knowing that God is greater than all of those things and, when we focus on His greatness, then He is lifted up on high, and our pride is put into check.

We can also learn from the command to get rid of the leaven in our life. In Jewish homes at this time of year there is an actual physical search for the leaven traditionally using a feather and candle. We should all keep in mind that the leaven represents sin. We should be searching our own life so closely that the leaven is exposed. We should make the same effort to get the leaven away from us as Israel did back then. Keep in mind that it does little good to get rid of the leaven (sin) for a little while if you don't make the effort to keep it away.

It is a tradition that while you are reciting the ten plagues to take your finger and dip it into the wine glass and then onto a napkin for each of the plagues. It is also to remember the death of the Egyptians and remind us of the finger of God. While the Seder meal is joyful, we must also remember that the Egyptians were God's people too and, therefore, we should be saddened that they had to die.

Some Rabbis believe that there were more plagues than the ten listed in Exodus.


Read more about how you can be covered by the Blood Of The Lamb?

Read more about The Holiday Of Passover.


Some information for this article came from The Biblical And Historical Background Of The Jewish Holy Days, by Abraham P. Bloch. It is copyrighted material and was used with permission of the publisher. KTAV Publishing, 900 Jefferson Street. box 6249, Hoboken, NJ 07030-0102

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