Epistles of Thomas

January 23, 2009

Exodus 7-9

Filed under: Old Testament — Thomas @ 23:51
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At the beginning of chapter seven, God again gives Moses a foretaste of what will happen in Egypt with the end result that they have no option but to “know” he is the Lord. Moses and Aaron went before Pharaoh and Aaron turned his staff into a snake. The Egyptian magicians also did this but Aaron’s “staff” swallowed theirs. This did not impress Pharaoh. Next Moses and Aaron went to the Nile and demonstrated that their God could turn the water into blood. All the water from the river was turned to blood and the people had to dig wells for water. The magicians again copied this feat and Pharaoh was not impressed. They let him think about this for a week and then they approached him again. This time they warned him that if he did not let them go they would make frogs come up all over the land. This happened and as a consequence Pharaoh promised to let the people go if God took away the frogs the next day. All the frogs died but once Pharaoh saw that the problem had passed, he reneged on his promise. Then Moses and Aaron sent a plague of gnats on Egypt. This time the Pharaoh’s magicians could not replicate the feat and they declared, “This is the finger of God” (8:19) but Pharaoh refused to listen.

The next plague was one of flies but there was a distinction made during this plague. God announced: “But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow” (8:22-23). Again this event occurred as warned and Pharaoh tried to bargain with Moses. He offered to let them offer sacrifices within the land of Egypt but Moses insisted that they needed to go three days into the wilderness. Pharaoh agreed but, not surprisingly, he reneged on his promised once the flies had left.

The next event was a plague on Egypt’s livestock: horses, donkeys and camels and on cattle, sheep and goats. Once again a distinction was made between Egyptian livestock and Hebrew livestock. Pharaoh refused to let the people go and it is not even recorded that he tried to bargain with Moses. A plague of boils was next and the magicians could not even stand before Moses because of their boils. Pharaoh did nothing. The next plague was a hailstorm but God again made a distinction, but this time the people could decide which side they were on because they were warned of what would happen: “Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field” (9:20-21). Needless to say, those who left their livestock or servants out in the field suffered greatly. Pharaoh again promised to let the people go and again reneged as soon as the hail stopped. There is an interesting aside in 9:31f: “(The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later).” Perhaps the narrator wants it to be clear why there were still crops left for the locusts to devour in the next plague.

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