Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh; and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.Exodus 11:9-10 RSV
This stands as a summary of all the plagues in which Moses and Aaron had a part, namely, the first nine plagues.
The Tenth Plague, the death of the first-born, was accomplished by God Himself WITHOUT human instrumentality, but nevertheless, Pharaoh never did actually let God’s people go.
True, God delivered them without Pharaoh’s help, and in spite of him.
Again and again we have noted this, but one more summary of the impact of these wonders upon Egypt’s gods is here included.
The fact that one author names some gods and other authors cite different gods is due to the fact that each wonder confronted and discredited multiple pagan deities.
Summary Of The Plagues
- BLOODY WATER (Exodus 7:12), against the god Nilus, the sacred river god.
- FROGS (Exodus 8:6), against Hekt, the goddess of reproduction.
- LICE (GNATS) (Exodus 8:17), against Seb, god of the earth.
- FLIES (BEETLES), against Khephera, the sacred scarab.
- MURRAIN ON EGYPTIAN CATTLE (Exodus 9:3), against Apis and Hathor, the sacred bull and cow.
- BOILS ON MAN AND BEAST (Exodus 9:10), against Typhon, the evil-eye god.
- HAIL (Exodus 9:23), against Shu, the god of the atmosphere.
- LOCUSTS (Exodus 10:14), against Serapis, the protector from locusts.
- DARKNESS (Exodus 10:22), against Ra, the sun god.
- DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN (Exodus 11:5), against Plah, the god of life. Perhaps this was a blanket attack against all the gods of Egypt.
It is also observable that all of the plagues without exception, and the last one particularly, were directed squarely against Pharaoh himself, a pagan deity of top rank.
Each night, according to Egyptian mythology, the sun fought and overcame the snake, Apophis, who symbolized the hostile darkness.
That approaching midnight God had just announced through Moses to Pharaoh would be the ultimate exposure and defeat of pagan god Pharaoh, who himself also would ultimately perish in the Red Sea.
This summary of the plagues is an appropriate occasion to explore some of the questions concerning them.
Why Were So Many Plagues Necessary?
Egypt had many false gods, and it was necessary that all of them should have been discredited and destroyed.
Also, since the plagues were actually variations of natural occurrences, it was mandatory that all explanations of them as coincidences should have been refuted.
One or two plagues could always have been explained as coincidences; but ten of them should have convinced even the most skeptical that the hand of God was in this series of calamities.
When God stated that He would slay the first-born, does this attribute an action to God that is unworthy of Him?
The answer is no.
God will eventually slay the entire race of Adam, the sole exceptions being the redeemed “in Christ.”
And such facts are fully in keeping with all that is revealed concerning the nature of God, especially His utter abhorrence of evil, and His promise of justice and vengeance on the wicked.
There is no solution to what some see as a problem here by attributing the death of the first-born to some “bad” angel!
The action was GOD’s, whether or not a bad or a good angel acted in the actual execution of God’s will.
What Was The Purpose Of These Plagues?
- One purpose was the founding of the nation of Israel through their deliverance from Egyptian slavery.
- Another purpose was that of striking a fatal blow against paganism.
- It was also for the purpose of spreading the knowledge of the true God over a world that was already in the process of forgetting their Creator altogether.
- The punishment of Egypt for their sins against Israel is also a clear purpose.
- If it should be objected that it was not the Egyptians, but only Pharaoh who sinned, the Egyptian people were far from being innocent bystanders.
- They had stood by consenting to the enslavement of Israel and therefore shared in the responsibility for their oppression … Failure to protest injustice can be just as great a sin as sin actually committed.
- They had also participated in the casting of Hebrew infant males into the river.