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1. The name of the book
  1. Exodus - Chapter 1 - Bible - Catholic Online
  2. Book of Exodus
  4. Volume 2: The Exodus Song

He intended to live among the Israelites and manifest His shekinah glory Exodus —35 —another proof that they were indeed His people. The Mosaic Covenant, unveiled initially through the Decalogue Ten Commandments , provides the foundation for the beliefs and practices of Judaism, from common eating practices to complex worship regulations. Through the Law, God says that all of life relates to God.

Nothing is outside His jurisdiction. Like the Israelites who left Egypt, all believers in Christ are redeemed and consecrated to God. Under the Mosaic Covenant, people annually sacrificed unblemished animals according to specific regulations in order to have their sins covered, or borne, by that animal. As the perfect Lamb of God, He took away our sin permanently when He sacrificed Himself on our behalf. Click here to view Sermon Audio on this book. Christopher Wright has written:. The common opinion that the Bible is a moral code book for Christians falls far short, of course, of the full reality of what the Bible is and does.

The Bible is essentially the story of God, the earth and humanity; it is the story of what has gone wrong, what God has done to put it right, and what the future holds under the sovereign plan of God. Nevertheless, within that grand narrative, moral teaching does have a vital place. And our mission certainly includes the ethical dimension of that response. Because this term is so central to the entire discussion at hand, it will help us to clarify how this Hebrew word actually works in the Bible.

The word Torah appears once in Genesis in the sense of instructions from God that Abraham followed. It can refer to instructions from one human to another Ps. To highlight the rich and instructive nature of law in Exodus, we shall sometimes refer to it as Torah with no attempt at translation. In Exodus, it is clear that Torah in the sense of a set of specific instructions is part of the covenant and not the other way around. In other words, the covenant as a whole describes the relationship that God has established between himself and his people by virtue of his act of deliverance on their behalf Exod.

This is significant for our understanding of the theology of work. In Christian terms, we love God because he first loved us and we demonstrate that love in how we treat others 1 John Willem A. It can be a challenge for a Christian to draw a point from a verse in the book of Exodus or especially Leviticus, and then suggest how that lesson should be applied today. How do we avoid the charge of inconsistency in our handling of the Bible? The diversity of laws in Exodus and the Pentateuch presents one type of challenge. Another comes from the variety of ways that Christians understand and apply Torah and the Old Testament in relationship to Christ and the New Testament.

Still, the issue of Torah in Christianity is crucial and must be addressed in order for us to glean anything about what this part of the Bible says concerning our work. The following brief treatment aims to be helpful without being overly narrow. God gave the Torah as an expression of his holy nature and as a consequence of his great deliverance. Reading the Torah makes us aware of our inherent sinfulness and of our need for a remedy in order for us to live at peace with God and one another. God expects his people to obey his instructions by applying them to real issues of life both great and small.

  • About this book.
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The specific nature of some laws does not mean God is an unrealistic perfectionist. These laws help us to understand that no issue we face is too small or insignificant for God. Even so, the Torah is not just about outward behavior, for it addresses matters of the heart such as coveting Exod. Later, Jesus would condemn not just murder and adultery, but the roots of anger and lust as well Matt. However, obeying the Torah by applying it to the real issues of life today does not equate to repeating the actions that Israel performed thousands of years ago.

Already in the Old Testament we see hints that some parts of the law were not intended to be permanent. In some important sense, he embodied all that the temple, its priesthood, and its activities stood for. Much in the New Testament confirms the Torah, not only in its negative commands against adultery, murder, theft, and coveting, but also in its positive command to love one another Rom.

In the end, only Jesus could accomplish this. On the other hand, new covenant believers do not work that way. For our purposes in considering the theology of work, the previous explanation suggests several points that may help us to understand and apply the laws in Exodus that relate to the workplace. They are to be taken seriously but not slavishly. On the one hand, items in the Ten Commandments are worded in general terms and may be applied freely in varied contexts.

On the other hand, particular laws about servants, livestock, and personal injuries exemplify applications in the specific historical and social context of ancient Israel, especially in areas that were controversial at the time. These laws are illustrative of right behavior but do not exhaust every possible application. Christians honor God and his law not only by regulating our behavior, but also by allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our attitudes, motives, and desires Rom. To do anything less would amount to sidestepping the work and will of our Lord and Savior. Christians should always seek how love may guide our policies and behaviors.

The Ten Commandments are worded as general commands either to do or not do something. These laws fit the social and economic world of ancient Israel. Gordon J. They are to be thought of not as the ten most important commands among hundreds of others, but as a digest of the entire Torah. All the law, as well as the prophets, is indicated whenever the Ten Commandments are expressed. That is, when applying the Ten Commandments, we will take into account related passages of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments.

The first commandment reminds us that everything in the Torah flows from the love we have for God, which in turn is a response to the love he has for us. Nothing else in life should concern us more than our desire to love and be loved by God. The other concern—be it money, power, security, recognition, sex, or anything else—has become our god. Observing the Ten Commandments is only conceivable for those who start by having no other god than God.

In the realm of work, this means that we are not to let work or its requirements and fruits displace God as our most important concern in life. Jesus warned of exactly this danger. But almost anything related to work can become twisted in our desires to the point that it interferes with our love for God. How many careers come to a tragic end because the means to accomplish things for the love of God—such as political power, financial sustainability, commitment to the job, status among peers, or superior performance—become ends in themselves?

When, for example, recognition on the job becomes more important than character on the job, is it not a sign that reputation is displacing the love of God as the ultimate concern? A practical touchstone is to ask whether our love of God is shown by the way we treat people on the job. If we put our individual concerns ahead of our concern for the people we work with, for, and among, then we have made our individual concerns our god.

In particular, if we treat other people as things to be manipulated, obstacles to overcome, instruments to obtain what we want, or simply neutral objects in our field of view, then we demonstrate that we do not love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. In this context, we can begin to list some work-related actions that have a high potential to interfere with our love for God.

Doing work that violates our conscience. Working in an organization where we have to harm others to succeed. Working such long hours that we have little time to pray, worship, rest, and otherwise deepen our relationship with God. Working among people who demoralize us or seduce us away from our love for God. Working where alcohol, drug abuse, violence, sexual harassment, corruption, disrespect, racism, or other inhumane treatment mar the image of God in us and the people we encounter in our work.

If we can find ways to avoid these dangers at work—even if it means finding a new job—it would be wise to do so. If that is not possible, we can at least be aware that we need help and support to maintain our love of God in the face of our work. David W. The second commandment raises the issue of idolatry. Idols are gods of our own creation, gods that have nothing to them that did not originate with us, gods that we feel we control. In ancient times, idolatry often took the form of worshiping physical objects. But the issue is really one of trust and devotion. On what do we ultimately pin our hope of well-being and success?

Anything that is not capable of fulfilling our hope—that is, anything other than God—is an idol, whether or not it is a physical object. In the world of work, it is common to speak of money, fame, and power as potential idols, and rightly so. Yet when we imagine that we have ultimate control over them, or that by achieving them our safety and prosperity will be secured, we have begun to fall into idolatry. The same may occur with virtually every other element of success, including preparation, hard work, creativity, risk, wealth and other resources, and favorable circumstances.

As workers, we have to recognize how important these are. The distinctive element of idolatry is the human-made nature of the idol. At work, a danger of idolatry arises when we mistake our power, knowledge, and opinions for reality. But what is wrongful use? It includes, of course, disrespectful use in cursing, slandering, and blaspheming. But more significantly it includes falsely attributing human designs to God.

Regrettably, some Christians seem to believe that following God at work consists primarily of speaking for God on the basis of their individual understanding, rather than working respectfully with others or taking responsibility for their actions. The third commandment also reminds us that respecting human names is important to God. Do you know the name of the person who empties your trash can, answers your customer service call, or drives your bus? If these examples do not concern the very name of the Lord, they do concern the name of those made in his image. The issue of the Sabbath is complex, not only in the book of Exodus and the Old Testament, but also in Christian theology and practice.

The first part of the command calls for ceasing labor one day in seven. In the context of the ancient world, the Sabbath was unique to Israel. On the one hand, this was an incomparable gift to the people of Israel. No other ancient people had the privilege of resting one day in seven. Six days of work had to be enough to plant crops, gather the harvest, carry water, spin cloth, and draw sustenance from creation. While Israel rested one day every week, the encircling nations continued to forge swords, feather arrows, and train soldiers.

Israel had to trust God not to let a day of rest lead to economic and military catastrophe. Does it take seven days of work to hold a job or two or three jobs , clean the house, prepare the meals, mow the lawn, wash the car, pay the bills, finish the school work, and shop for the clothes, or can we trust God to provide for us even if we take a day off during the course of every week?

The fourth commandment does not explain how God will make it all work out for us. It simply tells us to rest one day every seven. The polarity that actually undergirds the Sabbath is work and rest. Both work and rest are included in the fourth commandment. The six days of work are as much a part of the commandment as the one day of rest.

Although many Christians are in danger of allowing work to squeeze the time set aside for rest, others are in danger of the opposite, of shirking work and trying to live a life of leisure and dissipation. If overwork is our main danger, we need to find a way to honor the fourth commandment without instituting a false, new legalism pitting the spiritual worship on Sunday worship against the secular work on Monday through Saturday. If avoiding work is our danger, we need to learn how to find joy and meaning in working as a service to God and our neighbors Eph.

There are many ways to honor—or dishonor—your father and mother. But Jesus pointed out that obeying this commandment requires working to provide for your parents Mark We honor people by working for their good. For many people, good relationships with parents are one of the joys of life. Loving service to them is a delight, and obeying this commandment is easy. But we are put to the test by this commandment when we find it burdensome to work on behalf of our parents.

We may have been ill-treated or neglected by them. They may be controlling and meddlesome. Even if we have good relationships with our parents, there may come a time when caring for them is a major burden simply because of the time and work it takes. If aging or dementia begins to rob them of their memory, capabilities, and good nature, caring for them can become a deep sorrow. We are not told how this will occur, but we are told to expect it, and to do that we must trust God see the first commandment.

Because this is a command to work for the benefit of parents, it is inherently a workplace command. The place of work may be where we earn money to support them, or it may be in the place where we assist them in the tasks of daily life. Both are work. When we take a job because it allows us to live near them, or send money to them, or make use of the values and gifts they developed in us, or accomplish things they taught us are important, we are honoring them. When we limit our careers so that we can be present with them, clean and cook for them, bathe and embrace them, take them to the places they love, or diminish their fears, we are honoring them.

We must also recognize that in many cultures, the work people do is dictated by the choices of their parents and needs of their families rather than their own decisions and preferences. Even Jesus experienced such parental misunderstanding when Mary and Joseph could not understand why he remained behind in the temple while his family departed Jerusalem Luke In our workplaces, we can help other people fulfill the fifth commandment, as well as obeying it ourselves.

We can remember that employees, customers, co-workers, bosses, suppliers, and others also have families, and then can adjust our expectations to support them in honoring their families. When others share or complain about their struggles with parents, we can listen to them compassionately, support them practically for example, by offering to take a shift so they can be with their parents , perhaps offer a godly perspective for them to consider, or simply reflect the grace of Christ to those who feel they are failing in their parent-child relationships.

Sadly, the sixth commandment has an all-too-practical application in the modern workplace, where 10 percent of all job-related fatalities in the United States are homicides. Jesus said that even anger is a violation of the sixth commandment Matt. As Paul noted, we may not be able to prevent the feeling of anger, but we can learn how to cope with our it. Murder is intentional killing, but the case law that stems from the sixth commandment shows that we also have the duty to prevent unintended deaths. A particularly graphic case is when an ox a work animal gores a man or woman to death Exod.

Yet workplaces of all kinds continue to require or allow workers to work in needlessly unsafe conditions. Christians who have any role in setting the conditions of work, supervising workers, or modeling workplace practices are reminded by the sixth commandment that safe working conditions are among their highest responsibilities in the world of work. The workplace is one of the most common settings for adultery, not necessarily because adultery occurs in the workplace itself, but because it arises from the conditions of work and relationships with co-workers.

The first application to the workplace, then, is literal. Married people should not have sex with people other than their spouses at, in, or because of their work. Obviously this rules out sex professions such as prostitution, pornography, and sex surrogacy, at least in most cases, to the degree workers have a choice. But any kind of work that erodes the bonds of marriage infringes the seventh commandment.

There are many ways this can occur.

Exodus - Chapter 1 - Bible - Catholic Online

Work that encourages strong emotional bonds among co-workers without adequately supporting their commitments to their spouses, as can happen in hospitals, entrepreneurial ventures, academic institutions and churches, among other places. Work that subjects people to sexual harassment and pressure to have sex with those holding power over them.

Work that demands so much time away physically, mentally, or emotionally that it frays the bonds between spouses. All of these may pose dangers that Christians would do well to recognize and avoid, ameliorate, or guard against. Yet the seriousness of the seventh commandment arises not so much because adultery is illicit sex, as because it breaks a covenant ordained by God.

Therefore, any breaking of faith with the God of Israel is figuratively adultery, whether it involves illicit sex or not. Therefore, work that requires or leads us into idolatry or worshipping other gods is to be avoided. Christian actors may find it difficult to perform profane, irreligious, or spiritually demoralizing roles. Everything we do in life, including work, tends in some degree either to enhance or diminish our relationship with God; over a lifetime, the constant stress of work that diminishes us spiritually may prove devastating.

The distinctive aspect of covenants violated by adultery is that they are covenants with God. Contracts, promises, and agreements are surely things we do in word or deed, or both. If we do them all in the name of the Lord Jesus, it cannot be that some promises must be honored because they are covenants with God, while others may be broken because they are merely human.

We are to honor all our agreements, and to avoid inducing others to break theirs. The eighth commandment is another that takes work as its primary subject. Stealing is a violation of proper work because it dispossesses the victim of the fruits of his or her labor. It is also a violation of the commandment to labor six days a week, since in most cases stealing is intended as a shortcut around honest labor, which shows again the interrelation of the Ten Commandments.

Stealing occurs in many forms besides robbing someone. Any time we acquire something of value from its rightful owner without consent, we are engaging in theft. Misappropriating resources or funds for personal use is stealing. Using deception to make sales, gain market share, or raise prices is stealing because the deception means that whatever the buyer consents to is not the actual situation. Violating patents, copyrights, and other intellectual property laws is stealing because it deprives owners of the ability to profit from their creation under the terms of civil law. The boy cannot be circumcised by his father, who is otherwise engaged, so Zipporah takes it upon herself, acting on behalf of her absent father, Jethro hence the words to Moses 'You are my son-in-law by virtue of blood, the blood of circumcision' , to perform the rite, thus showing herself to be a worthy member of the elite class typified by Rahab the Canaanite harlot and Ruth the Moabitess—the foreign woman who puts Israelites to shame and earns the right to be held up as a model for imitation.

Why does she touch Moses' raglayim ["feet"] with the severed foreskin? Although, as I have argued, Moses is to be thought of as already circumcised, this action of his wife is, I have suggested, to be construed as a symbolic act of re-circumcision: Moses as representative of the people as a whole is thus symbolically prepared for the imminent Passover celebration. The vocation of the Israelite is a matter of high moment. One's reluctance to serve YHWH wholeheartedly has to be broken down in a fearsome lone struggle in the darkness, and even then before one can meet YHWH there must be a twofold shedding of blood, the blood of circumcision and that of the Passover lamb.

Furthermore, the pride of the male Israelite in his high vocation must needs be qualified, by reflecting that in his mysterious strategies for the world YHWH often employs in major roles those who are neither male nor even Israelite. These few verses underscore a very important principle: Normally, before God will use a person publicly, he or she must first be obedient to God at home cf. Moses was apparently on his way from Midian back to Egypt when Aaron met him. Compare the reunion of Jacob and Esau Gen. The Israelites "believed" what Moses and Aaron told them, and what their miracles confirmed.

They believed that the "God of their fathers" had appeared to Moses, and had sent him to lead them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land v. The relationship of faith and worship is clear in verse "the people believed … they bowed low and worshiped.

  • Introduction to the Book of Exodus.
  • Mr. Touchdown.
  • 2. Author and date?

In this conflict, God displayed His superior power and sovereignty over Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt. God strengthened the faith of His people, so that they would trust and obey Him, and thereby realize all of His gracious purposes for them as a nation. God also used these events to heighten anticipation of, and appreciation for, the redemption He would provide. The Israelites would forever after look back on the Exodus as the greatest demonstration of God's love at work for them. These conflicts show how divine sovereignty works with human freedom.

God exercises His sovereignty by allowing people a measure of freedom to make choices, for which he holds them responsible. They also clarify how God hands people over to the consequences of the sins they insist on pursuing—as punishment for their sins. Pharaoh's response to Moses and Aaron's initial request — By Egyptian law, the Israelites could have worshipped only the gods of Egypt while in the land, but they had to leave Egypt to worship a non-Egyptian God.

Moses' request was a request to exercise a basic human right, namely, freedom of worship. On this topic, useful background comes from the extensive, fragmentary and often very detailed records kept for the activities of the royal workmen who lived at the Deir el-Medina village , who cut the royal tombs in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens in Western Thebes, c.

Sometimes reasons for absence are given. In Ancient Egypt—as elsewhere—major national festivals usually main feasts of chief gods were also public holidays. Then, each main city had its own holidays on main feasts of the principal local god s. Besides all this, the royal workmen at Deir el-Medina can be seen claiming time off for all kinds of reasons, including 'offering to his god,' ' off for his feast'; even 'brewing for his feast' or for a specific deity.

Not only individuals but groups of men together could get time off for such observances. And a full-scale feast could last several days. So, when Moses requested time off from Pharaoh, for the Hebrews to go off and celebrate a feast to the Lord God, it is perhaps not too surprising that Pharaoh's reaction was almost 'not another holiday! Pharaoh was not only "the king of Egypt," but the Egyptians regarded him as a divine person; he was worshipped as "a god" v. He knew i. If Yahweh had identified Himself with these slaves, and if He had not, by now, already delivered them, why should Pharaoh fear and obey Him?

They were accustomed to receive Divine titles and honours, and to act as irresponsible despots. Their will was indisputable, and all the world seemed to exist for no other reason than [to] minister to their state. I do not know the L ORD …"] form the motivation for the events that follow, events designed to demonstrate who the Lord is. Throughout the plague narratives we see the Egyptians learning precisely this lesson ; , 27; As the narratives progress, the larger purpose also emerges.

The plagues which God had sent against the Egyptians were 'to be recounted to your son and your son's son … so that you may know that I am the L ORD. In their second appeal to Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron used milder terms v. They presented themselves not as ambassadors of Yahweh but as representatives of their brethren. They did not mention the name "Yahweh," that was unknown to Pharaoh, or "Israel," that would have struck him as arrogant.

They did not command but requested "Please …". Moreover, they gave reasons for their request: their God had appeared to them "met with us" , and they feared His wrath if they disobeyed Him "He will fall upon us with pestilence or with sword". Acts ]. The Egyptians regarded the sacrifices that the Israelites would offer as unacceptable, since almost all forms of life were sacred in Egypt. They believed their gods manifested themselves through cows, goats, and many other animals. In addition to these there were anthropomorphic gods; that is, men in the prime of life such as Annen, Atum, or Osiris.

God had only said they would serve Him in that mountain. In the OT the pilgrim feasts to the sanctuary three times a year incorporated the ideas of serving the L ORD and keeping the commands. So the words here simply use the more general idea of appearing before their God. And, they would go to the desert because there was no homeland yet. Only there could they be free. Pharaoh's reply to Moses and Aaron's second appeal was even harsher than his response to their first command v. Their aggressive approach may have been what God initially used to cause Pharaoh to harden his heart.

From then on, the Israelites chopped up stubble and mixed it with the clay to strengthen their bricks, because they were no longer provided "straw" for this purpose. By contrast, here in the cry of the people is before Pharaoh. It is as if the author wants to show that Pharaoh was standing in God's way and thus provides another motivation for the plagues which follow. The Israelites now turned on Moses, just as the Israelites in Jesus' day turned against their Savior. Why did You ever send me? He, too, needed the demonstrations of God's power that followed.

It was God's work, and Moses was sent by God to do it. This section climaxes with the apparent failure of Yahweh's plan to rescue Israel. This desperate scenario provides the pessimistic backdrop, and the bleak circumstances, for the supernatural demonstrations of Yahweh's power that follow. The writer gave the credentials of God and His representatives, Moses and Aaron, in these verses.

God proceeded to remind Moses of His promises to the patriarchs, and to reveal more of Himself by expounding another one of His names:.

Introduction to the Book of Exodus

Exodus is not saying that the patriarchs were totally ignorant of the name Yahweh. The occurrences of "El Shaddai" in Genesis are in ; ; ; ; ; and partially in The name occurs 30 times in Job. In the former case, it would mean "God the Nourisher," and in the latter "God of the Mountain. Moses was having a terrible day; things were going from bad to worse, but the L ORD reminded Moses five times to keep focused on who He was vv. Get our eyes back on Me again.

Remember who I am again. In this revelation, God promised to do three things for Israel:. He would deliver the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage v. Moses communicated this in a threefold expression, suggesting the completeness of the deliverance: "I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians … I will deliver you from their bondage … I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

This took place at Sinai He would bring Israel into the Promised Land "I will bring you to the land … and I will give it to you for a possession," v. Note the repetition of the phrase "I will" seven times in these verses, emphasizing the fact that God would certainly do these things for Israel. The Jews regarded "seven" as the symbolical number of the covenant. God made a covenant with the patriarchs to give them the land of Canaan Ex He remembered his covenant when he heard the cry of the Israelites in Egyptian bondage v.

He is now going to deliver Israel from their bondage and take them to himself as a people and be their God v. He will also bring them into the land which he swore to give to their fathers v. The die is cast for the remainder of the events narrated in the Pentateuch. He failed to grasp the full significance of what God had just revealed to him.

Jesus' disciples, and we, had and have the same problem. It was God , not Moses, who would bring the people out of Egypt. They have been thus epitomised [ sic ]: Lack of fitness, 'who am I, that I should go? She must have been a remarkable woman. Pharaoh was to be the executor of that will. Aaron would be Moses' "prophet" as he stood between Moses and Pharaoh, and communicated Moses' and God's will to the king.

Book of Exodus

Verse 1 helps us identify the essential meaning of the Hebrew word nabhi "prophet"; cf. This word occurs almost times in the Old Testament, and "in its fullest significance meant 'to speak fervently for God. Verses 1 and 2 repeat Repetition is a feature of Hebrew prose that shows emphasis.

God referred to the miracles Moses would do as "signs" i. The glory of God was at stake. The Egyptians would acknowledge God's faithfulness and sovereign power—in His delivering the Israelites from their bondage and fulfilling their holy calling. God's intention was to bless the Egyptians through Israel Gen.

Nevertheless the Egyptians would, in the final analysis, acknowledge Yahweh's sovereignty. The writer included the ages of Moses and Aaron 80 and 83 respectively as part of God's formal certification of His messengers v. Moody wittily said that Moses spent forty years in Pharaoh's court thinking he was somebody; forty years in the desert learning he was nobody; and forty years showing what God can do with somebody who found out he was nobody.

Pharaoh requested that Moses and Aaron perform "a miracle" to prove their divine authority, since they claimed that God had sent them vv. Their ultimate purpose was to reveal the greatness of the power and authority of God to the Egyptians — in order to bring Pharaoh and the Egyptians into subjection to God. The Jews preserved the names of the chief "magicians," even though the Old Testament did not record them.

Paul said they were "Jannes" and "Jambres" 2 Tim. These were not sleight-of-hand artists, but "wise men" who were evidently members of the priestly caste cf. The power of their demonic gods lay in their "secret arts" v. They were able to do miracles in the power of Satan 1 Cor. The rod "staff" , again, represented regal authority, and implied that Yahweh, not Pharaoh, was sovereign cf. There are at least three possibilities regarding the Egyptian magicians' rods becoming snakes: First, the magicians may have received power to create life from Satan , with God's permission.

Second, God may have given them this power directly. Third, their rods may have actually been rigid snakes that, when cast to the ground, were seen to be what they were: "serpents. Some interpreters believe the Hebrew word tannin "serpent"; cf. Deut ; Ps. This is not a popular view. Aaron's miracle should have convinced Pharaoh of Yahweh's sovereignty, but he chose to harden his heart in unbelief and disobedience. Consequently God sent the plagues that followed.

The plagues were penal; God sent them to punish Pharaoh for his refusal to obey God, and to move persuade him to obey Yahweh. They involved natural occurrences rather than completely unknown phenomena. At various times of the year: gnats, flies, frogs, etc. Even the pollution of the Nile, darkness, and death were common to the Egyptians. Some interpreters have concluded that the plagues were the result of purely natural occurrences, such as the conjunction of planets.

Moses set the time for the arrival and departure of some. Some afflicted only the Egyptians. The severity of the plagues increased consistently. They also carried a moral purpose ; ; ; This was the first of four periods of miracles in biblical history that continued through the ministry of Joshua.

The others were: the miracles of Elijah and Elisha, Christ and the apostles, and the two witnesses in the Tribulation. God has done miracles throughout history, and He still does miracles today. But these were periods when He gave select individuals the ability to do them in order to authenticate His messages. Here the plagues were signs to Pharaoh and the Egyptians that the God of the Israelites had spoken.

God designed these miracles to teach the Egyptians that Yahweh sovereignly controls the forces of nature. Now, it will focus on preparing Pharaoh for it. The theological emphasis for exposition of the entire series of plagues may be: The sovereign Lord is fully able to deliver his people from the oppression of the world so that they might worship and serve him alone.

The Lord also used the plagues to teach the Israelites that He is the only true and living God. Ezekiel tells us that some of the Israelites had begun to worship the gods of Egypt. Psalm says that they did not understand God's wonders in Egypt or remember His many mercies. Some writers have offered a possible schedule for the plagues, based on the times of year certain events mentioned in the text would have normally taken place in Egypt. For example, lice and flies normally appeared in the hottest summer months.

Barley formed into ears of grain and flax budded in January-February. Locusts were a problem in early spring. The Jews continued after the Exodus to celebrate the Passover in the spring. This schedule suggests that the plagues began in June and ended the following April. Even to this day we are not completely sure of the total number of gods which they worshipped. Most lists include somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty gods …" []. Many students of the plagues have noticed that they appeared in sets of three.

The accounts of the first plague in each set the first, fourth, and seventh plagues each contain a purpose statement in which God explained to Moses His reason and aim for that set of plagues cf. These plagues also all took place in the morning, possibly suggesting a new beginning. God had announced His overall purpose for the plagues in The first set of three plagues apparently affected both the Egyptians and the Israelites, whereas the others evidently touched only the Egyptians. The plagues became increasingly destructive to the Egyptians, and thus gave them a growing appreciation for Yahweh's sovereignty.

The first three caused inconvenience, the second three were more annoying, the third three proved costly, and the last one was devastating. The first, second, and fourth plagues involved the Nile River, Egypt's lifeline. The Egyptian magicians were able to duplicate only the first two plagues, but not the remaining eight, and in the sixth one they were incapacitated and could not stand. Pharaoh granted Moses some permission after the second, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth plagues, reflecting their growing severity.

Only the last and worst plague involved a divinely sent angel who executed God's will; God accomplished all the previous ones through Moses and Aaron. The first mighty act of God serves in the narrative as a paradigm of the nine plagues that follow. Striking the Nile with the rod suggested dominion over creation and all the gods of Egyptian mythology. The Egyptians linked many of their gods with the life-giving force of the Nile. The tenth plague is unique, in that it is both a part of the narrative of Exodus as a whole, and is a mighty act of God in itself.

Evidently Pharaoh had his morning "devotions" on the "bank of the [sacred] Nile" River. Bathing in the Nile supposedly empowered Pharaoh. He makes that a scourge to us which we make a competitor with him. We could perhaps interpret the statement that the "water … turned to blood" v. Moses may have meant that the water appeared to be blood.

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  6. The Hebrew word translated "blood" means blood, so a literal meaning is possible. Arguments for the Nile not turning to literal blood follow:. Each of these is a natural event that occurs in a miraculous way, in quantity or timing. The change of the waters into blood would not be a natural event.

    A change of the water to actual blood would be out of step with this pattern. An appropriate miracle of natural timing might be that God caused torrential rains to flood and pollute the sources of the Nile to create this plague at the time it was needed. Red soil and algae would make the waters of the Nile red, unfit for drinking and deficient in oxygen for the fish.

    Understood figuratively or literally, either way, a real miracle took place, as is clear from the description of the effects this plague had on the Egyptians, and on the fish in the Nile. The Egyptian wizards were seemingly able to duplicate this wonder, but they could not undo its effects. One is trickery. The Nile was considered sacred by the Egyptians. Many of their gods were associated either directly or indirectly with this river and its productivity. For example, the great Khnum was considered the guardian of the Nile sources. Hapi was believed to be the 'spirit of the Nile' and its 'dynamic essence.

    The Egyptians believed that the river Nile was his bloodstream. In the light of this latter expression, it is appropriate indeed that the Lord should turn the Nile to blood! It is not only said that the fish in the river died but that the 'river stank,' and the Egyptians were not able to use the water of that river. That statement is especially significant in the light of the expressions which occur in the 'Hymn to the Nile': 'The bringer of food, rich in provisions, creator of all good, lord of majesty, sweet of fragrance'.

    Crocodiles were forced to leave the Nile. One wonders what worshipers would have thought of Hapi the god of the Nile who was sometimes manifest in the crocodile. Pierre Montet relates the following significant observation:. He was worshipped in his temple where his statue was erected, and venerated as a sacred animal as he splashed about in his pool. A lady of high rank would kneel down and, without the slightest trace of disgust, would drink from the pool in which the crocodile wallowed.

    Ordinary crocodiles were mummified throughout the whole of Egypt and placed in underground caverns, like the one called the Cavern of the Crocodiles in middle Egypt. Those who venerated Neith, the eloquent warlike goddess who took a special interest in the lates , the largest fish to be found in the Nile, would have had second thoughts about the power of that goddess. Nathor was supposed to have protected the chromis , a slightly smaller fish. Those Egyptians who depended heavily on fish and on the Nile would indeed have found great frustration in a plague of this nature.

    This continues for three months, until the waters begin to abate, but the water, meanwhile, is wholesome and drinkable. The miracle of involved three elements by which it differed from the accustomed phenomenon: the water was changed by the smiting of Moses' rod; the water became undrinkable; and the condition lasted just seven days v. The commentators have interpreted the reference to blood—being throughout all Egypt "in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone" v.

    Others think it refers to water in all kinds of vessels used for holding water. Still others believe Moses described the water in trees and in wells. However, this expression could refer to the water kept in buildings, that the Egyptians normally constructed out of wood and stone. This is a "synecdoche," a figure of speech in which a part stands for the whole or the whole represents a part. The quotation above supports the idea that God even changed the water stored in buildings to blood. That point, concisely summarized, is that Yahweh powerfully demonstrates his Presence to a Pharaoh prevented from believing so that Israel may come to full belief.

    Before the second plague, Moses gave Pharaoh a warning v. These associations caused the Egyptians to deify the frog and make the theophany of the goddess Heqt a frog. Heqt was the wife of the great god Khnum. She was the symbol of resurrection and the emblem of fertility. It was also believed that Heqt assisted women in childbirth. The goddess Heqt "… who is depicted in the form of a woman with a frog's head, was held to blow the breath of life into the nostrils of the bodies that her husband fashioned on the potter's wheel from the dust of the earth …" []. The presence of the frogs normally would have been something pleasant and desirable, but on this occasion quite the opposite was true.

    The frogs came out of the rivers in great abundance and moved across the land into the houses, the bedchambers, the beds, and even moved upon the people themselves v. One can only imagine the frustration brought by such a multiplication of these creatures. They were probably everywhere underfoot bringing distress to the housewives who attempted to clear the house of them only to find that they made their way into the kneading troughs and even into the beds. It must have been a unique experience indeed to come home from a long day's work, slip into bed only to find that it has already been occupied by slimy, cold frogs!

    Whatever popularity the goddess Heqt must have enjoyed prior to this time would have been greatly diminished with the multiplication of these creatures who at this point must have tormented her devotees to no end. Aaron's rod "staff," v. The Egyptian magicians were able to bring up frogs, too v. How the Egyptian magicians produced the frogs is a mystery, but it seems that this was not just sleight-of-hand trickery. This may be an argument to support the view that all of the magicians' "miracles" were supernatural.

    Satanic power does not generally work for the welfare of humanity but is basically destructive. To impress upon Pharaoh that a personal God was performing these miraculous plagues v. Yahweh was in charge of the very territory over which Pharaoh regarded himself as sovereign. The Hebrew word translated "gnats" kinnim probably refers, not to lice or fleas, but to gnats.


    Kaiser suggested that mosquitoes may be in view. They were "… a species of gnats, so small as to be hardly visible to the eye, but with a sting which, according to Philo and Origin, causes a most painful irritation of the skin. They even creep into the eyes and nose, and after the harvest they rise in great swarms from the inundated rice fields.

    Moses evidently used the language of appearance here a metaphor. The magicians failed to reproduce this miracle v. They had to confess that it was of divine origin and not the result of Moses and Aaron's human ability. The "finger of God" v. It is probably another synecdoche , as well as an anthropomorphism a depiction of God in human terms. Here the "finger of God," a part, represents the totality, namely, all His power.

    See 1 Samuel and Psalm , where the "hand of God" also pictures His power. Their confession plays an important role in uncovering the writer's real purpose in recounting these events. The magicians gave credit to "God" [or "gods," Elohim , not Yahweh. They did not ascribe this miracle to the God of the Israelites, but were only willing to say it had some supernatural origin. It is entirely possible, however, that the plague was designed to humiliate the official priesthood in the land, for it will be noted in verse 17 that these creatures irritated both man and beast, and this included 'all the land of Egypt.

    Daily rites were performed by a group of priests known as the Uab or 'pure ones. They were circumcised, shaved the hair from their heads and bodies, washed frequently, and were dressed in beautiful linen robes. They, like their worshipers, were inflicted with the pestilence of this occasion. Their prayers were made ineffective by their own personal impurity with the presence of gnats on their bodies. They controlled to a large degree, the minds and hearts of the people. The Egyptian priests wore animal masks representing various gods, to help the people understand which god the mask portrayed, and their activities.

    To make this the more obvious, the fourth and fifth plagues were merely announced by Moses to the king. They were not brought on through the mediation of either himself or Aaron, but were sent by Jehovah at the appointed time; no doubt for the simple purpose of precluding the king and his wise men from the excuse which unbelief might still suggest, viz. Moses announced this plague to Pharaoh like the first, in the morning beside the Nile River v.

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    God demonstrated His sovereignty over space, as well as nature and time, by keeping the flies out of "Goshen" and off the Israelites v. The exact location of Goshen is still unknown, but its general location seems to have been in either the eastern part of the delta region of Egypt cf. God miraculously distinguished between the two groups of people, primarily to emphasize to Pharaoh that Israel's God was the author of the plagues, and that He was sovereign over the whole land of Egypt v.

    For the first time, Pharaoh gave permission for the Israelites to sacrifice to Yahweh v. Pharaoh admitted that Yahweh was specifically the God of Israel " your God" , but he did not admit that he had an obligation to obey Him. The Egyptians regarded the animals the Israelites would have sacrificed as holy "what is an abomination to the Egyptians" to sacrifice , and as manifestations of their gods. Consequently the sacrifices would have been an abomination. The "abomination" that the Israelites' sacrifice would have constituted to the Egyptians, may have also consisted in the method by which the Israelites would have sacrificed these animals.

    The Egyptians themselves practiced animal sacrifices, but they had rigorous procedures for cleansing their sacrificial animals before they killed them, which the Israelites would not have observed. Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites leave Egypt, to sacrifice temporarily in the wilderness, after Moses reminded him of the problems involved in sacrificing in Egypt v. Yet they were "not [to] go very far" from Goshen. Again Pharaoh asked Moses to pray that his God would remove the plague "make supplication for me"; v. Even though the L ORD graciously "removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh," his "heart was hardened" again, and he changed his mind vv.

    This plague, apparently some kind of disease like anthrax , was more severe than the preceding ones, in that it affected the personal property of the Egyptians for the first time. None can sin or suffer alone. No man liveth or dieth to himself. Our sins send their vibrations through creation, and infect the very beasts. All the other plagues had caused the Egyptians irritation or pain to their bodies, but now God began to reduce their wealth.

    A large number of bulls and cows were considered sacred in Egypt. In the central area of the Delta, four provinces chose as their emblems various types of bulls and cows. A necropolis of sacred bulls was discovered near Memphis which place was known for its worship of both Ptah and a sacred Apis bull. The Apis bull was considered the sacred animal of the God Ptah; therefore, the associated worship at the site of Memphis is readily understood.

    There was at any one time only one sacred Apis bull. As soon as it died another was chosen to take its place, an event that attracted a great deal of attention in the area of Memphis. The worship of this deity was centered mainly in the city of Denderah although its popularity is witnessed by representations both in upper and lower Egypt.

    This goddess is often depicted as a cow suckling the king giving him divine nourishment. In upper Egypt the goddess appears as a woman with the head of a cow. In another town—Hathor was a woman, but her head was adorned with two horns of a cow with a sun disc between them. Another deity associated with the effects of the plague would be Mnevis, a sacred bull venerated at Heliopolis and associated with the god Re. In a statue made of sandstone was excavated representing a cow and Amenhotep II leaning his head under its head; he is also depicted kneeling under a cow, drinking its divine milk.

    He is thus seen as child and slave of the cow goddess. What a threat this must have been to him! The expression "all the livestock" v. Some cattle survived this plague cf. The only new element in this fifth report is the notice that Pharaoh "sent" messengers to Goshen to check on the predicted exclusion of the Israelites' livestock from the epidemic v.

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    The "soot from a kiln" v. First, the soot was black , and symbolized the blackness of skin in the disease, linking the cause with the effect. Second, the "kiln" was probably one of the furnaces in which the Israelites baked bricks for Pharaoh as his slaves. These furnaces became a symbol of Israel's slavery ; God converted the suffering of the Israelites in "the furnace of Egypt," so that they and what they produced became a source of suffering to the Egyptians. This is called by the Egyptians Hamm el Nil , or the heat of the inundation. According to Dr. Bilharz , it is a rash, which occurs in summer, chiefly towards the close at the time of the overflowing of the Nile, and produces a burning and pricking sensation upon the skin; or, in Seetzen's words, 'it consists of small, red, and slightly rounded elevations in the skin, which give strong twitches and slight stinging sensations, resembling those of scarlet fever' p.

    The cause of this eruption, which occurs only in men and not in animals, has not been determined; some attributing it to the water, and others to the heat. While it did not bring death, it was serious and painful enough to cause many to seek relief from many of the Egyptian deities charged with the responsibility of healing. Serapis was one such deity. One is also reminded of Imhotep, the god of medicine and the guardian of healing sciences.

    The inability of these gods to act in behalf of the Egyptian surely must have led to deep despair and frustration. Magicians, priests, princes, and commoners were all equally affected by the pain of this judgment, a reminder that the God of the Hebrews was a sovereign God and superior to all man-made idols. A new twist, however, is put on their work here. Their problem now is not that they cannot duplicate the sign—something which they would not likely have wanted to do; rather, they cannot 'stand before Moses because of the boils.

    It also provides a graphic picture of the ultimate failure of the magicians to oppose the work of Moses and Aaron. The magicians lay helpless in their sickbed before the work of Moses and Aaron. If a person continues to harden his own heart, God will then harden it further in judgment cf. It is also the first indication that the Egyptian learned men "magicians"; the best educated and most skilled in their supposedly advanced system of higher knowledge and "secret arts" could no longer resist Moses and his God.

    Moses announced the purpose of the following plagues to Pharaoh "in the morning" cf. This purpose was twofold: that Pharaoh personally might know God's power v. God sent the worst hailstorm Egypt had ever experienced "a very heavy hail," never before seen in Egypt; vv. The Lord could have destroyed Pharaoh and his people in a moment v.

    He could have brought each plague without warning, but in most cases He served notice see In anticipation of this plague, He warned the Egyptians to gather their livestock so they might be spared the hailstorm. Pharaoh's repentance was shallow, even though his words sounded sincere; he acknowledged only his mistake and unfairness "I have sinned … I and my people are the wicked ones" , but he did not repent of his blasphemy of Yahweh v.

    Moses perceived Pharaoh's true attitude. The king had not yet believed that Yahweh was sovereign "that you may know that the earth is the L ORD 's … I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God"; v. Fearing Him means bowing in submission to Him as sovereign over all the earth v. Nut was the sky goddess. It was from her domain that this tragedy originated.

    One reflects upon the responsibilities of both Isis and Seth who also had responsibilities relating to agricultural crops. The black and burned fields of flax were a silent testimony to the impotence and incapability of wooden and stone deities. The Egyptians used "flax" v. The Egyptian priests, among other people, dressed in linen. This plague was a judgment on them, therefore. The Egyptians used "barley" v. Moses explained another purpose of God in sending further plagues, in this context: namely, so the Israelites in future generations would believe in Yahweh's sovereignty v.

    Locusts were and still are a menace in Egypt, as well as in many other countries of the world. The wind drove them from the wetter areas to the whole land of Egypt—excluding Goshen—where they multiplied. They consumed the remaining half of the crops and trees left by the hail. Pharaoh's permission for the male Israelites to leave Egypt to worship God, brought on by the urging of his counselors, was arbitrary. Egyptian females worshipped with their husbands, so, to be fair, Pharaoh could have permitted both men and women to worship Yahweh. Pharaoh offered Moses three compromises, which the world still offers Christians.

    First, he suggested that the Israelites stay in Egypt He said, in effect: "You can be who you are, but live as a part of your larger culture; do not be distinctive. He allowed them to separate from their culture, but not drastically. Third, he gave permission for the males to leave, but their women and children had to remain in Egypt Even godly parents are sometimes inclined to desire prosperity and worldly position for their children.

    Pharaoh's "servants" seem to have been ready and willing to acknowledge Yahweh as a god "the L ORD their God" , but for Pharaoh, this conflict had greater significance. It was a test of sovereignty.