Chapter 9

  1. The Fifth Plague: Death of Livestock

    • The Lord told Moses to tell Pharaoh that the God of the Hebrews says, “If you don’t let My people go so that they can worship Me, I’ll strike all of your livestock with a deadly plague tomorrow. However, the Israelites’ livestock will not be effected.

    • The next day, all of the Egyptians’ livestock died, but the Israelites didn’t lose a single animal.

      • Guzik notes, “This plague was directed against the Egyptian god Hathor who was thought to be a mother goddess was in the form of a cow. In addition, Egyptian religion considered cattle sacred and the cow was often a symbol of fertility. God shows Pharaoh and all of Egypt that He was mightier than this imagined pagan god… Cole cites an ancient record of a battle the Egyptians lost because their enemies put a herd of cattle in front of their advancing troops. It worked because the Egyptian soldiers would not shoot at the opposing army for fear of accidentally killing what they considered to be the sacred cattle.

Egyptian goddess Hathor. According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, she is usually depicted as a woman with the head of a cow, ears of a cow, or simply in cow form. In her form as Hesat she is shown as a pure white cow carrying a tray of food on her head as her udders flow with milk. She is closely associated with the primeval divine cow Mehet-Weret, a sky goddess whose name means “Great Flood” and who was thought to bring the inundation of the Nile River which fertilized the land.
      • The NLT Illustrated Study Bible also notes that, “Amon-Re, the chief god of Egypt, was pictured as a bull.”

Imentet and Amon-Re from the tomb of Nefertari, 13th century BC
    • Pharaoh sent men to investigate and they found that indeed, the Israelites’ livestock had been spared. However, Pharaoh’s heart was still hard and he refused to let the people go.

  1. The Sixth Plague: Boils

    • Then the Lord told Moses and Aaron to throw handfuls of furnace soot and throw it into the air while Pharaoh watches. He said that the soot would settle like fine dust over all of Egypt, causing all of the people and the animals to break out in festering boils.

      • “For the first time the lives of humans are attacked and endangered, and thus it was a foreshadowing of the tenth and most dreadful of all the plagues.” (Kaiser)

    • Moses and Aaron obeyed. The magicians couldn’t even stand in front of Moses because they were covered with boils.

      • Guzik gives some insight into the significance of this plague from an Egyptian perspective, “This plague was probably directed against the Egyptian god Imhotep, who was said to be the god of medicine. Even those who were thought to be closest to the Egyptian gods (the court magicians) were stricken with this plague.”

Imhotep is unique in that he was an actual person that later became the deity of wisdom and medicine. He was an architect, vizier, and physician of
Pharaoh Zoser during the 3rd dynasty.
    • But, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he didn’t listen.

      • Guzik points out, “Here, for the first time, it is said that the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh. Previously, God announced that he would harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 4:21 and 7:3), and this was the fulfillment of it. Yet it is said at least six times before this that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Exodus 7:13, 7:22, 8:15, 8:19, 8:32, 9:7). We see that God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was the strengthening of what he already had set himself towards.”

      • Cole writes, “This is the first occasion on which this form of words is used after an actual plague. Previously, the position has always been put from the other side: pharaoh has hardened his own heart. The moral would be that God hardens those who harden themselves.”

  1. The Seventh Plague: Hail

    • The Lord told Moses to get up early the next morning, go to Pharaoh, and give him this message from the God of the Hebrews, “If you don’t let My people go so that they can worship Me, I will send more plagues against you and your people so that you’ll know there is no one like Me on the earth. I could have wiped you off the face of the earth if I wanted, but I have allowed to live for one reason: to show you My power and so that everyone, all over the earth will know who I am. You still arrogantly refuse to release My people, so tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm in the history of Egypt. Find shelter for your livestock because any animal or person that gets hit by these hail stones will die.”

      • NLT Illustrated Bible reminds us that in Roman 9:17, Paul actually quotes from the Greek version (Septuagint) of Exodus 9:16 when he describes the sovereignty of God.

      • Guzik elaborates on this strong message to Pharaoh, “: In this bold declaration, God told Pharaoh through Moses that his resistance was being used for God’s glory…If Pharaoh thought he was accomplishing anything with his resistance against God, he was completely wrong. All his stubborn rebellion merely glorified the Lord more in the end.”

      • Guzik also notes, “God invited Pharaoh and the Egyptians to trust Him by recommending precautions before the plague. Some took God’s invitation and spared their livestock, but others did not.”

    • Some of Pharaoh’s officials were afraid and brought their livestock and servants inside, but others ignored the warning.

    • Time out!! If all the Egyptian livestock died in the 5th plague, then how are their any remaining livestock to be killed in the 7th plague?

      • There are actually a few explanations of this apparent contradiction. The article, Cattle Contradictions, by Eric Lyons does an excellent job of detailing these if you’re interested in an in depth explanation. Below, I’ll hit the high points:

              1. The term “all” doesn’t always mean literally every single one. It is used as a figure of speech biblically just as it is in modern day use. For example, earlier in Exodus Moses says, “all the Egyptians dug all around the river for water to drink” after the first plague. Logically, we don’t think that every single, solitary individual dug around the Nile for water. Instead it is used in a relative sense. The article above lists many more examples.

              2. In the description of the 5th plague, the Bible specifically says that the livestock “in the field” will die. So, livestock that was sheltered could have been spared.

              3. We actually have no idea how much time passed between the 5th and 7th plagues. It is possible that Pharaoh could have had more livestock brought in by the time the 7th plague took place, either by purchasing livestock from surrounding peoples or even confiscating the Israelites’ livestock that was not harmed in the 5th plague.

      • Any way you slice it, there is more than one possibility to dispel this supposed contradiction.

    • The Lord instructed Moses to raise his hands to the sky. Then He sent a hailstorm the likes of which had never been seen in all of Egypt. Devastating hail accompanied by fire darting down out of the sky struck down everything that it fell on- people, livestock, and plants. The flax and barley crop were destroyed, but the wheat and spelt weren’t because they hadn’t sprouted yet. The entire land of Egypt was ruined except for the land of Goshen where the Israelites lived.

      • “A strange mixture; a miracle within a miracle, saith Rabbi Solomon. Fire and water made a peace betwixt themselves, that they might obey the will of their Creator.” (Trapp)

      • Guzik notes that this particular plague was directed at several Egyptian gods. He mentions Nut, the goddess of the sky. NLT Illustrated Study Bible mentions Osiris, the god that represented vegetation. Neither deity was capable of preventing this plague.

Nut- Egyptian goddess of the sky
Osiris
    • Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and confessed that he had sinned. He admitted that he Lord is righteous and that he and his people were in the wrong. Pharaoh said that he’d had enough of the hail and asked Moses to beg the Lord to end the plague and he would release the Israelites.

      • “This sounds like perfect words of repentance from Pharaoh, but true repentance had not worked its way into his heart. Pharaoh was grieved at the consequences of sin, but not at the sin itself.” (Guzik)

    • Moses told Pharaoh that he would pray as soon as he left the city and that the hail would immediately stop, so that he would know that the earth belongs to God alone. However, Moses added that he knew Pharaoh and his officials still didn’t fear the Lord.

    • Moses went out and prayed to the Lord. The hail, fire, thunder, and rain stopped. When Pharaoh saw this he sinned again. He hardened his heart and refused to let the Israelites go.