THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT
For the Lord your God is
God of gods and Lord of lords,
the great, the mighty,
and the awesome God...
God of gods and Lord of lords,
the great, the mighty,
and the awesome God...
Exodus 7:25-8:15, NIrV
25 Seven days passed after the Lord struck the Nile River. 1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh. Tell him, ‘The Lord says, “Let my people go. Then they will be able to worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. 3 The Nile River will be full of frogs. They will come up into your palace. You will have frogs in your bedroom and on your bed. They will be in the homes of your officials and your people. They will be in your ovens and in the bowls for kneading your bread. 4 The frogs will be on you, your people and all your officials.” ’ ”
5 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Tell Aaron, ‘Reach out your hand. Hold your walking stick over the streams, canals and ponds. Make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’ ”
6 So Aaron reached out his hand over the waters of Egypt. The frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by doing their magic tricks. They also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
8 Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. He said to them, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people. Then I’ll let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”
9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “You can have the honor of setting the time for me to pray. I will pray for you, your officials and your people. I’ll pray that the frogs will leave you and your homes. The only frogs left will be the ones in the Nile River.”
10 “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.
Moses replied, “It will happen just as you say. Then you will know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses. They will leave your officials and your people. The frogs will remain only in the Nile River.”
12 Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh. Then Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, courtyards and fields. 14 The Egyptians piled them up. The land smelled very bad because of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that the frogs were dead, he became stubborn. He wouldn’t listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
Pharaoh had refused to free the Israelites from slavery, so God began sending powerful punishments. We call them “plagues.” God started by turning the waters of the Nile River into undrinkable blood. But Pharaoh stubbornly refused to budge after plague #1. So a week later, God followed up by flooding Egypt with frogs! With slimy critters hopping around every home and croaking in every corner, Pharaoh was ready to do whatever God wanted him to do! He begged Moses to pray for relief. But the moment the plague of frogs ended, Pharaoh said, “On second thought, I’ve changed my mind!”
What were Pharaoh’s evil servants and magicians able to do? (vs. 7)
After Moses prayed to God, what happened? (vs. 13-14)
Exodus 8:16-32, NIrV
16 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Tell Aaron, ‘Reach out your walking stick. Strike the dust on the ground with it.’ Then all over the land of Egypt the dust will turn into gnats.” 17 So they did it. Aaron reached out the stick that was in his hand. He struck the dust on the ground with it. The dust all over the land of Egypt turned into gnats. They landed on people and animals alike. 18 The magicians tried to produce gnats by doing their magic tricks. But they couldn’t.
The gnats stayed on people and animals everywhere. 19 So the magicians said to Pharaoh, “God’s powerful finger has done this.” But Pharaoh remained stubborn. He wouldn’t listen, just as the Lord had said.
20 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Get up early in the morning. Talk to Pharaoh as he goes down to the Nile River. Say to him, ‘The Lord says, “Let my people go. Then they will be able to worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send large numbers of flies. I will send them on you and your officials. I will send them on your people and into your homes. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies. Even the ground will be covered with them.
22 “ ‘ “But on that day I will treat the area of Goshen differently from yours. That is where my people live. There will not be large numbers of flies in Goshen. Then you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will treat my people differently from yours. This sign will take place tomorrow.” ’ ”
24 So the Lord did it. Huge numbers of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace. They came into the homes of his officials. All over Egypt the flies destroyed the land.
25 Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. He said to them, “Go. Offer sacrifices to your God here in the land.”
26 But Moses said, “That wouldn’t be right. The sacrifices we offer to the Lord our God wouldn’t be accepted by the Egyptians because of their beliefs. For that reason, they would throw stones at us and try to kill us. 27 We have to take a journey that lasts about three days. We want to go into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, just as he commands us.”
28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you and your people go to offer sacrifices. You can offer them to the Lord your God in the desert. But you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”
29 Moses replied, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord. Tomorrow the flies will leave you. They will also leave your officials and your people. Just be sure you don’t try to trick us again. Let the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”
30 Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. 31 And the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh, his officials and his people. Not one fly remained. 32 But Pharaoh became stubborn this time also. He wouldn’t let the people go.
How would you like tiny bugs crawling all over you? During the third plague, God turned the dust of Egypt into gnats. These puny pests swarmed around every man, woman, child, and beast. But they didn’t bug Pharaoh enough to make him change his mind! For plague #4, God called in some bigger bugs: flies! All of Egypt was absolutely buzzing with them. But in Goshen, where the Israelite slaves lived, it was a bright and beautiful, bug-free day! What did Pharaoh do this time? The same thing he did after the frogs: he promised to let the Israelites leave, then changed his mind the next day!
➕ What happened when Pharaoh’s magicians tried to make gnats? (vs. 18-19)
➕ What happened after Moses prayed for Pharaoh? (vs. 30-31)
Exodus 9:1-12, NIrV
1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Go to Pharaoh. Tell him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says, “Let my people go. Then they will be able to worship me. 2 Do not refuse to let them go. Do not keep holding them back. 3 If you refuse, my powerful hand will bring a terrible plague on you. I will strike your livestock in the fields. I will strike your horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats. 4 But I will treat Israel’s livestock differently from yours. No animal that belongs to the people of Israel will die.” ’ ”
5 The Lord set a time for the plague. He said, “Tomorrow I will send it on the land.” 6 So the next day the Lord sent it. All the livestock of the Egyptians died. But not one animal that belonged to the Israelites died. 7 Pharaoh searched and found out what had happened. He discovered that not even one animal that belonged to the Israelites had died. But he was still very stubborn. He wouldn’t let the people go.
8 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, “Take handfuls of ashes from a furnace. Have Moses toss them into the air in front of Pharaoh. 9 The ashes will turn into fine dust over the whole land of Egypt. Then painful boils will break out on people and animals all over the land. Their bodies will be covered with them.”
10 So Moses and Aaron took ashes from a furnace and stood in front of Pharaoh. Moses tossed them into the air. Then boils broke out on people and animals alike. 11 The bodies of all the Egyptians were covered with boils. The magicians couldn’t stand in front of Moses because of the boils that were all over them. 12 But the Lord made Pharaoh stubborn. Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.
After plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, and flies, Pharaoh should have figured out he wasn’t going to win his showdown with the God of Israel – but he didn’t! So God sent two more plagues his way. During plague #5, Egypt’s horses, donkeys, camels, cows, and sheep fell sick and dropped dead. And in plague #6, every Egyptian was covered, head to toe, with painful and gross-looking red bumps called boils. But for the Israelites, not a hair on their animal’s heads was harmed and their bodies were healthy and boil-free! Still, stubborn Pharaoh gave the same answer to both plagues: “Nope!”
➕ What did God have Moses and Aaron do to start the plague of boils? (vs. 8-10)
➕ Because of the boils, what could Pharaoh’s magicians not do? (vs. 11)
Exodus 9:22-35, NIRV
22 Then the Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Reach out your hand toward the sky. Then hail will fall all over Egypt. It will beat down on people and animals alike. It will strike everything growing in the fields of Egypt.” 23 Moses reached out his walking stick toward the sky. Then the Lord sent thunder and hail. Lightning flashed down to the ground. The Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24 Hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in Egypt’s entire history. 25 Hail struck everything in the fields all over Egypt. It fell on people and animals alike. It beat down everything growing in the fields. It tore all the leaves off the trees. 26 The only place it didn’t hail was in the area of Goshen. That’s where the people of Israel were.
27 Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. “This time I’ve sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord has done what is right. I and my people have done what is wrong. 28 Pray to the Lord, because we’ve had enough thunder and hail. I’ll let you and your people go. You don’t have to stay here any longer.”
29 Moses replied, “When I’ve left the city, I’ll lift up my hands and pray to the Lord. The thunder will stop. There won’t be any more hail. Then you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord. 30 But I know that you and your officials still don’t have any respect for the Lord God.”
31 The barley was ripe. The flax was in bloom. So they were both destroyed. 32 But the wheat and spelt weren’t destroyed. That’s because they ripen later.
33 Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. Moses lifted up his hands and prayed to the Lord. The thunder and hail stopped. The rain didn’t pour down on the land any longer. 34 Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail and thunder had stopped. So he sinned again. He and his officials became stubborn. 35 So Pharaoh was stubborn. He wouldn’t let the people of Israel go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.
In the hot and sandy land of Egypt, it rarely snows. But that didn’t stop the all-powerful Lord of Israel from starting a snowball fight in the middle of the desert! In fact, what God rained down over Egypt was much worse than a soft and slushy snowball. God pounded Egypt with a hailstorm! As the sky flashed with lightning, humongous and hard clumps of ice flattened Egypt’s fields of food into uneatable bits. No person or animal stuck out in that storm survived. For a third time, Pharaoh said, “Alright! You can leave!” But the second the storm stopped, the stubborn king broke his promise.
Interesting Fact! The largest recorded hailstone was 8 inches wide and weighed almost two pounds. Hailstones that large can fall from the sky around 100 miles an hour. And the hailstones God sent down onto Egypt were probably even larger than that!
➕ Where did the hail not fall? Why? (vs. 26)
Exodus 10:12-20, NIRV
12 The Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand over Egypt so that locusts cover the land. They will eat up everything growing in the fields. They will eat up everything left by the hail.”
13 So Moses reached out his walking stick over Egypt. Then the Lord made an east wind blow across the land. It blew all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts. 14 Large numbers of them came down in every part of Egypt. There had never been a plague of locusts like it before. And there will never be one like it again. 15 The locusts covered the ground until it was black. They ate up everything left after the hail. They ate up everything growing in the fields. They ate up the fruit on the trees. There was nothing green left on any tree or plant in the whole land of Egypt.
16 Pharaoh quickly sent for Moses and Aaron. He said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God. I’ve also sinned against you. 17 Now forgive my sin one more time. Pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.”
18 After Moses left Pharaoh, he prayed to the Lord. 19 The Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind. It picked up the locusts. It blew them into the Red Sea. Not even one locust was left anywhere in Egypt. 20 But the Lord made Pharaoh stubborn. So Pharaoh wouldn’t let the people of Israel go.
After surviving plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, dead animals, boils, and hail, Pharaoh’s servants begged their king to end his battle with the Lord. But the stubborn ruler refused to free his Israelite slaves. So God sent an eighth plague. You could really call this one “plague number ate” because God sent massive swarms of hungry locusts. These grasshopper-like bugs ate every bit of food they could find. There were so many of them, they made the daytime dark as night! But for a fourth time, Pharaoh pulled the old switcheroo: “You can leave. Nah, forget it! I’ve changed my mind!”
➕ What did God do to send the locusts? How did he make them leave? (vs. 13 and 19)
➕ What was the land of Egypt like after the swarm of locusts? (vs. 15)
Exodus 10:21-29, NIRV
21 The Lord spoke to Moses. He said, “Reach out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt. It will be so dark that people can feel it.” 22 So Moses reached out his hand toward the sky. Then complete darkness covered Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or go anywhere for three days. But all the people of Israel had light where they lived.
24 Then Pharaoh sent for Moses. He said to him, “Go. Worship the Lord. Even your women and children can go with you. Just leave your flocks and herds behind.”
25 But Moses said, “You must allow us to take our animals. We need to offer them as sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord our God. 26 Our livestock must also go with us. We have to use some of them to worship the Lord our God. We can’t leave even one animal behind. Until we get there, we won’t know what we are supposed to use to worship the Lord.”
27 But the Lord made Pharaoh stubborn. So he wouldn’t let the people go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you don’t come to see me again! If you do, you will die.”
29 “I’ll do just as you say,” Moses replied. “I will never come to see you again.”
The first time Pharaoh was told that the Lord God of Israel wanted his people set free, Pharaoh mockingly said, “Why should I listen to this ‘Lord’? I’ve never even heard of him!" After two "No's" from Pharaoh's lips, God explained his rescue plans to Moses. He would send wonder after wonder upon Egypt. When his terrifying miracle show was over, every Egyptian man, woman, and child would know exactly who "the Lord" was!
The nine plagues we've read about certainly showed how powerful the Lord God of Israel was. But they also showed how powerless the gods of Egypt were! Unlike Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites, the Egyptians did not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, they worshiped a whole group of gods, ones they thought were real, but actually didn't exist. In fact, the people of Egypt even believed Pharaoh himself was one of the gods!
When the Lord turned water into blood, he made the Egyptian gods Hapi and Isis look like wimps; they were supposed to be in charge of the Nile River! By covering the land with frogs, God made a fool of the frog-headed god Heqet. And when God turned the desert’s dust to gnats, he proved his power over Set, the god of the desert.
There isn’t space here to cover them all, but the plagues of flies, livestock, boils, hail, and locusts were all designed to show Pharaoh and his fellow Egyptians what God really controlled the world around them. It wasn’t the winged goddess Uatchit, Nut the sky god, or Osiris, the god in charge of crops; it was the Lord God of Israel!
For plague #9, God covered the land in total darkness. It was a scary kind of darkness that the Egyptians were able to feel deep down inside. During the three days of this plague, the Egyptians were unable to see anyone or go anywhere. By blotting out the light of the sun, God demonstrated that his power was greater than Ra, the Egyptian god who was supposed to be in control of the sun.
Though God’s nine plagues made Egypt’s gods look like goofballs, Pharaoh answered with nine No’s. But God wasn’t finished. He had one more dreadful plague to send on Egypt. Can you guess which Egyptian “god” would be the target of God’s final plague? The answer is... Pharaoh himself!
Thankfully, we didn’t have to suffer through the powerful plagues God poured upon Egypt. By reading them from the Bible, we can learn the same lesson the Egyptian people learned: there’s only one true God, the Lord of the Israelites! He’s the God who rescued his people from Egypt and the same God who sent his only Son Jesus to rescue us from sin!
➕ How was life different for the Egyptians vs. the Israelites during plague #9? (vs. 23)
➕ What did Pharaoh and Moses say after the plague of darkness? (vs. 28-29)