Part 2 of the overview of the Exodus (ch. 8-14) story with commentary.
Exodus Chapter 8:
A week after the initial bloodying of the Nile river, Aaron and Moses went to Pharaoh again and Aaron asked him to let the Israelites go. This time he was threatened with a plague of frogs swarming out of the Nile and filling all of Egypt, including in people’s houses, in their ovens, kneading bowls, etc, and they will jump all over the people. The Pharaoh didn’t seem to care so Moses told Aaron to raise his staff over all of the natural bodies of water (rivers, canals, and ponds) in Egypt and when he did, God caused frogs to come out of them and go everywhere in Egypt. The Egyptian sorcerers were able to do the same, and this frog plague become a major pest in Egypt.
After nearly a day, Pharaoh couldn’t take it anymore, so he summoned Moses to have him pray for the frogs to go away and in return, he promised to let the Israelites go. Moses asked when he would like it done and Pharaoh said the next day. The next morning, Moses prayed and the frogs all died, and the Egyptians had to clean up the frog carcasses. However, Pharaoh hardened his heart and broke his promise.
God has Moses tell Aaron to strike the ground, and when he did, the dust became lice (or gnats) and all of Egypt was afflicted by them. The sorcerers could not replicate this plague and acknowledged that this was God’s power, even still, the Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to budge.
The next morning Aaron and Moses met with Pharaoh at the Nile as God instructs. This time Moses does all the talking and tells Pharaoh to let his people go, and threatens him with swarms of insects (or flies) to overtake the Egyptians. This time however the people of Israel in Goshen will not be touched by the plague and God will distinguish his people from the Egyptians. Egypt was then thrown into chaos by the swarms, and Pharaoh summon Moses and Aaron and seemingly concedes defeat. He said he would allow them to sacrifice, but only in Egypt, but Moses objected because the Egyptians would attack them for sacrificing animals that would offend the Egyptian religion (most likely cows). So the Pharaoh said he would let them go into the wilderness for three days as Moses asked, as long as he could keep an eye on them. Moses promised to intercede for Pharaoh the next morning, and when he did the swarms left Egypt. The Pharaoh however still hardened his heart.
Exodus Chapter 9:
God sent Moses to warn Pharaoh that if he didn’t let the Israelites go, the next day, God will inflict a plague on the livestock of Egypt and the livestock of the Israelites in Goshen will be spared. The next day it happened and Pharaoh even got confirmation that it was exactly as Moses had said to him, Goshen was spared while Egypt suffered economically. Despite this, Pharaoh still hardened his heart and refused Moses’ request.
Moses was instructed to gather some ashes from the brick kiln and throw it up in the air in Pharaoh’s presence and say that a plague will spread like those ashes and inflict all the people and animals of Egypt with boils. It came to pass and even the sorcerers were afflicted and were too ashamed to appear before Moses and Aaron this time. However, this time God had hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
Comment: It appears the Egyptians bought new livestock from the Israelites since all of them were killed in the previous plague, but the new livestock is now covered in boils.
The next morning, God had Moses get up and go to Pharaoh again and demand he let his people go. Moses says God could have killed Pharaoh already but he lets them live to display his power to the nations. Moses warns that the next plague is a violent hail storm, that will start the next morning and warned him that anyone (human or animal) that was outside would die. The next day, Moses lifted his staff to the sky and a violent hailstorm struck Egypt, and as Moses warned anyone who was outside was killed, but Goshen was spared. Those Egyptians who heeded Moses’ warning had their servants and livestock stay inside, but those who didn’t listen to lost workers and animals. The flax and barley crops and even fruit trees of the Egyptians were destroyed by this hailstorm, so even those who kept workers and animals inside lost something. Wheat and emmer plants were spared since they were not in season yet. In a panic, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and confessed his sin, and decided to let the people go. Moses knew he wasn’t serious but he went outside the city and lifted his hands to end the hailstorm. However, Pharaoh still hardened his heart and refused Moses’ request.
Exodus chapter 10:
God sent Moses and Aaron to warn Pharaoh about a plague of Locust that would overrun palaces, and houses, cover the ground and devour all the crops that survived the hailstorm. Pharaoh’s officials begged Pharaoh to concede but he refused. Pharaoh asked who Moses will be taking on the prayer journey, and Moses said everyone (young, old, male, and female), and all of their livestock. Pharaoh refuses and says to only take the men to worship God and everyone must else behind. God has Moses raise his staff to the sky and the wind blew swarms of locusts in overnight and that morning they started devouring all the crops in Egypt. Pharaoh pleaded with them to forgive him and end the plague, and Moses interceded and the west wind blew the locust away. However, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
God has Moses lift his hand to the sky and darkness fell on Egypt for three days. No one in Egypt could even see their own hands in front of their face, but Goshen had daylight. Pharaoh promised to let them go, but they had to leave the livestock. Moses said they needed them for sacrifice. God hardened his heart again and Pharaoh kicked Moses out and said he will die if they meet again. Moses agreed they would never meet again.
Exodus Chapter 11:
God told Moses that now he would strike the land of Egypt in such a way that they would be eager to get rid of the Israelites. He will give them favor with the Egyptians so that they can ask for anything and the Egyptians will give it to them as reparations.
Moses announced to Pharaoh that God would kill all the firstborn sons of Egypt (humans and animals), but he would spare the Israelite’s households. God promises to harden the Pharaoh’s heart further to do more miracles.
Comment: This is a timeline of the Exodus plagues:
0) Staff to Snake – Day 1
1) Bloody Nile – Day 2 (Morning warning) – lasted 7 days
2) Frogs – Day 8
3) Lice – Day 9
4) Swarms – Day 10 (Morning warning)
5) Livestock (warning from Day 11) – Day 12
6) Boils – Day 12
7) Hail (Morning warning from day 13) – Day 14
8) Locust – (Warning from Day 14) – Day 15
9) Darkness for 3 days – Day 15 – 18
Exodus Chapter 12:
At this point, God told Moses to mark the start of a new month as the first month for the Hebrews. This is the month of Abib, which is in the spring. The next plague (Passover) is to take place on the 14th day of this month. On the 10th day of the month, every Israelite family must select a one-year-old male lamb or goat, with no defects to slaughter. One animal per household, but if one family can’t eat a whole animal, they can share it with another. Then on the 14th day of the month, they are to slaughter it at twilight and smear its blood on the doorpost of the dwellings in which they will eat their meals. Then they are to roast the meat and prepare a meal with bitter herb (maror) and unleavened bread (matzah). In addition, the meat can’t be raw or boiled but roasted and they must roast the whole animal including the head, the legs, and internal organs. If any meat is left until morning, they must burn it. When they have their meals they must be fully dressed and ready to go because God will deliver them from Egypt that night. That night God will send a plague that will kill every firstborn son in the kingdom, and only those families who are in a building with blood on the door-post will be spared.
The Israelites are to remember and celebrate this day every generation after that as a holiday. Starting from the feast on the 14th of the first month, they are to celebrate the festival of Unleavened Bread (Pesach) for the next seven days (from the 15th to the 21st). This holiday will function as a reminder of how God delivered from Egypt and no leavened bread (chametz) is to be eaten from the 14th to the 21st of that month, and there should be no trace of yeast in their homes. The first and seventh days of the festival are days of rest (sabbaths), so they can’t work on those days except for food preparation. They are to use this holiday to teach their children in each generation. Both native Israelites and foreigners living among them are to forgo eating yeast during this time. Uncircumcised Gentile males (outsiders and temporary residents) are not allowed to eat the Passover meal, but Gentile slaves among them are supposed to be circumcised anyway so they can participate in Passover. Each lamb is to be eaten in one home, and shouldn’t be taken outside, nor can any of its bones be broken.
Moses gave these instructions to the leaders of Israel and they did as instructed, selecting the animal on the 10th and spreading its blood on the door post with hyssop branches on the 14th. All the firstborn males of Egypt both humans and livestock were killed at midnight, including the Pharaoh’s son, but the households with the blood on their doorposts were spared. The people of Egypt cried out in fear and sorrow and the Pharaoh finally told the Israelites to get out. The Egyptians gave the Israelites many gifts of clothing, precious metals, and anything they asked for out of fear of losing their own lives. There were about 600,000 Israelite men plus women and children, as well as some non-Israelites that left Egypt in this Exodus. The Israelites left having no time to prepare the bread or any other food, but they had the unleavened dough and their kneading boards ready to go. After 430 years from the time of Abraham’s covenant, the promise of the land of Canaan was about to be inherited.
Exodus Chapter 13:
God reminded them to keep the Passover celebration even when they took the promised land. When they get to the land, they are to dedicate every firstborn male, both humans, and livestock, to him. They can buy back (or redeem) unclean animals like donkeys by substituting them with clean animals, or they can break the necks of unclean animals since they don’t belong on the altar nor will they be allowed to be eaten. However, baby human boys are never to be sacrificed on the altar and must always be redeemed (by paying five shekels of silver). This ceremony will remind them of God’s mighty hand that brought them out of Egypt. God destroyed Egypt’s firstborns because of Pharaoh’s stubbornness and so they dedicate their firstborns to him. This ceremony and the festival will be like a mark on their foreheads or on their hand, marking them as God’s people.
When they left Egypt, God didn’t lead them on the main road northward towards the land of Canaan, because when they saw the Philistines they may coward and want to go back to Egypt. Instead, God led them eastward towards the Red Sea. Moses made sure Joseph’s body was taken with them in order to fulfill the promise made to him by their ancestors to take him to the promised land. God lead them from a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, and they only moved when he moved. They went from Egypt to Succoth, then to Etham at the edge of the wilderness.
Exodus Chapter 14:
God told Moses to lead the Israelites to camp by Pi-hahiroth (between Migdol and the Red Sea). This way the Pharaoh will think they are confused and God will harden his heart causing him to chase after the Israelites. God’s plan is to draw him in so that he can drown Pharaoh in the Red Sea, just like how Pharaoh had Israelite baby boys drowned in the Nile. Moses did as instructed and word reached Pharaoh that they are going towards the Red Sea. Pharaoh assembled an army of charioteers and soldiers and chased after the Israelites. The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon. The Israelites saw them coming and panicked, crying out to Moses in fear that they were doomed. They claim to have regretted ever trusting Moses or God and had accepted defeat and death at the hands of the Egyptian army. Moses reassured them that God’s plan is working and that he will rescue them.
As nighttime approached, God then instructed him to raise his staff so that the Red Sea could split and the Israelites could walk through. The pillar of cloud became fire and the Angel of the Lord that was leading them, moved to the rear and stood between the Israelites and the Egyptians, and neither came in contact all night. Then early that morning before dawn, Moses raised his staff and the east wind blew into the red sea and split it apart and the Israelites crossed. The Egyptians chased after them, but God twisted their chariot wheels and caused them to crash and go into chaos. The Egyptian army was in panic and wanted to turn back. As the sun rose the Israelites had made it to the other side. When Moses raised his staff the wind stopped causing the water to collapse on the Pharaoh and his army drowning them in the Red Sea. The Israelites celebrated what God had done and honored Moses.
Comment: There were twelve signs, the serpent turning into staff, the 10 plagues on Egypt, and the parting of the Red Sea. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart five times and the Pharaoh hardened his own heart seven times. The point of this was so that God would such great plagues that the others nations in Canaan would hear about it and be afraid. We can see this fear being realized in Rahab and Jericho (Joshua 2:8-11), the Gibeonites (Joshua ch. 9), and the Philistines (1 Sam 4:4-9).