In Part 1, I shared with you about Moses’ beginnings and Moses’ mission. Let’s now look at the liberator, leader and lawgivers character.
What were the ten plagues, where are they found in Scripture, and what was Pharaoh’s reaction to them? Part 2 will answer those three questions. In addition to noting the possible significance of these ten plagues, I will also share what movie I think best depicted them.
One bit of house keeping. Before commencing with Part 2 of this Bible study please note that the word in each sentence under the “Moses’ Character” subhead begins with the same “showed” verb. I wrote this section in a style like this is Moses’ fictitious résumé, absent the bullet points one would normally see in a résumé.
Showed righteous anger when he killed Egyptian who had beaten Hebrew man. Showed sneakiness when he killed Egyptian and buried man in sand. Showed insecurity when he downplayed qualifications. Showed heroism when he saved Jethro’s seven daughters from attacking shepherds. Showed genteelism when he watered their flock. Showed curiosity when he spotted burning bush. Showed courage when he extended hand to catch snake’s tail. Showed faith when he wielded God’s supernatural power. Showed commitment to God when he fasted 40 days and 40 nights on Mt. Sinai. Showed temper when he burned golden calf, ground it to powder, scattered it in water and made people drink. Showed teachable spirit when he listened to Jethro’s advice, decentralized judicial authority and delegated. Showed internal security when he allowed Eldad and Medad to prophesy in camp. Showed wisdom when he managed Korah insurrection. Showed disobedience and unbelief when he struck rock twice at Meribah. Showed compassion when he interceded for people on several occasions.
Moses had a complex character and was a multifaceted man of faith, as we will now see when God used the Servant of the LORD to inflict ten plagues on Egypt.
The Ten Plagues
First Plague: Water turned to blood (Exodus 7:14-24). The LORD instructed Moses to go to Pharaoh in the morning. “Serve me in the wilderness” is the reason Moses tells Pharaoh to let Israelites go. Seven days pass before the LORD struck the Nile in next plague. Pharaoh stubbornly refused to release the Hebrews.
Second Plague: Frogs (Exodus 8:1-15). “That they may serve me” was the reason Moses told Pharaoh to let the people go. Pharaoh saw a respite and hardened his heart as the LORD predicted.
Third Plague: Gnats (Exodus 8:16-19). Magicians could not compete. Magicians acknowledged to Pharaoh that this plague is the finger of God. Their acknowledgement hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
Fourth Plague: Flies (Exodus 8:20-32). The LORD told Moses to rise up early and present himself to Pharaoh. “That they may serve me” was reason Moses told Pharaoh to let the people go. Pharaoh told Moses to sacrifice to the LORD in Egypt, and then agreed to let them sacrifice to the LORD three days in the wilderness.
Fifth Plague: Egyptian Livestock Die (Exodus 9:1-7). “That they may serve me” was the reason given the third time, which Moses told Pharaoh to let the people go. But Pharaoh stubbornly refused to release the Hebrews.
Sixth Plague: Boils (Exodus 9:8-12). This is the first of the ten plagues which directly afflicted humans. Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to Moses and Aaron. Pharaoh stubbornly refused to release the Hebrews.
Seventh Plague: Hail (Exodus 9:13-35). This is the third time of the ten plagues which the LORD told Moses to rise up early in the morning to meet Pharaoh. “That they may serve me” was the reason again given to let the people go. In this plague, those Egyptians who feared the word of the LORD —their livestock were saved. Those who did not pay attention to the word of the LORD —their slaves and livestock died by falling hail. Pharaoh acknowledged he had sinned, the LORD was right, and he and his people were in the wrong. He asked Moses to plead for God to cease the hail. Pharaoh still stubbornly refused to release the Hebrews.
Eighth Plague: Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20). “That they may serve me” was the reason again given to let the people go. The Egyptian servants told Pharaoh to release the men. Pharaoh asked Moses which are to go? Moses said the young, old, sons, daughters, flocks and herds. “They must hold a feast to the LORD.” Again, Pharaoh stubbornly refused to release the Hebrews.
Ninth Plague: Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29). Pharaoh said the people could be released but the flocks and herds are to remain behind. Moses said they must take the flocks and herds to sacrifice to the LORD. The LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh told Moses to get away from him, never see his face again —for if he did see his face, Moses shall surely die.
Tenth Plague: Death of the Firstborn (Exodus 12:29-32). Pharaoh goes back on his promise to kill Moses. Instead Pharaoh summoned Moses, as well as Aaron, tells them to take their people, flocks and herds and be gone from Egypt. Pharaoh asked them to bless him.
What’s the significance of these ten plagues is an interesting question.
It is interesting to note that the water, frogs, gnats, flies, hail and locust plagues caused environmental damage in Egypt. These plagues contaminated the Nile River and compromised Egypt’s water supply.
It is also interesting to note that the deaths of horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats livestock plague demolished Egypt’s food, destroyed Egypt’s beasts of burden, and disrupted Egyptians mode of transportation.
The darkness plague affected the Egyptians psychologically, and quite naturally the death of the firstborn plague killed the future of Egypt.
“Exodus: Gods and Kings”
This is strictly my opinion. While I cannot nor would not endorse “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” I nevertheless think it’s the best Hollywood movie that depicted these ten plagues. Before watching this movie I knew that “Exodus: Gods and Kings” Director Ridley Scott would play loose with biblical fact. However Scott did an excellent job portraying the plagues realistically.
I smelt the stench emitted by the bloody Nile River. I was repulsed by the frogs. I wanted to shoo away the flies. I pitied Rameses dying horse. I could feel my skin itch at the boils. I wanted to dodge the falling hail. I wanted to flee the marauding locust. I was affrighted at the descending darkness. I felt sorry for the death of Pharaoh’s firstborn son. I was moved at Nefertari (Golshifeh Farahani) rocking a squeaking empty cradle.
“Exodus: Gods and Kings” is a two hour and 30 minute 2014 movie and stars Christian Bale (Moses) and Joel Edgerton (Ramses). This movie is not like “The Ten Commandments,” my all-time favorite, more biblically accurate and colorfully sanitized Cecil B. DeMille movie. “The Ten Commandments” stars Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter and Edward G. Robinson. This three hours and 40 minute 1956 movie also features Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, John Derek, Vincent Price, John Carradine and Fraser Heston (The Infant Moses, who is now 65 years old).
Dying and death portrayed in “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is gruesome and ugly. The inhumanness, cruelty and squalor of slavery was uncomfortably graphic. Quite frankly I was baffled why a theophany —defined as God appearing as man— of the LORD was personified in a stubby-haired, dirt-clad, English-accent speaking petulant boy. What a sacrilegious view of Almighty God! We really shouldn’t be surprised how Hollywood tries to relegate God. Nevertheless, I’d recommend at least watching “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
Having shared Moses’ character and listed the ten plagues, Part 3 of this series will be about Moses in the Book of Exodus.
During the interim I invite you to look on page three of The Testament Spectator’s four-page Moses edition, which is available above this/my website. In this Moses edition you will see a headline rhetorically asking “How many disasters can a single country take?” The purpose of this quick read is to list and succinctly describe each of the ten plagues. You are more than welcome to download this PDF, at no cost, of this Moses edition, as well as download any other or all of the six other Bible newspaper editions which I’ve titled The Testament Spectator.
My five books are available for purchase in paperback and ebook. Among those five books “Story of Rich Man and Lazarus,” “Judas, Betrayer of Jesus,” and “Noah, Preparer of the Ark” have been released in audiobook, narrated by yours truly. Thank you.