Summary of passage: Since Pharaoh still refuses to let the Israelites go, God tells Moses to go out to the Nile River and meet Pharaoh and tell him that since he won’t let my people go, you will use your staff to turn the water of the Nile to blood so that the fish will die and the water will be undrinkable. Then send Aaron to turn the rest of the water in Egypt to blood as well. Moses obeyed but Pharaoh didn’t care since his magicians could do the same thing. The Egyptians had to dig for their water.
After a week, God tell Moses to send a plague of frogs upon the people until Pharaoh relents and lets His people go. So Aaron sends the frogs, which the magicians can do as well. Pharaoh tells Moses if he takes the frogs away, he will release the Israelites. So Moses agrees but Pharaoh reneges on his word.
So God has Aaron turn the dust of the land to gnats–something the magicians cannot reproduce. They tell Pharaoh this is from God but he doesn’t care.
5) Blood: The Lord tells Moses and Aaron to turn the water in Egypt to blood. Moses turns the Nile to blood while Aaron turns the rest of water to blood. The magicians can do the same thing. Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to Moses or Aaron and did nothing.
Frogs: The Lord tells Moses to tell Pharaoh He will plague Egypt with frogs and tells Moses to tell Aaron to do so. So Moses obeys and Aaron makes frogs come up out of the land from the waters in Egypt. The magicians can do the same thing. Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron he will release the Israelites if the Lord removes the frogs. So Moses does but Pharaoh reneges.
Gnats: The Lord tells Moses to tell Aaron to turn the dust to gnats. Moses and Aaron do. This is something the magicians can’t do so they tell Pharaoh that this must be the finger of God. But Pharaoh as always has a hard heart and won’t listen and keep the Israelites enslaved.
Differences: Moses participates in the plague of blood but strictly Aaron does so in the frogs and gnats. Pharaoh obviously didn’t like frogs since he lies to Moses to get him to take the frogs away. God is the same in all the passages. The magicians can’t reproduce the gnats so they are now convinced that the Lord is who He says He is. Pharaoh is the same obstinate person as before.
6a) “This is what the Lord says”
b) To underscore to Pharaoh that the message is from the Lord and not Moses just speaking.
c) Personal Question. My answer: It is important to realize that the Bible is all that the Lord says, that it is from Him, and I’d better listen!
Conclusions: I had never noticed before that Moses was the leader and Aaron did all the work for Moses. From my childhood, I had always remembered it as Moses doing it all but it seems it’s his brother, Aaron, that does all the grunt work! Aaron himself has no ability to perform miracles unless Moses says so. It’s like Moses has to be seen as the leader just like Pharaoh is seen as the leader and like Pharaoh has minions and magicians to perform his work so must Moses. I believe this is so in order to establish credibility with Pharaoh. Furthermore, this is how it was in the ancient world: you had an all-powerful ruler who dictated his orders and couldn’t possibly lower himself to do the work.
I always love how The Lord speaks to Moses cause it makes me jealous and I want God to speak to me!
Map of Ancient Egypt: http://www.timemaps.com/history/middle-east-1500bc
Up-close Map of Ancient Egypt: http://www.timemaps.com/history/ancient-egypt-1500bc
This is the time of Ancient Egypt’s greatest power and the furthest extent of its empire. And here’s Moses challenging arguably the greatest man on earth! These maps are interactive and have a wealth of information on the time and the countries around Egypt.
There are 9 plagues sent by God upon Egypt (the killing of the firstborn is not really a plague per se). They are grouped by threes with the first two always coming with warnings and the third with no warning. This is by God’s mercy upon Pharaoh, hoping he will change his heart. He never does.
Some say the plagues could all have happened by natural causes. For instance, in the plague of the blood, the river Nile floods every year and deposits rich, red soil on the land. This could taint the water and kill the fish. However, in the time sequence of the Bible, not all could happen so close together.
Each plague attacked an Egyptian deity, showing God’s omnipotence over all and answering Pharaoh’s question from Exodus 5:2 “Who is the Lord?”
In the plague of blood, the Egyptians worshipped the Nile as a goddess. This shows her ineptitude.
Scholars debate whether the magicians were using tricks or were using powers from Satan. Most lean towards Satan. Note how Satan just replicates the miracle; he never fixes it for instance turning the Nile back to clean because Satan cannot cleanse anything.
Why all the plagues? Why not just kill the Egyptians and be done with it? Well, God has two purposes here. One, to show his power over the Egyptian gods. Two, to give Pharaoh and the Egyptians a chance to repent–to show mercy as God does to all peoples.
Plague of frogs: Again, this is directed towards an Egyptian goddess who had the head of a frog. Frogs were worshipped by the Egyptians and considered sacred and thus were not to be killed. What did God do? He killed the frogs! I bet the Egyptians were outraged over this one!
Note the parallels with the Creation here: First and Second plagues are about the waters. Third and fourth plagues, earth. Five, air. Sixth, man. Then God rested. Genesis 1, anyone?
Note how God uses the lowly here to accomplish his goals: gnats, frogs, etc.
Pharaoh had to ask for help with his frog problem since no one was allowed to kill frogs and apparently they were everywhere, so much so the land reeked of them.
Plague of gnats: Many translations say plague of lice (which to me is worse!). The Egyptians were obsessed with cleanliness and this hit them hard! Plus, now their sacrificial animals were tainted and no longer clean and fit for sacrifice to their gods.
The magicians cannot replicate this miracle and they say so to Pharaoh who apparently is insane and refuses to believe. This shows how evil is limited and only God is omnipotent.