Hello! This is another guest post, this time done by one of our good friends, Molly. Enjoy!
“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgement I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.” -Exodus 7:3-4
Have you ever wondered why God chose the certain plagues He did to send upon Egypt? I recently finished a book entitled A Cry from Egypt by Hope Auer. It was very interesting and helped me understand the plagues in Exodus from a new light. I thought it must have been awful having your land infested by frogs and locust, but why was it such a big deal?
The first plague happened when the Nile River turned into blood. The Nile River was the main source of water in Egypt. The Egyptians believed it was sacred and worshiped it as a source of provision. They also had many gods who “protected” the Nile.
During the second plague, frogs invaded the land. The Egyptians held frogs as sacred, mainly because one of their gods, Heqet, had the head of a frog.
For the third plague, God sent gnats across the desert. The Egyptian’s god of the desert was called Set and they believed that he would have saved them from the gnats.
Flies infested the land of Egypt. The Egyptians held flies sacred. They had a god who was possibly pictured as a fly.
Then, all the Egyptians livestock got diseases and died. Cattle were also sacred to the Egyptians (probably more sacred than any other animal), which is why later, when the Hebrews disobeyed Yahweh and made an idol in the desert, it was in the form of a golden calf.
Yahweh brought boils upon the Egyptian people. The Egyptians were probably very confused at this point as to why their gods were not healing and protecting them. The Egyptians had many gods of healing and protection.
Hail rained down and brought utter destruction upon Egypt. The Egyptians again had gods that they believe would protect them from such a thing.
Locusts then came down and ate everything that the hail left. The Egyptians held locusts as sacred animals. They could not think of killing any animals that they held sacred.
Then, the land of Egypt became black, and darkness resided there. The Egyptians feared the darkness. In fact, their main god was the sun god, Ra, who they believed gave them their light.
With the last plague, Yahweh brought the worst punishment of all. Every Egyptian firstborn male, human and cattle, died. They worshipped Pharaoh’s firstborn son, who died in the plague. He was considered a god.
Here’s the thing I’d never thought of before: The Egyptians probably believed there was something wrong with their gods. Many believed that it was not Yahweh who was bringing the plagues upon them, but their own gods who were angry for unknown reasons. I would encourage you to search your life for your own ‘gods’. A ‘god’ in your life means anything that goes before Yahweh. I’m not simply talking about other gods, but anything. Maybe it’s your family, a pet, a sport, or even choosing to read a pleasure book instead of the bible, when you are supposed to be having your quiet time. As I studied Exodus, I realized God set apart the first two commandments to be about having no other gods.
I always used to wonder why the plagues would have been such a big deal and why God chose those ten things. Now I realize that it was a big deal because they were a direct attack on what the Egyptians held sacred. Yahweh was proving that their gods were powerless. I hope this helps you put together the puzzle pieces of the plagues.