Bible Society of South Africa

Day 18 – The Ten Plagues

Read about the Ten Plagues.

Bible text(s)

The LORD's Command to Moses and Aaron

28When the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29he said, “I am the LORD. Tell the king of Egypt everything I tell you.”

30But Moses answered, “You know that I am such a poor speaker; why should the king listen to me?”

1The LORD said, “I am going to make you like God to the king, and your brother Aaron will speak to him as your prophet. 2Tell Aaron everything I command you, and he will tell the king to let the Israelites leave his country. 3-4But I will make the king stubborn, and he will not listen to you, no matter how many terrifying things I do in Egypt. Then I will bring severe punishment on Egypt and lead the tribes of my people out of the land. 5The Egyptians will then know that I am the LORD, when I raise my hand against them and bring the Israelites out of their country.” 6Moses and Aaron did what the LORD commanded. 7At the time when they spoke to the king, Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was 83.

Aaron's Stick

8The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9“If the king demands that you prove yourselves by performing a miracle, tell Aaron to take his stick and throw it down in front of the king, and it will turn into a snake.” 10So Moses and Aaron went to the king and did as the LORD had commanded. Aaron threw his stick down in front of the king and his officers, and it turned into a snake. 11Then the king called for his wise men and magicians, and by their magic they did the same thing. 12They threw down their sticks, and the sticks turned into snakes. But Aaron's stick swallowed theirs. 13The king, however, remained stubborn and, just as the LORD had said, the king would not listen to Moses and Aaron.

Disasters Strike Egypt

Blood

14Then the LORD said to Moses, “The king is very stubborn and refuses to let the people go. 15So go and meet him in the morning when he goes down to the Nile. Take with you the stick that was turned into a snake, and wait for him on the bank of the river. 16Then say to the king, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to tell you to let his people go, so that they can worship him in the desert. But until now you have not listened. 17Now, Your Majesty, the LORD says that you will find out who he is by what he is going to do. Look, I am going to strike the surface of the river with this stick, and the water will be turned into blood. 18The fish will die, and the river will stink so much that the Egyptians will not be able to drink from it.’ ”

19The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to take his stick and hold it out over all the rivers, canals, and pools in Egypt. The water will become blood, and all over the land there will be blood, even in the wooden tubs and stone jars.”

20Then Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded. In the presence of the king and his officers, Aaron raised his stick and struck the surface of the river, and all the water in it was turned into blood. 21The fish in the river died, and it smelt so bad that the Egyptians could not drink from it. There was blood everywhere in Egypt. 22Then the king's magicians did the same thing by means of their magic, and the king was as stubborn as ever. Just as the LORD had said, the king refused to listen to Moses and Aaron. 23Instead, he turned and went back to his palace without paying any attention even to this. 24All the Egyptians dug along the bank of the river for drinking water, because they were not able to drink water from the river.

25Seven days passed after the LORD struck the river.

Frogs

1Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the king and tell him that the LORD says, ‘Let my people go, so that they can worship me. 2If you refuse, I will punish your country by covering it with frogs. 3The Nile will be so full of frogs that they will leave it and go into your palace, your bedroom, your bed, the houses of your officials and your people, and even into your ovens and baking pans. 4They will jump up on you, your people, and all your officials.’ ”

5The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to hold out his stick over the rivers, the canals, and the pools, and make frogs come up and cover the land of Egypt.” 6So Aaron held it out over all the water, and the frogs came out and covered the land. 7But the magicians used magic, and they too made frogs come up on the land.

8The king called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the LORD to take away these frogs, and I will let your people go, so that they can offer sacrifices to the LORD.”

9Moses replied, “I will be glad to pray for you. Just set the time when I am to pray for you, your officers, and your people. Then you will be rid of the frogs, and there will be none left except in the Nile.”

10The king answered, “Pray for me tomorrow.”

Moses said, “I will do as you ask, and then you will know that there is no other god like the LORD, our God. 11You, your officials, and your people will be rid of the frogs, and there will be none left except in the Nile.” 12Then Moses and Aaron left the king, and Moses prayed to the LORD to take away the frogs which he had brought on the king. 13The LORD did as Moses asked, and the frogs in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields died. 14The Egyptians piled them up in great heaps, until the land stank with them. 15When the king saw that the frogs were dead, he became stubborn again and, just as the LORD had said, the king would not listen to Moses and Aaron.

Gnats

16The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to strike the ground with his stick, and all over the land of Egypt the dust will change into gnats.” 17So Aaron struck the ground with his stick, and all the dust in Egypt was turned into gnats, which covered the people and the animals. 18The magicians tried to use their magic to make gnats appear, but they failed. There were gnats everywhere, 19and the magicians said to the king, “God has done this!” But the king was stubborn and, just as the LORD had said, the king would not listen to Moses and Aaron.

Flies

20The LORD said to Moses, “Early tomorrow morning go and meet the king as he goes to the river, and tell him that the LORD says, ‘Let my people go, so that they can worship me. 21I warn you that if you refuse, I will punish you by sending flies on you, your officials, and your people. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies, and the ground will be covered with them. 22But I will spare the region of Goshen, where my people live, so that there will be no flies there. I will do this so that you will know that I, the LORD, am at work in this land. 23I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This miracle will take place tomorrow.’ ” 24The LORD sent great swarms of flies into the king's palace and the houses of his officials. The whole land of Egypt was brought to ruin by the flies.

25Then the king called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go and offer sacrifices to your God here in this country.”

26“It would not be right to do that,” Moses answered, “because the Egyptians would be offended by our sacrificing the animals that we offer to the LORD our God. If we use these animals and offend the Egyptians by sacrificing them where they can see us, they will stone us to death. 27We must travel three days into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, just as he commanded us.”

28The king said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the LORD, your God, in the desert, if you do not go very far. Pray for me.”

29Moses answered, “As soon as I leave, I will pray to the LORD that tomorrow the flies will leave you, your officials, and your people. But you must not deceive us again and prevent the people from going to sacrifice to the LORD.”

30Moses left the king and prayed to the LORD, 31and the LORD did as Moses asked. The flies left the king, his officials, and his people; not one fly remained. 32But even this time the king became stubborn, and again he would not let the people go.

Death of the Animals

1The LORD said to Moses, “Go to the king and tell him that the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2If you again refuse to let them go, 3I will punish you by sending a terrible disease on all your animals — your horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats. 4I will make a distinction between the animals of the Israelites and those of the Egyptians, and no animal that belongs to the Israelites will die. 5I, the LORD, have set tomorrow as the time when I will do this.’ ”

6The next day the LORD did as he had said, and all the animals of the Egyptians died, but not one of the animals of the Israelites died. 7The king asked what had happened and was told that none of the animals of the Israelites had died. But he was stubborn and would not let the people go.

Boils

8Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take a few handfuls of ashes from a furnace; Moses shall throw them into the air in front of the king. 9They will spread out like fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and everywhere they will produce boils that become open sores on the people and the animals.” 10So they got some ashes and stood before the king; Moses threw them into the air, and they produced boils that became open sores on the people and the animals. 11The magicians were not able to appear before Moses, because they were covered with boils, like all the other Egyptians. 12But the LORD made the king stubborn and, just as the LORD had said, the king would not listen to Moses and Aaron.

Hail

13The LORD then said to Moses, “Early tomorrow morning meet with the king and tell him that the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 14This time I will punish not only your officials and your people, but I will punish you as well, so that you may know that there is no one like me in all the world. 15If I had raised my hand to strike you and your people with disease, you would have been completely destroyed. 16But to show you my power I have let you live so that my fame might spread over the whole world. 17Yet you are still arrogant and refuse to let my people go. 18This time tomorrow I will cause a heavy hailstorm, such as Egypt has never known in all its history. 19Now give orders for your livestock and everything else you have in the open to be put under shelter. Hail will fall on the people and animals left outside unprotected, and they will all die.’ ” 20Some of the king's officials were afraid because of what the LORD had said, and they brought their slaves and animals indoors for shelter. 21Others, however, paid no attention to the LORD's warning and left their slaves and animals out in the open.

22Then the LORD said to Moses, “Raise your hand towards the sky, and hail will fall over the whole land of Egypt — on the people, the animals, and all the plants in the fields.” 23So Moses raised his stick towards the sky, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and lightning struck the ground. The LORD sent 24a heavy hailstorm, with lightning flashing to and fro. It was the worst storm that Egypt had ever known in all its history. 25All over Egypt the hail struck down everything in the open, including all the people and all the animals. It beat down all the plants in the fields and broke all the trees. 26The region of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was the only place where there was no hail.

27The king sent for Moses and Aaron and said, “This time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and my people and I are in the wrong. 28Pray to the LORD! We have had enough of this thunder and hail! I promise to let you go; you don't have to stay here any longer.”

29Moses said to him, “As soon as I go out of the city, I will lift up my hands in prayer to the LORD. The thunder will stop, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth belongs to the LORD. 30But I know that you and your officials do not yet fear the LORD God.”

31The flax and the barley were ruined, because the barley was ripe, and the flax was budding. 32But none of the wheat was ruined, because it ripens later.

33Moses left the king, went out of the city, and lifted up his hands in prayer to the LORD. The thunder, the hail, and the rain all stopped. 34When the king saw what had happened, he sinned again. He and his officials remained as stubborn as ever 35and, just as the LORD had foretold through Moses, the king would not let the Israelites go.

Locusts

1Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go and see the king. I have made him and his officials stubborn, in order that I may perform these miracles among them 2and in order that you may be able to tell your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians when I performed the miracles. All of you will know that I am the LORD.”

3So Moses and Aaron went to the king and said to him, “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says ‘How much longer will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 4If you keep on refusing, then I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. 5There will be so many that they will completely cover the ground. They will eat everything that the hail did not destroy, even the trees that are left. 6They will fill your palaces and the houses of all your officials and all your people. They will be worse than anything your ancestors ever saw.’ ” Then Moses turned and left.

7The king's officials said to him, “How long is this man going to give us trouble? Let the Israelite men go, so that they can worship the LORD their God. Don't you realize that Egypt is ruined?”

8So Moses and Aaron were brought back to the king, and he said to them, “You may go and worship the LORD your God. But exactly who will go?”

9Moses answered, “We will all go, including our children and our old people. We will take our sons and daughters, our sheep and goats, and our cattle, because we must hold a festival to honour the LORD.”

10The king said, “I swear by the LORD that I will never let you take your women and children! It is clear that you are plotting to revolt. 11No! Only the men may go and worship the LORD if that is what you want.” With that, Moses and Aaron were driven out of the king's presence.

12Then the LORD said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the land of Egypt to bring the locusts. They will come and eat everything that grows, everything that has survived the hail.” 13So Moses raised his stick, and the LORD caused a wind from the east to blow on the land all that day and all that night. By morning it had brought the locusts. 14They came in swarms and settled over the whole country. It was the largest swarm of locusts that had ever been seen or that ever would be seen again. 15They covered the ground until it was black with them; they ate everything that the hail had left, including all the fruit on the trees. Not a green thing was left on any tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

16Then the king hurriedly called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you. 17Now forgive my sin this once and pray to the LORD your God to take away this fatal punishment from me.” 18Moses left the king and prayed to the LORD. 19And the LORD changed the east wind into a very strong west wind, which picked up the locusts and blew them into the Gulf of Suez. Not one locust was left in all Egypt. 20But the LORD made the king stubborn, and he did not let the Israelites go.

Darkness

21The LORD then said to Moses, “Raise your hand towards the sky, and a darkness thick enough to be felt will cover the land of Egypt.” 22Moses raised his hand towards the sky, and there was total darkness throughout Egypt for three days. 23The Egyptians could not see each other, and no one left his house during that time. But the Israelites had light where they were living.

24The king called Moses and said, “You may go and worship the LORD; even your women and children may go with you. But your sheep, goats, and cattle must stay here.”

25Moses answered, “Then you would have to provide us with animals for sacrifices and burnt offerings to offer to the LORD our God. 26No, we will take our animals with us; not one will be left behind. We ourselves must select the animals with which to worship the LORD our God. And until we get there, we will not know what animals to sacrifice to him.”

27The LORD made the king stubborn, and he would not let them go. 28He said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Don't let me ever see you again! On the day I do, you will die!”

29“You are right,” Moses answered. “You will never see me again.”

Moses Announces the Death of the Firstborn

1Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will send only one more punishment on the king of Egypt and his people. After that he will let you leave. In fact, he will drive all of you out of here. 2Now speak to the people of Israel and tell all of them to ask their neighbours for gold and silver jewellery.” 3The LORD made the Egyptians respect the Israelites. Indeed, the officials and all the people considered Moses to be a very great man.

4Moses then said to the king, “The LORD says, ‘At about midnight I will go through Egypt, 5and every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the king's son, who is heir to the throne, to the son of the slave woman who grinds corn. The firstborn of all the cattle will die also. 6There will be loud crying all over Egypt, such as there has never been before or ever will be again. 7But not even a dog will bark at the Israelites or their animals. Then you will know that I, the LORD, make a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites.’ ” 8Moses concluded by saying, “All your officials will come to me and bow down before me, and they will beg me to take all my people and go away. After that, I will leave.” Then in great anger Moses left the king.

9The LORD had said to Moses, “The king will continue to refuse to listen to you, in order that I may do more of my miracles in Egypt.” 10Moses and Aaron performed all these miracles before the king, but the LORD made him stubborn, and he would not let the Israelites leave his country.

Exodus 6:28-11:10GNBOpen in Bible reader

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