Biblical Date: 1446BC
The Israelites had become slaves to Egypt, trapped in a country that they couldn’t leave. Moses was tasked by God to bring them out of Egypt to the “Promised Land” (The land between the River Nile and the great Euphrates – Genesis 15:18-21; approximately present-day Israel – Deuteronomy 1:8).
Moses, then aged 80 and Aaron 83, travelled to Egypt to meet the Pharaoh. As predicted by God, they were greeted with resistance and hostility, and a battle between Pharaoh’s stubbornness versus God’s power ensued.
At their introductory meeting, the Pharaoh asked Moses for a sign to prove it was God who spoke to him so, Aaron cast his staff on the ground as God had instructed and it instantly turned into a snake. The Pharaoh then instructed his wise men and magicians to do the same and by trickery, their sticks also turned into snakes but Aaron’s snake ate the Pharaoh’s snakes!
The Pharaoh didn’t believe Moses, “his heart hardened” and despite the threat of terrible suffering and death by pestilence and disease, he chose to repeatedly ignore God’s demand to release the Israelites from Egypt.
The ensuing scourge brought on by Pharaoh’s intransigence was unthinkable!
Through Moses and Aaron, God’s signs followed by punishments went as follows:
1. The Nile was turned into a river of blood. The people were unable to drink from it and it’s fish died. However, Pharaoh’s wise men and magicians were supposedly also able to turn the Nile water red, so “Pharaoh’s heart became even more resistant”.
2. Seven days later, there followed a plague of frogs in the rivers, on land and in peoples homes. Pharaoh’s wise men and magicians could also apparently create the same frog infestation! Yet, Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron. He begged them to remove the plague while promising he would release the Israelites. Moses agreed and prayed to God whereupon the plague ended but Pharaoh withdrew his promise!
3. A plague of gnats was cast on the soil, on animals and in peoples homes. When the wise men and magicians tried to do the same they failed. However, Pharaoh’s heart remained hard and he wouldn’t listen to God.
4. A plague of flies covered the land and although they infested Egyptian homes, Israelite homes were unaffected. Pharaoh again agreed to release the Israelites “a little way into the desert” to make a sacrifice but when the plague of flies ended, Pharaoh retracted his promise and didn’t release the people.
5. A terrible plague of disease infected the Egyptian livestock: horses, donkeys and camels; herds and flocks. However, Pharaoh’s heart remained unchanged.
6. A widespread infection of boils on the skin of animals and the Egyptian people spread across the land. Even the wise men and magicians were unable to stand in front of Moses and Aaron! However, the Pharaoh continued to refuse to release the Israelites.
7. A severe hail and firestorm then killed all people and animals in the open fields. However, in Goshem, where the Israelites lived, there was no storm! The Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and promised to let the Israelites go if God ended the storm but when the storm ended, the Pharaoh, once again, broke his promise.
8. A plague of locusts followed. They ate the crops and infested the houses and homes including, the Pharaoh’s and his servants. Once again, the Pharaoh promised to release the Israelites but when the plague ended, he broke his promise.
9. Darkness then fell for three days throughout the land where the Egyptians lived but where the Israelites lived, there was light. An enraged and unrelenting Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go from me! Watch out for yourself! Do not appear before me again, for when you see my face you will die!” (Exodus 10:28)
10. Finally, God told Moses that He would bring one more devastating plague on Pharaoh whereupon he would relent and release the Israelites. The plague was the death of all first-born, “from the firstborn son of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle”. (Exodus 11:5)
There wasn’t a household in Egypt not in mourning, death was everywhere. In the middle of the night, the Pharaoh sent for Moses and ordered him to, “Get up, get out from among my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, serve the Lord as you have requested! Also, take your flocks and your herds, just as you have requested, and leave”. (Exodus 12:31-32)
What makes me stubborn? Is it my selfishness?
Lord Jesus, remove my envy and jealousy, replace my desires with your will. Change the darkness of my stubborn heart to your ways, the true light. Amen.
Prayer: Holy Spirit (St Alphonsus Liguori)
You are Fire; enkindle in me your love.
You are Light; enlighten my mind
with the knowledge of eternal things.
You are the Dove; give me innocence of life.
You are the gentle Breeze;
disperse the storms of my passions.
You are the Tongue;
teach me how to bless you always.
You are the Cloud;
shelter me under the Shadow of your protection.
And, lastly –
You are the Giver of all heavenly gifts:
Animate me, I beseech you, with your grace;
Sanctify me with your charity;
Enlighten me with your wisdom;
Adopt me by your goodness as your child,
and save me in your infinite mercy;
So that I may ever bless you, praise you,
and love you;
first during this life on earth,
and then in heaven for all eternity. Amen.