Exodus 9

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 13, 2008

Introduction

The process of deliverance has begun. Several times now Moses had made that famous declaration, “Let my people go”.

With each refusal of Pharaoh, we see God bringing a “plague” or judgment on the Egyptians. As we’ve seen, this is not just aimed at making things hard for the Egyptians to twist Pharaoh’s arm, but the judgments are like laser-guided missiles, aimed at destroying the Egyptian gods.

God is out to show both the Israelites and the Egyptians that He alone is God and He is greater than all these things that the Egyptians worship.

*The first plague was turning the Nile into blood, a judgment against the many gods that were connected to the Nile River. *The second plague brought frogs on the land, a judgment against the frog-goddess Heket. *The third plague brought lice, a judgment against the desert god Set. *The fourth plague brought swarms of insects, judgments against the gods Uatchit and Ra.

:1-7 Fifth Plague: Livestock diseased

:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh and tell him, 'Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

God hasn’t always given a warning to Pharaoh about the next plague coming up, but once again Pharaoh is given a warning by God.

:2 "For if you refuse to let them go, and still hold them,

:3 "behold, the hand of the LORD will be on your cattle in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, and on the sheep; a very severe pestilence.

pestilencedeber – pestilence, plague; murrain; it’s not clear exactly what kind of disease this is, some have suggested a possibility being anthrax. The word is used in 1Chr. 21:14 when 70,000 people die in a “plague”.

horses were pretty a recent development historically in Egyptian culture.  They were a prized commodity.

:4 "And the LORD will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel."' "

This is now the second plague where God will protect the Israelites during the plague.

:5 Then the LORD appointed a set time, saying, "Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land."

:6 So the LORD did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died.

all the livestock of Egypt died – According to verse 3, it was the livestock “in the field” that died. It’s possible that the cattle back in the pens might not have died since there will be cattle affected by the seventh plague of hail.  This is important later (9:25)

:7 Then Pharaoh sent, and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard, and he did not let the people go.

Image:Louvres-antiquites-egyptiennes-p1020068.jpgptah.gifApis – A sacred bull that was connected with one of the main gods of Memphis, Ptah (the creator of men and god of the craftsmen). The Apis bull was considered the sacred animal of the god Ptah … There was at any one time only one sacred Apis bull. As soon as it died another was chosen to take its place … The sacred bull was supposed to have been identified by twenty-eight distinctive marks that identified him as deity and indicated that he was the object of worship.   Holy Cow!

The sacred Apis bull kept in the enclosure near the temple of Ptah was fed on delicacies and given as many heifers as he wanted (he had a harem of cows – maybe cows from California???). Special bull fights were held in his honor.

hathor_1.jpegIn 1856 the archaeologist Mariette made a huge discover in the Memphis area. He found a series of 64 large burial chambers arranged along an underground avenue. Near the center of each burial room was a huge red or black granite sarcophagus approximately 12 feet long, 9 feet high and 6 feet wide, each weighing about 60 tons. In each of these a sacred Apis bull had been buried. I guess they had to build a new tomb quicker than they expected…

Hathor – known as the goddess of love, beauty, and joy. She looked like a cow. This goddess was often depicted as a cow nursing the king of Egypt, giving him divine nourishment.

Lesson

Life is not the economy stupid

This plague is going to bring economic chaos.
What do you do when the money is gone?  I see a couple choices.
Your heart may become hard. 

Pharaoh doesn’t even seem to blink an eye at it.  He just resents the hardship and his heart gets harder.

You might turn to God.

I have a friend who used to live in a mansion on the hill, head of a prosperous company, but didn’t know God.  When he lost it all, he found Jesus.  He will tell you that he has never been happier.

For some people it is not until the bottom drops out financially that they realize they need to turn to the Lord.

When Job lost his wealth and his family …

(Job 1:21 NKJV)  And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."

This may be a time of refining for you like it was for Job.  Keep clinging to the Lord.

:8-12 Sixth Plague: Boils

The Egyptians were very familiar with sores and infectious diseases.  They had several gods dedicated to health.  They had a special priesthood called “Sunu” aimed at healing.  They had special amulets and other objects which they thought would ward off evil in their lives and keep them healthy.

http://www.nemo.nu/ibisportal/0egyptintro/1egypt/gudasidor/gudabilder/sekhmet.gifhttp://www.nemo.nu/ibisportal/0egyptintro/1egypt/gudasidor/gudabilder/asar-hap.gifSekhmet – a warrior goddess, the fire goddess, she had the head of a lion and was married to Ptah, the chief god of Memphis. She was also thought to have the power to both create epidemics and healing. People would wear special amulets from her to ward off evil.

Image:Imhotep.JPGSerapis – this was a popular god, apparently also linked to healing.  He was a combination of Osiris and Apis (the bull).

Imhotep – He was actually a real man, the first engineer, architect, and physician whose name was recorded in history, he lived around 2600 BC.  After his death he was worshipped as the god of medicine.  Sounds a bit like the “Egyptian Hall of Fame” to become a god after you die…

There were other gods involved too – Isis (healing)

:8 So the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes from a furnace, and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh.

Plagues 3,6, and 9 come without warning.

furnacekibshan –smelting forge for refining metals or a kiln for baking bricks. This could have been one of the ovens used to cure the bricks the Israelites were making. That would be ironic, huh?

:9 "And it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt, and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt."

:10 Then they took ashes from the furnace and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses scattered them toward heaven. And they caused boils that break out in sores on man and beast.

boils … sores – The words used speak of soreness, irritation, even open and running sores. boils[email protected] – boil, inflamed spot, inflammation, eruption.

The word for “boil” is a word used to describe some of Job’s afflictions, who had “painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7)

King Hezekiah also had a “boil” (Is. 38:21) that was considered fatal until God healed it.

The last plague came against the economy.

This plague will deal with health.  What will you do when your health is gone?

When Job lost his health he said,

(Job 2:10 NKJV)  …Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

:11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians.

magicianschartom – diviner, magician, astrologer

Lesson

God is the real healer

I understand that these are primitive, pagan men who are using all sorts of superstitious things to bring help, but this passage does remind me a bit of our modern medicine.
We are so thankful for modern medicine. Yet we need to remember that even our most skilled doctors are only human, and in the end it is truly God that brings healing.
Illustration
More and more doctors are running their practices like assembly lines. One fellow walked into a doctor’s office and the receptionist asked him what he had. He said, “Shingles.” So she took down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat. Fifteen minutes later a nurse’s aid came out and asked him what he had. He said, “Shingles.” So she took down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told him to wait in the examining room. A half-hour later a nurse came in and asked him what he had. He said, “Shingles.” So she gave him a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, told him to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor. An hour later the doctor came in and asked him what he had. He said, “Shingles.” The doctor said, “Where?” He said, “Outside in the truck. Where do you want them?”
That story reminds me a lot of what we’ve gone through with my dad and his illness.  It can get pretty tough and confusing navigating through all the various doctors …, trying to figure out which doctor to go to, trying to make sure that each doctor is aware of what the other doctors are doing, the difficulty of getting past the receptionist who wants to schedule you for two weeks for now when you don’t think your dad is going to be alive that long if things don’t change.
My point? Please don’t get me wrong. I am so thankful for the medical establishment. My dad would have been dead several weeks ago without it. My point is that we need to be careful that we don’t start thinking that these amazing doctors are our gods. They’re just ordinary fellows like you and I. Doctors may let you down. Don’t get discouraged. Make sure your hope is in the Lord and not in your doctors.
In a few weeks we’ll see the Israelites delivered from Egypt and heading out through the wilderness where God will say,
(Exo 15:26 NKJV) …"If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."

:12 But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had spoken to Moses.

We now get to the first time where it is no longer Pharaoh hardening his heart, but God is hardening it.

Some folks struggle with the idea that God is making Pharaoh’s heart harder, but keep in mind, this is the sixth plague, and up until this point Pharaoh is the one responsible for hardening his heart.

:13-34 Seventh Plague: Hail

:13 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me,

:14 "for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.

God isn’t just out to show you that He’s just a little better than the other gods.  He’s out to show you that there is NONE like Him.

:15 "Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth.

:16 "But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.

God could have wiped them out from the start. But God is interested in showing the world just who He is.

:17 "As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go.

:18 "Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now.

When it comes to precipitation, Egypt is pretty dry.  South of Cairo the nation receives 2-5 mm of rain per year (MILIMETERS!!).

:19 "Therefore send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home; and they shall die."' "

livestock – Remember during the 5th plague only killed the livestock in the field (9:3) at that time.  These livestock might have been in the pens when the first pestilence came.

It could be that they have imported more livestock from surrounding nations.  Others suggest that because there was warning before the 5th plague, some Egyptians brought their cattle home before the plague hit.

:20 He who feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses.

:21 But he who did not regard the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field.

This plague is going to be unique in that God now gives the Egyptians an opportunity to escape the judgment.  God gives them a chance to demonstrate that they understand that there is none like Him.

Apparently there were some Egyptians who were coming to believe that Yahweh was the Great God, the One True God.

:22 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt; on man, on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt."

:23 And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.

fire – lightning / Note:  this time Moses uses his rod.  I guess you could say that all “hail” broke loose.

:24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

set_3.jpegosiris.gifhttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/68/Goddess_nut.jpg:25 And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field.

This is going to affect:

Nut – the sky goddess.  She is often seen in pictures as stretching out over the earth. Nut was thought to be the barrier separating the forces of chaos from the ordered cosmos in the world. I imagine after this horrible hail storm everyone thought that goddess was NUTS.

Osiris – The god of crop fertility could not keep the hail from destroying the crops.

Set – the storm god.  He couldn’t stop the storm and its devastation.

:26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.

Once again the Israelites are spared.

:27 And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous, and my people and I are wicked.

He certainly seems to be saying the right things.  But we’ll see that talk is cheap.

:28 "Entreat the LORD, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer."

It doesn’t sound like Pharaoh is putting any conditions on leaving this time.

:29 So Moses said to him, "As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, that you may know that the earth is the Lord's.

:30 "But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the LORD God."

Moses knows that Pharaoh isn’t really ready to change.

:31 Now the flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the head and the flax was in bud.

This would place this plague somewhere around January or early February.  We think the plagues have been going on for about four or five months.  They will continue into April.

:32 But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.

spelt – an inferior type of wheat.

:33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and spread out his hands to the LORD; then the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth.

Do you think that as Moses is walking along, the hail stops wherever he walks?  Maybe the hail is just in the fields.

:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants.

:35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hard; neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the LORD had spoken by Moses.

Lesson

The hard heart or obedience

It seems to me that this is what this plague is all about.  What will you do when things get tough?  Will you harden your heart like Pharaoh?  Will you choose to obey God’s offer of safety by bringing your animals into the barns?

Illustration

A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.   It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.  Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen.  He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.  Soon the pots came to a boil.  In one he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee beans.  He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
The daughter sucked her teeth and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.  In about twenty minutes he turned off the burners.  He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.  He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl.  Then he ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.
Turning to her he asked. “Darling, what do you see.”  “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.  He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft.  He then asked her to take an egg and break it.  After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard- boiled egg.  Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee.  She smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.  She humbly asked. “What does it mean Father?”  He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity, boiling water, but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting.  But after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. Kind of like the person who wilts under adversity.
The egg had been fragile.  Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior.  But after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.  This is like the person who starts off with a soft heart, but after a death, a breakup, a divorce, their heart becomes hard.  The outside shell looks the same, but the inside has become stiff.
The ground coffee beans were unique however.  After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.  In a sense, it’s like those that obeyed Moses’ warning and brought their animals in from the field – they changed the circumstance.  With the coffee, the bean changes the thing that is bringing the pain.  The hotter the water, the better it tastes.