Exodus 7


In Exodus 7-12, Moses through the power of God releases 10 plagues of different sorts on the land of Egypt which included, turning all the water to blood, plagues of insects, boils, and hail. Finally, the death of every first-born son included the death of Pharaoh’s eldest who would someday inherit the kingdom of Egypt.

We will see that they were delivered not just to let Pharaoh know who God was but also to let the Israelites know who God was. Because they have been enslaved for 430 years, they didn’t know God, they have become used to being enslaved and used to being around the idol gods of Egypt. And so not only did God have to convince Pharaoh who He was, but He also had to convince the Israelites who He was.

Aaron To Speak For Moses

‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.’ Exodus 7:1-7

From the beginning of this chapter onwards we see Moses who is now eighty years old, and Aaron, who is eighty-three years old, Deuteronomy 31:2 / Deuteronomy 34:7 / Acts 7:23 / Acts 7:30, working together as a team.

God tells Moses that he will be like God to Pharaoh, this is because Pharaoh saw himself as a god and would think Moses was a god too, because of the miraculous power he would unleash on Egypt.

Aaron will be Moses’ prophet, that is Moses’ spokesman as other prophets were spokesmen of God. By the end of the confrontation between God and Pharaoh, both the Egyptian people and Pharaoh would understand that there is only one God.

God says, He will harden Pharaoh’s heart, which we already dealt with back in Exodus 4. This doesn’t mean that God worked directly on Pharaoh’s heart to such an extent that He have him choose. Pharaoh’s heart was full of pride and arrogance and was already hard, Romans 9:14-24.

God knows Pharaoh will not let His people go, despite Him asking on several occasions, Exodus 3:12 / Exodus 4:23 / Exodus 7:16 / Exodus 8:1 / Exodus 8:20 / Exodus 9:1 / Exodus 9:13 / Exodus 10:7, but by the time He’s finished unleashing all the plagues, the Egyptians will know that He is the Lord.

Aaron’s Staff Becomes A Snake

‘The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.” So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said.’ Exodus 7:8-13

Notice that God knows exactly what Pharaoh was going to say. In the mind of Pharaoh, he thinks he will see and witness a ‘miracle’ like his magicians regularly did in front of him.

We read that Aaron’s rod turned into a snake and Pharaoh’s magicians did the same thing but Aaron’s snake swallowed up the magician’s snakes. We can be misled by the word ‘snake’ because the Hebrew word used is ‘tanniyn’ which suggests some kind of marine or land monster. This is a different word which was used when Moses’ staff was turned into a snake, Exodus 4:3.

A few commentators believe it actually became a ‘crocodile’, which would be in keeping with the plagues which are about to come. The crocodile god was known as ‘Sobek’ and it was the ancient god of crocodiles. To his worshipers, he was a god who created the Nile, a god of fertility and rebirth, and the symbolic strength of the ruler of Egypt.

The Old Testament doesn’t tell us the names of these magicians but we know that two of them were named, Jannes and Jambres, 2 Timothy 3:8.

The Bible doesn’t tell us how the magicians performed this trick, but it does say they used their ‘secret arts’, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10. Remember they are magicians and magic was their art. They were secret because these magicians, like some today, don’t reveal how they do it.

The important thing in all of this is not how the Egyptians’ rods were changed into serpents but what happened to them. Aaron’s rod swallowed all of theirs which demonstrated that God is greater than their god. But Pharaoh wasn’t convinced by this miracle and so refused to listen to Moses and Aaron.

The purpose of this miracle and all the miracles to come was to prove that Moses and Aaron were messengers from God. If the magicians really did perform miracles, then there would be no proof in the confirming miracles that Moses and Aaron were God’s true messengers.

The Miracles

Some people question if the miracles recorded were actually miracles, note the following thoughts.

1. In each case they were accurately foretold, as to the time and place of occurrence.

2. The intensity of such things as the frogs and lice was beyond all possibility of what could have been expected naturally.

3. Both their occurrence and their ending were demonstrated to be under the control and subject to the Word of God through Moses.

4. There was discrimination, some of the plagues afflicting the Egyptians and yet at the same time sparing the Israelites.

5. There was orderliness in their appearance, each event more severe than the one that preceded it, concluding with the most devastating of all, the death of the firstborn.

6. Also, there was progression in relation to the reaction of Pharaoh’s servants. At first, they could do anything that Moses did, but at last, admitted their failure and affirmed that ‘This is the finger of God!’

7. Over and beyond all this, there was a moral purpose in the plagues, they were not mere freaks of nature.

Now, remember that the ten plagues were actually ten disasters sent upon Egypt by God to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelite slaves from the bondage and oppression they had endured in Egypt for 430 years.

When God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, He promised to show His wonders as confirmation of Moses’ authority, Exodus 3:20.

This confirmation was to serve at least two purposes, firstly, to show the Israelites that the God of their fathers was alive and worthy of their worship and secondly, to show the Egyptians that their gods were nothing.

The Egyptians worshipped a wide variety of nature gods and attributed to their powers the natural phenomena they saw in the world around them. There was a god of the sun, of the river, of childbirth, of crops, etc.

Events like the annual flooding of the Nile, which fertilized their croplands, were evidence of their god’s powers and goodwill. When Moses approached Pharaoh, demanding that he let the people go, Pharaoh responded by saying “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2. And so from that point onwards, the challenge was on to show whose God was more powerful.

The Plague Of Blood

‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’” The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.” Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.’ Seven days passed after the LORD struck the Nile.’ Exodus 7:14-25

It appears that Pharaoh must have enjoyed going for a stroll every morning to the river Nile. This could also be a place where he went to worship in the morning.

The River Nile is extremely important to the Egyptians, not only for food but when it flooded at various times of the year, the floodwater would cover crops and fields, which would help them grow.

The plague of blood is the first plague that was issued against Pharaoh and all of Egypt because Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go.

God wanted Pharaoh not to misunderstand exactly who was behind this miracle of turning the water into blood, it was the ‘Lord God of the Hebrews’, and Pharaoh was told ‘by this you will know that I am the LORD.’

When Aaron did as God commanded, the blood was everywhere, streams, canals, ponds and reservoirs and the River Nile stank of dead fish.

As I mentioned earlier, the Bible doesn’t tell us how the magicians performed this trick, but again, it does say they used their ‘secret arts’, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10. Remember they are magicians and magic was their art. They were secret because these magicians, like some today, don’t reveal how they do it.

This was a judgment against ‘Apis’, the god of the Nile, ‘Isis’, the goddess of the Nile, and ‘Khnum’, the guardian of the Nile. The Nile was also believed to be the bloodstream of the god ‘Osiris’, who was reborn each year when the river flooded.

And so the river, which formed the basis of daily life and the national economy, was devastated, as millions of fish died in the river and the water was unusable.

Despite the miracle, Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, he stubbornly refused to let God’s people go. I guess he may have used the words of Shania Twain, ‘that don’t impress me much!’

God already knew that was going to happen and so He prepares Moses and Aaron to unleash the next plague.

Go To Exodus 8


"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."