The Plague Of Darkness


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.


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.


‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the LORD. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.” But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the LORD our God. Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the LORD our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the LORD.” But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.” “Just as you say,” Moses replied. “I will never appear before you again.” Exodus 10:21-29

Here we read about the ninth plague, darkness. This was aimed at the sun god, ‘Re’, who was symbolized by Pharaoh himself. For three days, the land of Egypt was smothered with unearthly darkness, but the homes of the Israelites had light.

The Israelites must be utterly shell shocked by what’s happening. They must have been in awe as they enjoyed the light but the rest of Egypt is in total darkness. They must have been thinking to themselves, ‘is there anything that this God cannot control or do?’

I can imagine them saying to themselves, ‘no wonder our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob worshipped this God.’

It was God who created light in the beginning, Genesis 1:3, and it’s God who removes the light, Luke 23:44. This would have included the sun, moon and stars, which He also created, Genesis 1:14-19.

Notice that it was so dark no one could see anyone else, it’s no wonder no one moved around for three days. Pharaoh once again softens his heart and tells Moses that they can go and worship God, only if they leave their flocks and heard behind.

Moses once again isn’t willing to compromise with Pharaoh, because he knows everything belongs to God, Psalm 5 / Psalm 10.

Notice that Pharaoh basically says, if Moses turns up in front of him again, he’s as good as dead. Also notice that Moses replied that he wouldn’t appear in front of Pharaoh again. On the surface, this reads as though the two would never meet face to face again, but they will, as we shall see in Exodus 11:4-10.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Moses accepted Pharaoh’s words without fear, calmly waited until the final plague was announced, and told Pharaoh Plainly. ‘After just one more plague, Pharaoh’s servants would come to him, bow down, and plead with the Israelites to leave.’ As it turned out, even Pharaoh himself did this, Exodus 12:30-31.