Reading 17/341, Exodus 7-9

The Lord changes Aaron’s rod into a snake. He changes the water of the Nile into blood. He sends frogs, fleas, flies. He kills all livestock, and the Egyptians get boils. Then he sends hail. Throughout all this, Pharaoh does not let the people go. He tries negotiating, but he refuses their unconditional release.
[A] The first 7 plagues come today. The other 3 are tomorrow.
[B] Sometimes it says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, and sometimes it says that the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart. This is often raised as in contradiction to free will. Pharaoh is punished for being stubborn, but God makes him stubborn. Yet the punishments are deserved for what Pharaoh had done up to that point. God only makes him stubborn enough to not give up before the last punishment is sent.

...Exodus...

The Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. I will harden Pharaoh's heart and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt, but Pharaoh will not listen to you, and I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring forth my armies, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth my hand on Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them." Moses and Aaron did so. As the Lord commanded them, so they did. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

The Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, "When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, 'Perform a miracle!' then you shall tell Aaron, 'Take your rod and cast it down before Pharaoh, and it will become a serpent.'" Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did as the Lord had commanded, and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers. They, the magicians of Egypt, did it in the same manner with their enchantments. For every man cast down his rod, and they became serpents, but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken.

The Lord said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn. He refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning. Behold, he goes out to the water, and you shall stand by the river's bank to meet him, and the rod which was turned to a serpent you shall take in your hand. You shall tell him, 'the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you, saying, "Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness:" and behold, until now you have not listened. Thus says the Lord, "In this you shall know that I am the Lord. Behold, I will strike with the rod that is in my hand the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. The fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall become foul, and the Egyptians shall hate to drink water from the river."'" The Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your rod, and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'" Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded, and he lifted up the rod, and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants, and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish that were in the river died, and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river, and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt. The magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments, and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken. Pharaoh turned and went into his house, nor did he take even this to heart. All the Egyptians dug round about the river for water to drink, for they could not drink of the water of the river.

Seven days passed after the Lord had struck the river. The Lord spoke to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh, and tell him, "This is what the Lord says, 'Let my people go, that they may serve me. If you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your borders with frogs: and the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into your house, and into your bedchamber, and on your bed, and into the house of your servants, and on your people, and into your ovens, and into your kneading troughs: and the frogs shall come up both on you and on your people and on all your servants.'"" The Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch forth your hand with your rod over the rivers, over the streams, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.'" Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. The magicians did in like manner with their enchantments and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Entreat the Lord, that he take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord." Moses said to Pharaoh, "I give you the honor of setting the time that I should pray for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, and remain in the river only." He said, "Tomorrow." He said, "Be it according to your word, that you may know that there is none like the Lord our God. The frogs shall depart from you, and from your houses, and from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only." Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord concerning the frogs which he had brought on Pharaoh. The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields. They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart, and did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken.

The Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become fleas throughout all the land of Egypt.'" They did so, and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were fleas on man and on animal; all the dust of the earth became fleas throughout all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried with their enchantments to bring forth fleas, but they could not. There were fleas on man and on animal. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God", and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken.

The Lord said to Moses, "Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes forth to the water and tell him, 'This is what the Lord says, "Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses, and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and even the ground where they are. I will set apart on that day the land of Goshen in which my people dwell: no swarms of flies shall be there, so that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. I will put a division between my people and your people: by tomorrow shall this sign be."'" The Lord did so, and there came grievous swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants' houses and in all the land of Egypt the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies. Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God in the land!" Moses said, "It is not appropriate to do so; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God. Behold, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes and will they not stone us? We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God, as he shall command us." Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness, only you shall not go very far away. Pray for me." Moses said, "Behold, I go out from you, and I will pray to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord." Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. There remained not one. Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh, and tell him, 'This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: "Let my people go, that they may serve me. For if you refuse to let them go, and hold them still, behold, the hand of the Lord is on your livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks with a very grievous pestilence. The Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, and nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel."'" The Lord appointed a set time, saying, "Tomorrow the Lord shall do this thing in the land.” The Lord did that thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died, but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died. Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the livestock of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go.

The Lord said to Moses and to Aaron, "Take handfuls of ashes out of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt and shall be boils breaking forth into sores on man and on animal, throughout all the land of Egypt." They took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses sprinkled it up toward the sky, and it became boils breaking forth into sores on man and on animal. The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were on the magicians, and on all the Egyptians. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.

The Lord said to Moses, "Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and tell him, 'This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: "Let my people go, that they may serve me. For this time I will send all my plagues against your heart, against your officials, and against your people; that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. For by now I could have put forth my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth; but indeed for this reason I have made you stand: to show you my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth; as you still exalt yourself against my people, that you will not let them go. Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. Now therefore command that all of your livestock and all that you have in the field be brought into shelter. Every man and animal that is found in the field, and is not brought home, the hail shall come down on them, and they shall die."'" Those who feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made their servants and their livestock flee into the houses. Whoever did not regard the word of the Lord left his servants and his livestock in the field. The Lord said to Moses, "Stretch forth your hand toward the sky, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man, and on animal, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt." Moses stretched forth his rod toward the heavens, and the Lord sent thunder, hail, and lightning flashed down to the earth. The Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. So there was very severe hail, and lightning mixed with the hail, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and animal, and the hail struck every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.

Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. Pray to the Lord; for there has been enough of mighty thunderings and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer." Moses said to him, "As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands to the Lord. The thunders shall cease, nor shall there be any more hail; that you may know that the earth is the Lord's. But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God." The flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they had not grown up. Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands to the Lord, and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth. When Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. The heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the children of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.

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