Jan. 20 Reading: Exodus 7-9 Commentary

Below is our Exodus 7-9 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.

Key Verse(s):

“But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Ex. 7:4-5)

Exodus 7 – “I am the Lord”


Pharaoh refused Moses and Aaron’s initial request to let the people worship. He mocked God and questioned His sovereignty over Egypt. And he redirected his anger towards the Hebrews and forced them into even more difficult labor.

But now Moses and Aaron, at ages 80 and 83 respectively (Ex. 7:7) , are about to be the vehicles through which God will demonstrate His power and judgment in ways not seen since the days of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19).

Why would God do this? Did he have to be this harsh and judgmental on the Egyptians? What was the purpose of putting Pharaoh and his people through this?

We see the two-fold answer in Exodus 7:4-5:

“But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them.” (Ex. 7:4-5)

For starters, Pharaoh was not listening. He was not heeding God’s request. Pharaoh thought he was the ultimate authority in the world and need not answer to anyone. So judgment became the tool to humble Pharaoh to release the people.

But the grander and most important reason was that God wanted the Egyptians to know who He was. He wanted them to know that “…I am the Lord…” (v. 5). There would be no doubt in the end – for Egypt and other nations who would also hear about what happened – that a supernatural, almighty God had freed the people.

Aaron’s Rod

One of the miracles God showed Moses at the burning bush was turning his rod into a snake (Ex. 4:1-5). Moses showed this miracle to the Hebrew elders as proof that God had sent him (Ex. 4:30). In their first encounter with Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron had only talked about the signs and miracles God would perform. Now it’s time to do one.

When they meet Pharaoh the second time in Ex. 7, Aaron takes his rod and performs the rod-to-serpent miracle. Pharaoh is not impressed. Why? Because he calls his wise men and sorcerers before him and they do the same thing.

We don’t know exactly if Pharaoh’s magicians used trickery and slight of hand or that their “miracle” was the result of demonic, spiritual power. But what we do see is that, while all the rods were in serpent form, “Aaron’s rod swallowed up their [the magicians] rods” (v. 12).

It’s a significant visual of what was to come. No matter what they tried or what they believed, God’s will was bigger than the Egyptians. His plan would swallow up Pharaoh’s plan and prove once and for all who had ultimate authority in heaven and on earth.

The First Plague

Several things to note about the plagues:

  1. Aaron’s rod would figure prominently in many of them. It became a symbol of God’s power to the people.
  2. Seven plagues were announced beforehand. Three (plagues 3, 6 and 9) came without warning.
  3. Multiple times the plagues were foretold to happen at a specific place and time.
  4. The first two plagues are replicated by Pharaoh’s magicians (which is funny in that they ironically helped make the problem worse).
  5. It would seem that the Hebrews in Goshen were exempt from the plagues. Several times that is specifically mentioned.
  6. For each plague, there was a specific event, with a specific outcome and a specific reaction from Pharaoh.

The First Plague: Water Becomes Blood (Ex. 7:14-25)

Event: In front of Pharaoh, Aaron lifted his rod over the Nile River and struck the waters so that they became blood. They weren’t “red, like blood”…they were turned to actual blood.

Outcome: All the water in Egypt (in rivers, streams, ponds and pools of water) turned to blood. All the fish in the water died and the people could not drink the water. The people had to dig around the river to find ground water to drink.

Pharaoh’s Reaction: The magicians (again through trickery or demonic supernatural power) turned water to blood as well. Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.

Exodus 8 – Plagues Two Through Four

The plagues continue in Exodus 8 with the following:

Plague Two: Frogs

Event: God told Aaron to stretch his rod over the streams and rivers and ponds and command frogs to come onto the land.

Outcome: “Frogs came up and covered the land” (v. 6). They made it into the people’s fields, courtyards and homes (v. 13). There were so many that when they died out, they gathered them into heaps and the whole land stank (v. 14).

Pharaoh’s Reaction: Once again Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated this miracle (v. 7). Pharaoh asked Moses to pray to the Lord to remove the frogs from the land (v. 8). When he saw relief from the plague, he hardened his heart (v. 15).

Plague Three: Lice

Event: This plague was not announced in advance. Aaron was instructed by God to stretch out his rod and strike the dust of the land so it became lice (v. 16).

Outcome: “All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land” and rested “…on man and beast” (v. 17).

Pharaoh’s Reaction: Pharaoh’s magicians cannot duplicate this miracle. They realize they are outdone at this point and say to him, “This is the finger of God” (v. 19). Pharaoh does not consult Moses on this plague and hardens his heart.

Plague Four: Flies

Event: Moses tells Pharaoh God will strike the land with swarms of flies. Specifically here, God will keep the flies from the land of Goshen where the Hebrews live. He tells Pharaoh, this will “make a difference between My people and your people” (v. 23). Additionally, Pharaoh is told exactly when the plague will occur (v. 19).

Outcome: “Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies” (v. 24).

Pharaoh’s Reaction: Pharaoh agrees to let the people go worship in the wilderness and he asks Moses to “intercede for me” (v. 28). Moses tells Pharaoh exactly when the flies will depart from the land and warns Pharaoh not to deal deceitfully with the people again. But once the plague is gone, Pharaoh hardens his heart and won’t let the people go.

Exodus 9 – Plagues Five Through Seven

The plagues continue in Exodus 9 with the following:

Plague Five: Livestock Diseased

Event: God brought a severe pestilence on the livestock (cattle, horses, donkeys, camels, oxen and sheep – v. 3). Again, a time is set when this will happen.

Outcome: All the livestock of Egypt died. The livestock of Israel did not die.

Pharaoh’s Reaction: Pharaoh does not consult Moses on this plague. He hardens his heart (v. 7).

Plague Six: Boils

Event: This plague was not announced in advance. Moses and Aaron were instructed to take ashes from a furnace and throw them into the air in front of Pharaoh. It would become fine dust in all the land of Egypt and cause sores (boils) on the people and animals.

Outcome: Boils broke out into sores on man and beast (v. 10). Even the magicians suffered from them and fled the presence of Moses (v. 11).

Pharaoh’s Reaction: Pharaoh again does not discuss this plague with Moses. He hardens his heart (v. 12).

Plague Seven: Hail

Plague seven is a bad one. It receives an extended build up in verses 13-20. God tells Pharoah to “Let my people go, that they may serve Me…” (v. 13) and:

“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…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. As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go.” (vv. 14-17)

Pharaoh simply need to yield to stop this. His pride brought all the calamity on the land.

Event: A specific time is announced when a hailstorm “such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now” (v. 18) will come. People are instructed to move themselves and any remaining animals they have in the field indoors. Any man or animal found outside during the hailstorm would die. Those among the Egyptians who feared God listened to this warning (v. 20).

Outcome: The Lord sent thunder, hail and fire on the land. Trees in the field (v. 25) along with the crops were destroyed (v. 31-32). The land of Goshen was once again spared.

Pharaoh’s Reaction: In his most contrite statement yet, Pharaoh says,I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. 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.”

God once again lifted the plague at the time specified by Moses. Once again, Pharaoh hardened his heart.

Questions to Consider:

Pharaoh’s heart is so hard he won’t give in to the evidence right in front of him and repent of his wrongdoing. This God is real and His will won’t be denied. Have you ever gone against the will of God in your life? What was the outcome? How have you learned to follow God’s will for your life? 

God doesn’t make belief in Him hard. There are signs everywhere that point to Him. Yet, Pharaoh resisted every sign God put in his path, and he and the nation suffered for it. What signs from God are you resisting today in order to follow your own selfish desires?

Knowledge is valuable. But only through a heart change can people be made right with God. Does your heart need to change today? 

What other points would you want to know about in our Exodus 7-9 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.