Exodus 7 Moses and Aaron Go before Pharaoh
The Egyptians needed to learn that Jehovah is the only true God and that holding the Israelites in bondage was displeasing to Him. The children of Israel needed to learn to believe in Jehovah and to obey Him. In verse 1 the Lord told Moses, “See, I have made thee a prophet to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy spokesman” (JST, Exodus 7:1). Following this, the Joseph Smith Translation again corrects the text, reaffirming that it was Pharaoh who hardened his own heart against God, Moses, and the Israelites; rather than his heart being hardened by God (see JST, Exodus 7:3, along with all subsequent JST changes regarding Pharaoh’s heart, through Exodus 14).
As a prelude to the overwhelmingly dramatic events in chapters 7-14, the Lord declared, “if Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, then I will lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies” (JST, Exodus 7:4), followed by, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord” (verse 5).
At least six times in Exodus 7-10 the Lord told Moses that He would bring Israel out of bondage “that they may serve me.” Serving and obeying God is our best way to love Him and to love our neighbors (the first and second great commandments; see Matthew 22:35-40). We may also derive from this that political freedom is a key to our ability to practice our faith in God and to serve Him.
Eighty-year-old Moses (verse 7) goes before Pharaoh again—accompanied by Aaron—to show forth God’s power:
- Aaron’s rod (staff) is turned into a serpent, but Pharaoh’s sorcerers and magicians duplicate this sign. Nonetheless, Aaron’s serpent “swallowed up” the rods/serpents of the Egyptians (verses 10-12).
- The power of Pharaoh’s sorcerers can only be attributed to Satan. The prophet Mormon informed us that in his day, “there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land,” and that there was bedeviling “magic art” and “witchcraft” among his people (see Mormon 1:19; 2:10).
- Next, it is time for the ten plagues upon Pharaoh and his people. Through Aaron’s rod, God brings forth the first plague; turning all the waters of the river, the ponds, and all household containers to blood; with all the fish dying and nothing to drink for seven days. But again, the magicians of Egypt copied this miracle (verses 17-25).
Exodus 8-10 Plagues Two through Nine
Next, we see more plagues the Lord sent upon the Egyptians, each unfortunately being met by Pharaoh’s mind-boggling pride and stubbornness:
- Second plague (8:1-15): frogs, which prompted Pharaoh to relent and make a promise to let the Israelites go, but when this plague ended, Pharaoh recanted.
- Third plague (8:16-19): lice, wherein “all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt,” pestering man and beast. The magicians attempted to duplicate this miracle, but were not able to do so, causing them to conclude, “This is the finger of God” (verse 19); yet Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened.
- Fourth plague (8:20-32): grievous swarms of flies upon all people, and in their houses and covering all the ground. This time an added turn (and additional sign to the Egyptians) is that the flies did not afflict the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel lived. This prompted Pharaoh to say that the Israelites could “sacrifice to [their] God in the land” (verse 25)—meaning right there in Egypt—but this was rejected as being unacceptable, and the end result was the same, as Pharaoh continued to harden his heart.
- Fifth plague (9:1-7): a “very grievous murrain” (severe plague) which destroyed the cattle of the Egyptians, along with their horses, asses, camels, oxen, and sheep. Again, there was no impact upon the children of Israel, for the Lord protected them from this plague. Result: Pharaoh still hardened his heart.
- Sixth plague (9:8-12): festering boils, with blisters and pustules upon all the Egyptians (including the magicians) and their animals; but not upon the Israelites. Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened.
- Seventh plague (9:13-35): hail mingled with fire upon the Egyptians and their remaining animals, except this time the Lord instructed Moses to send a warning word to all Egyptians, so that they could protect themselves by seeking shelter. Amazingly, after all they had seen, there were still Egyptians who “regarded not the word of the Lord” (verse 21) and left their servants and animals in the fields, thus perishing along with all remaining crops and trees. Again, the children of Israel were spared; and again, Pharaoh softened and declared the freedom of the Israelites, but later again hardened his heart and changed his mind.
- Eighth plague (10:1-20): locusts, which would completely “cover the face of the earth” and eat any crops and trees which may have remained; again with the intention to humble Pharaoh so that he would follow God’s will and not his own (verse 3; see also 9:17). Pharaoh’s servants pleaded with him to let the children of Israel go, saying “knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?” (verse 7). This time Pharaoh goes so far as to say that he will allow only the men of the Israelites go (verse 11). Clearly, that was unacceptable, so the plague of locusts came. Pharaoh again began to waver and relent, but ultimately—when the plague was gone—he again hardened his heart. We must not try to “negotiate” with the Lord, but to learn His will, accept it, and follow it.
- At this time, the Lord instructed Moses that in the future, he (and the rest of the children of Israel) was to tell his posterity of all God’s works among the Egyptians, so that the following generations of Israelites “may know how that I am the Lord” (verse 2; see also Helaman 14:11-13). As stated in the weekly prayers upon the sacrament, we must remember our God always and recognize His good works in our behalf (see also Moroni 10:3).
- Ninth plague (10:21-29): a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days, “but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (verse 22). Today, as heirs of the Abrahamic covenant, we too can have “light” in our dwellings and in our lives.
- Due to the darkness, Pharaoh told Moses that he would let all the children of Israel go, but they must leave behind their flocks and herds (the Egyptians had no animals left), but Moses insisted that they needed their animals for sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord (verse 25). Thus, Pharaoh again changed his mind back and hardened his heart, threatening to kill Moses if he were to come to him again.
Exodus 11 “One Plague More”
In verse 1 the Lord told Moses that after the tenth plague, Pharaoh would let the Israelites go, and even “thrust [them] out hence altogether.” The Lord also instructed Moses to have the children of Israel “borrow” jewelry, gold, and silver from the Egyptians, and the Egyptians were gracious in giving, for “the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians” and also because “the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt” (verses 2-3; see also 12:35-36). Find:
- What did the Lord tell Moses that the tenth plague would be? (verses 4-6).
- What effect would the tenth plague have upon the children of Israel? (verse 7).
- According to Moses’s statement to Pharaoh, what impact would the tenth plague have upon the servants and people of Pharaoh? (verse 8).
- What did the Lord tell Moses that Pharaoh would do in reaction to the tenth plague? (verse 9).
Exodus 12 “It Is the Lord’s Passover”
This chapter is one of the most significant in all the Old Testament in teaching about the forthcoming atoning mission of Jesus Christ. The children of Israel are to be rescued from bondage and death; and Jesus Christ, through His Atonement, rescues us from the bondage of our own sins and from physical death.
Look for potential symbols, imagery, instructions, actions, and language that teach of the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice in verses 1-14, 26-28, 31, 42, 46, 51. (See also Luke 22:19-20; John 19:30-36; 1 Peter 1:18-20; Alma 34:8-10.)
Of course the Lord knew who were Israelites and who were not, so why did He instruct the children of Israel to put blood on their doorposts?
Exodus 13 “Remember This Day”
- According to verses 1-10, 14-15, how were the children of Israel and their descendants to remember their deliverance from Egypt?
- What blessings in your life are most memorable for you?
- Verses 21-22 tell us that the Lord led the children of Israel in their journeying with a pillar of a cloud that they were to follow, and He gave them light by night with a pillar of fire.
- We may also think of the Liahona that led Lehi and his family as they journeyed to the Americas.
- What historical events do you think members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should always remember? Why?
- In what ways does God lead you and give you light?