Exodus Chapter 7 Pharaoh’s heart hardened, The First Plague

Sep 28th, 2009 | By | Category: Exodus, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Exodus Chapter 7  Pharaoh’s heart hardened, The First Plague

Exod. 7:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

Exod. 7:2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.

Exod. 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

God made Moses “a god” (Hebrew elohim) to Pharaoh. Earlier God also made Moses like a god to Aaron (Exod. 4:16). Aaron was a spokesman for Moses, but verse 1 shows that before Pharaoh, Moses was the most important person, even though Aaron did the talking. Aaron merely spoke for Moses. The distinction is like that between God and Jesus: God is the Author, and Jesus is the Logos. Incidentally, elohim is translated “judges” in Exodus 21:6; 22:8,9, and el is the singular.

Exod. 7:4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.

The second “and” is supplied and should be deleted. God said, “Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, my people the children of Israel.” The Israelites were brought out of Egypt in army fashion, that is, in an organized manner.

The flight was disciplined and orderly.

Exod. 7:5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exod. 7:6 And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they.

Exod. 7:7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

Moses was 80 years old at the time of the Exodus; Aaron was 83. Their ages are an important chronological link. For instance, we know that Aaron was only three years old when Moses was put in the ark in the bulrushes. And Miriam would have been several years older than Aaron for her to be sent to the river’s brink and then to talk to Pharaoh’s daughter.

Exod. 7:8 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

Exod. 7:9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent.

Exod. 7:10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent.

Exod. 7:11 Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.

Exod. 7:12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.

Exod. 7:13 And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

God told Moses to have Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh when Pharaoh would ask for a miracle. (Note: Whenever Aaron used a rod to produce a miracle, it was really Moses’ rod.)  Aaron did as instructed, and the rod became a “serpent.” When Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated the miracle with their rods, Moses’ rod swallowed up the other rods.

2 Timothy 3:8 names the two magicians, Jannes and Jambres, who “withstood Moses” in the sense of being ringleaders, for others also opposed Moses. Why did God permit Pharaoh’s magicians (representing Satan’s human agencies) to duplicate this miracle? One reason was to harden Pharaoh’s heart. The real question is why did God permit Satan’s magicians to turn their rods into serpents? (The conversion was a miracle, accomplished by occult power.) There are several reasons. Since Pharaoh called for his magicians to turn their rods into serpents, he was apparently confident they could perform such a miracle, and he felt justified in the results, for he wanted to demonstrate that what Moses did was nothing. But when Moses’ rod swallowed up the magicians’ rods, it was clear that Moses’ power was superior. Nevertheless, the magicians did duplicate Moses’ miracle to an extent. To repeat, real “serpents” were produced by Satan’s power.

The lesson for the Christian in the near future is to be careful of signs that are done, for a miraculous sign does not necessarily indicate a godly source. According to the Law, if someone foretold a matter for the purpose of leading the people away from God, the prophet was false—even if his prophecy came true! If the effect of the foretelling, if the intent, was to lead away from God, that prophet was to be put to death (Deut. 13:1–5). Moreover, those who followed such a prophet or tried to persuade others to listen to him were culpable.

Therefore, that which is superhuman is not necessarily of God. The public today has been mesmerized to think that if something supernatural occurs, it is good, and that such wisdom or instruction should be followed. This incident with Pharaoh alerts us to the fact that there is another supernatural force besides that of God, Jesus, and the holy angels. Satan and his fallen angel cohorts are also active. We must discriminate even with regard to miraculous signs, and we must beware of faith healers. Especially we are to be on guard against the lying signs and wonders that will take place in the near future. Outstanding miracles will be performed that will deceive all except the Very Elect (Matt. 24:24).

God allowed Pharaoh’s (Satan’s) magicians to use occult power with their rods for two reasons: (1) to seemingly justify Pharaoh and harden his heart and (2) to alert us that there is another supernatural force at work besides that of God—an unholy force.

Comment: The fact that the ringleader magicians are not mentioned by name until the New Testament seems to suggest that a counterpart will occur in the future with actual personalities being the human instruments through which the signs are performed.

Reply: They could be a type.

Deuteronomy 18:10–12 is a prohibition against divination and other occult methods. “There shall not be found among you any one … that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer [a spirit medium, a seeker unto the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD.” The point is that not only should a miracle be analyzed but also the way it is done. Notice that Pharaoh’s magicians did the same miracle as Moses, but they had to use “enchantments,” which pertained to burning incense and using incantations (the uttering of magical words with smoke). In simplicity, Moses merely had Aaron cast down his rod—that is, Moses’ rod—but the magicians had to produce an atmosphere. We are reminded of Elijah’s contest with the false prophets of Baal. The false prophets failed, but the method they used was one of show, cutting themselves, and loud words, whereas Elijah simply offered a prayer.

When Aaron cast down the rod and it became a “serpent,” the Hebrew word is different from that used in the earlier demonstration in Exodus 4:3. Tannin is used in Exodus 7:9,10,12; nachash, in Exodus 4:3. Tannin is used other ways in Scripture too, suggesting the result was not a “serpent” in the ordinary sense in the account under consideration but a crocodile. The word is often translated “dragon” elsewhere in Scripture, and it is rendered “whale” in Genesis 1:21.

The use of tannin suggests a creature related to water—an aquatic or an amphibious animal.

The crocodile is the latter, being half on land and half in the water. The “water” factor would be significant in regard to the Nile River. Crocodiles were not only in the Nile, but they were worshipped in Egypt. Therefore, the creatures produced by Aaron and the magicians were tannin, or crocodiles. What a startling miracle! Note: The Companion Bible shows “crocodiles” instead of “serpents.”

When Moses’ crocodile ate the other crocodiles, the effect was to strengthen the faith of Moses and Aaron, as well as the faith of the onlookers. Even Pharaoh had to treat Moses a little carefully. Without such a miracle, Pharaoh might have ordered Moses to be imprisoned and killed.

Comment: Since the Egyptians worshipped the crocodile, this incident would be symbolic of the truth devouring false doctrine and error.

Comment: There are many heathen religions around the world. This incident of Pharaoh’s magicians producing crocodiles is a clue that occult power has been used with these religions. Adherents to heathen religions are believing in something that has power and force for them. That power is not a total figment of their imaginations. The people are just misguided as to the source of that power.

Reply: That is right. A miracle is not in itself an evidence of truth. The Lord’s people are warned. The Bible gives clues for detecting what is proper and what is not. It takes a little schooling to avoid being misled.

Exod. 7:14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.

Exod. 7:15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.

Exod. 7:16 And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.

Exod. 7:17 Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.

Exod. 7:18 And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river.

Notice, this next miracle occurred the very next day, right after the rod and crocodile incident.

In fact, it was the next morning. And being at the Nile, Pharaoh would fear that Moses might produce another crocodile. After all, Moses was carrying the same rod.

Moses’ first request of Pharaoh was, “The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go … three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God” (Exod. 5:3). Now Moses’ request of Pharaoh was, “The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.” God warned Pharaoh through Moses, “You will know that I am God when I smite with the rod and the water in the Nile turns to blood” (paraphrase).

The turning of the waters into blood is Plague No. 1. The turning of the rod into a crocodile was just a demonstration of power, whereas this plague affected the people at large, including the Israelites. The Nile was the source of water for Egypt: for drinking, bathing, irrigation, fishing, etc. The Nile was known for its wonderful taste, but now it stank with blood and dead fish.

Moses, obviously encouraged by the events of the previous day, would be speaking more strongly to Pharaoh now.

When Moses’ rod swallowed the magicians’ rods, the magicians went back empty-handed. People get attached to rods and walking sticks, so this loss would have made an impression.

Truth is far more powerful than fiction. The permission of evil is a lesson for all of God’s creatures in future ages—His future human beings on other planets. We on earth are on the threshold of the human order. Jesus came here. Thus is shown the importance of earth, earthy.

Exod. 7:19 And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.

Exod. 7:20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote 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.

Exod. 7:21 And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

Exod. 7:22 And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.

Exod. 7:23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.

Exod. 7:24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.

Exod. 7:25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.

The plague was wide in scope—the water in all rivers, ponds, pools, etc., plus water stored in stone and wood vessels and aqueducts, was turned to blood. When Pharaoh called his magicians, their results were nothing compared to the miracle done through Moses.

Q: What did the magicians duplicate?

A: To get fresh water, the Egyptians dug wells. The magicians also dug wells and used a water sample thus obtained to show they could change water into blood. God allowed the magicians to do this to further harden Pharaoh’s heart.

The plague of water turning to blood helped the faith of the Israelites. They knew their Jehovah had performed the miracle. The first plague lasted seven days.

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