April 16



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Exodus 8-11

We are in The World Stream reading through the plagues on Egypt. We are reading from the Good News Translation this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

“Lord God, we want to be on your side. It is clear that there are those who are for you and those who are against you.  The resolve is contrasting and stark. The results of obeying you v.s. fighting you are again, contrasting and stark. It reminds of the lyric of the old hymn, “Savior, we are thine.”   May it be so.   Amen”

The Reading today covers plagues 2-9. We saw the Nile turning to blood and will read of the death of all the firstborn next week (1 and 10).  It is the bulk of the showdown with the Pharaoh today. The plagues we read about today are frogs, gnats, flies, plague on cattle, boils, hail, locusts, darkness. God used so many plagues and persisted through all ten of them for He wanted to fully prove the haplessness of the gods of Egypt.  In last week’s reading, the Nile turning to blood, this was God showing supremacy over the Egyptian gods; Khnum- guardian of the Nile, Hopi- spirit of the Nile, and Osiris- the giver of life, whose bloodstream was the Nile. The Egyptians even today confess that the Nile is their life. No Nile => no Egypt.

ch. 8 – Today the Frogs plague was a direct insult to the god Heqt [“h-e-q-t”]. Frogs come up out of the Nile for the next seven-day long plague. Egyptians worshiped frogs. Their croaking each spring as the Nile began to recede signified it was time to plant crops. Since the events each year were coincidental, this led to frogs being worshiped. It was springtime and just as rabbits in spring were revered in Rome (thus the persistence of the “Easter bunny”  with seculars hoping it overshadows the import of the Easter Holiday itself), so too frogs were worshiped and even associated with fertility.   So God had frogs even cover their beds. “So you still want to worship frogs, eh?” God seems to be asking this of the Egyptians.  The magicians were able to bring up some frogs. Was that supposed to impress someone?  You can make the plague worse, ok, but can you make it better?  Note that Pharaoh asked Moses to pray to God to remove the frogs … tomorrow.  Maybe if he had another day, he could solve the problem via his magicians. ?
The gnats (mosquitos?) plague is not a direct insult of a god for none were associated with gnats, but it is the first plague that comes without a warning preceding it where Moses and Pharaoh talk first. Did Pharaoh deserve a warning? He had just lied to God/Moses/Aaron… Notice that God had told both Abraham and Jacob that their offspring would be innumerable; like the sand. Well the gnats here are going to be that thick, that innumberable, and plague starts when Moses strikes the ground.  Think of trying to get a night’s sleep, especially when camping, and there is even one gnat buzzing around your ears. Alone it will keep you awake. Well the Egyptians were immersed in trillions of them.  And the magicians confess that it’s God’s doing.
The flies strike next. It is going to be so bad that Moses goes to warn Pharaoh this time. We read “flies” but these are not what we think. We envision ‘house-flies’. These are/were what are referred to as ‘dog-flies’. Many have heard of ‘horse-flies’. Those things bite and leave a mark!  The kind they had in Egypt were as angry as hornets. They dive and bite/sting. That is why the Israelites in Goshen are protected. The plague soon brings Egypt to ruin and it’s understandable. Biologically, the Frogs, gnats, and flies happening in succession are linked matters but that can be discussed elsewhere.
9 – The plague on the cattle is a direct assault on Egypt’s well being and economy and religion. They loved cows. It was entrenched in their minds. (Even Israelites falter in this come Exodus 32 when they make golden calves as idols). hundreds of millions in India worship cows to this day. “Hathor” was the Egyptian mother goddess in shape of a cow, and Apis (ah-PEACE) was the bull-god. He personified “Ptah” ; a creator-god who gave fertility.  The Egyptians worshiped cattle –> and God struck the cattle. Don’t anyone get mad at God, it was Pharaoh who wouldn’t bend here. All the animals in Egypt that belonged to the Egyptians died. The Israelites suffered no loss here.
-Soon the boils come on the bodies of the Egyptian people and the animals. They had to have acquired more from neighboring countries and from Israelites since their’s had all just died. So they have new cattle, they’ve just recovered from the biting flies and now ALL cows and people get boils.  Perhaps the fly bites are medically linked to getting the boils but it is bad and painful and the magicians would have conjured something except that they are covered with boils too. It is a national mess that is disgusting and beyond. “Imhotep” their impotent god of medicine was proving to be of no use and no contest against the God whom Moses served.
-there is no recovery spoken of from the boils and soon the warning of hail coming is delivered to Pharaoh. Egypt had the sky goddess; Nut {“newt”}, Isis; the goddess of life, and Seth; the protector of crops.  These gods would prove useless like the others.  The warning is given because anything that is left out; slave or animal is going to get pelted to death. Some listen, some don’t. The horror of the magnitude of the hail storm drives Pharaoh to a confession to Moses but there is not repentance.
10 – The Locust plague is again a clear statement against the gods Isis and Seth. This time God was determined to finish the contest with all the gods of Egypt. Pharaoh was beyond repenting. God would see to it that the oppressors of Israel were devastated.  Pharaoh tries some half measures to negotiate but is stubborn to the bone in the end, again. But it’s God’s doing and the locusts come and devour everything green that was left in the land from the hail storm. A vast cloud of them swarmed in. Some historians and entymologists (buggie-dudes) said that at night the locusts would rest on the ground in the dark and be 4-5″ inches deep squishing under feet.  Pharaoh is crushed and comes to ask for prayer
but he won’t let the Israelites depart.  The loss of labor of millions would be even worse to him.
The darkness, plague 9, came without warning as did the plagues of boils and gnats. The Egyptian sun gods, Re, Aten, Atum, and Horus were all shown as empty idols. The god Horus is still used as the logo on EgyptAir lines today. He is the falcon head.  Well darkness descended and it is a spooky darkness. It’s a different type of horror than what the others had brought on. There was no darkness over the Israelites. They had asked to go worship for three days. Pharaoh had said “no” too many times before, so they got darkness for three days.  Pharaoh is unbending.
11 – Moses, under God’s instruction, goes to Pharaoh and spells out in detail the 10th plague. It will be horrifying and be the greatest blow ever dealt to Egypt in its history. It will affect Pharaoh; the personified god of Egypt. This one will also strike the palace and will leave every home in the country with a lifeless hole in their soul. Pharaoh has been warned thoroughly, and as God has it, Pharaoh will not let the Israelites go.  They better brace themselves.