Exodus 6:28–7-24: Moses and Aaron go back to Pharaoh; Aaron’s staff becomes a snake; the plague of blood
It seems every passage I’m doing lately is spread across a couple of chapters. Oh well.
This chapter starts with a bit of a repeat; Moses asks God “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?” (verse 6:30), and the LORD tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and not let the Israelites go, so that He can “multiply [His] miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt” (verse 7:3). Sounds familiar, right?
But, as commanded, Moses and Aaron go back before the Pharaoh. God tells them that, when the Pharaoh demands a sign, Aaron should throw his staff to the ground, to become a snake. So they do so, and Aaron’s staff becomes a snake. However, the Pharaoh brings in “wise men and magicians”, who do the same thing using their “secret arts” (verse 7:11). Aaron’s staff swallows the staffs of the Egyptians, but “Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said” (verse 7:13).
Now begins a series of plagues, which God brings against the Egyptians, to convince them—or, more specifically, to convince the Pharaoh—to let the Hebrews go. He sends Moses and Aaron back to the Pharaoh, and perform another miracle before him: When Aaron stretches his staff over the waters of Egypt, they will all turn to blood. They do this, and, as the LORD said, all of the waters in Egypt turn to blood. Verse 7:21 says:
The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
But that’s still not good enough:
But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river. (verses 7:22–24)
Is this guy hard to convince, or what?
With my pastor’s help, I had previously deduced that the term “Pharaoh” probably referred to the office, rather than the person, like referring to “the White House” when talking about the people who run that section of the American government. However, the Bible keeps using the term “Pharaoh” in a personal way, i.e. saying “he”, so my understanding probably wasn’t 100% correct.
Verse 7:7 tells us that Moses was 80, and Aaron 83, when they went back to Pharaoh. Previously, for some reason, I had been thinking that Moses was the older brother—and might even have written so, here—but I was mistaken.
I find it very interesting, during these first few miracles performed before the Pharaoh, that everything done by Moses and Aaron is duplicated by the Egyptians’ magicians. Of course, I have to wonder: If all of the water in Egypt was already turned to blood—“even in the wooden buckets and stone jars” (verse 7:19)—then how did the magicians find any water to turn into blood? Is it possible that they just took some blood and showed it to Pharaoh, and said “look we did it too”?
I also find it interesting that it’s Aaron who is performing the miracles, in this passage. In previous passages, God had specified that Moses was to perform the miracles.