Even though Moses and Aaron performed miracles with the staff in front of Pharaoh, but Pharaoh’s heart was still stubborn. God unleashed ten plagues upon the land of Egypt.
Plague of blood
“I will show you that I am the Lord. I will strike the water of the Nile with this staff in my hand, and the river will turn to blood. The fish in it will die, and the river will stink. The Egyptians will not be able to drink any water from the Nile,” said the Lord.
Plague of blood along the river Nile.
Since the magicians could also turn water into blood, Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. All Egyptians dug along the riverbank to find drinking water as they couldn’t drink the water from the Nile.
Plague of frogs
“If you refuse to let my people go, I will send a plague of frogs across your entire land. The Nile River will swarm with frogs. They will come up out of the river and into your palace, even into your bedroom and onto your bed.”
Seven days later, Aaron raised his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs covered the entire land. Pharaoh pleaded with the Lord to take the frogs away and he would let Israelites to go by tomorrow. But as the relief came, Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn.
Plague of gnats
Aaron raised his staff and struck on the ground, the dust turned into swarms of gnats throughout the land of Egypt. The Egyptian magicians tried to do the same, but they failed and said, “this is the finger of God.” Pharaoh remained stubborn.
Plague of flies
“The Egyptian homes will be filled with flies, and the ground will be covered with the,. But this time I will spare the region of Goshen, where my people live. No flies will be found there, then you will know that I am the Lord and that I am present even in the heart of your land. I will make a clear distinction between my people and your people. This miraculous sign will happen tomorrow.”
Commitment and obedience to God’s commands cannot be negotiated. God commanded the Hebrews had to leave Egypt. When it comes to obeying God, half measures would not work. Pharaoh initially agreed to let Israelites to offer sacrifices only on the land of Egypt but Moses knew that they would be stoned by the Egyptians. As the Lord removed the plagues, Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn.
Plague against livestock
“If you continue to hold them and refuse to let the people go, your horse, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats with a deadly plague. But the Lord will again make a distinction between the livestock of the Israelites and that of the Egyptians. Not a single one of Israel’s animals will die.”
Pharaoh sent officials to investigate and they discovered the Israelites had not lost a single animal, but Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn.
As each plague descended upon the land, the Egyptians realized their own gods were powerless to stop it. Hathor, the crafty cow-goddess was helpless as Egyptian livestock died in drives.
The goddess Hathor (left) wearing her headdress, a pair of cow horns with a sun disk.
Plague of festering boils
Moses took handfuls of soot from a brick kiln and stood in front of Pharaoh. The ashes did spread like fine dust over the land of Egypt, causing festering boils to break on people and animals throughout the land. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh refused to listen.
Plague of hail
“By now I could have lifted my hand ans struck you with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose – to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth. But you still refuse to let my people go, so tomorrow I will send a hailstorm more devastating than any in all the history of Egypt.”
Pharaoh’s officials were afraid and brought their livestocks away from their fields. Devastating ail struck down everything people, animals and plants. Pharaoh quickly confessed, “This time I have sinned, the Lord is the righteous one and my people and I are wrong” He asked Moses to beg to Lord to end this hail. Moses agreed, but he knew that Pharaoh was not fearful of the Lord at this point. When the hail stopped, Pharaoh sinned against God again, his heart remained stubborn.Pharaoh’s repentance was not real.
Plague of locusts
“For tomorrow I will bring a swarm of locusts on your country, they will cover the land so that you won’t be able to see the ground. They will devour what little is left of your crops after the hailstorm, including all the trees growing in the fields. They will overrun your palaces and houses in Egypt. Never in the history of Egypt have your ancestors seen a plague like this one.”
Pharaoh’s officials asked Pharaoh, “How long will you let this man hold us hostage? Let the men go to worship the Lord their God, don’t you realize that Egypt lies in ruins?” Pharaoh then confessed sins and pleaded. God again hardened Pharaoh’s heart, refusing to let the people go.
Plague of darkness
Moses lifted his hand to the sky and deep darkness covered the land of Egypt and people could not see each other. Pharaoh permitted the people leave but not letting them to bring along the flocks. Moses said all livestocks must go with the people as they had to offer sacrifices to the Lord. The Hebrews were Egypt’s free labor who helped building great cities, Pharaoh was reluctant to let such a great resource go. Even the sun-god, Amon-Re, could not stop such entire darkness from covering the land for several days. The Egyptian gods were numerous but the God of Hebrews was the only true God who should be worshiped.
Death of Egypt’s firstborn
“All firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh who sits on his throne,to the oldest son of his lowliest servant girl who grinds the flour. Even the firstborn of all livestock will die. Then a loud wail will rise throughout the land of Egypt, a wail like no one has heard before or will ever hear again. But among the Israelites it will be so peaceful that not even a dog will bark, then you will know the Lord makes a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites.”
Moses and Aaron performed the miracles in Pharaoh’s presence, but the Lord hardened his heart and he wouldn’t let the Israelites leave the country.
Did God really harden Pharaoh’s heart? Before the ten plagues began, Moses and Aaron announced what God would do if Pharaoh didn’t let the people go. But their message only made Pharaoh stubborn, he was hardening his own heart. In so doing, Pharaoh defied both God and his messengers. Through the first 6 plagues, Pharaoh’s heart grew more stubborn, but after that, God passed judgement, evil people will be punished for their sins. God confirmed Pharaoh’s decision and set the painful consequences of his actions.