The Battle between Yahweh and the Rulers of Egypt

Exodus records the instructions and events of the plagues for the purpose of showing how the Lord revealed both his person and his power through delivering Israel from Egypt. The plagues fall on areas of life supposedly protected by Egypt’s gods, thus demonstrating the Lord’s power over the gods of the world’s mightiest nation. The narrative of the plagues is therefore not necessarily an exhaustive account of everything that happened but is shaped in order to communicate the aspects of each plague that are necessary for its purpose. For example, the section describing the third plague (8:16–19) does not record either the instruction or the event of Moses and Aaron going before Pharaoh, but the fact that the magicians seek to reproduce the sign (v. 18) indicates that it is likely they performed it initially in the presence of Pharaoh and his court. Each of the sections on the third, sixth, and ninth plagues are similar in their brevity and style, which also lends to the shape of three cycles of three plagues leading up to the tenth and final plague.

Type of PlagueReferenceWarning?Time of WarningInstructionAgentStaff?Pharaoh promises to let people go?Pharaoh’s heart hardened?
1st Cycle1. Nile to blood7:14–25YesIn the morningGo to Pharaoh; StandAaronYesYes
2. Frogs from the Nile8:1–15YesGo in to PharaohAaronYesYesYes
3. Dust to gnats8:16–19AaronYesYes
2nd Cycle4. Flies8:20–32YesEarly in the morningPresent yourself to PharaohGodYesYes
5. Egyptian livestock die9:1–7YesGo in to PharaohGodYes
6. Boils9:8–12MosesYes
3rd Cycle7. Hail9:13–35YesEarly in the morningPresent yourself before PharaohMosesYesYes
8. Locusts10:1–20YesGo in to PharaohMosesYesYesYes
9. Darkness10:21–29MosesYesYesYes
10. Death of firstborn11:1–10; 12:29–32YesGodYesYesYes

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