Wisdom's Corner
God Against Pharaoh

God had been patient with Pharaoh. He had given him nine chances to change his mind. But Pharaoh refused to do what God said. God told Moses how to prepare for the next plague. He told Moses that after this tenth plague, Pharaoh would not only ask them to leave, but would throw them out of Egypt completely.

God said that at midnight all the firstborn in the land of Egypt would die. All of the firstborn animals and all of the firstborn people would die. God gave instructions to Moses to tell the Israelites how to keep this from happening to them. But Moses did not tell the Egyptians what to do.

At midnight all of the firstborn in Egypt who were not protected, died. All of the firstborn animals died. All of the firstborn to the very poor in Egypt died. And all of the firstborn in the royal household died, including Pharaoh's son (Exodus 11:1-12:36). All the homes of Egypt had great sorrow because of all of the dead. There was a great cry that could be heard throughout the land of Egypt.

This plague of death was God's final way to show that He was more powerful than any Egyptian god. Aker, the protector from evil spirits, with his statues at the door of homes and palaces could not keep God out of the homes. Aten the creator of man and the nurturing spirit of the world could not keep the Egyptians safe from the One True God.

Ra was seen as having part in the creation of man. The Egyptians called themselves "the cattle of Ra." God had shown that Ra could not protect them. And if they wanted to be called cattle, they could die just like the cattle in the field. On this night, God made no difference between the animals and the people.

And this was a great blow to Pharaoh himself. The Pharaoh was thought to be a physical representation of the sun god Ra. The firstborn son was to take his father's place as Ra's representative to the Egyptians. But Pharaoh's son was not special. He died just like the cows in the field.

Pharaoh's standing in the eyes of the Egyptian people would have been severely shaken. If you remember, Pharaoh's slaves had already begun to believe that Moses represented a more powerful God. And they were questioning and begging Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave. Ma'at was the goddess of the physical and moral law of Egypt. She was pictured as sitting or standing with a sceptre in one hand and an ostrich feather in her hair. The Egyptians believed that if Pharaoh ever failed to live by and maintain ma'at (or proper balance in judgment according to moral laws), that chaos would return to Egypt and the world would be destroyed.

It would seem that the Egyptians did believe that all was coming to an end. In Exodus 12:33, the Egyptians are trying to hurry the Israelites out of Egypt because "we all be dead men." They thought if they could get Israel out of Egypt that their world might turn back to normal. Egypt was indeed in chaos. The crops were gone. The animals were mostly dead. Their firstborn were now dead. It is very likely the Egyptian people blamed Pharaoh for not listening to Moses and Aaron, the spokesmen for the One True God. They probably did not recognize God as God. They may have thought that He was connected with Ma'at. This would explain why in Exodus 14:4, God said He would kill Pharaoh and his army to prove to the Egyptians that He was the Lord.

Listen to God. Read His word, the Bible. Obey what He says to do. And if any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.

Mark McWhorter

Copyright 1999

Published by The Old Paths Bible School