2018-04-29 - Exodus: The Plague of Blood
This section opens with God reminding Moses that the Pharaoh has an unyielding heart and will not let the people go. Because of this, the Lord directs Moses to carry out the first judgment against the king, really against the land of Egypt. The judgment was the turning of the water of the Nile into blood. By the way, this is similar to the third sign that God had given Moses.
There are a number of points that can be drawn from God’s action here, so let’s look at them, one of a time:
- The staff, which had been a sign from the Lord in the previous section has now become the rod of God’s judgment. This is reminiscent of what the Psalmist writes..
“You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalms 2:9).
- The judgment that falls, does so on the Nile: “The Nile was the lifeblood of Egypt. Agriculture and ultimately survival were dependent on the periodic flooding that deposited fertile soils along the river’s 4,132 miles.” 2
The river Nile is the source of life for Egypt, and as such, was also considered sacred, a place of religious ritual. By attacking the river, the Lord attacks the very foundation of the nation and its gods. Because there were a number of gods identified with the Nile, we cannot pin this judgment down to any one specific god.
“Possible Egyptian Gods … Attacked by …” 3 this plague include: “Hapi (also called Apis), the bull god, god of the Nile; Isis, goddess of the Nile; Khnum, ram god, guardian of the Nile; and others.” 4
As we look on this plague of blood, it is interesting to remember we are told in Scripture
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11).
But in this case, with the turning of the water to blood, it becomes a place of death, instead.
An element repeated again, in a later plague, is the presence of blood. While it means suffering for the Egyptian, it is the start of the process that leads to salvation for the Hebrew. This contrasting effect of the blood is carried out with the shed blood of Christ. For those who accept it, it is the basis of Salvation. For those who reject it, it is the basis of condemnation.
- The Nile is where the Pharaoh had thrown the Hebrew babies to become food for the fish. Now it has become a place of death for the fish, the food to the Egyptians. In addition to a major source of food being destroyed, the major source of drinking water is no longer viable. Notice, not only the river proper has been turned to blood, but the tributaries and irrigation channels as well; in fact, all sources of water have been made unusable.
Now that we have looked at the nature of the plague, lets go back and look at the flow of the action. Moses was to go again, requesting Pharaoh let the people go into the wilderness, to worship God. When he refused to listen, which he would, then God - demonstrating He is God - would turn the Nile‘s water to blood.
By the way, I believe the text demands this should be understood literally, not that mud turns the water red, or any other natural explanation, but that God truly turns the water to blood. The sign will be one that all the people in the land will be able to observe.
So early in the morning, Moses and Aaron went down to the river, to meet the King. He may have been there to carry out some religious ritual, or at least he would have regarded the importance of the Nile.
But Moses came, and by word and deed, attacked the very source of the life of the nation. Once again, though, the King’s magicians were able to duplicate Moses’ acts. They probably had some water that had been obtained by digging, and so they, too, are able to turn it to blood, allowing the King to say “big deal” and walk away from Moses.
There are two last things to note here: First, it appears the plague lasted for seven days, and then Moses appeared before the King. Second, while the court magicians could turn water to blood, what they couldn’t do, which was more important, was turn the blood back into pure water. Satan only can do as much as the Lord allows him.
Exodus study to be continued.
- Walton, John H. and Victor H. Matthews, The IVP Bible Background Commentary, “Genesis-Deuteronomy,” InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1997, p. 92.
- Hannah, John D., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Volume 1, “Exodus,” Victor Books, Wheaton, IL., 1986, p. 120
Exodus study to be continued.
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