Meditation: Exodus 11

Reading: Exodus 11:4-8 and 12:29,30.

In Exodus 10:28 Pharaoh says to Moses “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!” Pharaoh, who still thinks he is a god, believes he has power over life and death. He thinks he can let Moses live, or kill him if Moses ever sees him again. The Lord is about to show, by a great and terrifying miracle, Pharaoh how foolish he is. Pharaoh is about to learn that only the God of Israel is the God of life and death; only God determines the day of birth and the day of death. In one continuous action Almighty God comes into Egypt at midnight and strikes dead all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock.

In describing this terrible punishment of the Egyptians Moses makes sure we understand it is a miracle of God, and not a coincidence, as some people have claimed. In chapter 11:29 Moses describes that the destruction took place at midnight, which was the time prescribed by God in Exodus 11:4. Moses adds that all the first-born of the land were killed, from the son of the king to the son of the prisoner and of the livestock. In every house, every barn and field, without exception, and at the same hour, disaster struck. This can happen only by a divine miracle. Moses also reports that all the Egyptians suddenly woke up and made a great cry. They all understood that the God of Israel was angry with them. Finally Moses records Pharaoh’s humble reaction: Moses and Aaron please leave with all the people and your possessions, and bless me also. The ordinary people of Egypt too urged the Israelites to go and sent them away even with articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing (Exodus 12:35).

Key text: Ex 12:31-32 “Then he [Pharaoh] called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also.”

Question: Why did it take 10 plagues before Pharaoh agreed to release Israel?