Tuesday, December 10, 2013



Part 7 of this series.

In part 7 of this series we learned that the opening salvo to the Ten Plagues that were about to descend upon an arrogant Pharaoh and what he thought would be his phalanx of magicians ready to wield their rods in the dark arts was Aaron’s rod making quick work of any such anticipation. Indeed, Aaron’s rod, who some like to dismiss as merely a hypnotized snake that unfroze from its catatonic state once it made contact with terra firma, met head on and utterly consumed the rods-turned-serpents of Jannes and Jambres and their comrades, for Exodus 7: 11 and 12 tells us Pharaoh called an unknown number of magicians and sorcerers and commanded them to do the same thing that Aaron just did. They complied, and quickly, numerous serpents writhed on the floor. Yet, any anticipated triumph on the part of Pharaoh’s dark lords turned into an unanticipated shellacking. As the magicians left the room sans rods and, more importantly, credibility, they left behind a defiant Pharaoh woefully lacking self-awareness, and worse, Jehovah awareness, as verse 13 tells us Pharaoh hardened his heart.

In the numerous commentaries on my shelves it is clear that the Plagues of Egypt is one topic that researchers clearly enjoy researching as much has been written about them. It is easy to perceive after a brief number of readings that researchers are in one of two camps concerning the nature of the plagues: that the plagues were either (A) supernatural events or (B) natural events that occurred at the right time and at the right place, but of more intensity than expected.

Like a stream that splits around a rock and then rejoins, so do these two camps for both come together again to agree that the plagues executed upon Pharaoh and his people were designed to break his stronghold of pride and his stiff neck of defiance toward the Holy God of Israel.



Turning the rod into a serpent that ate the serpents of the magicians was a DEMONSTRATION, turning the Nile into blood was a judgment.(1)

The time of this now infamous confrontation between Pharaoh and Moses was approximately 1450 B.C. Egypt enjoyed a mild climate, and the soil was enriched each year after the regular overflow of the Nile, ensuring abundant harvests.

The Nile is home to numerous species of fish, some of which were part of the diet of those Egyptians, while other species were adored and worshiped as representations of certain gods.

Dummelow tells us, “The Nile was regarded as a god to whom worship and sacrifices were offered.”(2)

Perhaps this was the reason that Pharaoh would take an early morning walk to the Nile each day for Exodus 7:15 tells us that the Lord told Moses to go to the banks of the Nile and be there, ready to meet the arrogant ruler as he came to Egypt’s great river.

We see in verses 16, 17, and 18 that Moses informed Pharaoh that he had been asked to release the Hebrews, and since he had not, the God of Israel was ready to show Pharaoh the consequence: the Nile would turn to blood; it would be undrinkable for the Egyptians, and all life in it would die.

And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.

Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.

And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loath to drink of the water of the river. --Exodus 7:16-18

Verse 17 tells us the purpose of this particular judgment: “In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord.”

The waters of the Nile, in some manner not revealed in Scripture, became blood.

This judgment was to show Pharaoh, in no uncertain terms, what Jehovah, “the God of the slaves,” was capable of.

Pharaoh, as ruler over all Egypt by divine right, was also first and foremost ruler over the Nile. Or so he thought. At this very first judgment, Pharaoh, who was accustomed to speaking and the “thing” being done, could speak nothing to this situation. Pharaoh was used to being obeyed instantly and was fully capable with full authority of dispensing punishment to those insolent enough to disregard his spoken word. But here, in this situation, who could he speak to? What could he say? The waters of the Nile were, in a sense, an inanimate object. How could Pharaoh speak to something inanimate and have it obey? It was clear that he knew not how to do this, yet the mere “God of the slaves” through his spokesman Moses could and did.

The fish immediately bore the consequences of the Nile turning to blood. The fish, many of whom were regarded as sacred, began to belly up, and within the next seven days, their decomposing bodies stank to high Heaven.

Pharaoh, completely unable to answer this startling development, did the only thing he could do -- he called for his magicians.

As before, when his minions were called before Pharaoh to match Aaron’s “trick” by also turning their rods into serpents, they were now called to match this event -- create blood out of water.

Thus, this is where we can perceive that Pharaoh thought this a mere contest for he wanted his magicians to "match" Moses and Aaron; he wanted them to "match" and "best" the two Hebrew prophets.

Wasn't going to happen.

Surely the magicians must have wondered if the Pharaoh had gone mad! Transmutation of one object into another has been a long sought-after desire of many who pursue the dark rabbit holes of Satan scrounging for power, and transmutation, on the spot no less!, was EXACTLY what the Pharaoh was asking for -- Pharaoh wanted his magicians to transform water, an inanimate object, into blood, the very life-giving force of man and beast.

The Scriptures tell us in Exodus 7:22 that the magicians were able to produce, “with their enchantments,” some blood from water, but it was no where near the scale of what Moses had caused to appear, for 7:19 tells us that not only the waters of the Nile turned to blood but also water that was INDEPENDENT from the Nile, water that was in ponds, in pools and in vessels of both wood and stone in the Egyptians’ homes turned to blood as well.

Truthfully, it would have been more helpful, and telling, if Pharaoh’s magicians had REMOVED the blood from the water -- in effect, if they had UNDONE what Moses had done, if they had turned the bloody water back to drinkable water. This would have been a countercheck to the pronouncement of Jehovah. However, Pharaoh’s magicians neither matched the amount of blood secured by Moses nor removed any of the effects of the judgment.

If Pharaoh looked upon the Hebrews with contempt, which he did, he must have surely looked upon his magicians with some measure as well.

Arrogant rulers always despise those who make them look bad.

Judgment began for Pharaoh where he worshiped, when he went out to the waters of the Nile. And when he walked away, the consequences followed him and all the inhabitants of Egypt for the next seven days. Scriptures do not reveal if people died, but it is most likely that some did for it is difficult to go without water for seven days. The elderly, the infirm and the very young would have a very tough go of it. This event would be something that was talked about in many ways and at many different times as the week unfolded.  Many would know about the showdown, and that Pharaoh and his magicians had been unable to rebuff the Hebrew prophet.

Some commentators have noted that since the Nile often turns a murky red or rust at the annual inundation because of the extra sediment it bears, this plague was probably not unusual. However, during those times no mention is made of it being UNFIT to drink, nor that the surrounding canals and independent ponds also become contaminated, and certainly extra red silt cannot explain how water in the vessels in homes would be also so affected. If it had been unfit to drink, no one would have bothered to fill their vessels with it.

If the Nile had merely turned a darker red, this most likely would not have killed the fish. Instead, something must have happened to the water itself, such as it actually did turn physically to blood in taste, smell and texture, a contention with which both Ryrie and Henry agree. (3) We saw a similar example of this recently in Honolulu Harbor when several tons of molasses leaked into the water and killed fish and sea life almost immediately (4), so it is not implausible (or superstitious) to believe that God transformed the water into blood, which immediately began to kill the fish.

If the Nile had merely turned red from silt, Moses would have described the Nile as turning red, but he chose the word blood instead of the word for the color red. Having lived there until the age of 40, he would have known the difference, and I seriously doubt he would have chosen to mislead in his description of the consequence of this first judgment upon Pharaoh and Egypt.

Up front, as Pharaoh came to the banks of the Nile for his morning visit, he is told that because he did not listen to the words of Moses and Aaron, the Nile would turn to blood and that the fish would die and cause the river to stink so that the people would be “loathed” to drink of it. At that moment Pharaoh could have cried out, “Wait, I repent.” But he did not, so the consequences came.

Verse 22 tells us that Pharaoh “hardened his heart,” and verse 23 tells us that after he left the confrontation, he did not “set his heart to this,” meaning, he did not even bother to think upon the matter to understand it. Truly the heart of a stubborn man is one who will not even consider the consequences of his own actions to see if they should be changed or repaired. And as this incident with Pharaoh proves, it is always others who pay for the consequences of a stubborn leader who refuses to “set his heart” to consider a matter.

The first plague made things only worse for Pharaoh because he doubled down -- an indication of a heart being hardened.

Next - Double Plagues, Part 8b



1. Commentary on the Whole Bible, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, (unknown date, copyright page is missing), pg 52

2. The One Volume Bible Commentary, Rev. J. R. Dummelow, M.A., 1958, pg 55

3. The Ryrie Study Bible, Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Th.D., Ph.D., 1978, pg 102
A Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. 1, Matthew Henry, undated copy, pg 299

4. Colorado flooding and Syria, Hawaii’s molasses spill