Moses leading Israelites out of Egypt

By Sandy Mittelsteadt
Contributor, Valley Ag Voice


I am fascinated with the story of the Exodus. This is my second article on the Exodus. (I wrote One More Night with the Frogs in March of 2019.) Exodus is the record of Israel’s birth as a nation. The story of Exodus begins in pain and ends in liberation. Exodus starts with one Hebrew in Egypt, Joseph, who is then joined by 70 of his Hebrew relatives, and it ends with 600,000 Hebrew men over the age of 20, not to mention the women and children. It’s estimated that 3 to 4 million Children of Israel left Egypt in the Exodus.


(1) God wanted the Egyptians and the people of Israel to know He is God, and (2) God wanted to deliver the Hebrews physically and spiritually out of Egypt.

Core Points of the Story:

The first main point is that this is a show down between the Egyptian gods and the Hebrew God, who made a mockery of the Egyptian Pharaoh and their gods.

Pharaoh was believed by the Egyptians to be the god of the earth. They saw Pharaoh as divine and as their protector. This divine Pharaoh concept was central to the continuance of Pharaoh’s life-giving reign over death, which the Egyptians greatly feared.

Pharaoh was considered a god on earth, as he was the intermediary between the gods and the people. When the pharaoh came to the throne, he was associated with Horus, the god who defeated the forces of chaos and restored order. God used the plagues to demonstrate that Pharaoh was not powerful at all and that he was unable to restore order. Because each plague addressed an area in which Pharaoh was powerful, his weakness became apparent to both Egyptians and the Children of Israel.

Secondly, God used the plagues to cleanse the Hebrews of their pagan beliefs.

The Children of Israel were afraid of the Pharaoh who enslaved them, and God had to cause the Hebrews to stop their fear in order to be free of their master’s values and beliefs. Unfortunately, re-education cannot be done in a single encounter, so there must be multiple situations that show the might of the LORD.

Pharaoh claimed, “I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go (Exodus 5:2). However, the Hebrews did not know the Lord either. In fact, Moses had not come to the Children of Israel in the Name of God, but rather in the Name of the God of their ancestors.

Each plague has a secret meaning that is central to understanding the story.

True, turning a rod into a serpent was not a plague, but it was the symbol for the Pharaoh. When Aaron threw down his staff, it turned into a snake. All Pharaoh’s magicians could do was turn their staffs into snakes. If Pharaoh were God, shouldn’t his serpents swallow Aaron’s snake? But they didn’t. Pharaoh’s snakes were not more powerful than that of Moses’ and Aaron’s.

As Moses told Aaron to smite the Nile River, it turned into blood. Since the Egyptians considered him to be the creator of the Nile, here was Pharaoh’s chance to prove he was a god. So, if Aaron turned the Nile to blood and death, shouldn’t the Pharaoh return the Nile back to life? No, that didn’t happen. The Pharaoh’s magicians just mimicked what Moses did and produced more blood, death, and chaos. The Egyptians knew that one of Pharaoh’s jobs was to prevent chaos, and yet this just added more chaos. The Egyptians were beginning to wonder what kind of god Pharaoh was.

This magic competition went from bad to worse with the plague of the frogs. Frogs represented the Egyptian goddess, Heket, who was thought to protect women in childbirth. Aaron stretched forth his hand, and frogs from the water spread throughout Egypt. Pharaoh’s magicians did the same with their enchantments. (Too bad, they should have tried making the frogs go back into the Nile.) There were millions of frogs everywhere: the fields, the houses, the beds, the food bowls, the baking ovens, etc. Pharaoh has had it with frogs, and he calls for Moses and Aaron to come to him. He says to them: “Entreat the LORD that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord.” Moses asked Pharaoh when he should pray for God to remove the frogs from the land that they only stay in the river. I think that Pharaoh gave a remarkable answer to Moses. He actually says, “Tomorrow.” I find it interesting that Pharaoh is actually willing to spend one more night with the frogs! Moses told Pharaoh in order for you to know that there is none like unto the LORD our God; the frogs will depart tomorrow morning. The Egyptians also got the hint that the Israelites fulfilled the saying, “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” (Exodus 1:12) As the Hebrew God won this magic competition, He will continue to win all the following competitions.

In the next plague, Aaron stretched out his rod and the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. Lice were on the men and on all the animals. Pharaoh’s magicians could NOT create lice, and they told Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” (Exodus 8:19) Despite this plague’s insignificance specifically to the Egyptians, the Israelites who were viewed as lowly as dust recognized that like the lice they could rise from the dust becoming an insurmountable force. Through these plagues, God proved His existence and omnipotence.

In the next plagues, God ups the competition to make sure the Egyptians know He is God that He is in control. He told Moses to tell Pharaoh that He will send swarms of flies on Egypt, but NOT in the land of Goshen, where the Hebrews lived. So, flies were in all the Egyptians houses but none in the Jewish houses. He is a God, who can pinpoint the exact locations of plagues and can differentiate between groups and individuals and can time his actions with precision.

Several of the coming plagues involve financial ruin for the Egyptians because all of their cattle, horses, mules, camels, oxen, and sheep died. However, none of the animals belonging to the Jews died. These plagues were to embarrass the Egyptian gods who were powerless to protect the animals. The next to the last plague, which was darkness, showed that Ra, the Egyptian Sun God, who was considered the most powerful of the Egyptian gods was not the true ruler of the sky.


The last plagues were to prove God’s might and clearly show that He is all-powerful. After nine plagues, the Israelites were ready to take off their spiritual bondage and have faith in God and listen to Moses. Thus, the very last plague would set them free and hit the Egyptians hard, because they greatly feared death. The last plague ensured that the existence of God is on everyone’s mind and heart. In the contest between the Hebrew God and the Egyptian gods, God won!

The secret of the impact of the Exodus is that it does not present itself as ancient history. The Exodus is still transforming the Hebrew people as Jews re-enact it every year. It offers the opportunity for free people to realize that slavery breaks and destroys people. It helps people to see that God wants us to be free both physically and spiritually.

Further Research:

Do you know that the Bible hints at a Second Exodus? If you are interested, read Isaiah 11:11-16; Jeremiah 31: 7-34, and Revelation 12:12-16.

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