Yahweh against Egypt’s Gods (Exodus 8-10)

God brought the ten plagues upon Pharaoh and Egypt for a reason.  He wanted them to know certain truths:

  • “that you may know that there is no one like Yahweh our God” (8.10)
  • “that you may know that I am Yahweh in the midst of the earth. (8.22)
  • “that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth.” (9.14)
  • “that you may know that the earth is Yahweh’s.” (9.29)
  • “that you may know that I am Yahweh.” (10.2)

The ten plagues were the means by which God came to show the whole world who he is and how he is superior to all other so-called gods.  He could have just killed Pharaoh and his people with pestilence, but he says, “For this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9.16).  Furthermore, he wants his own people to “tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am Yahweh” (Exodus 10.2).  The ten plagues are a big deal.

Even so, have you ever asked yourself why these plagues and not something else?  Here is a list of them:

  1. Nile turned to blood
  2. frogs
  3. lice
  4. flies
  5. livestock disease
  6. boils
  7. hail
  8. locusts
  9. darkness
  10. death to firstborn

Are those the miracles you would have chosen to demonstrate your power?  What’s the point of turning water to blood?  Why should God use frogs, lice, or flies to annoy the Egyptians?  Why not speak audibly from heaven or cause an earthquake?  Well, as it turns out, these strange plagues are not as much about the true God as they are about the Egyptian gods.  I hinted at this yesterday when I said, “Yahweh is the God who can slit the veins of Osiris, the protector of the Nile, and cause him to bleed.”  Here is a more comprehensive list, correlating the plagues with Egyptian gods.

  1. Nile to blood
    • Khnum: guardian or river’s source
    • Hapi: spirit of the Nile
    • Osiris: Nile was his bloodstream
  2. frogs
    • Hapi & Heqt frog goddesses related to fertility
  3. lice
    • Seb: the earth god
  4. flies
    • Uatchit: fly god
  5. livestock disease
    • Ptah, Mnevis, Hathor, Amon: associated w/ bulls and cows
  6. boils
    • Sekhmet: goddess of epidemics
    • Serapis & Imhotep: gods of healing
  7. hail
    • Nut: sky goddess
    • Isis & Seth: agriculture deities
    • Shu: god of atmosphere
  8. locusts
    • Serapia: protector from locusts
  9. darkness for 3 days
    • Ra, Amon-re, Aten, Atum, Horus: sun gods

Pharaoh had asked the question, “Who is Yahweh, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?” (Exodus 5.1).  These plagues answer that question.  Who is Yahweh?  Yahweh is the God who can take over Nut, the sky goddess, and cause hail to fall on the plants that Isis and Seth are supposed to protect.  Who is Yahweh?  Yahweh is the God who can make a mockery of Heqt, the frog god, by multiplying frogs in the land until the Egyptians are disgusted with them.  Who is Yahweh?  Yahweh is the God who can take out Ra, the sun God, so that he does not get into his chariot for three days and pull the sun across the sky.  Yahweh is not just the God of the Hebrews!  He’s the “God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God” (Deuteronomy 10.17).  He’s the creator and the sustainer so you better let his people go.

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