Last week we learned that the ten uses of the Hebrew word ויאמר (vayomer; “And [God] said…”) corresponds to the ten plagues in Egypt: for each time that God speaks to create the world in Genesis 1, God speaks to undo that creation in Exodus 7-12. In light of this connection between creation and the plagues, we can now dig deeper in order to see that each positive act of creation in Genesis 1 finds its negative counterpart in the plagues.

The first plague, in which God turns Egypt’s waters into blood, shares precise Hebrew language with God bringing together the waters in Genesis 1. During creation, “God said (ויאמר; vayomer), ‘Let the waters (מים; mayim) under the skies be pooled together (יקוו; yiqavu) to one place, and let the dry land appear’” (Gen 1:9). The Hebrew word that I’ve translated “pooled together” comes from the verbal root קוה (qavah)—the same verb from which we get the noun מקוה (miqveh), the ritual baths in which Jews immerse themselves to this day. In Genesis, God creates “pools of water” by gathering the primordial waters into specific places to form seas and to reveal areas of land: “And God called the dry spots ‘Land’ (ארץ; eretz) and the pools of the waters (מקוה המים; miqveh ha’mayim) he called ‘Seas’ (ימים; yamim); and God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:10). God creates both the Land and the Seas by organizing the waters into “pools” or literally “miqvehs” on the earth. God’s creative activity is marked by an organization and togetherness that brings order out of chaos.

Returning to the Exodus narrative, we can see that the first plague unravels the Egyptians’ ordered world and plunges Pharaoh into chaos—the exact opposite of what God does at creation: “The Lord said (ויאמר; vayomer) to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron: Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters (מים; mayim) of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, their ponds, and all their pools (מקוה; miqveh) of water, so that they may become blood, and there will be blood throughout all the lands of Egypt” (Exod 7:19). At creation, God had organized “pools of water” into specific areas in order to make the seas; in Egypt, the Lord turns the “pools of water” into blood, thereby throwing the Egyptians into a state of chaos and disorganization: “The fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile, and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt” (Exod 7:21). Thus, the first plague marks the beginning of God undoing the creation of Genesis 1, and introduces a central motif of Exodus; namely, that the God of Israel will do anything—including unravelling the very foundations of creation—in order to liberate the Hebrews from slavery.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. I am very interested in Jewish knowledge of the First Testament. I am however confused by the pricing structure. Would you please explain.
    Mike

  2. Can the $399 program be divided into 12 payments? It is the only way i can do it. I’m a recent widow on a very limited income but i soooo want to take these classes!

  3. So very interesting! GOD was trying to get Pharaoh’s attention by throwing Egypt into chaos and disorganization and GOD continues to do that today. HE is fulfilling prophecies, strange things happening around the world-just GOD trying to get humans to look to HIM. HE is proving every moment who HE is and that HE is in control. HE is taking care of HIS Nation Israel, and HIS people (JEWS) and those of us born again (being grafted in). AWESOME!!! I love it! Thank you!

  4. Interesting as it may appear but I fail to see the מקוה anywhere in the text. Not even implied. It is very clear the separation,, into vaporized water, in the form of the clouds, but pools? It may be a bit catchy but by exercising textual calisthenics is a bit of a stretch would you say?
    Cheers

    • Matan, the word מקוה appears explicitly in Genesis 1:10, where it means “pools” (or “bodies”) of water, since God calls them “Seas.” Do you mean that you don’t see “the mikveh” i.e., the Jewish ritual bath? If so, I didn’t say that the ritual bath appears in the text, but rather that the word for the ritual comes from the word we find in Gen 1:10. I’m afraid I don’t follow your point about “vaporized” water or clouds; the word for “cloud” (ענן; anan) does not feature in Genesis 1.

  5. Dr. Schaser,

    What an insightful series of articles, thank you for sharing! I have found all of them but the ninth plague, the darkness that could be felt. Can you direct me to it? We are studying Exo. at church and I wish to share this.

    • Thanks for reading, Gaea. There may not be an article in the series that deals with the plague of darkness, but it corresponds to God saying “let there be light” in Genesis 1:3. God reverses the creation of light by covering Egypt with darkness.

    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!

  6. Are you connecting the gnats and flies to the birds in Genesis 1:20? Even so, I am still missing the boils and hail correlations.

  7. id love to take a course , but am retired and have limited resources. This lesson on the Creation of waters and land , and Gods plagues on Egypt was very enlightening . words do make a difference and the interpretation thereof, thank you.

  8. I would like to recieve a few of your magazines so I could read more about the book of Gen. Also I love Isreal because that is where it all began. Shalom in the Name of Yeshua.

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