According to Exodus, God sends ten plagues against Egypt (see Exod 7:14-12:32). Have you ever wondered why the Lord sends ten plagues? Why not nine… or seven… or four? In order to understand God’s rationale for sending ten plagues, we need to go all the way back to Genesis 1 and the biblical description of creation. Each of God’s creative acts in Genesis find its negative counterpart in the plagues, which shows us that God loves Israel enough to temporarily undo creation in order to rescue the chosen people from bondage.

Before the seventh plague (hail), God tells Pharaoh, “For this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power (כח; koach), so that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exod 9:16). The Hebrew word for “power” (כח) sometimes describes the power God wielded at creation: “The voice of the Lord is over the waters (על-המים; al-ha’mayim)… the Lord is over (al; על) many waters (מים; mayim). The voice of the Lord is powerful (כח; koach)” (Ps 29:3-4). The psalmist’s reference to the Lord being “over the waters” recalls the start of creation, when the Spirit of God hovered “over the face of the waters (על-פני המים; al-penei ha’mayim)” (Gen 1:2)  More, the reference to God’s powerful voice being over the waters recalls God’s voice at creation: God said (ויאמר אלהים; vayomer Elohim), ‘Let there be light, and there was light” (Gen 1:4).

Thus, God’s words to Pharaoh show us why there had to be ten plagues: The ten plagues recall the ten words that God’s powerful voice uttered at creation. Genesis 1 uses the Hebrew word ויאמר (vayomer; “And [God] said…”) a total of ten times (cf. Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28-29), so that for each powerfully creative word that God utters to construct the earth in Genesis 1, God utters a destructive word against Egypt in Exodus. God is willing to bring the undoing of creation upon Egypt if it means that Pharaoh will let God’s beloved people go free.



  1. Wow... I am amazed at the Word of God. You can study it for a lifetime and continually learn new things! Amazing insights; thank you!
  2. Love it and even understand it from a Jewish perspective because without the Jewish people I could not have had my Christian roots.well said.thank you for Israel and pray for her.God bless you for the insight. I’m inspired
  3. I was taught the Hebrew word used for “God said, was Dabar (speak, Word.). Also this is the same word used for the “Word” of God that is strapped to the right thigh of Ehud in Judges 3.
    • Thanks for your comment, Kathleen. The word for "word" is davar, and the word for "to speak" is dibber. So you're right. However, in Genesis 1, the word used for "to say" is amar -- just think of it as two different words to say much the same thing. In Judges 3, you're right that Ehud has a "word" or a "message" (davar) for the king, as a covert way of getting near him in order to kill him with the sword on his thigh.

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    • Thanks for your comment, Judi. After God "undoes" creation in Egypt with 10 plagues, God offers Israel 10 commandments to secure them as a new nation and establish a new creation.
    • Thanks for your comment, Karen. Yes, many of the plagues also correspond to Egypt's gods; for example, the plague of frogs likely corresponds to the Egyptian frog goddess Heqet. This coheres with God's own declaration that the goal of the plagues was to "execute judgment" on all of Egypt's gods (cf. Exod 12:12; Num 33:4).
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