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.

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37 COMMENTS

  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 posting.love Israel and pray for her.God bless you for the insight. I’m inspired

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

  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.

    • 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.

    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Jewish Gospel of Matthew or The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!

    • 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).

  4. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the nuances of Biblical Hebrew and probably starting now that it takes an eternity to study God’s Word.

  5. Wow is right amazing and awesome always something new to learn fresh revelation l am in awe and l love it. Keep it coming

    • 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. Wow, Dr. This is again interesting, came here because of a link, you replied in blind eye of Egypt.
    This is awesome revelation, question please?
    I was taught that the faroa of Egypt at that stage was a semite, decsend from Sem, true or false??

  7. This question has always troubled me. Why do 97% of Jews reject Jesus as the Messiah? They broke the heart of Jesus., as does everyone who rejects His Love.
    Jesus is the Word of God, all things were made by Him & without Him nothing was made that was made.John1:1-3

  8. This I need to read and re-read, and then some more!

    Could you slot in the Hyksos for me? Other scholars say that the Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph was of the invading Hyksos. This would imply that they and the Egyptians had identical gods.

    • Thanks for your question, Ange. The Hyksos were Semitic invaders of Egypt in the 1700s, but they were expelled from Egypt by the mid-1500s, which is much earlier than the time of Moses. While the Hyksos emergence may help to explain the presence and authority of Joseph prior to Moses, they aren’t in the mix by the time Moses is born.

    • 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!

  9. Gods word is so powerfull that it has changed my life and now i know He cares for me and he knows the day i will die.Whant i pray that i die in HIM and i will get etanal life when He comes the Second time to take all who belived in HIM to HIS Father in Heaven.

  10. Would not a plague, in addition to having Pharoah let the Israelites go, also serve to spur the Israelites let go of Egypt? It seems our current plague is also executing judgment on all the current gods that man lifts above the One True God. Has God’s purpose changed if there is no shadow of turning in Him?

  11. Exodus 12:12 Does indicate God stating”and I will bring judgement on all of the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.” Pharoah sarcastically asks Moses,” Who is Yahweh that I should listen to his voice to release Isreal?” and he get his answer from Yaweh,the Most High among all gods,with a series of plagues that were aimed at Egypts’ gods. This is really a timely article as I recently started reading Michael Heiser’s book ,”The Unseen Realm”.I read his comments a couple days ago.For what it’s worth & paraphasing,Micheal stated,that the gods had been given authority from Yahweh,to govern Eygyt on His behalf. The plagues were powerful acts of Yahweh, that went beyond the power of the gods of Egypt and their divine representive son,Pharaoh.The plagues were a spirtual warefare where Yahweh,undoes the cosmic order to throw the land into chaos. Basically,Yahweh wants all nations ,not just Isreal,to know there are no other gods like Him.

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