7:14–10:29 A theory of natural causes for the plagues does not do justice to the clear statements of the text (7:17; 9:5 notes). A particular order would be essential for an explanation of the plagues as normal events associated with the overflow of the Nile, but neither the narrative here, nor the plague lists in Ps. 78:44–51; 105:28–36, suggest such an order.
The plagues are arranged in three groups of three (7:14–8:19; 8:20–9:12; 9:13–10:29); the tenth is climactic. The first two plagues in each sequence are preceded by a divine warning, but the third comes unheralded. In the first plague of each series Moses contacts Pharaoh in the morning; no time indication is given for the other two. The plagues are the answer to Pharaoh’s challenge (5:2; cf. 7:5), and the description of the first plague of each triplet announces the theme of the triplet and gives its purpose. In plagues one through three the theme is the absolute superiority of the Lord (and His agents) over Pharaoh and the Egyptian gods (7:16, 17).