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Exodus 1-15 The Message (MSG)

1-5 These are the names of the Israelites who went to Egypt with Jacob, each bringing his family members:

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,

Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,

Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.

Seventy persons in all generated by Jacob’s seed. Joseph was already in Egypt.

6-7 Then Joseph died, and all his brothers—that whole generation. But the children of Israel kept on reproducing. They were very prolific—a population explosion in their own right—and the land was filled with them.

“A New King . . . Who Didn’t Know Joseph”

8-10 A new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. He spoke to his people in alarm, “There are way too many of these Israelites for us to handle. We’ve got to do something: Let’s devise a plan to contain them, lest if there’s a war they should join our enemies, or just walk off and leave us.”

11-14 So they organized them into work-gangs and put them to hard labor under gang-foremen. They built the storage cities Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh. But the harder the Egyptians worked them the more children the Israelites had—children everywhere! The Egyptians got so they couldn’t stand the Israelites and treated them worse than ever, crushing them with slave labor. They made them miserable with hard labor—making bricks and mortar and back-breaking work in the fields. They piled on the work, crushing them under the cruel workload.

15-16 The king of Egypt had a talk with the two Hebrew midwives; one was named Shiphrah and the other Puah. He said, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the sex of the baby. If it’s a boy, kill him; if it’s a girl, let her live.”

17-18 But the midwives had far too much respect for God and didn’t do what the king of Egypt ordered; they let the boy babies live. The king of Egypt called in the midwives. “Why didn’t you obey my orders? You’ve let those babies live!”

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women; they’re vigorous. Before the midwife can get there, they’ve already had the baby.”

20-21 God was pleased with the midwives. The people continued to increase in number—a very strong people. And because the midwives honored God, God gave them families of their own.

22 So Pharaoh issued a general order to all his people: “Every boy that is born, drown him in the Nile. But let the girls live.”

Moses

1-3 A man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. The woman became pregnant and had a son. She saw there was something special about him and hid him. She hid him for three months. When she couldn’t hide him any longer she got a little basket-boat made of papyrus, waterproofed it with tar and pitch, and placed the child in it. Then she set it afloat in the reeds at the edge of the Nile.

4-6 The baby’s older sister found herself a vantage point a little way off and watched to see what would happen to him. Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the Nile to bathe; her maidens strolled on the bank. She saw the basket-boat floating in the reeds and sent her maid to get it. She opened it and saw the child—a baby crying! Her heart went out to him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.”

Then his sister was before her: “Do you want me to go and get a nursing mother from the Hebrews so she can nurse the baby for you?”

Pharaoh’s daughter said, “Yes. Go.” The girl went and called the child’s mother.

Pharaoh’s daughter told her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me. I’ll pay you.” The woman took the child and nursed him.

10 After the child was weaned, she presented him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as her son. She named him Moses (Pulled-Out), saying, “I pulled him out of the water.”

11-12 Time passed. Moses grew up. One day he went and saw his brothers, saw all that hard labor. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew—one of his relatives! He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.

13 The next day he went out there again. Two Hebrew men were fighting. He spoke to the man who started it: “Why are you hitting your neighbor?”

14 The man shot back: “Who do you think you are, telling us what to do? Are you going to kill me the way you killed that Egyptian?”

Then Moses panicked: “Word’s gotten out—people know about this.”

15 Pharaoh heard about it and tried to kill Moses, but Moses got away to the land of Midian. He sat down by a well.

16-17 The priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came and drew water, filling the troughs and watering their father’s sheep. When some shepherds came and chased the girls off, Moses came to their rescue and helped them water their sheep.

18 When they got home to their father, Reuel, he said, “That didn’t take long. Why are you back so soon?”

19 “An Egyptian,” they said, “rescued us from a bunch of shepherds. Why, he even drew water for us and watered the sheep.”

20 He said, “So where is he? Why did you leave him behind? Invite him so he can have something to eat with us.”

21-22 Moses agreed to settle down there with the man, who then gave his daughter Zipporah (Bird) to him for his wife. She had a son, and Moses named him Gershom (Sojourner), saying, “I’m a sojourner in a foreign country.”

23 Many years later the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery and cried out. Their cries for relief from their hard labor ascended to God:

24 God listened to their groanings.

God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

25 God saw what was going on with Israel.

God understood.

1-2 Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.

Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”

God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

He said, “Yes? I’m right here!”

God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.”

Then he said, “I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”

Moses hid his face, afraid to look at God.

7-8 God said, “I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.

9-10 “The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.”

11 Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

12 “I’ll be with you,” God said. “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What do I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’”

15 God continued with Moses: “This is what you’re to say to the Israelites: ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob sent me to you.’ This has always been my name, and this is how I always will be known.

16-17 “Now be on your way. Gather the leaders of Israel. Tell them, ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I’ve looked into what’s being done to you in Egypt, and I’ve determined to get you out of the affliction of Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, a land brimming over with milk and honey.”’

18 “Believe me, they will listen to you. Then you and the leaders of Israel will go to the king of Egypt and say to him: ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness where we will worship Godour God.’

19-22 “I know that the king of Egypt won’t let you go unless forced to, so I’ll intervene and hit Egypt where it hurts—oh, my miracles will send them reeling!—after which they’ll be glad to send you off. I’ll see to it that this people get a hearty send-off by the Egyptians—when you leave, you won’t leave empty-handed! Each woman will ask her neighbor and any guests in her house for objects of silver and gold, for jewelry and extra clothes; you’ll put them on your sons and daughters. Oh, you’ll clean the Egyptians out!”

Moses objected, “They won’t trust me. They won’t listen to a word I say. They’re going to say, ‘God? Appear to him? Hardly!’”

So God said, “What’s that in your hand?”

“A staff.”

“Throw it on the ground.” He threw it. It became a snake; Moses jumped back—fast!

4-5 God said to Moses, “Reach out and grab it by the tail.” He reached out and grabbed it—and he was holding his staff again. “That’s so they will trust that God appeared to you, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

God then said, “Put your hand inside your shirt.” He slipped his hand under his shirt, then took it out. His hand had turned leprous, like snow.

He said, “Put your hand back under your shirt.” He did it, then took it back out—as healthy as before.

8-9 “So if they don’t trust you and aren’t convinced by the first sign, the second sign should do it. But if it doesn’t, if even after these two signs they don’t trust you and listen to your message, take some water out of the Nile and pour it out on the dry land; the Nile water that you pour out will turn to blood when it hits the ground.”

10 Moses raised another objection to God: “Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.”

11-12 God said, “And who do you think made the human mouth? And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind? Isn’t it I, God? So, get going. I’ll be right there with you—with your mouth! I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.”

13 He said, “Oh, Master, please! Send somebody else!”

14-17 God got angry with Moses: “Don’t you have a brother, Aaron the Levite? He’s good with words, I know he is. He speaks very well. In fact, at this very moment he’s on his way to meet you. When he sees you he’s going to be glad. You’ll speak to him and tell him what to say. I’ll be right there with you as you speak and with him as he speaks, teaching you step by step. He will speak to the people for you. He’ll act as your mouth, but you’ll decide what comes out of it. Now take this staff in your hand; you’ll use it to do the signs.”

18 Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said, “I need to return to my relatives who are in Egypt. I want to see if they’re still alive.”

Jethro said, “Go. And peace be with you.”

19 God said to Moses in Midian: “Go. Return to Egypt. All the men who wanted to kill you are dead.”

20 So Moses took his wife and sons and put them on a donkey for the return trip to Egypt. He had a firm grip on the staff of God.

21-23 God said to Moses, “When you get back to Egypt, be prepared: All the wonders that I will do through you, you’ll do before Pharaoh. But I will make him stubborn so that he will refuse to let the people go. Then you are to tell Pharaoh, ‘God’s Message: Israel is my son, my firstborn! I told you, “Free my son so that he can serve me.” But you refused to free him. So now I’m going to kill your son, your firstborn.’”

24-26 On the journey back, as they camped for the night, God met Moses and would have killed him but Zipporah took a flint knife and cut off her son’s foreskin, and touched Moses’ member with it. She said, “Oh! You’re a bridegroom of blood to me!” Then God let him go. She used the phrase “bridegroom of blood” because of the circumcision.

27-28 God spoke to Aaron, “Go and meet Moses in the wilderness.” He went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. Moses told Aaron the message that God had sent him to speak and the wonders he had commanded him to do.

29-31 So Moses and Aaron proceeded to round up all the leaders of Israel. Aaron told them everything that God had told Moses and demonstrated the wonders before the people. And the people trusted and listened believingly that God was concerned with what was going on with the Israelites and knew all about their affliction. They bowed low and they worshiped.

Moses and Aaron and Pharaoh

After that Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh. They said, “God, the God of Israel, says, ‘Free my people so that they can hold a festival for me in the wilderness.’”

Pharaoh said, “And who is God that I should listen to him and send Israel off? I know nothing of this so-called ‘God’ and I’m certainly not going to send Israel off.”

They said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness so we can worship our God lest he strike us with either disease or death.”

4-5 But the king of Egypt said, “Why on earth, Moses and Aaron, would you suggest the people be given a holiday? Back to work!” Pharaoh went on, “Look, I’ve got all these people bumming around, and now you want to reward them with time off?”

6-9 Pharaoh took immediate action. He sent down orders to the slave-drivers and their underlings: “Don’t provide straw for the people for making bricks as you have been doing. Make them get their own straw. And make them produce the same number of bricks—no reduction in their daily quotas! They’re getting lazy. They’re going around saying, ‘Give us time off so we can worship our God.’ Crack down on them. That’ll cure them of their whining, their god-fantasies.”

10-12 The slave-drivers and their underlings went out to the people with their new instructions. “Pharaoh’s orders: No more straw provided. Get your own straw wherever you can find it. And not one brick less in your daily work quota!” The people scattered all over Egypt scrabbling for straw.

13 The slave-drivers were merciless, saying, “Complete your daily quota of bricks—the same number as when you were given straw.”

14 The Israelite foremen whom the slave-drivers had appointed were beaten and badgered. “Why didn’t you finish your quota of bricks yesterday or the day before—and now again today?”

15-16 The Israelite foremen came to Pharaoh and cried out for relief: “Why are you treating your servants like this? Nobody gives us any straw and they tell us, ‘Make bricks!’ Look at us—we’re being beaten. And it’s not our fault.”

17-18 But Pharaoh said, “Lazy! That’s what you are! Lazy! That’s why you whine, ‘Let us go so we can worship God.’ Well then, go—go back to work. Nobody’s going to give you straw, and at the end of the day you better bring in your full quota of bricks.”

19 The Israelite foremen saw that they were in a bad way, having to go back and tell their workers, “Not one brick short in your daily quota.”

20-21 As they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them. The foremen said to them, “May God see what you’ve done and judge you—you’ve made us stink before Pharaoh and his servants! You’ve put a weapon in his hand that’s going to kill us!”

22-23 Moses went back to God and said, “My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?”

God said to Moses, “Now you’ll see what I’ll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he’ll send them out free; with a strong hand he’ll drive them out of his land.”

2-6 God continued speaking to Moses, reassuring him, “I am God. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as The Strong God, but by my name God (I-Am-Present) I was not known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the country in which they lived as sojourners. But now I’ve heard the groanings of the Israelites whom the Egyptians continue to enslave and I’ve remembered my covenant. Therefore tell the Israelites:

6-8 “I am God. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am God, your God who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God.

But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him—they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions.

10-11 Then God said to Moses, “Go and speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt so that he will release the Israelites from his land.”

12 Moses answered God, “Look—the Israelites won’t even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter.”

13 But God again laid out the facts to Moses and Aaron regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he again commanded them to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

The Family Tree of Moses and Aaron

14 These are the heads of the tribes:

The sons of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi—these are the families of Reuben.

15 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar, and Saul, the son of a Canaanite woman—these are the families of Simeon.

16 These are the names of the sons of Levi in the order of their birth: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. Levi lived 137 years.

17 The sons of Gershon by family: Libni and Shimei.

18 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Kohath lived to be 133.

19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi.

These are the sons of Levi in the order of their birth.

20 Amram married his aunt Jochebed and she had Aaron and Moses. Amram lived to be 137.

21 The sons of Izhar: Korah, Nepheg, and Zicri.

22 The sons of Uzziel: Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri.

23 Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she had Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

24 The sons of Korah: Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph. These are the families of the Korahites.

25 Aaron’s son Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel and she had Phinehas.

These are the heads of the Levite families, family by family.

26-27 This is the Aaron and Moses whom God ordered: “Bring the Israelites out of the land of Egypt clan by clan.” These are the men, Moses and Aaron, who told Pharaoh king of Egypt to release the Israelites from Egypt.

“I’ll Make You as a God to Pharaoh”

28 And that’s how things stood when God next spoke to Moses in Egypt.

29 God addressed Moses, saying, “I am God. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I say to you.”

30 And Moses answered, “Look at me. I stutter. Why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

1-5 God told Moses, “Look at me. I’ll make you as a god to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron will tell it to Pharaoh. Then he will release the Israelites from his land. At the same time I am going to put Pharaoh’s back up and follow it up by filling Egypt with signs and wonders. Pharaoh is not going to listen to you, but I will have my way against Egypt and bring out my soldiers, my people the Israelites, from Egypt by mighty acts of judgment. The Egyptians will realize that I am God when I step in and take the Israelites out of their country.”

6-7 Moses and Aaron did exactly what God commanded. Moses was eighty and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8-9 Then God spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, “When Pharaoh speaks to you and says, ‘Prove yourselves. Perform a miracle,’ then tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh: It will turn into a snake.’”

10 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what God commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his servants, and it turned into a snake.

11-12 Pharaoh called in his wise men and sorcerers. The magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their incantations: each man threw down his staff and they all turned into snakes. But then Aaron’s staff swallowed their staffs.

13 Yet Pharaoh was as stubborn as ever—he wouldn’t listen to them, just as God had said.

Strike One: Blood

14-18 God said to Moses: “Pharaoh is a stubborn man. He refuses to release the people. First thing in the morning, go and meet Pharaoh as he goes down to the river. At the shore of the Nile take the staff that turned into a snake and say to him, ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you with this message, “Release my people so that they can worship me in the wilderness.” So far you haven’t listened. This is how you’ll know that I am God. I am going to take this staff that I’m holding and strike this Nile River water: The water will turn to blood; the fish in the Nile will die; the Nile will stink; and the Egyptians won’t be able to drink the Nile water.’”

19 God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and wave it over the waters of Egypt—over its rivers, its canals, its ponds, all its bodies of water—so that they turn to blood.’ There’ll be blood everywhere in Egypt—even in the pots and pans.”

20-21 Moses and Aaron did exactly as God commanded them. Aaron raised his staff and hit the water in the Nile with Pharaoh and his servants watching. All the water in the Nile turned into blood. The fish in the Nile died; the Nile stank; and the Egyptians couldn’t drink the Nile water. The blood was everywhere in Egypt.

22-25 But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing with their incantations. Still Pharaoh remained stubborn. He wouldn’t listen to them as God had said. He turned on his heel and went home, never giving it a second thought. But all the Egyptians had to dig inland from the river for water because they couldn’t drink the Nile water.

Seven days went by after God had struck the Nile.

Strike Two: Frogs

1-4 God said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘God’s Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you refuse to release them, I’m warning you, I’ll hit the whole country with frogs. The Nile will swarm with frogs—they’ll come up into your houses, into your bedrooms and into your beds, into your servants’ quarters, among the people, into your ovens and pots and pans. They’ll be all over you, all over everyone—frogs everywhere, on and in everything!’”

God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Wave your staff over the rivers and canals and ponds. Bring up frogs on the land of Egypt.’”

Aaron stretched his staff over the waters of Egypt and a mob of frogs came up and covered the country.

But again the magicians did the same thing using their incantations—they also produced frogs in Egypt.

Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to God to rid us of these frogs. I’ll release the people so that they can make their sacrifices and worship God.”

Moses said to Pharaoh, “Certainly. Set the time. When do you want the frogs out of here, away from your servants and people and out of your houses? You’ll be rid of frogs except for those in the Nile.”

10-11 “Make it tomorrow.”

Moses said, “Tomorrow it is—so you’ll realize that there is no God like our God. The frogs will be gone. You and your houses and your servants and your people, free of frogs. The only frogs left will be the ones in the Nile.”

12-14 Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, and Moses prayed to God about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. God responded to Moses’ prayer: The frogs died off—houses, courtyards, fields, all free of frogs. They piled the frogs in heaps. The country reeked of dead frogs.

15 But when Pharaoh saw that he had some breathing room, he got stubborn again and wouldn’t listen to Moses and Aaron. Just as God had said.

Strike Three: Gnats

16 God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and strike the dust. The dust will turn into gnats all over Egypt.’”

17 He did it. Aaron grabbed his staff and struck the dust of the Earth; it turned into gnats, gnats all over people and animals. All the dust of the Earth turned into gnats, gnats everywhere in Egypt.

18 The magicians tried to produce gnats with their incantations but this time they couldn’t do it. There were gnats everywhere, all over people and animals.

19 The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is God’s doing.” But Pharaoh was stubborn and wouldn’t listen. Just as God had said.

Strike Four: Flies

20-23 God said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes down to the water. Tell him, ‘God’s Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you don’t release my people, I’ll release swarms of flies on you, your servants, your people, and your homes. The houses of the Egyptians and even the ground under their feet will be thick with flies. But when it happens, I’ll set Goshen where my people live aside as a sanctuary—no flies in Goshen. That will show you that I am God in this land. I’ll make a sharp distinction between your people and mine. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”

24 And God did just that. Thick swarms of flies in Pharaoh’s palace and the houses of his servants. All over Egypt, the country ruined by flies.

25 Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, “Go ahead. Sacrifice to your God—but do it here in this country.”

26-27 Moses said, “That would not be wise. What we sacrifice to our God would give great offense to Egyptians. If we openly sacrifice what is so deeply offensive to Egyptians, they’ll kill us. Let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to our God, just as he instructed us.”

28 Pharaoh said, “All right. I’ll release you to go and sacrifice to your God in the wilderness. Only don’t go too far. Now pray for me.”

29 Moses said, “As soon as I leave here, I will pray to God that tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh, his servants, and his people. But don’t play games with us and change your mind about releasing us to sacrifice to God.”

30-32 Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to God. God did what Moses asked. He got rid of the flies from Pharaoh and his servants and his people. There wasn’t a fly left. But Pharaoh became stubborn once again and wouldn’t release the people.

Strike Five: Animals

1-4 God said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, says: Release my people so they can worship me. If you refuse to release them and continue to hold on to them, I’m giving you fair warning: God will come down hard on your livestock out in the fields—horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep—striking them with a severe disease. God will draw a sharp line between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. Not one animal that belongs to the Israelites will die.’”

Then God set the time: “Tomorrow God will do this thing.”

6-7 And the next day God did it. All the livestock of Egypt died, but not one animal of the Israelites died. Pharaoh sent men to find out what had happened and there it was: none of the livestock of the Israelites had died—not one death. But Pharaoh stayed stubborn. He wouldn’t release the people.

Strike Six: Boils

8-11 God said to Moses and Aaron, “Take fistfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses throw it into the air right before Pharaoh’s eyes; it will become a film of fine dust all over Egypt and cause sores, an eruption of boils on people and animals throughout Egypt.” So they took soot from a furnace, stood in front of Pharaoh, and threw it up into the air. It caused boils to erupt on people and animals. The magicians weren’t able to compete with Moses this time because of the boils—they were covered with boils just like everyone else in Egypt.

12 God hardened Pharaoh in his stubbornness. He wouldn’t listen, just as God had said to Moses.

Strike Seven: Hail

13-19 God said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh. Tell him, ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, says: Release my people so they can worship me. This time I am going to strike you and your servants and your people with the full force of my power so you’ll get it into your head that there’s no one like me anywhere in all the Earth. You know that by now I could have struck you and your people with deadly disease and there would be nothing left of you, not a trace. But for one reason only I’ve kept you on your feet: To make you recognize my power so that my reputation spreads in all the Earth. You are still building yourself up at my people’s expense. You are not letting them go. So here’s what’s going to happen: At this time tomorrow I’m sending a terrific hailstorm—there’s never been a storm like this in Egypt from the day of its founding until now. So get your livestock under roof—everything exposed in the open fields, people and animals, will die when the hail comes down.’”

20-21 All of Pharaoh’s servants who had respect for God’s word got their workers and animals under cover as fast as they could, but those who didn’t take God’s word seriously left their workers and animals out in the field.

22 God said to Moses: “Stretch your hands to the skies. Signal the hail to fall all over Egypt on people and animals and crops exposed in the fields of Egypt.”

23-26 Moses lifted his staff to the skies and God sent peals of thunder and hail shot through with lightning strikes. God rained hail down on the land of Egypt. The hail came, hail and lightning—a fierce hailstorm. There had been nothing like it in Egypt in its entire history. The hail hit hard all over Egypt. Everything exposed out in the fields, people and animals and crops, was smashed. Even the trees in the fields were shattered. Except for Goshen where the Israelites lived; there was no hail in Goshen.

27-28 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. He said, “I’ve sinned for sure this time—God is in the right and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to God. We’ve had enough of God’s thunder and hail. I’ll let you go. The sooner you’re out of here the better.”

29-30 Moses said, “As soon as I’m out of the city, I’ll stretch out my arms to God. The thunder will stop and the hail end so you’ll know that the land is God’s land. Still, I know that you and your servants have no respect for God.”

31-32 (The flax and the barley were ruined, for they were just ripening, but the wheat and spelt weren’t hurt—they ripen later.)

33 Moses left Pharaoh and the city and stretched out his arms to God. The thunder and hail stopped; the storm cleared.

34-35 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he kept right on sinning, stubborn as ever, both he and his servants. Pharaoh’s heart turned rock-hard. He refused to release the Israelites, as God had ordered through Moses.

Strike Eight: Locusts

10 1-2 God said to Moses: “Go to Pharaoh. I’ve made him stubborn, him and his servants, so that I can force him to look at these signs and so you’ll be able to tell your children and grandchildren how I toyed with the Egyptians, like a cat with a mouse; you’ll tell them the stories of the signs that I brought down on them, so that you’ll all know that I am God.”

3-6 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “God, the God of the Hebrews, says, ‘How long are you going to refuse to knuckle under? Release my people so that they can worship me. If you refuse to release my people, watch out; tomorrow I’m bringing locusts into your country. They’ll cover every square inch of ground; no one will be able to see the ground. They’ll devour everything left over from the hailstorm, even the saplings out in the fields—they’ll clear-cut the trees. And they’ll invade your houses, filling the houses of your servants, filling every house in Egypt. Nobody will have ever seen anything like this, from the time your ancestors first set foot on this soil until today.’”

Then he turned on his heel and left Pharaoh.

Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long are you going to let this man harass us? Let these people go and worship their God. Can’t you see that Egypt is on its last legs?”

So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. He said to them, “Go ahead then. Go worship your God. But just who exactly is going with you?”

Moses said, “We’re taking young and old, sons and daughters, flocks and herds—this is our worship-celebration of God.”

10-11 He said, “I’d sooner send you off with God’s blessings than let you go with your children. Look, you’re up to no good—it’s written all over your faces. Nothing doing. Just the men are going—go ahead and worship God. That’s what you want so badly.” And they were thrown out of Pharaoh’s presence.

12 God said to Moses: “Stretch your hand over Egypt and signal the locusts to cover the land of Egypt, devouring every blade of grass in the country, everything that the hail didn’t get.”

13 Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt. God let loose an east wind. It blew that day and night. By morning the east wind had brought in the locusts.

14-15 The locusts covered the country of Egypt, settling over every square inch of Egypt; the place was thick with locusts. There never was an invasion of locusts like it in the past, and never will be again. The ground was completely covered, black with locusts. They ate everything, every blade of grass, every piece of fruit, anything that the hail didn’t get. Nothing left but bare trees and bare fields—not a sign of green in the whole land of Egypt.

16-17 Pharaoh had Moses and Aaron back in no time. He said, “I’ve sinned against your God and against you. Overlook my sin one more time. Pray to your God to get me out of this—get death out of here!”

18-19 Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to God. God reversed the wind—a powerful west wind took the locusts and dumped them into the Red Sea. There wasn’t a single locust left in the whole country of Egypt.

20 But God made Pharaoh stubborn as ever. He still didn’t release the Israelites.

Strike Nine: Darkness

21 God said to Moses: “Stretch your hand to the skies. Let darkness descend on the land of Egypt—a darkness so dark you can touch it.”

22-23 Moses stretched out his hand to the skies. Thick darkness descended on the land of Egypt for three days. Nobody could see anybody. For three days no one could so much as move. Except for the Israelites: they had light where they were living.

24 Pharaoh called in Moses: “Go and worship God. Leave your flocks and herds behind. But go ahead and take your children.”

25-26 But Moses said, “You have to let us take our sacrificial animals and offerings with us so we can sacrifice them in worship to our God. Our livestock has to go with us with not a hoof left behind; they are part of the worship of our God. And we don’t know just what will be needed until we get there.”

27 But God kept Pharaoh stubborn as ever. He wouldn’t agree to release them.

28 Pharaoh said to Moses: “Get out of my sight! And watch your step. I don’t want to ever see you again. If I lay eyes on you again, you’re dead.”

29 Moses said, “Have it your way. You won’t see my face again.”

Strike Ten: Death

11 God said to Moses: “I’m going to hit Pharaoh and Egypt one final time, and then he’ll let you go. When he releases you, that will be the end of Egypt for you; he won’t be able to get rid of you fast enough.

2-3 “So here’s what you do. Tell the people to ask, each man from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor, for things made of silver and gold.” God saw to it that the Egyptians liked the people. Also, Moses was greatly admired by the Egyptians, a respected public figure among both Pharaoh’s servants and the people at large.

4-7 Then Moses confronted Pharaoh: “God’s Message: ‘At midnight I will go through Egypt and every firstborn child in Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl working at her hand mill. Also the firstborn of animals. Widespread wailing will erupt all over the country, lament such as has never been and never will be again. But against the Israelites—man, woman, or animal—there won’t be so much as a dog’s bark, so that you’ll know that God makes a clear distinction between Egypt and Israel.’

“Then all these servants of yours will go to their knees, begging me to leave, ‘Leave! You and all the people who follow you!’ And I will most certainly leave.”

Moses, seething with anger, left Pharaoh.

God said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s not going to listen to a thing you say so that the signs of my presence and work are going to multiply in the land of Egypt.”

10 Moses and Aaron had performed all these signs in Pharaoh’s presence, but God turned Pharaoh more stubborn than ever—yet again he refused to release the Israelites from his land.

12 1-10 God said to Moses and Aaron while still in Egypt, “This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Address the whole community of Israel; tell them that on the tenth of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one lamb to a house. If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor, depending on the number of persons involved. Be mindful of how much each person will eat. Your lamb must be a healthy male, one year old; you can select it from either the sheep or the goats. Keep it penned until the fourteenth day of this month and then slaughter it—the entire community of Israel will do this—at dusk. Then take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which you will eat it. You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, that night, along with bread, made without yeast, and bitter herbs. Don’t eat any of it raw or boiled in water; make sure it’s roasted—the whole animal, head, legs, and innards. Don’t leave any of it until morning; if there are leftovers, burn them in the fire.

11 “And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it’s the Passover to God.

12-13 “I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, whether human or animal, and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am God. The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I will pass over you—no disaster will touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.

14-16 “This will be a memorial day for you; you will celebrate it as a festival to God down through the generations, a fixed festival celebration to be observed always. You will eat unraised bread (matzoth) for seven days: On the first day get rid of all yeast from your houses—anyone who eats anything with yeast from the first day to the seventh day will be cut off from Israel. The first and the seventh days are set aside as holy; do no work on those days. Only what you have to do for meals; each person can do that.

17-20 “Keep the Festival of Unraised Bread! This marks the exact day I brought you out in force from the land of Egypt. Honor the day down through your generations, a fixed festival to be observed always. In the first month, beginning on the fourteenth day at evening until the twenty-first day at evening, you are to eat unraised bread. For those seven days not a trace of yeast is to be found in your houses. Anyone, whether a visitor or a native of the land, who eats anything raised shall be cut off from the community of Israel. Don’t eat anything raised. Only matzoth.”

21-23 Moses assembled all the elders of Israel. He said, “Select a lamb for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the bowl of blood and smear it on the lintel and on the two doorposts. No one is to leave the house until morning. God will pass through to strike Egypt down. When he sees the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, God will pass over the doorway; he won’t let the destroyer enter your house to strike you down with ruin.

24-27 “Keep this word. It’s the law for you and your children, forever. When you enter the land which God will give you as he promised, keep doing this. And when your children say to you, ‘Why are we doing this?’ tell them: ‘It’s the Passover-sacrifice to God who passed over the homes of the Israelites in Egypt when he hit Egypt with death but rescued us.’”

The people bowed and worshiped.

28 The Israelites then went and did what God had commanded Moses and Aaron. They did it all.

29 At midnight God struck every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, right down to the firstborn of the prisoner locked up in jail. Also the firstborn of the animals.

30 Pharaoh got up that night, he and all his servants and everyone else in Egypt—what wild wailing and lament in Egypt! There wasn’t a house in which someone wasn’t dead.

31-32 Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron that very night and said, “Get out of here and be done with you—you and your Israelites! Go worship God on your own terms. And yes, take your sheep and cattle as you’ve insisted, but go. And bless me.”

33 The Egyptians couldn’t wait to get rid of them; they pushed them to hurry up, saying, “We’re all as good as dead.”

34-36 The people grabbed their bread dough before it had risen, bundled their bread bowls in their cloaks and threw them over their shoulders. The Israelites had already done what Moses had told them; they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold things and clothing. God saw to it that the Egyptians liked the people and so readily gave them what they asked for. Oh yes! They picked those Egyptians clean.

37-39 The Israelites moved on from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 on foot, besides their dependents. There was also a crowd of riffraff tagging along, not to mention the large flocks and herds of livestock. They baked unraised cakes with the bread dough they had brought out of Egypt; it hadn’t raised—they’d been rushed out of Egypt and hadn’t time to fix food for the journey.

The Passover

40-42 The Israelites had lived in Egypt 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, God’s entire army left Egypt. God kept watch all night, watching over the Israelites as he brought them out of Egypt. Because God kept watch, all Israel for all generations will honor God by keeping watch this night—a watchnight.

43-47 God said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the rules for the Passover:

No foreigners are to eat it.

Any slave, if he’s paid for and circumcised, can eat it.

No casual visitor or hired hand can eat it.

Eat it in one house—don’t take the meat outside the house.

Don’t break any of the bones.

The whole community of Israel is to be included in the meal.

48 “If an immigrant is staying with you and wants to keep the Passover to God, every male in his family must be circumcised, then he can participate in the Meal—he will then be treated as a native son. But no uncircumcised person can eat it.

49 “The same law applies both to the native and the immigrant who is staying with you.”

50-51 All the Israelites did exactly as God commanded Moses and Aaron. That very day God brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, tribe by tribe.

13 1-2 God spoke to Moses, saying, “Consecrate every firstborn to me— the first one to come from the womb among the Israelites, whether person or animal, is mine.”

Moses said to the people, “Always remember this day. This is the day when you came out of Egypt from a house of slavery. God brought you out of here with a powerful hand. Don’t eat any raised bread.

4-5 “You are leaving in the spring month of Abib. When God brings you into the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which he promised to your fathers to give you, a land lavish with milk and honey, you are to observe this service during this month:

“You are to eat unraised bread for seven days; on the seventh day there is a festival celebration to God.

“Only unraised bread is to be eaten for seven days. There is not to be a trace of anything fermented—no yeast anywhere.

“Tell your child on that day: ‘This is because of what God did for me when I came out of Egypt.’

9-10 “The day of observance will be like a sign on your hand, a memorial between your eyes, and the teaching of God in your mouth. It was with a powerful hand that God brought you out of Egypt. Follow these instructions at the set time, year after year after year.

11-13 “When God brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he promised you and your fathers, and turns it over to you, you are to set aside the first birth out of every womb to God. Every first birth from your livestock belongs to God. You can redeem every first birth of a donkey if you want to by substituting a lamb; if you decide not to redeem it, you must break its neck.

13-16 “Redeem every firstborn child among your sons. When the time comes and your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you tell him, ‘God brought us out of Egypt, out of a house of slavery, with a powerful hand. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, God killed every firstborn in Egypt, the firstborn of both humans and animals. That’s why I make a sacrifice for every first male birth from the womb to God and redeem every firstborn son.’ The observance functions like a sign on your hands or a symbol on the middle of your forehead: God brought us out of Egypt with a powerful hand.”

17 It so happened that after Pharaoh released the people, God didn’t lead them by the road through the land of the Philistines, which was the shortest route, for God thought, “If the people encounter war, they’ll change their minds and go back to Egypt.”

18 So God led the people on the wilderness road, looping around to the Red Sea. The Israelites left Egypt in military formation.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the Israelites solemnly swear to do it, saying, “God will surely hold you accountable, so make sure you bring my bones from here with you.”

20-22 They moved on from Succoth and then camped at Etham at the edge of the wilderness. God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people.

The Story and Song of Salvation

14 1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon.

3-4 “Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.’ Then I’ll make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn again and he’ll chase after them. And I’ll use Pharaoh and his army to put my Glory on display. Then the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”

And that’s what happened.

5-7 When the king of Egypt was told that the people were gone, he and his servants changed their minds. They said, “What have we done, letting Israel, our slave labor, go free?” So he had his chariots harnessed up and got his army together. He took six hundred of his best chariots, with the rest of the Egyptian chariots and their drivers coming along.

8-9 God made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, determined to chase the Israelites as they walked out on him without even looking back. The Egyptians gave chase and caught up with them where they had made camp by the sea—all Pharaoh’s horse-drawn chariots and their riders, all his foot soldiers there at Pi Hahiroth opposite Baal Zephon.

10-12 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them!

They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”

13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.

14 God will fight the battle for you.
    And you? You keep your mouths shut!”

15-16 God said to Moses: “Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites. Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.

17-18 “Meanwhile I’ll make sure the Egyptians keep up their stubborn chase—I’ll use Pharaoh and his entire army, his chariots and horsemen, to put my Glory on display so that the Egyptians will realize that I am God.”

19-20 The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them. And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear. The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light. The two camps didn’t come near each other all night.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and God, with a terrific east wind all night long, made the sea go back. He made the sea dry ground. The seawaters split.

22-25 The Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground with the waters a wall to the right and to the left. The Egyptians came after them in full pursuit, every horse and chariot and driver of Pharaoh racing into the middle of the sea. It was now the morning watch. God looked down from the Pillar of Fire and Cloud on the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic. He clogged the wheels of their chariots; they were stuck in the mud.

The Egyptians said, “Run from Israel! God is fighting on their side and against Egypt!”

26 God said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea and the waters will come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots, over their horsemen.”

27-28 Moses stretched his hand out over the sea: As the day broke and the Egyptians were running, the sea returned to its place as before. God dumped the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. The waters returned, drowning the chariots and riders of Pharaoh’s army that had chased after Israel into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29-31 But the Israelites walked right through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall to the right and to the left. God delivered Israel that day from the oppression of the Egyptians. And Israel looked at the Egyptian dead, washed up on the shore of the sea, and realized the tremendous power that God brought against the Egyptians. The people were in reverent awe before God and trusted in God and his servant Moses.

15 1-8 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to God, giving voice together,

I’m singing my heart out to God—what a victory!
    He pitched horse and rider into the sea.
God is my strength, God is my song,
    and, yes! God is my salvation.
This is the kind of God I have
    and I’m telling the world!
This is the God of my father—
    I’m spreading the news far and wide!
God is a fighter,
    pure God, through and through.
Pharaoh’s chariots and army
    he dumped in the sea,
The elite of his officers
    he drowned in the Red Sea.
Wild ocean waters poured over them;
    they sank like a rock in the deep blue sea.
Your strong right hand, God, shimmers with power;
    your strong right hand shatters the enemy.
In your mighty majesty
    you smash your upstart enemies,
You let loose your hot anger
    and burn them to a crisp.
At a blast from your nostrils
    the waters piled up;
Tumbling streams dammed up,
    wild oceans curdled into a swamp.

The enemy spoke,
        “I’ll pursue, I’ll hunt them down,
    I’ll divide up the plunder,
        I’ll glut myself on them;
    I’ll pull out my sword,
        my fist will send them reeling.”

10-11 You blew with all your might
        and the sea covered them.
    They sank like a lead weight
        in the majestic waters.
    Who compares with you
        among gods, O God?
    Who compares with you in power,
        in holy majesty,
    In awesome praises,
        wonder-working God?

12-13 You stretched out your right hand
        and the Earth swallowed them up.
    But the people you redeemed,
        you led in merciful love;
    You guided them under your protection
        to your holy pasture.

14-18 When people heard, they were scared;
        Philistines writhed and trembled;
    Yes, even the head men in Edom were shaken,
        and the big bosses in Moab.
    Everybody in Canaan
        panicked and fell faint.
    Dread and terror
        sent them reeling.
    Before your brandished right arm
        they were struck dumb like a stone,
    Until your people crossed over and entered, O God,
        until the people you made crossed over and entered.
    You brought them and planted them
        on the mountain of your heritage,
    The place where you live,
        the place you made,
    Your sanctuary, Master,
        that you established with your own hands.
    Let God rule
        forever, for eternity!

19 Yes, Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and riders went into the sea and God turned the waters back on them; but the Israelites walked on dry land right through the middle of the sea.

20-21 Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine, and all the women followed her with tambourines, dancing. Miriam led them in singing,

Sing to God
    what a victory!
He pitched horse and rider
    into the sea!

Traveling Through the Wilderness

22-24 Moses led Israel from the Red Sea on to the Wilderness of Shur. They traveled for three days through the wilderness without finding any water. They got to Marah, but they couldn’t drink the water at Marah; it was bitter. That’s why they called the place Marah (Bitter). And the people complained to Moses, “So what are we supposed to drink?”

25 So Moses cried out in prayer to God. God pointed him to a stick of wood. Moses threw it into the water and the water turned sweet.

26 That’s the place where God set up rules and procedures; that’s where he started testing them.

God said, “If you listen, listen obediently to how God tells you to live in his presence, obeying his commandments and keeping all his laws, then I won’t strike you with all the diseases that I inflicted on the Egyptians; I am God your healer.”

27 They came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees. They set up camp there by the water.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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