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The Lord said:

I am going to let your brother Aaron speak for you. He will tell your message to the king, just as a prophet speaks my message to the people. Tell Aaron everything I say to you, and he will order the king to let my people leave his country. 3-4 But I will make the king so stubborn that he won’t listen to you. He won’t listen even when I do many terrible things to him and his nation. Then I will bring a final punishment on Egypt, and the king will let Israel’s families and tribes go. When this happens, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.

Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord and spoke to the king. At the time, Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three.

A Stick Turns into a Snake

8-9 The Lord said, “Moses, when the king [a] asks you and Aaron to perform a miracle, command Aaron to throw his walking stick down in front of the king, and it will turn into a snake.”

10 Moses and Aaron went to the king and his officials and did exactly as the Lord had commanded—Aaron threw the stick down, and it turned into a snake. 11 Then the king called in the wise men and the magicians, who used their secret powers to do the same thing— 12 they threw down sticks that turned into snakes. But Aaron’s snake swallowed theirs. 13 The king behaved just as the Lord had said and stubbornly refused to listen.

The Nile River Turns into Blood

14 The Lord said to Moses:

The Egyptian king [b] stubbornly refuses to change his mind and let the people go. 15 Tomorrow morning take the stick that turned into a snake, then wait beside the Nile River for the king. 16 Tell him, “The Lord God of the Hebrews sent me to order you to release his people, so they can worship him in the desert. But until now, you have paid no attention.

17 “The Lord is going to do something to show you that he really is the Lord. I will strike the Nile with this stick, and the water will turn into blood. 18 The fish will die, the river will stink, and none of you Egyptians will be able to drink the water.”

19 Moses, then command Aaron to hold his stick over the water. And when he does, every drop of water in Egypt will turn into blood, including rivers, canals, ponds, and even the water in buckets and jars.

20 Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord. Aaron held out his stick, then struck the Nile, as the king and his officials watched. The river turned into blood, 21 the fish died, and the water smelled so bad that none of the Egyptians could drink it. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

22 But the Egyptian magicians used their secret powers to do the same thing. The king did just as the Lord had said—he stubbornly refused to listen. 23 Then he went back to his palace and never gave it a second thought. 24 The Egyptians had to dig holes along the banks of the Nile for drinking water, because water from the river was unfit to drink.

Frogs

25 Seven days after the Lord had struck the Nile, he said to Moses:

Go to the palace and tell the king [c] of Egypt that I order him to let my people go, so they can worship me. If he refuses, I will cover his entire country with frogs. Warn the king that the Nile will be full of frogs, and from there they will spread into the royal palace, including the king’s bedroom and even his bed. Frogs will enter the homes of his officials and will find their way into ovens and into the bowls of bread dough. Frogs will be crawling on everyone—the king, his officials, and every citizen of Egypt.

Moses, now command Aaron to hold his stick over the water. Then frogs will come from all rivers, canals, and ponds in Egypt, and they will cover the land.

Aaron obeyed, and suddenly frogs were everywhere in Egypt. But the magicians used their secret powers to do the same thing.

The king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them, “If you ask the Lord to take these frogs away from me and my people, I will let your people go and offer sacrifices to him.”

“All right,” Moses answered. “You choose the time when I am to pray for the frogs to stop bothering you, your officials, and your people, and for them to leave your houses and be found only in the river.”

10 “Do it tomorrow!” the king replied.

“As you wish,” Moses agreed. “Then everyone will discover that there is no god like the Lord, 11 and frogs will no longer be found anywhere, except in the Nile.”

12 After Moses and Aaron left the palace, Moses begged the Lord to do something about the frogs he had sent as punishment for the king. 13 The Lord listened to Moses, and frogs died everywhere—in houses, yards, and fields. 14 The dead frogs were placed in piles, and the whole country began to stink. 15 But when the king saw that things were now better, he again did just as the Lord had said and stubbornly refused to listen to Moses and Aaron.

Gnats

16 The Lord said to Moses, “Command Aaron to strike the ground with his walking stick, and everywhere in Egypt the dust will turn into gnats.” 17 They obeyed, and when Aaron struck the ground with the stick, gnats started swarming on people and animals. In fact, every speck of dust in Egypt turned into a gnat. 18 When the magicians tried to use their secret powers to do this,[d] they failed, and gnats stayed on people and animals.

19 The magicians told the king,[e] “God has done this.”

But, as the Lord had said, the king was too stubborn to listen.

Flies

20 The Lord said to Moses:

Early tomorrow morning, while the king [f] is on his way to the river, go and say to him, “The Lord commands you to let his people go, so they can worship him. 21 If you don’t, he will send swarms of flies to attack you, your officials, and every citizen of your country. Houses will be full of flies, and the ground will crawl with them.

22-23 “The Lord’s people in Goshen won’t be bothered by flies, but your people in the rest of the country will be tormented by them. That’s how you will know that the Lord is here in Egypt. This miracle will happen tomorrow.”

24 The Lord kept his promise—the palace and the homes of the royal officials swarmed with flies, and the rest of the country was infested with them as well. 25 Then the king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them, “Go sacrifice to your God, but stay here in Egypt.”

26 “That’s impossible!” Moses replied. “Any sacrifices we offer to the Lord our God would disgust the Egyptians, and they would stone us to death. 27 No indeed! The Lord has ordered us to walk three days into the desert before offering sacrifices to him, and that’s what we have to do.”

28 Then the king told him, “I’ll let you go into the desert to offer sacrifices, if you don’t go very far. But in the meantime, pray for me.”

29 “Your Majesty,” Moses replied, “I’ll pray for you as soon as I leave, and by tomorrow the flies will stop bothering you, your officials, and the citizens of your country. Only make sure that you’re telling the truth this time and that you really intend to let our people offer sacrifices to the Lord.”

30 After leaving the palace, Moses prayed, 31 and the Lord answered his prayer. Not a fly was left to pester the king, his officials, or anyone else in Egypt. 32 But the king turned stubborn again and would not let the people go.

Dead Animals

The Lord sent Moses with this message for the king [g] of Egypt:

The Lord God of the Hebrews commands you to let his people go, so they can worship him. If you keep refusing, he will bring a terrible disease on your horses and donkeys, your camels and cattle, and your sheep and goats. But the Lord will protect the animals that belong to the people of Israel, and none of theirs will die. Tomorrow is the day the Lord has set to do this.

It happened the next day—all of the animals belonging to the Egyptians died, but the Israelites did not lose even one. When the king found out, he was still too stubborn to let the people go.

Sores

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron:

Take a few handfuls of ashes from a stove and have Moses throw them into the air. Be sure the king is watching. The ashes will blow across the land of Egypt, causing sores to break out on people and animals.

10 So they took a few handfuls of ashes and went to the king.[h] Moses threw them into the air, and sores immediately broke out on the Egyptians and their animals. 11 The magicians were suffering so much from the sores, that they could not even come to Moses. 12 Everything happened just as the Lord had told Moses—he made the king too stubborn to listen to Moses and Aaron.

Hailstones

13 The Lord told Moses to get up early the next morning and say to the king: [i]

The Lord God of the Hebrews commands you to let his people go, so they can worship him! 14 If you don’t, he will send his worst plagues to strike you, your officials, and everyone else in your country. Then you will find out that no one can oppose the Lord. 15 In fact, he could already have sent a terrible disease and wiped you from the face of the earth. 16 But he has kept you alive, just to show you his power and to bring honor to himself everywhere in the world.

17 You are still determined not to let the Lord’s people go. 18 All right. At this time tomorrow, he will bring on Egypt the worst hailstorm in its history. 19 You had better give orders for every person and every animal in Egypt to take shelter. If they don’t, they will die.

20 Some of the king’s officials were frightened by what the Lord had said, and they hurried off to make sure their slaves and animals were safe. 21 But others paid no attention to his threats and left their slaves and animals out in the open.

22 Then the Lord told Moses, “Stretch your arm toward the sky, so that hailstones will fall on people, animals, and crops in the land of Egypt.” 23-24 Moses pointed his walking stick toward the sky, and hailstones started falling everywhere. Thunder roared, and lightning flashed back and forth, striking the ground. This was the worst storm in the history of Egypt. 25 People, animals, and crops were pounded by the hailstones, and bark was stripped from trees. 26 Only Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was safe from the storm.

27 The king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them, “Now I have really sinned! My people and I are guilty, and the Lord is right. 28 We can’t stand any more of this thunder and hail. Please ask the Lord to make it stop. Your people can go—you don’t have to stay in Egypt any longer.”

29 Moses answered, “As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my arms in prayer. When the thunder and hail stop, you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord. 30 But I am certain that neither you nor your officials really fear the Lord God.”

31 Meanwhile, the flax and barley crops had been destroyed by the storm because they were ready to ripen. 32 But the wheat crops [j] ripen later, and they were not damaged.

33 After Moses left the royal palace and the city, he lifted his arms in prayer to the Lord, and the thunder, hail, and drenching rain stopped. 34 When the king realized that the storm was over, he disobeyed once more. He and his officials were so stubborn 35 that he refused to let the Israelites go. This was exactly what the Lord had said would happen.

Footnotes

  1. 6.29; 7.8,9,14; 8.1 the king: See the note at 1.11.
  2. 6.29; 7.8,9,14; 8.1 the king: See the note at 1.11.
  3. 6.29; 7.8,9,14; 8.1 the king: See the note at 1.11.
  4. 8.18 to do this: Or “to get rid of the gnats.”
  5. 8.19,20; 9.1,10,13 the king: See the note at 1.11.
  6. 8.19,20; 9.1,10,13 the king: See the note at 1.11.
  7. 8.19,20; 9.1,10,13 the king: See the note at 1.11.
  8. 9.32 wheat crops: The Hebrew text mentions two kinds of wheat
  9. 9.32 wheat crops: The Hebrew text mentions two kinds of wheat
  10. 1.11 Pithom and Rameses: This is the only mention of Pithom in the Bible; its exact location is unknown, though it was probably in the northern Delta of Egypt. Rameses is the famous Delta city that was the home of Rameses II; its exact location is also unknown.

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