Moses Negotiates with Pharaoh — Kinda

When we left Moses the last time, he was busy wrestling with God in a tent but had not done a lot to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Now we get into some good drama.

  • Early negotiations. Moses (and his brother Aaron who does most of the talking) go to Pharaoh several times over the course of Chapters 7-13.  First they try to influence Pharaoh using tricks with the magic staff (Moses and Aaron are both in their 80s, so picture talent night at the Senior Center). This does not work too well, largely because Pharaoh’s magicians can go toe to toe with Moses. Then they go back and forth with Pharaoh, calling down one plague after another. Pharaoh capitulates and then reneges over and over again. Ultimately, we get 10 plagues.

                       1. Nile turns into blood.
                       2. Frogs appear; then die. Think of the stench.
                       3. Lice.
                       4. Flies.
                       5. Pestilence from fire ash.
                       6. Boils caused by the pestilence.
                       7. Hailstorm destroying crops and livestock. More stench.
                       8. Locusts destroying more crops.
                       9. Darkness for 3 days.
                     10. Death to first born Egyptian sons.

  • Natural phenomena?  The 3BT research staffers consulted with the Biblical Archeology Society (BAS) archives. The BAS people had some interesting observations. Some researchers have connected the Egyptian plagues to natural phenomena that were possible in ancient Egypt. Torrential rains in Ethiopia could have sent red clay (“blood”) into the Nile, which could have caused a migration of frogs, further causing lice and flies, which caused the death of cattle and human boils. A Libyan dust storm could have caused the three days of darkness.
  • Literary devices. Both the BAS people and various religious sources posited that the 10 plagues were each directed at a specific Egyptian God, essentially proving the the Israelite God was better than theirs. And then there’s the metaphysical interpretations, which are always fun because no one can really argue against them. We found these two from the site to be the most interesting
    • Pharaoh’s reluctance and fluctuations about letting the people go illustrate the position our personal ego takes when spiritual growth offers a threat to its domination in our lives. Materialistic and sensual self-interest (Pharaoh) is not easily convinced to make way for spiritual commitment
    • The various plagues are broad, general references to painful manifestations caused by negative thinking and emotions. The plagues are symbolic of useless, unnecessary suffering caused by ignorance and selfishness.

See? Can’t argue.

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