When Moses obeyed God’s call to confront Pharaoh and demand that he let God’s people (the Israelites) go, Pharaoh resisted—repeatedly. God then brought ten severe plagues on Egypt to “motivate” Pharaoh to obey. Through these plagues, God crushed the power of Egypt and demonstrated He was the true God. This is how God freed His people from slavery. Here is a summary of the ten plagues on Egypt.
The Ten Plagues on Egypt
1) In the first plague, water in the Nile River turned to blood, causing fish to die and eliminating drinkable water for the Egyptian people. Pharaoh’s magicians mimicked this miracle (see Ex. 7:14-25).
2) The second plague was an infestation of frogs in the land of Egypt (see 8:1-15). Again, Pharaoh’s magicians did the same thing with their sorcery.
3) In the third plague, gnats covered the land (see vv. 16-19). The magicians of Pharaoh, however, were unable to duplicate this miracle, and they advised Pharaoh that the plague was God’s doing.
4) The fourth plague was a plague of flies; swarms of flies covered the land. When Goshen, the land where the Hebrews lived, was shielded from this disaster, God was making another clear statement—one that, once again, Pharaoh refused to heed (see vv. 20-32).
5) A disease claimed the cattle and other livestock of Egypt in the fifth plague. Once more, Israel was protected. Pharaoh remained unmoved, however, refusing to release the Hebrews (see 9:1-7).
6) Boils! Sores! The sixth plague affected both people and animals in Egypt. Even Pharaoh’s magicians were covered with the lacerations, so much so that they could not stand before Moses. In the account of this plague we see that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart—after Pharaoh himself repeatedly had resisted God’s overtures by hardening his own heart (see 8:15,32; 9:8-12).
7) The seventh plague was a plague of hail. Those who heeded Moses’ warning brought their servants and livestock in, but the servants and livestock of those who ignored the warning died in the storm. The hail also destroyed crops—flax and barley—that already had grown up and therefore were vulnerable. God once again protected His people from devastation (see vv. 13-35).
8) Egypt was overrun with locusts in the eighth plague; they ruined all the crops that the hail had not destroyed and invaded the Egyptians’ homes (see 10:1-20). Pharaoh’s hard heart, (hardened this time by God), was manifested once more in his refusal to release the Hebrews.
9) In the ninth plague, a thick and intense darkness fell on Egypt, causing the Egyptians to stay put for three days. The area where God’s people lived was blessed with light as usual; again the Lord made a distinction between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. Pharaoh, however, remained unmoved. Yet again we’re told that the Lord hardened the king’s heart (see vv. 21-29).
10) The tenth plague took the lives of the Egyptian firstborn. God provided protection for His people, but divine protection was conditioned upon obedience on the part of the Hebrews. On the night an angel of death passed through the land claiming the lives of firstborn sons and livestock, if the angel saw a mark on entrance to a home, he “passed over” that home and did not claim any lives. What was the mark? It was the blood of a lamb (see 11:1–12:42).
B. Nathaniel Sullivan
Christian educator, Bible teacher, and Editor
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in SundaySchoolZone.com materials are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.