The Lord sets out various things that the Israelites are required to do from now on in connection with what is now known as Passover. This is the event, to be commemorated annually, in which God killed the first born male of man and animal in Egypt. To escape the same fate, Moses told the people to slaughter a lamb and spread its blood over their doorway. This way the Lord’s destroyer (or God himself?) would skip that house. Lots of stuff to do with bitter herbs, who can eat the slaughtered lamb and unleavened bread, which is either unleavened because God says so, or because they had to leave in a hurry, which is odd because they all knew what was coming.
So, God sets about to kill children, men and animals, including the Pharaoh’s own son. At this, Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron to go. All the Egyptians finally want to rush the Israelites away. By coincidence they left 430 years, to the day, after they began living in Egypt. All 600,000 men (women and children apparently aren’t counted).
This is an odd chapter. It’s a very momentous event, the killing of potentially thousands of people in the night. Yet, much of the chapter discusses who can eat the lamb and how anyone eating yeast during this time should be cut off from Israel.
One thing I note is that in Exo 12:44, it mentions that purchased slaves must be circumcised to eat the Passover lamb. Does this mean that slavery is not being done away with? After all that they are going through the Israelites will still have slaves. That’s a little disconcerting.
The Lord promises one more plague. After He manipulated the Egyptians into giving up their gold and silver, Moses tells Pharaoh that God will kill all the firstborn sons of man and animal (what animals?). God, once again, forces Pharaoh to refuse to let the Israelites go.
I don’t know about you, but I expect Israel to completely abolish the practice of slavery after going to these lengths to punish the Egyptians.
Now, God comes right out and says that he’s manipulating Pharaoh and the officials to show off his power. He wants the Israelites to know how He dealt with the Egyptians.
Even after his own officials begs him to relent Pharaoh refused to let Moses and his people go. God sends a swarm of locusts to cover the land and eat everything that was left. Once again, Pharaoh gives in and calls to Moses, who has God remove the plague of locusts, only to have Him harden the Pharaoh’s heart.
Now God sends a darkness over Egypt (except in Goshen) and it lasts for 3 days. Pharaoh wants to know who and what Moses will take with him to worship. When Moses tells him every person and animal Pharaoh once again says no and threatens to kill Moses if he ever sees him again.
Isn’t this overkill by now? I can see that God is trying to make a point. The point seems to be entirely for the benefit of the Israelis: this is what happens when you displease me. But it’s just so overblown that it strains credulity.
The Lord sends Moses to announce more plagues against Egypt if the Pharaoh doesn’t let the Israelites go. Pharoah continues to refuse, so God kills all the livestock (expecting the ones owned by the Israelites, of course). Pharaoh doesn’t budge. Next god sends boils to all the people and animals (I thought they were all dead). Here, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart again.
Finally, the Lord sends Moses with a message of a hail storm like never seen before. Even Pharaoh officials were afraid and brought in their livestock (still dead?). When the hail came it destroyed crops, killed people and animals, except in Goshen, where the Israelites lived.
Finally Pharaoh came to his sense and agree to let Moses and his people go, only to change his mind again after it all stopped. His heart hardened again.
I imagine this whole story is several versions of a legend being added up. With the animals being killed more than a few times and the Pharaoh’s heart being hardened after so much death and destruction. I would imagine the entire people of Egypt just kicking Moses and his people out about now.
So, at this point, the story just seems to be about God showing everyone who’s boss. And he’s coming off as a bit of a prick.
Now Moses (and Aaron), at God’s instructions, tells the Pharaoh that he will send frogs to cover the land if he doesn’t let them go and worship. Then he sends the frogs (I guess the Pharaoh said no) and they cover everything. The magicians could do this too, but Pharaoh begs for relief and Moses prays the frogs away. Then Pharaoh hardened his heart again (or did God).
God and Moses then turn dust into gnats to plague Egypt. Pharaoh didn’t change his mind this time, even though the magicians could do it and even told his that is was the finger of God.
Then it’s flies. God and Moses send flies. Pharaoh tried to compromise by asking that the Israelites worship and sacrifice in Egypt, but Moses said the Egyptians wouldn’t put up with it. Pharaoh gives in and agrees, but as soon as the flies are gone he hardened his heart (maybe God) and refused to let them go.
This is fairly simple, I suppose. Moses (still lying) and God are ratchetting up the pressure to get the Pharaoh to let them go. Pharaoh, either being a jerk or under the influence of the God of the Israelites (they kinda look the same by now) won’t let them.
So, by now it’s blood, frogs, gnats and flies that have plagued Egypt and Pharaoh still won’t let them go. God really hates slavery. Must be a pretty bad crime and I’m sure we’ll learn more about how bad it is in the future.