A Plague against Livestock
“Go back to Pharaoh,” the Lord commanded Moses. “Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me. If you continue to hold them and refuse to let them go, the hand of the Lord will strike all your livestock—your horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats—with a deadly plague. But the Lord will again make a distinction between the livestock of the Israelites and that of the Egyptians. Not a single one of Israel’s animals will die! The Lord has already set the time for the plague to begin. He has declared that he will strike the land tomorrow.’”
And the Lord did just as he had said. The next morning all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but the Israelites didn’t lose a single animal. Pharaoh sent his officials to investigate, and they discovered that the Israelites had not lost a single animal! But even so, Pharaoh’s heart remained stubborn,[a] and he still refused to let the people go.
A Plague of Festering Boils
Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a brick kiln, and have Moses toss it into the air while Pharaoh watches. The ashes will spread like fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, causing festering boils to break out on people and animals throughout the land.”
So they took soot from a brick kiln and went and stood before Pharaoh. As Pharaoh watched, Moses threw the soot into the air, and boils broke out on people and animals alike. Even the magicians were unable to stand before Moses, because the boils had broken out on them and all the Egyptians. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and just as the Lord had predicted to Moses, Pharaoh refused to listen.
A Plague of Hail
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh. Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me. If you don’t, I will send more plagues on you[b] and your officials and your people. Then you will know that there is no one like me in all the earth. By now I could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose—to show you my power[c] and to spread my fame throughout the earth. But you still lord it over my people and refuse to let them go. So tomorrow at this time I will send a hailstorm more devastating than any in all the history of Egypt. Quick! Order your livestock and servants to come in from the fields to find shelter. Any person or animal left outside will die when the hail falls.’”
Some of Pharaoh’s officials were afraid because of what the Lord had said. They quickly brought their servants and livestock in from the fields. But those who paid no attention to the word of the Lord left theirs out in the open.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Lift your hand toward the sky so hail may fall on the people, the livestock, and all the plants throughout the land of Egypt.”
So Moses lifted his staff toward the sky, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed toward the earth. The Lord sent a tremendous hailstorm against all the land of Egypt. Never in all the history of Egypt had there been a storm like that, with such devastating hail and continuous lightning. It left all of Egypt in ruins. The hail struck down everything in the open field—people, animals, and plants alike. Even the trees were destroyed. The only place without hail was the region of Goshen, where the people of Israel lived.
Then Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he confessed. “The Lord is the righteous one, and my people and I are wrong. Please beg the Lord to end this terrifying thunder and hail. We’ve had enough. I will let you go; you don’t need to stay any longer.”
“All right,” Moses replied. “As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my hands and pray to the Lord. Then the thunder and hail will stop, and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord. But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.”
(All the flax and barley were ruined by the hail, because the barley had formed heads and the flax was budding. But the wheat and the emmer wheat were spared, because they had not yet sprouted from the ground.)
So Moses left Pharaoh’s court and went out of the city. When he lifted his hands to the Lord, the thunder and hail stopped, and the downpour ceased. But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again became stubborn.[d] Because his heart was hard, Pharaoh refused to let the people leave, just as the Lord had predicted through Moses.
- 9:7 Hebrew heavy.
- 9:14 Hebrew on your heart.
- 9:16 Greek version reads to display my power in you; compare Rom 9:17.
- 9:34 Hebrew made his heart heavy.
A Plague of Locusts
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Return to Pharaoh and make your demands again. I have made him and his officials stubborn[a] so I can display my miraculous signs among them. I’ve also done it so you can tell your children and grandchildren about how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and about the signs I displayed among them—and so you will know that I am the Lord.”
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: How long will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go, so they can worship me. If you refuse, watch out! For tomorrow I will bring a swarm of locusts on your country. They will cover the land so that you won’t be able to see the ground. They will devour what little is left of your crops after the hailstorm, including all the trees growing in the fields. They will overrun your palaces and the homes of your officials and all the houses in Egypt. Never in the history of Egypt have your ancestors seen a plague like this one!” And with that, Moses turned and left Pharaoh.
Pharaoh’s officials now came to Pharaoh and appealed to him. “How long will you let this man hold us hostage? Let the men go to worship the Lord their God! Don’t you realize that Egypt lies in ruins?”
So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “All right,” he told them, “go and worship the Lord your God. But who exactly will be going with you?”
Moses replied, “We will all go—young and old, our sons and daughters, and our flocks and herds. We must all join together in celebrating a festival to the Lord.”
Pharaoh retorted, “The Lord will certainly need to be with you if I let you take your little ones! I can see through your evil plan. Never! Only the men may go and worship the Lord, since that is what you requested.” And Pharaoh threw them out of the palace.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the land of Egypt to bring on the locusts. Let them cover the land and devour every plant that survived the hailstorm.”
So Moses raised his staff over Egypt, and the Lord caused an east wind to blow over the land all that day and through the night. When morning arrived, the east wind had brought the locusts. And the locusts swarmed over the whole land of Egypt, settling in dense swarms from one end of the country to the other. It was the worst locust plague in Egyptian history, and there has never been another one like it. For the locusts covered the whole country and darkened the land. They devoured every plant in the fields and all the fruit on the trees that had survived the hailstorm. Not a single leaf was left on the trees and plants throughout the land of Egypt.
Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron. “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you,” he confessed. “Forgive my sin, just this once, and plead with the Lord your God to take away this death from me.”
So Moses left Pharaoh’s court and pleaded with the Lord. The Lord responded by shifting the wind, and the strong west wind blew the locusts into the Red Sea.[b] Not a single locust remained in all the land of Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart again, so he refused to let the people go.
A Plague of Darkness
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.” So Moses lifted his hand to the sky, and a deep darkness covered the entire land of Egypt for three days. During all that time the people could not see each other, and no one moved. But there was light as usual where the people of Israel lived.
Finally, Pharaoh called for Moses. “Go and worship the Lord,” he said. “But leave your flocks and herds here. You may even take your little ones with you.”
“No,” Moses said, “you must provide us with animals for sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord our God. All our livestock must go with us, too; not a hoof can be left behind. We must choose our sacrifices for the Lord our God from among these animals. And we won’t know how we are to worship the Lord until we get there.”
But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart once more, and he would not let them go. “Get out of here!” Pharaoh shouted at Moses. “I’m warning you. Never come back to see me again! The day you see my face, you will die!”
“Very well,” Moses replied. “I will never see your face again.”