The Word Made Fresh
1The LORD replied, “Look, I will see to it that you will be god-like to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your mouthpiece. 2You just say what I tell you to say, and Aaron will tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave, 3but I will make Pharaoh stubborn so that I can beset the land of Egypt with signs and wonders. 4When Pharaoh refuses to listen to you, I will wage war on Egypt and bring the Israelites, my people, clan by clan, out of the land by powerful acts of judgment against them. 5And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I punish them and rescue my people.”
6Moses and Aaron did exactly what the LORD told them to do. 7Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three when they went in to speak to Pharaoh.
8The LORD told Moses, 9“When Pharaoh demands that you show him some sort of sign, tell Aaron to throw his staff on the ground in front of him and it will turn into a snake.”
10Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and followed God’s instructions. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his retinue, and it became a snake. 11But then Pharaoh called his magicians and they used their secret methods to do the same: 12each of them threw down his staff and they also became snakes; but then Aaron’s staff swallowed theirs! 13Even so, Pharaoh was stubborn and refused to listen to them, just as the LORD had said.
14Next, the LORD told Moses, “Pharaoh is stubborn, and he refuses to let the people go. 15Go back to him in the morning when he goes out to the river. Stand on the bank to meet him and take with you the staff that was turned into a snake. 16Tell Pharaoh, ‘The LORD, God of the Hebrews, sent me to say to you, “Let my people go so they may worship me in the wilderness.” But you haven’t listened. 17So, this is what the LORD says, “By this sign you will know that I am the LORD.” So, watch; I will strike the Nile with the staff in my hand, and the water will be turned into blood.18The fish will all die. The river will stink. The Egyptian people won’t be able to drink water from the Nile.’” 19And the LORD said, “Tell Aaron to take your staff and stretch out his hand over the waters of Egypt – its rivers, canals, ponds, and pools – and they will all become blood throughout the whole land of Egypt, even the water in wood and stone bowls.”
20Moses and Aaron did exactly what the LORD told them to do. In full view of Pharaoh and his administrators Aaron lifted the staff and struck the Nile, and all the water in the river became blood. 21The fish died. The river stank. The Egyptians couldn’t drink the water for it had become blood throughout the land. 22But the Egyptian magicians were able to do the same thing, so Pharaoh remained as stubborn as ever and wouldn’t listen to them, just as the LORD had said. 23Pharaoh merely turned and walked back to his house and didn’t seem to be bothered at all. 24But the Egyptian people had to dig pits alongside the Nile to get water for drinking because they couldn’t drink from the Nile.
25A week passed.
1-7: A summary: God tells Moses, Moses tells Aaron, Aaron tells Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, God will lay his hand upon Egypt, the Egyptians will acknowledge Israel’s God, the Israelites will be brought out.
8-13: Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh; he demands a sign; Aaron turns his rod into a snake; Pharaoh’s magicians turn their rods into snakes; Aaron’s snake swallows theirs; Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.
14-25: God says to tell Pharaoh that since he hasn’t complied, God will turn the Nile into blood. God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh “in the morning as he is going out to the water” (see 8:30-32). Moses commands Aaron, Aaron strikes the Nile, and plague #1 ensues: the Nile turns to blood. The people get fresh water by digging along the Nile. However, the Egyptian magicians do the same trick, and Pharaoh refuses to let the Hebrews go.
Note: The trick of the leprous hand is never presented to Pharaoh, only to the Israelite elders. It is apparent that the Israelite leaders as well as the Egyptian rulers have to be convinced that God wants them to leave Egypt.
Seven days pass.
People who do not acknowledge God or refuse to believe in God will inevitably be confronted with things in life that they cannot control and that brings them no benefit. It took Pharaoh a long time to admit that there is a power more powerful than any earthly ruler.