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Exo 9:1 Then Yahweh said to Moses, Go in to Pharaoh, and tell him, ‘This is what Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let My people go, that they may serve Me-
Yahweh is now fully defined as the God of the Hebrews. It was His intention that Pharaoh should come to know Him, in relationship with Him.

Exo 9:2 For if you refuse to let them go, and hold them still-
Ex. 8:2; 9:2; 10:4 emphasize the real choice before Pharaoh; he was refusing to let Israel go and "held" them. Babylon was warned that no nation could "hold them fast [and] refuse to let [Israel] go [because] their redeemer is strong" (Jer. 50:33,34). The Hebrew for "strong" is that translated "hold". God had a stronger grip and claim on them than did Pharaoh. They were Yahweh's, not Pharaoh's. And it could be argued that Babylon-Persia did listen to this message, and allowed and encouraged the exiles to return. We too are to learn from all this historical precedent; that our hand is not stronger than God's.


Exo 9:3 behold, the hand of Yahweh is on your livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks with a very grievous pestilence-
The "pestilence" which was the plague upon Egypt (Ex. 9:3) was to come upon a hard hearted Israel (s.w. Lev. 26:25; Num. 14:12; Dt. 28:21; Jer. 21:6). The plagues upon Egypt form the basis for the vials and seals of Revelation, which speak of judgment to come upon the land of Israel. It is a theme with God that His apostate people are "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). If their hearts are really with Egypt / the world, then they will share the judgments of this world. The time for separation is now, just as the Egyptians had to identify with Israel if they wished to escape the plagues.


Exo 9:4 Yahweh will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt; and nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel’-
The 'setting apart' of Israel from Egypt is a major theme (Ex. 8:22; 9:4; 11:7 "put a difference"). It was part of a 'sanctifying' of Israel for priestly service to Yahweh as a nation, as well as a lesson for Egypt that the only way to salvation was through separation from their own people and culture, and joining the people of God. We marvel at the multi functional way in which God works. The same word is used to describe how God "has set apart him that is Godly for Himself" (Ps. 4:3); even though Israel were far from being Godly. And it is used of God's special grace, 'set apart', a grace known by no other people (Ps. 17:7). The word is used in this sense in Ex. 33:16, where Moses reasons that it is God's grace and the visible presence of that grace which is what sets apart Israel from all other peoples. And that is true to this day. God's grace is what is the lead and distinguishing characteristic of His way from all other religions. It is the experience of that grace which makes us distinct from all others who have not claimed it for themselves. And it all began with God 'setting apart' a sinful, idolatrous Israel from the Egyptians around them, all by grace, seeing they were largely no better than Egypt.


Exo 9:5 Yahweh appointed a set time, saying, Tomorrow Yahweh shall do this thing in the land-
The plague upon cattle was clearly prophesied as going to happen at a specified time: “The Lord appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the Lord shall do this thing”; but it was conditional upon Pharaoh refusing to let Israel go (Ex. 9:1,2,5). He could have complied, and therefore the plague wouldn’t have happened. And yet the prophecy is so specific that it would seem that this conditionality just didn’t exist. But it did. Pharaoh had a real choice whether or not to obey God’s word.


Exo 9:6 Yahweh did that thing on the next day; and all the livestock of Egypt died, but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died-
Clearly not all Egyptian cattle died because there were still some alive in the next plague (:19). So I suggest going with the translation of Adam Clarke: "All the cattle that did die belonged to the Egyptians".


Exo 9:7 Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the livestock of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he didn’t let the people go-
Pharaoh hardened his own heart (Ex. 7:22; 8:15,19,32; 9:7,34,35). And yet God hardened his heart (Ex. 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:8). The references to God hardening Pharaoh's heart generally occur after Pharaoh had first hardened his own heart. The fact Pharaoh hardened his heart was a sin (Ex. 9:34), and yet God encouraged him in this. God offered Pharaoh a way of escape after each of the plagues; all he had to do was to agree to let Israel go. But the conditions got tougher the longer he resisted God's demand: he finally had to not only let Israel go, but also provide them with sacrifices (Ex. 10:25). Likewise when Nebuchadnezzar lifted his heart up, God hardened it (Dan. 5:20).


Exo 9:8 Yahweh said to Moses and to Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh-
"The ashes of the furnace" which created the plague of boils (Ex. 9:8) may have been a reference to the furnaces used for the brick kilns, where the Hebrews were made to slave away making bricks. The result of this abuse was to come down upon the Egyptians as boils (Ex. 9:9). Egypt is therefore likened to a furnace of oppression to Israel (Dt. 4:20; Jer. 11:4). The Lord describes condemnation as being cast into a furnace (Mt. 13:42,50). He is not speaking literally, but rather using the figure of Egypt as a furnace- for the condemnation of the unworthy in God's Israel is to be sent back into Egypt / the world (Hos. 8:13; 9:3), and share their judgments.


Exo 9:9 It shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking out with boils on man and on animal, throughout all the land of Egypt-
This affliction was so terrible that it became known as "the boil of Egypt" (Dt. 28:27). Apostate Israel were to be punished with the judgments of Egypt. It is a theme with God that His apostate people are "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). If their hearts are really with Egypt / the world, then they will share the judgments of this world. The time for separation is now, just as the Egyptians had to identify with Israel if they wished to escape the plagues.


Exo 9:10 They took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward the sky; and it became a boil breaking out with boils on man and on animal-
The plagues upon Egypt form the basis for the vials and seals of Revelation, which speak of judgment to come upon the land of Israel, and feature a furnace with ascending smoke turning into judgments upon the land. See on :9.


Exo 9:11 The magicians couldn’t stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were on the magicians, and on all the Egyptians-
Dt. 28:27 describes this plague in more detail when we read of how it would come upon an apostate Israel, who identified with Egypt in their hearts and ways: "Yahweh will strike you with the boil of Egypt and with the tumours, the scurvy and the itch, from which you cannot be healed".


Exo 9:12 Yahweh hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he didn’t listen to them, as Yahweh had spoken to Moses-
The same Hebrew words used of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart occur in a positive context- for God also hardens or strengthens the hearts of the righteous (Ps. 27:14; Is. 35:4). Indeed, Is. 35:4 speaks of how the righteous shouldn’t have a weak or [Heb.] ‘fluid’ heart, but rather a hardened one. Clearly enough, God solidifies human attitudes, one way or the other, through the work of His Spirit upon our spirit. This is a sobering thought- for He is prepared to confirm a person in their weak thinking. But on the other hand, even the weakest basic intention towards righteousness is solidified by Him too.

When Paul insists that God hardened Pharaoh's heart (Rom. 9:14-18), he is not only repeating the Biblical record (Ex. 9:12,16; 33:19), but he is alluding to the way that the Jewish Book of Jubilees claimed that Mastema [the supposed personal Satan] and not God hardened Pharaoh's heart.

 
Exo 9:13 Yahweh said to Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and tell him, ‘This is what Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let My people go, that they may serve Me-
"Serve Me" could refer specifically to the initial request to keep a feast to Yahweh. But the call was for Israel to be allowed to change masters, from Pharaoh to Yahweh. They changed masters when they crossed the Red Sea, just as Paul says happens when we are baptized (Rom. 6). And the Red Sea crossing represented baptism into Jesus (1 Cor. 10:1,2). Like us, Israel were not radically free to do as they pleased. What happened was that they changed masters; hence the appeal to Pharaoh to let God's people go, that they may serve Him rather than Pharaoh. We too will only find ultimate freedom through this servitude to God's ways, and will finally emerge into the radical liberty of the children of God in the Kingdom age (Rom. 8:21).

There is a much repeated characteristic of God's servants: that they 'rose up early in the morning' and did God's work. In each of the following passages, this phrase is clearly not an idiom; rather does it have an evidently literal meaning: Abraham (Gen. 19:27; 21:14; 22:3); Jacob (Gen. 28:18); Job (1:5); Moses (Ex. 8:20; 9:13; 24:4; 34:4); Joshua (Josh. 3:1; 6:12; 7:16; 8:10); Gideon (Jud. 6:38; 7:1). This is quite an impressive list, numerically. This can be a figure for being zealous (Ps. 127:2; Pr. 27:14; Song 7:12; Is. 5:11; Zeph. 3:7). God Himself rises up early in His zeal to save and bring back His wayward people (Jer. 7:13,25; 11:7; 25:3,4; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:14,15; 44:4). Yet the above examples all show that men literally rose up early in their service to God; this was an expression of their zeal for God, in response to His zeal for us. I'm not suggesting that zeal for God is reflected by rising early rather than staying up late; but it wouldn't be too much to suggest that if we are men of mission, we won't waste our hours in bed. Get up when you wake up.


Exo 9:14 For this time I will send all My plagues against your heart, against your officials, and against your people; that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth-
As Pharaoh’s heart was plagued (Ex. 9:14), so was Israel’s (1 Kings 8:38); as Egypt was a reed, so were Israel (1 Kings 14:15). As Pharaoh-hophra was given into the hand of his enemies, so would Israel be (Jer. 44:30). She would be  “Condemned with the world...”. Time and again the prophets describe the judgments to fall upon Israel in the same terms as they speak of the condemnations of the surrounding nations. The message was clear: rejected Israel would be treated as Gentiles. Thus Joel describes the locust invasion of Israel in the language of locusts covering the face of Egypt (Joel 2:2,20 = Ex. 10:14,15,19). Israel’s hardness of heart is explicitly likened to that of Pharaoh (1 Sam. 6:6); as the Egyptians were drowned, so would Israel be (Am. 9:5-8).

The plagues upon Pharaoh were to bring him to repentance, although his lack of response to them led him to only harden his heart. Consider how carefully they were planned- these were not random acts of wrath from an offended Deity. They are in three cycles. First: Blood, frogs, gnats; second cycle: Flies, pest, boils; third cycle: Hail, locusts, darkness, and each cycle begins in the same way- the first plague of each cycle has Moses standing before Pharaoh in the morning, and warning him; the second plague of each cycle has Moses simply coming to Pharaoh and warning him; and the third plague in each cycle has no warning.  My simple point is that a huge amount of thought went into the plagues, and the careful planning behind them was surely intended to appeal to Pharaoh and convict him that a God far mightier than himself or his deities was at work in his life.

Exo 9:15 For now I would have stretched out My hand, and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth-
This seems to imply that the only reason God had not immediately "cut off" Pharaoh was because He so wished him to repent (:14). Finally at the Red Sea, the unbaptized Egyptians were "cut off" (Ex. 9:15); "all flesh" that was not baptized into the Christ-ark was "cut off" (Gen. 9:15). "The uncircumcised man child... that soul shall be cut off" (Gen. 17:14). The New Testament matches this by the oft repeated teaching that outside of Christ, there can be no salvation.

To be caught up in the downward spiral [as we all are at times] doesn't mean that there's no way out. The hearts of Pharaoh's servants were hardened (Ex. 10:1 cp. Ex. 9:34), and yet they did in fact soften when they beg Pharaoh to let Israel go (Ex. 10:7; 11:8). Yet each refusal of Pharaoh to soften his heart made it harder for him to soften it the next time the opportunity was presented. Conditional language is always used about Pharaoh-if he were to refuse to release Israel, more plagues would happen (Ex. 8:2; 9:2; 10:4 cp. 8:21; 4:23 RSV). In fact God wanted Pharaoh to come to realize that there is none like Yahweh in all the earth- and that was actually why He did not immediately kill Pharaoh, but rather appealed to him through the plagues. That's how I read the enigmatic Ex. 9:15: "For now I should have put forth my hand, and smitten thee... and thou hadst been cut off from the earth". Fretheim paraphrases this: "If I had not had the intention of your knowing that there is none like me in all the earth... then I should have put forth my hand and cut you off from the earth. This is what you have deserved". The hardening of Pharaoh's heart didn't mean that he was thereby bound to chose wrongly each time. Indeed, the plagues themselves were designed to warn Pharaoh and thereby appeal to him to change, in order to avoid worse plagues.


Exo 9:16 but indeed for this cause I have raised you up: to show in you My power, and that My name may be declared throughout all the earth-
"The earth" specifically refers to the land / eretz promised to Abraham. Abraham’s seed were brought out of Egypt in order to inherit the earth / land promised to them. Thus the Name was declared in all the earth due to the exodus- i.e. throughout the whole land promised to Abraham. Rahab etc. heard about it, but not the whole planet (Josh. 4:23,24). They were brought into the land, but reminded in Ex. 19:5 that “all the earth is mine”. This may refer to the whole planet, but surely it has special reference to the land? In one sense, all nations are Yahweh’s, and yet He has also chosen Israel as His special people. And so it is with the earth / land of Israel.

These words are cited in Rom. 9:17 to explain how even in the lives of those who will not ultimately be saved, there is a saving purpose- that the Name might be declared in all the earth. And that phrase is associated with descriptions of the future Kingdom of God upon earth (Dt. 28:10; 1 Kings 8:43; Ps. 66:4; 83:18; 102:15; Zech. 14:9). Yahweh's Name was declared to Moses in terms of a declaration of His attributes, and in a sense it was declared throughout the earth / land of Egypt through the plagues and judgments. But ultimately the condemnation of sinners will lead to this happening on a global scale. Again we learn that God's judgments are always intended to ultimately save someone, even if those experiencing the judgments will not themselves be saved (Is. 26:9).


Exo 9:17 as you still exalt yourself against My people, that you won’t let them go-
Pharaoh was exalting himself against God, but attitudes to God's people are taken as attitudes to Him. It's why we can't claim to love God if we don't love His people. "Won't let them go" is the language used of Babylon's reason for destruction: "The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast;  they refused to let them go" (Jer. 50:33). Similarly Babylon is described as not opening "the house of the prisoners" (Is. 14:17). Biblical history continually interconnects, demonstrating that the same Divine hand has worked throughout history, and likewise works in our lives according to the same style. See on Ex. 1:7; 15:21.


Exo 9:18 Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as has not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now-
The specification of the time was surely in order to give Pharaoh and his courtiers a chance to repent.


Exo 9:19 Now therefore command that all of your livestock and all that you have in the field be brought into shelter. Every man and animal that is found in the field, and isn’t brought home, the hail shall come down on them, and they shall die’-
There is increasing opportunity given for response to God's word of judgment. They had time to repent (:18), and now the opportunity to show their faith in Yahweh's word.


Exo 9:20 Those who feared the word of Yahweh among the servants of Pharaoh made their servants and their livestock flee into the houses-
Fearing the word of Yahweh is associated with entering covenant with Him (Dt. 4:10; 17:19; 28:58). The hint may be that these people then showed their commitment to the covenant by leaving Egypt with Israel.


Exo 9:21 Whoever didn’t respect the word of Yahweh left his servants and his livestock in the field-
Zech. 6:12 says that later God's people hardened their hearts and didn't respect Yahweh's word (s.w.). Their apostacy is so often described in the language of Egypt. For that was where their hearts were. God's apostate people act as Egypt / the world and are judged as the world / Egypt..


Exo 9:22 Yahweh said to Moses, Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man, and on animal, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt-
The exceeding great plague of hail was one of the plagues which lead to Israel’s Passover deliverance (Ex. 9:22), and yet this is the language of the last days (Rev. 16:21)- as if there will again be a Passover deliverance for God’s people, heralded by the pouring out of plagues upon those who persecute them. The plagues of Revelation upon the land of Israel are based upon those upon Egypt. See on :21.


Exo 9:23 Moses stretched out his rod toward the heavens, and Yahweh sent thunder, hail, and lightning flashed down to the earth. Yahweh rained hail on the land of Egypt-
The same word for "stretched out" is used of how Yahweh would stretch forth His hand upon His land of Israel (Ez. 14:13). As noted on :21,22, the language of Egypt's judgment is used about that of an apostate Israel, because they acted as Egypt and returned there in their hearts. This is why the rejected of the new Israel will simply be sent back into the world which they loved, and be "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32).


Exo 9:24 So there was very severe hail, and lightning mixed with the hail, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation-
This is the language of the cherubim in Ez. 1:4, where the same words are used for the "great cloud, with a fire taking hold of itself". The visible sight of this would have been terrifying, and yet it was to be seen as a manifestation of the cherubim to save Israel and deliver them from captivity- which is the very context of the vision of Ez. 1:4 which uses identical language.


Exo 9:25 The hail struck throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and animal; and the hail struck every herb of the field, and broke every tree of the field-
The breaking of trees is a phrase which appears to refer to the breaking of twigs and branches, meaning there would be no fruit on them.

Exo 9:26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail-
The 'setting apart' of Israel from Egypt is a major theme (Ex. 8:22; 9:4; 11:7 "put a difference"). It was part of a 'sanctifying' of Israel for priestly service to Yahweh as a nation, as well as a lesson for Egypt that the only way to salvation was through separation from their own people and culture, and joining the people of God. We marvel at the multi functional way in which God works. The same word is used to describe how God "has set apart him that is Godly for Himself" (Ps. 4:3); even though Israel were far from being Godly. And it is used of God's special grace, 'set apart', a grace known by no other people (Ps. 17:7). The word is used in this sense in Ex. 33:16, where Moses reasons that it is God's grace and the visible presence of that grace which is what sets apart Israel from all other peoples. And that is true to this day. God's grace is what is the lead and distinguishing characteristic of His way from all other religions. It is the experience of that grace which makes us distinct from all others who have not claimed it for themselves. And it all began with God 'setting apart' a sinful, idolatrous Israel from the Egyptians around them, all by grace, seeing they were largely no better than Egypt.


Exo 9:27 Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, I have sinned this time. Yahweh is righteous, and I and my people are wicked-
Confession of sin requires the appreciation that not only have we sinned, but that "Yahweh is righteous". Pharaoh really seems to 'get there' with these words. But he slipped back into the hardness of heart and spiritual insensitivity which was to be his condemnation.


Exo 9:28 Pray to Yahweh; for there has been enough of mighty thunderings and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer-
Although Pharaoh has come to a very fine expression of repentance (:27), he still asks Moses to pray for him to Yahweh- rather than praying himself. This desire to have someone else as an interface between us and God is a major abiding theme. Israel themselves wanted Moses as an intercessor, rather than to forge an independent relationship with God.

Exo 9:29 Moses said to him, As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands to Yahweh. The thunders shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that you may know that the earth is Yahweh’s-
Let's not read these records as implying that Moses simply uttered a few words to God, waved a wand- and then each of the plagues was lifted. There was an element of real fervency in Moses' prayers- which may well be lacking in ours. This is surely an example of genuinely praying for our enemies (perhaps it is the Old Testament source of Christ's words in Mt.5:44?). The intention as ever was to that Pharaoh might realize that the earth / land, specifically of Egypt, was Yahweh's- not Pharaoh's, and not the territory of the gods he worshipped.


Exo 9:30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you don’t yet fear Yahweh God-
Despite his fine expression of repentance, Moses knew that this was surface level. There is apparent repentance, and real repentance. But he lived in hope of Pharaoh's repentance- "you don't yet fear Yahweh". Here for all time we are set an example of hopefulness in witness. If Yahweh and Moses could hope for Pharaoh's conversion, so can we towards all those we witness to.

Some time, read through the book of Deuteronomy in one or two sessions. You'll see many themes of Moses in Deuteronomy. It really shows how Moses felt towards Israel, and how the Lord Jesus feels towards us, and especially how he felt towards us just before his death. For this is what the whole book prefigures. "Love" and the idea of love occurs far more in Deuteronomy than in the other books of the Law. "Fear the Lord your God" of Ex. 9:30; Lev. 19:14,32; 25:17 becomes "love the Lord your God" in Deuteronomy (Dt. 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1; 19:9; 30:6,16,20). There are 23 references to not hating in Deuteronomy, compared to only 5 in Ex. - Num.; Moses saw the danger of bitterness and lack of love. He saw these things as the spiritual cancer they are, in his time of maturity he warned his beloved people against them. His mind was full of them. The LXX uses the word ekklesia eight times in Deuteronomy, but not once in Moses' other words (Dt. 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1,2,3,8; 32:1). Responsibility for the whole family God had redeemed was a mark of Moses; maturity at the end of his life, at the time of Deuteronomy. It is observable that both as a community and as individuals, this will be a sign of our maturity too.


Exo 9:31 The flax and the barley were struck, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom-
Flax was used to make the linen which was so widely used in Egyptian religious practices, and barley was used to make beer and alcoholic drinks used in those practices. So again this was a judgment upon Egypt's gods.


Exo 9:32 But the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they had not grown up-
These were apparently the crops grown in Goshen, where the Israelites were. See on :26. Egypt were being led to realize that salvation was through identifying with Yahweh's people. And the fact a mixed multitude left Egypt with Israel is evidence that some did respond to this.


Exo 9:33 Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands to Yahweh; and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured on the earth-
Again we see the intensity of prayer required for the plagues to be removed. It was far from automatic.


Exo 9:34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants-
This is a case of "Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness" (Is. 26:10). People like this "despise the riches of God’s goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads them to repentance". And so they "treasure up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Rom. 2:4,5). Paul surely wrote this in conscious allusion to Pharaoh, as a representative of all who will ultimately fail of God's grace.

Hebrew tends to reason through placing 'blocks' of ideas are put in opposition to each other, or 'dialectic', in order to come to conclusions. That's why we can read of God hardening Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh hardening his own heart (Ex. 7:3; 8:15). To Greek, step-logic thinkers, that's a worrying contradiction- only because they don't pick up the way that Hebrew reasoning involves these kinds of statements being put in opposition to each other, so that through the dialectic process we come to understand what is meant.


Exo 9:35 The heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he didn’t let the children of Israel go, just as Yahweh had spoken through Moses-
The phrase "let go" is often used of how God let Israel go from Egypt, overruling how the wicked Pharaoh refused to let the people go. The term is used later in the Mosaic legislation; the way Israel had been "let go" from Egypt was to determine how they "let go" others from slavery (Dt. 15:12,13,18); their own experience of redemption was to influence how they released others. Just as ours should. The letting go of the scapegoat into the wilderness was likewise to remind them of how they had been let go from Egypt into the wilderness without being slain for their sins- all by grace (Lev. 14:7,53; 16:10,21,22,26).