New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

9:14 "For I will at this time send all My plagues upon thine (Pharaoh's) heart, and upon thy servants...". The plagues were physically sent forth in the sense that  they were caused by the "Angels of evil" which were "sent among them" (Ps. 78:49). The Angels were therefore literally sent from God with the plagues. It seems that great stress is placed in Scripture on the Angels physically moving through space, both on the earth and between Heaven and earth, in order to fulfil their tasks, rather than being static in Heaven or earth and bringing things about by just willing them to happen. See on Gen. 18:10.

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, 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. Thus:

First cycle

Second Cycle

Third Cycle


1.       Blood

4. Flies

7. Hail

Warning: Moses stands before Pharaoh in the morning

2.       Frogs

5. Pest

8. Locusts

Warning: Moses comes before Pharaoh

3.       Gnats

6. Boils

9. Darkness

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.


9:28,29 Let's not read those records as implying that Moses simply uttered a few words to God, 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?).