PLAGUE

Different versions of the Bible use a variety of words to describe the many disasters, plagues, diseases and sicknesses that afflict people (e.g. Exod 8:2; 9:3; 1 Kings 8:37; Ps 91:6,10; Jer 14:12; Luke 7:21; 21:11; see also DISEASE). The ten plagues of Egypt were judgments of God on the stubborn nation and its king. Both people and king were bitterly opposed to Yahweh, the God of Israel, and were devoted followers of Yahweh’s real enemies, the Egyptian gods (Exod 9:27; 12:12). These were gods of nature and were therefore connected with the Nile River, upon which Egypt depended entirely for its agricultural life.

God may have used the physical characteristics of the Nile Valley to produce the plagues, but the timing, intensity and extent of the plagues showed clearly that they were judgments sent directly by God (Exod 8:21- 23,31; 9:1-6,22,33). God in his mercy gave advance notice of the plagues and consistently gave Pharaoh the chance to repent; but the longer Pharaoh delayed, the more he increased the judgment that was to fall on him (Exod 9:15-19). The tenth plague was God’s final great judgment on Egypt and at the same time his act of redemption for his people. Previously the Israelites escaped the plagues without having to do anything, but this time their safety depended upon carrying out God’s commands. Their redemption involved faith and obedience (Exod 12:1-13; see PASSOVER).

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