For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

9:1.  “Then the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.”


9:2.  “For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still,”


9:3.  “Behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.”


“...murrain” means deadly pestilence: great plague: evil disease.


9:4.  “And the Lord shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel.”


As Pharaoh’s rebellion continued, the severity of the plagues increased: a deadly disease would destroy many of the Egyptians’ domestic animals; and as proof that the slaughter was at the hand of God, only the Egyptians’ animals would die, but not one of those belonging to the Hebrews.


It is to be noted also that the plague was to be specifically upon the Egyptian cattle that were “in the field,” the implication being that those in the houses would be spared, thus explaining the further mention of Egyptian cattle in verses 10 and 20-21.


9:5.  “And the Lord appointed a set time, saying, Tomorrow the Lord shall do this thing in the land.”


As proof that He was the Author of the plague, God declared when the blow would fall: it would be on the morrow.


9:6.  “And the Lord did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.”


The exact fulfillment of His word was incontrovertible proof that He Who had spoken was the omnipotent, omniscient Jehovah.


9:7.  “And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead.  And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.”


The hardening of the heart against God is concomitant with increased impairment of ability to reason correctly.  Pharaoh ought to have known by then that the One whose will he opposed was omnipotent.


9:8.  “And the Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.”


9:9.  “And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.”


“...blain” is also translated a festering burning boil that breaks out into pustules.


9:10.  “And they took the ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.”


9:11.  “And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.”


This further miracle should have convinced Pharaoh that he was fighting against the Almighty, and that his best course was to repent and submit to God’s will, but he had carried rebellion to the point of no return, so that with hardened heart he plunged on to his own destruction, as do all who resist the striving of the Holy Spirit until He ceases to strive, leaving the rebel to proceed to eternal ruin.


9:12.  “And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had spoken unto Moses.”


Again, this has to be understood in the light of the knowledge that God, as already noted, does not compel men either to sin or to repent and obey Him. He has given man a free will with which to choose eternal life or eternal damnation, but as is His right, He has placed a limit on the time during which He offers that choice.  Beyond that point the man is either irrevocably on his way to heaven through faith in Christ as Savior, or irrevocably on his way to hell and the lake of fire, through failure to exercise that saving faith. 


God permitted Pharaoh to make a choice: to release the Hebrews, and save himself, or to continue their enslavement, and thus ensure his own further chastisement at the hand of God.


9:13.  “And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.”


9:14.  “For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart (person or body), and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.”


9:15.  “For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.”


God uttered this dire pronouncement on the basis of His own foreknowledge. He knew that Pharaoh would never repent, but would continue in rebellion, to his own destruction, just as He foreknows what each man will do in response to the Gospel.  Divine foreknowledge however, is not to be confused with predestination. As noted already, He leaves each man free to choose his own eternal destination, even though by His omniscience He foreknows what that choice will be.


9:16.  “And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”


This may not be construed as Pharaoh’s having been predestinated to destruction without freedom of choice on his part.  God’s power would have been demonstrated no less in his conversion than in his destruction.  And so is it with every man.  God’s power is displayed no less in the lifting up of the believer to eternal bliss in heaven, than in the banishment of the unbeliever to eternal torment in hell and the lake of fire.


What utter folly then, to glorify God by rejecting Christ, rather than in accepting Him as Savior and Lord!


9:17.  “As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?”


This verse is also translated, “So thou wouldst still play the tyrant with my people...?  “So you still think you are so great, do you, and defy My power?”


9:18.  “Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.”


Again the validity of the threat would be confirmed by God’s causing the plague to fall at the time of His appointment: it would be on the morrow, so that Pharaoh could not mistake it for mere chance circumstance; and it is instructive to note that the same evidence will accompany each judgment that will devastate the Tribulation age earth: they have all been foretold already.


9:19.  “Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.”


Even in judgment God remembers mercy.  Pharaoh’s repentance would have eliminated the need of the judgment; but even if he refused to repent, those who feared God could save themselves and their cattle by believing and obeying God’s instructions.  And so is it still.  The warning and the remedy announced to Pharaoh typify the Gospel, for it too is the announcement of coming judgment, and of a way of escape: trust in Christ as Savior.  The field represents the world, see Matthew 13:38, “The field is the world....”


9:20.  “He that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses:”


Clearly the previous plagues had awakened at least some of Pharaoh’s servants, for they heeded the warning, and brought home their own servants and cattle; the counterparts of those wise servants being those who today believe the Gospel and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. 


It is to be noted that fulfilled prophecy is the counterpart of the plagues that fell upon Egypt, for only a fool will reject such evidence, see, for example 2 Peter 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.”


Few biblically instructed believers will fail to see in the houses types of today’s local churches.


9:21.  “And he that regarded not the word of the Lord left his servants and his cattle in the field.”


Those who disobeyed the warning represent those who today refuse to believe the warning pronounced in the Gospel, and they will just as surely perish as did their OT counterparts.


9:22.  “And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.”


The interval of grace had ended.  The time of judgment had come; and so is it in regard to today’s world.  All the signs relative to the rapture (removal) of the Church to heaven, have been fulfilled.  It could occur today, leaving only a little interval of unspecified duration before the seven-year Tribulation begins, the final three and a half years of that era being the Great Tribulation whose end will find the world reduced to a devastated ruin, typified in the Egypt desolated by the plagues of Moses’ day.


9:23.  “And Moses stretched forth his rod towards heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt.”


The fire was most likely lightning that streaked along the ground.


9:24.  “So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.”


The lightning flashing in the midst of the hail was worse than anything that had ever been seen in Egypt, and must certainly have struck terror into the hearts of the people.


9:25.  “And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.”


The devastation described here would indicate that the hailstones were of phenomenal size since they destroyed not only the smaller plants, but splintered or shattered also even the trees.


9:26.  “Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.”


The exemption of the land of Goshen from damage must surely also have convinced the Egyptians that this destruction was from God, and wasn’t just a quirk of nature.


9:27.  “And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked.”


Many another man has also been willing to admit that he is a sinner, but that confession, apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior from the terrible consequences of sin, is worthless.  Pharaoh was willing to admit to wrongdoing, but he wasn’t willing to repent and obey God.


9:28.  “Intreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.”


Others too, in the throes of adversity, have made promises to God, only to break them as soon as the trouble has passed, not realizing that the affliction was intended by Him to lead them to “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” Acts 20:21, it being written also that, “God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not,” Job 33:14.  Pharaoh was such a man.


9:29.  “And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the Lord; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the Lord’s.”


9:30.  “But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear the Lord God.”


By specifying the time of the miracle Moses was certifying that it was an act of God, and not just a quirk of nature, further proof that he was God’s spokesman being furnished in his knowing that Pharaoh would ignore the warning, and remain rebellious.


9:31.  “And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.”


9:32.  “But the wheat and the rie (rye) were not smitten: for they were not grown up.”


The flax was in blossom, and the barley budded, so that they were destroyed by the hail; but the wheat and the rye had just been sown, and having not yet germinated, were safe in the ground, this Divine discrimination being further evidence of God’s patience and His unwillingness to destroy completely, as it is written, “The Lord ... is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9.  Balancing this fact however, is the warning, “My spirit shall not always strive with man ...” Genesis 6:3, “He, who being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy,” Proverbs 29:1.


9:33.  “And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the Lord: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth.”


9:34.  “And 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.”


9:35.  “And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses.”


Many another like Pharaoh in the toils of adversity, has vowed obedience to God, only to renege on the promise as soon as the affliction ended, but God warns, “When thou vowest a vow unto the Lord, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay,” Ecclesiastes 5:4-5.


“... as the Lord had spoken by Moses,” continues to emphasize that God is omniscient.  He foreknows what each man will do, but that foreknowledge must never be taken to mean that He has overruled man’s will, and has predestinated the events of each individual’s life, or that He has appointed some to be saved, and others lost. That assumption is nullified by the clear word of Scripture, see e.g., comments on verse 32, and again, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life,” John 5:40.

[Exodus 10]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough