The Mighty Acts of God were many and profound in destroying Egypt-the super power of the day. At no other time in history were so many catastrophic events brought upon a single nation. And the man most instrumental in this destruction was Moses. What was the reason Egypt was destroyed? The answer: The Egyptians refused to free the people of Israel, whom they had enslaved.
Much earlier, because of famine, the descendants of Israel (Jacob), had gone to Egypt to reside, but God promised He would bring Israel’s descendants up from the land of Egypt, back to the land He had promised for their inheritance-the land of Canaan (Gen. 46:2-4). In the meantime, the children of Israel experienced a huge population explosion, so much so that the Egyptians began to regard them as a threat.
Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour. (Ex. 1:8-14)
The background of Moses has been covered in the series, Great Men of the Old Testament. The interested reader can see the details there. Moses had fled to the land of Midian, and it was there God called him for the task of delivering Israel. “And it came to pass in process of time . . . the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them” (Ex. 2:23-25). It was now time for God to take a hand. God manifested himself to Moses in an unusual way.
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. (Ex. 3:1-4)
Moses knew this was God who was speaking. “And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God” (vv. 5-6).
Then God told him:
. . . I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey . . . . “Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. (Ex. 3:7-8, 10)
Moses had doubts that the people of Israel would accept him. He did not want the job, so he made excuses. God showed him what kind of power He would manifest through him.
And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. (Ex. 4:2-8)
Reluctantly, Moses accepted the responsibility. After arriving in Egypt, Moses, along with his brother Aaron, presented themselves before Pharaoh. Pharaoh refused Moses’ request to allow Israel to hold a feast in honor of God. He ordered the Israelites not only to continue the same workload, but also to provide their own straw for the bricks they made (Ex. 5:1-9). The Egyptians multiplied their own destruction when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. He was made more stubborn. God told Moses: ” . . . I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt” (Ex. 7:3). God now began to manifest this power in a mighty way.
He instructed Moses:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. (Ex. 7:19-22)
As we see, Satan was not to be left out of the picture. He inspired the magicians to duplicate this plague. In fact, they did this until the sixth plague when they were overcome by the intensity of the punishment. The duplication by the magicians had no effect in preventing the destruction of the land, but it did serve to harden Pharaoh’s resolve not to free the Israelites.
Next, Moses was instructed to bring on a plague of frogs.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. (Ex. 8:1-7)
Pharaoh asked Moses to remove the plague, and when at Moses’ request God did so, Pharaoh again refused to relent. “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said” (Ex. 8:15).
God then instructed Moses to bring on another plague.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. (Ex. 8: 16-18)
By now, even the magicians were beginning to concede that these plagues were from God, but Pharaoh refused to listen (v. 19). Moses was then instructed as follows:
And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be. And the LORD did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies. (Ex. 8:20-24)
Pharaoh was now beginning to relent and agreed to allow the Israelites to go to a wilderness place to offer sacrifices to God. But he first wanted this plague stopped. Moses consented. “And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the LORD. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go” (Ex. 8:30-32).
God then brought a deadly pestilence upon all the livestock of Egypt, but not upon those that belonged to the children of Israel.
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. For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 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. 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 . . . . 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. And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. . . . (Ex. 9:1-4, 6-7)
But even this did not change Pharaoh’s mind. ” . . . And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go” (v. 7).
So, now an even worse plague was about to occur. This plague would not be limited to animals, but human beings would suffer also. Not all the animals of Egypt perished in the previous plague, as that plague struck the cattle in the fields (v. 3).
God told Moses:
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. 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. And they took 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. (Ex. 9:8-10)
The magicians could not duplicate this plague and suffered terribly along with the animals and people. “And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians” (v. 11). But even that did not change Pharaoh’s mind. He was as stubborn as ever.
The next plague was directed toward the prosperity of the land.
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. And Moses stretched forth his rod toward 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. 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. 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. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. (Ex. 9:22-26)
Pharaoh again began to have a change of heart and implored Moses to remove this destruction, but as soon as the destruction ceased, Pharaoh once more hardened himself (vv. 27-35). God then sent a plague of locusts to devour anything that was left from the previous destruction (Ex. 10:5).
And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt. (Ex.10:13-15)
Is there any historical evidence outside the Bible that relates such an event? Is there any reference to it in the Egyptian documents? Yes, indeed! A book entitled, Ages in Chaos, published in 1952, pages 22-35, by Immanuel Velikovsky, gives us some details. The author refers to a papyrus containing the words of Ipuwer, which was found near Memphis. The papyrus is presently located in the Museum of Leiden in the Netherlands and is listed as Leiden 344. The papyrus was translated in 1909 and published by Alan H. Gardener under the title, The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden. Gardiner’s viewpoint was that all the internal evidence of the text indicates the historical character of the events. For example, Egypt was in distress, the social system was disorganized, the land was filled with violence, invaders prayed upon the defenseless population, the rich were stripped of all their possessions and slept in the open, and the poor took everything. The papyrus relates a great national disaster. An examination of passages in the text says plague, as well as blood, were found throughout the land, as all the waters were turned to blood. Human beings thirsted after water, and the river stank. It says that hail smote every herb and broke every tree, and that fire mingled with hail ran along the ground consuming gates, columns, and walls. The flax and barley were smitten, but not the wheat and rye as they were not yet grown up. Compare Exodus 9:32. The entire palace was without any revenues, as not a green thing remained in the trees and field.
The next plague the Bible describes is one of total darkness in the land. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” (Ex. 10:21-23). Was this plague mentioned in the Ipuwer papyrus? Yes, it was. The papyrus says that there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt; the land is not light. Even with these events, Pharaoh yet remained recalcitrant.
Then God brought upon Egypt the tenth and final plague.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether . . . . Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. (Ex. 11:1, 4-5)
“And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead” (Ex. 12:29-30).
Does the Ipuwer papyrus refer to this terrible event? Yes, indeed. It states that there was a great cry in Egypt, that he who placed his brother in the ground was everywhere, and that there was not a house where there was not one dead. It even mentions that the prison was ruined, obviously referring to the dead in the prisons. Compare with Exodus 12:29. Velikovsky informs us that this account is not the story of a catastrophe, but an Egyptian version of the plagues. And that while the mutilated papyrus has no explicit reference to the Israelites or their leaders, three facts attest to the Exodus. The first was a revolt of the population. The second was that the “wretched” or “poor men” fled (a reference to the Exodus). The third is that the king perished under unusual circumstances. We will examine this last event shortly.
After this terrible calamity-the death of all the firstborn-Pharaoh finally relented and let Israel go. “And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men” (Ex.12:33). “And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children” (v. 37).
But God was not yet through with Pharaoh.
He said: ” . . . I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so” (Ex. 14:4). By the time the Egyptians caught up with the departing Israelites, they were on the banks of the Red Sea. The Israelites were trapped, and could go no further. “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD” (v. 10).
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Ex. 14:13-14).
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left . . . And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. (Ex. 14: 21-23)
And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses. (vv. 26-31)
With the death of Pharaoh and his army, Egypt’s dominance as a world power was completely broken. Egypt-the super power of the day- was utterly destroyed. This witness of the Mighty Acts of God was manifested to the world of that day. Israel, freed from slavery, was now on its way to the Promised Land. According to Velikovsky, the final outcome of this Egyptian catastrophe was an invasion by foreigners, and Egypt was ruled by another power for many years thereafter.