From Exodus 10-12
Moses commands Pharaoh on behalf of the LORD one more time to let His people go. This tenth plague however will be the last. The LORD will finally break Pharaoh’s resolve and the Egyptians will pay the Israelites to leave. The leads into instructions for the Passover.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Today’s passage announces the coming of the tenth and last plague. The climax of the plague narrative.
Moses is in Pharaoh’s court (Ex 10.24f) and the LORD is with him, giving him the words to say. The LORD is commanding Pharaoh (through Moses and Aaron) to let the His people go.
11 The LORD said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. (Ex 11.1)
‘One more plague’, ‘he will let you go’. The LORD knows in advance (cf. Ex 4.21-23) that this is the plague that will break Pharaoh’s resolve. He will finally let them go.
2 Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” 3 And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people. (Ex 11.2-3)
‘In the hearing of the people’, ‘Silver, gold, jewelry’. Hebrew bystanders are able to overhear the interaction between Moses and Pharaoh. The earlier plagues have made the Egyptian people fearful of the God of Israel and Moses. But the next plague will be so devastating the Egyptians will willingly pay the Israelites to leave on request.
4 So Moses said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5 and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle.
6 There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. 7 But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’
8 And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. (Ex 11.4-8)
‘Firstborn of Egypt shall die’. Because Pharaoh is considered a son of the sun god Re in Egyptian religion. This plague can be construed as an attack on his power.
‘Distinction’. The LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel (Ex 11.7) and wants the world to know.
How are God’s people distinct from the other nations of this world?
‘Hot anger’. As a result of Pharaoh’s unwillingness to listen, Egypt would experience one further terrible example of God’s power and Moses leaves visibly angry at the stubbornness that will cost so many lives.
9 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”
10 Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land. (Ex 11.10)
‘LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart’. His has been hardened by the LORD so that His ‘wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt’. The LORD does not send the plagues simply because Pharaoh’s heart was hard, but so that He can display his power.
Pharaoh is being used by God.
His actions have been predestined long ago so that God can reveal his power and rescue his people.
Story of Israel
‘The Drama of the departure from Egypt gives way to what seems like a liturgical interlude. But, as noted above, this is much more than an aside or an intrusion of legal, ritualistic mumbo jumbo. It is the institution of a powerful, everlasting observance whereby God’s love for his people Israel will be remembered—indeed, reenacted—until the end of time. These verses go into considerable detail concerning the Passover meal and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the week-long festival that follows Passover after the Israelites have settled in the land.’ (Enns, P., 2000. Exodus, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)
Story of Jesus
The whole story of the Exodus and Passover is repeated again in the New Testament. This time it revolves around Jesus. Jesus is the new Passover lamb. Through his death on the cross God has called a new nation into being. Risen to new life he rules over this nation as its king.
17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ” 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. …
26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Mt 26.17-19, 26-29)
Just like the Passover meal, we Christians are called to remember his body and blood as the moment when he delivered us from slavery into his kingdom.
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