The Heart of Pharaoh and the Hand of God

This teaching should be paired with this ppt: Exodus 7-10 – Egyptian Gods, showing the various gods of Egypt and how Yahweh was demonstrating his superiority against them.


God’s people have spent 400 years in slavery in Egypt

God has prepared Moses to lead this rescue mission

Now it’s time for one of the great confrontations of history (e.g. March Madness)

See the overview in Exodus 7…

Exodus 7

3 I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.

4 Even then Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you. So I will bring down my fist on Egypt. Then I will rescue my forces—my people, the Israelites—from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment.


  • On the Egyptians
    • The Egyptian people were guilty (like Germany with Hitler)
    • Their oppression of the Jews was blood-thirsty and horrific (slaughtering babies!)
    • Their motive was money
    • They deserved all of this (although most plagues were mere nuisances)
  • Judgment on the “gods” of the Egyptians
    • If Pharaoh let Israel go too soon, the gods of Egypt would have still seemed great to both Israelites and Egyptians
      • g. basketball – losing one game could be a fluke, but losing 20 straight is a different story
    • Instead, he demonstrated the impotence and foolishness of their system


5 When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.”


As a witness

  • To the Egyptians
    • Their immoral behavior was based on buying into the false religion of Egypt
    • God was giving them a chance to change their minds. Many of them did (Ex 12:38 – “mixed multitude”)
    • Others too: Jethro, Rahab, 1 Sam. 4, etc
  • To the Israelites
    • 10:2 – “…that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am Yahweh.”
    • Many had lost faith and turned to worship other gods
    • Little revelation up to this point
    • They also needed to trust in Moses as God’s spokesman


Warm-Up: Staff into Snake

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what Yahweh had commanded them.

Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a serpent!

11 Then Pharaoh called in his own wise men and sorcerers, and these Egyptian magicians did the same thing with their magic.

12 They threw down their staffs, which also became serpents!

But then Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.


E.g. Kung Fu movie


Snake represented Pharaoh and ruling power (See ppt)


13 Pharaoh’s heart, however, remained hard. He still refused to listen, just as Yahweh had predicted.


People who don’t want to believe often find other explanations for the acts of God


14 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn, and he still refuses to let the people go.

15 So go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes down to the river. Be sure to take along the staff that turned into a snake.

16 Then announce to him, ‘Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to tell you, “Let my people go, so they can worship me in the wilderness.” Until now, you have refused to listen to him.

17 So this is what Yahweh says: “I will show you that I am Yahweh.”

Look! I will strike the water of the Nile with this staff in my hand, and the river will turn to blood.

#1 Nile Turns To Blood

Is this naturalistic? Probably not.

Ex. 7:19 – …all its rivers, canals, ponds, and all the reservoirs… even the water stored in wooden bowls and stone pots.


What does it mean?

  • Yahweh is superior to Egyptian “gods” (see ppt)
  • Also a reminder of their past cruelty (remember the babies in the river?)


20 So Moses and Aaron did just as Yahweh commanded them. As Pharaoh and all of his officials watched, Aaron raised his staff and struck the water of the Nile. Suddenly, the whole river turned to blood!

22 But again the magicians of Egypt used their magic, and they, too, turned water into blood.

So Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as Yahweh had predicted.

23 Pharaoh returned to his palace and put the whole thing out of his mind. 24 Then all the Egyptians dug along the riverbank to find drinking water, for they couldn’t drink the water from the Nile.


All Pharaoh missed was his morning bath


25 Seven days passed from the time Yahweh struck the Nile.

#2 Frogs

Exodus 8

1 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Go back to Pharaoh and announce to him,

‘This is what Yahweh says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.

2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs across your entire land.


Frogs symbolized fruitfulness and new life (even resurrection). One of the oldest fertility cults in Egypt

God says, you want frog fertility?


3 The Nile River will swarm with frogs. They will come up out of the river and into your palace, even into your bedroom and onto your bed!

They will enter the houses of your officials and your people. They will even jump into your ovens and your kneading bowls.

4 Frogs will jump on you, your people, and all your officials.’ ”


This one would affect Pharaoh. Imagine rolling over in bed and squishing a frog


6 So Aaron raised his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs came up and covered the whole land!

7 But the magicians were able to do the same thing with their magic. They, too, caused frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.

8 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and begged, “Plead with Yahweh to take the frogs away from me and my people. I will let your people go, so they can offer sacrifices to Yahweh.”


9 “You set the time!” Moses replied… [so it’s clearly not just a coincidence]


13 And Yahweh did just what Moses had predicted. The frogs in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields all died.

14 The Egyptians piled them into great heaps, and a terrible stench filled the land.


All the frog plows were out trying to clear the roads. Peoples cars getting stuck in the frogs. Kids were out in the front yard having frog-ball fights, making a frog man.


15 But when Pharaoh saw that relief had come, he became stubborn. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as Yahweh had predicted.


#3 Mosquitoes

16 So Yahweh said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Raise your staff and strike the ground.

The dust will turn into swarms of gnats throughout the land of Egypt.’”


gnats = “virtually any two-winged biting insect, including mosquitoes” (Stuart, NAC)


Geb, God of the earth. Because he’s striking the dust and it’s flying up and turning into mosquitos



18 Pharaoh’s magicians tried to do the same thing with their secret arts, but this time they failed…

19 “This is the finger of God!” the magicians exclaimed to Pharaoh.

But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He wouldn’t listen to them, just as Yahweh had predicted.


#4 Swarming Insects

20 Then Yahweh told Moses, “Get up early in the morning and stand in Pharaoh’s way as he goes down to the river. Say to him, ‘This is what Yahweh says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.

21 If you refuse, then I will send swarms of flies on you, your officials, your people, and all the houses. The Egyptian homes will be filled with flies, and the ground will be covered with them.


Includes biting and non-biting (Stuart, NAC)



Khepri, Manifestation of Ra, pushed the sun each day. Also associated with resurrection, because it laid its eggs in a dung ball and rolled it around until it produced a “new creation”


22 But this time I will spare the region of Goshen, where my people live. No flies will be found there.




22b Then you will know that I am Yahweh and that I am present even in the heart of your land.


Before the invention of the window screen


28 “All right, go ahead,” Pharaoh replied. “I will let you go into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to Yahweh your God. But don’t go too far away. Now hurry and pray for me.”


32 But Pharaoh again became stubborn and refused to let the people go.

#5 Livestock Death

Exodus 9

1 “Go back to Pharaoh,” Yahweh commanded Moses.

“Tell him, ‘This is what Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.

2 If you continue to hold them and refuse to let them go,

3 the hand of Yahweh will strike all your livestock—your horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats—with a deadly plague.


Domesticated animals were enormously valuable assets

Several gods related to livestock

Here is one: Hathor = cow-headed love goddess (PPT)


6 And Yahweh did just as he had said. The next morning all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but the Israelites didn’t lose a single animal.


Should read “all sorts of livestock”


#6 Boils

8 Then Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a brick kiln, and have Moses toss it into the air while Pharaoh watches.

9 The ashes will spread like fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, causing festering boils to break out on people and animals throughout the land.”


(PPT – boil pictures & Egyptian goddess, Isis)

Isis: the mother goddess of life and medicine. One of the oldest goddesses in ancient Egypt, mother of many gods and even the Pharaoh


10 So they took soot from a brick kiln and went and stood before Pharaoh. As Pharaoh watched, Moses threw the soot into the air, and boils broke out on people and animals alike.


Soot was another reminder of their past oppression of Israel


11 Even the magicians were unable to stand before Moses, because the boils had broken out on them and all the Egyptians.

12 But Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and just as Yahweh had predicted to Moses, Pharaoh refused to listen.


Hardened = strengthened


#7 Hail

God warns Pharaoh:


14 If you don’t {listen}, I will send more plagues [“the full force of my plagues”] on you and your officials and your people. Then you will know that there is no one like me in all the earth.

15 By now I could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth.


The previous plagues were examples of God showing restraint


16 But I have spared you for a purpose—to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth.


An important truth:

  • Everyone’s life will ultimately show God’s power and spread God’s fame
  • Will you do it as a model or as a warning?


18 Tomorrow at this time I will send a hailstorm more devastating than any in all the history of Egypt.



Nut, goddess of the sky: As goddess of the sky, she should have been able to control what fell out of it



“Why, Nut, Why! Oh Nut, please hear our cries. If there really is a Nut in heaven, we beg you.” Many Egyptians lost their faith in Nut that day.


20 Some of Pharaoh’s officials were afraid because of what Yahweh had said. They quickly brought their servants and livestock in from the fields.

21 But those who paid no attention to the word of Yahweh left theirs out in the open.


Have to explain to your wife why the bulls are in the living room


Q: What are some different things that you think the Egyptians might be thinking at this point?

Q: What do you think Pharaoh is thinking? What factors are weighing on his decision whether or not to yield to God’s demands?


25 It left all of Egypt in ruins. The hail struck down everything in the open field—people, animals, and plants alike. Even the trees were destroyed.


27 Then Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he confessed. “Yahweh is the righteous one, and my people and I are wrong.

28 Please beg Yahweh to end this terrifying thunder and hail.

We’ve had enough. I will let you go; you don’t need to stay any longer.”


34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again made his heart stubborn.

35 Because his heart was hard [strong], Pharaoh refused to let the people leave, just as Yahweh had predicted through Moses.

Exodus 10

1 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Return to Pharaoh and make your demands again.

I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can display my miraculous signs among them.


God finally makes Pharaoh’s heart “stubborn” From now on, God “strengthens” Pharaoh’s heart


#8 Locusts

3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, says:

How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?

Let my people go, so they can worship me.


“How long” indeed. Some of you need to consider this question.


4 If you refuse, watch out! For tomorrow I will bring a swarm of locusts on your country.




8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “All right,” he told them, “go and worship Yahweh your God. But who exactly will be going with you?”

9 Moses replied, “We will all go—young and old, our sons and daughters, and our flocks and herds. We must all join together in celebrating a festival to Yahweh.”

10 Pharaoh retorted, “Yahweh will certainly need to be with you if I let you take your little ones! I can see through your evil plan.

11 Never! Only the men may go and worship Yahweh, since that is what you requested.”

And Pharaoh threw them out of the palace.


14 And the locusts swarmed over the whole land of Egypt, settling in dense swarms from one end of the country to the other.

It was the worst locust plague in Egyptian history, and there has never been another one like it.


16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron.

“I have sinned against Yahweh your God and against you,” he confessed.

17 “Forgive my sin, just this once, and plead with Yahweh your God to take away this death from me.”


20 But Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart again, so he refused to let the people go.

#9 Darkness

21 Then Yahweh said to Moses, “Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.”



Ra, God of the Sun – One of the greatest gods in Egypt next to Pharaoh. Pharaoh called himself “son of the sun”


Hymn to Ra: (Adolph Erman, The Ancient Egyptians, 289)

Thou art Ra, and thou reachest unto their end and subduest them for thy dear son [the Pharaoh].

Thou art afar, yet are thy rays upon the earth…


23 During all that time the people could not see each other, and no one moved.

But there was light as usual where the people of Israel lived.

24 Finally, Pharaoh called for Moses. “Go and worship Yahweh,” he said.

“But leave your flocks and herds here. You may even take your little ones with you.”

25 “No,” Moses said, “you must provide us with animals for sacrifices and burnt offerings to Yahweh our God.

26 All our livestock must go with us, too; not a hoof can be left behind.

We must choose our sacrifices for Yahweh our God from among these animals.

And we won’t know how we are to worship Yahweh until we get there.”

27 But Yahweh hardened Pharaoh’s heart once more, and he would not let them go.

28 “Get out of here!” Pharaoh shouted at Moses.

“I’m warning you. Never come back to see me again!

The day you see my face, you will die!”

29 “Very well,” Moses replied.

“I will never see your face again.”


It’s becoming increasingly clear that Yahweh is real, and that the gods of Egypt are not

But too few hearts are changing

  • Heb 3:15 – Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…


Yahweh is the sovereign God of the plagues

He’s also the One who became human and let people spit in His face

And then torture Him to death

You can’t appreciate God’s love and mercy until you understand His power