Chapter 10- Moses and Aaron threaten the Egyptians with a swarm of locusts that will eat all the crops that are left after the hail storm. Pharaoh’s servants encourage him to let the Hebrews go offer their sacrifices; Pharaoh says the men can go, but no children or animals, so the locusts come anyway. Pharaoh asks forgiveness for his sins so the locusts will go away, but he still won’t let all the Hebrews go. The next plague is total darkness for 3 days. Pharaoh agrees to let the people go, but not the animals needed for sacrifices, so there’s no deal. Pharaoh sends Moses away and threatens to kill Moses if he shows his face again.
This business of making deals with Pharaoh has gotten all together too confusing. Take for example verses 10-11, “Then [Pharaoh] said to them, ‘The Lord had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go! Beware, for evil is ahead of you. Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desired.’ And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.” Yeah, any idea what that means? Since the plague happens anyway, I assume this means that no deal was reached, but it sure sounds like Pharaoh said they could go.
Chapter 11- God describes to Moses and Aaron that the final plague shall be the death of the firstborn children and animals of the Egyptians. It will be so bad that the Egyptians will send the Hebrews away for good, not just for the requested 3 days. But, God also says he will continue to harden Pharaoh’s heart.
This chapter is only 10 verses, but there’s a lot packed in here that I feel needs mentioning. It has finally become clear that this is a plan for freeing the slaves, not just getting them a brief vacation. So, as promised back in chapter 3, God has the Hebrews ask their Egyptian neighbors for silver, gold, clothing etc so as to plunder them before leaving.
Verse 3 starts, “And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians” which is how they are able to collect all their neighbors valuables. Are you kidding me? Are we really expected to believe that the Egyptians have endured 9 terrible plagues so far, and they’re totally cool with giving their valuables to the slaves to caused the plagues? How gullible the author of Exodus thinks we are!
The second part of verse 3 says, “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.” When I read that, it struck me that Moses was raised in the household of a Pharaoh…not this particular Pharaoh, but still, that would mean he is familiar with the ways of the royal court. So, why has he been such a coward, so afraid to speak so far? And are the Egyptians so bad a record keeping that the new Pharaoh doesn’t know that this Moses guy is the adopted grandson of the royal family?
Then verse 5 mentions that the firstborn among the Egyptian animals will be killed during the plague. But how in world do the Egyptians have any animals left?!?! They were all killed during the plague in Ex 9:6, then some of the remaining zero animals were killed again in Ex 9:25, and now more of the remaining zero shall die again? Makes me wonder over what kind of time scale these plagues are occurring. Either these plagues are happening over the course of months or years, instead of days and weeks like it seems, or the bible has no freaking clue what it means to kill all of something.
Now that I’m pondering time scale here, I wonder if this story isn’t just an ancient group of people trying to explain natural disasters? If these things happened over the course of years, then all of these could be natural events- maybe an algae bloom turned the water red and undrinkable one year. Then another year there was a bad lice outbreak, another time a bad locust swarm, a few years later a bad hail storm, etc. Darkness could have been an eclipse, death of the livestock could have been an ancient mad-cow type thing. I think I’m on to something here…
And, of course, verse 9 “But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not heed you so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.'” Seriously, God is a show-off bully who is more interested in proving a point than actually helping his people.
Chapter 12- The Passover is instituted. The Hebrews are instructed to prepare a lamb for dinner, and use the lamb’s blood to place markings on their door so that the “Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.” They are also commanded to celebrate this passover meal for generations to come as a reminder of how God brought them out of Egypt. After the death-of-the-firstborn-plague happens, the Egyptians tell the Hebrews to gtfo.
There are very specific instructions given here about how to prepare the lamb, and spread the blood, and cook bread…it seems unnecessarily complicated, but I suppose you do what ya gotta do to keep the murderous mad man out of your house.
The bit about plundering the Egyptians is repeated in this chapter as well, and I’m rethinking my previous comments. I’m still skeptical that the Egyptians favored the Hebrews with gifts, but I could see it as a “take whatever you want, just get the hell out before anyone else dies” kind of thing.
When giving instructions for observing Passover in the future, God makes it clear that only the Hebrews and any foreigners willing to be circumcised are allowed to participate. Makes me wonder about the women…were they not allowed to participate at all? Was female circumcision also required? Maybe a female could participate if all the men in her household were circumcised? Whatever the case, it’s clear yet again that women don’t warrant mentioning.