In this chapter we have an account of three more of the plagues of
I. Murrain among the cattle, which was fatal to them,
II. Boils upon man and beast,
III. Hail, with thunder and lightning.
1. Warning is given of this plague,
2. It is inflicted, to their great terror,
3. Pharaoh, in a fright, renews his treaty with Moses, but instantly
breaks his word,
|The Plagues of Egypt.
||B. C. 1491.|
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.
2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them
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
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.
5 And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD
shall do this thing in the land.
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
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.
I. Warning given of another plague, namely, the murrain of beasts. When
Pharaoh's heart was hardened, after he had seemed to relent under the
former plague, then Moses is sent to tell him there is another coming,
to try what that would do towards reviving the impressions of the
former plagues. Thus is the wrath of God revealed from heaven, both in
his word and in his works, against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men.
1. Moses puts Pharaoh in a very fair way to prevent it: Let my
This was still the demand. God will have Israel released; Pharaoh
opposes it, and the trial is, whose word shall stand. See how
jealous God is for his people. When the year of his redeemed has
come, he will give Egypt for their ransom; that kingdom
shall be ruined, rather than Israel shall not be delivered. See how
reasonable God's demands are. Whatever he calls for, it is but his
own: They are my people, therefore let them go.
2. He describes the plague that should come, if he refused,
The hand of the Lord immediately, without the stretching out of
Aaron's hand, is upon the cattle, many of which, some of all
kinds, should die by a sort of pestilence. This was greatly to the loss
of the owners: they had made Israel poor, and now God would make them
poor. Note, The hand of God is to be acknowledged even in the sickness
and death of cattle, or other damage sustained in them; for a
sparrow falls not to the ground without our Father.
3. As an evidence of the special hand of God in it, and of his
particular favour to his own people, he foretels that none of their
cattle should die, though they breathed in the same air and drank of
the same water with the Egyptians' cattle: The Lord shall sever,
Note, When God's judgments are abroad, though they may fall both on the
righteous and the wicked, yet God makes such a distinction that they
are not the same to the one that they are to the other. See
The providence of God is to be acknowledged with thankfulness in the
life of the cattle, for he preserveth man and beast,
4. To make the warning the more remarkable, the time is fixed
To-morrow it shall be done. We know not what any day will bring
forth, and therefore we cannot say what we will do to-morrow, but it is
not so with God.
II. The plague itself inflicted. The cattle died,
Note, The creature is made subject to vanity by the sin of man, being
liable, according to its capacity, both to serve his wickedness and to
share in his punishment, as in the universal deluge.
Pharaoh and the Egyptians sinned; but the sheep, what had they
done? Yet they are plagued. See
For the wickedness of the land, the beasts are consumed. The
Egyptians afterwards, and (some think) now, worshipped their cattle; it
was among them that the Israelites learned to make a god of a calf: in
this therefore the plague here spoken of meets with them. Note, What we
make an idol of it is just with God to remove from us, or embitter to
III. The distinction put between the cattle of the Egyptians and the
Israelites' cattle, according to the word of God: Not one of the
cattle of the Israelites died,
Does God take care of oxen? Yes, he does; his providence extends
itself to the meanest of his creatures. But it is written also for our
sakes, that, trusting in God, and making him our refuge, we may not be
afraid of the pestilence that walketh in darkness, no, not
though thousands fall at our side,
Pharaoh sent to see if the cattle of the Israelites were infected, not
to satisfy his conscience, but only to gratify his curiosity, or with
design, by way of reprisal, to repair his own losses out of their
stocks; and, having no good design in the enquiry, the report brought
to him made no impression upon him, but, on the contrary, his heart was
hardened. Note, To those that are wilfully blind, even those methods
of conviction which are ordained to life prove a savour of death unto
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 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.
10 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.
11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of
the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the
12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened
not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
Observe here, concerning the plague of boils and blains,
I. When they were not wrought upon by the death of their cattle, God
sent a plague that seized their own bodies, and touched them to the
quick. If less judgments do not do their work, God will send greater.
Let us therefore humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and go
forth to meet him in the way of his judgments, that his anger may be
turned away from us.
II. The signal by which this plague was summoned was the sprinkling of
warm ashes from the furnace, towards heaven
which was to signify the heating of the air with such an infection as
should produce in the bodies of the Egyptians sore boils, which would
be both noisome and painful. Immediately upon the scattering of the
ashes, a scalding dew came down out of the air, which blistered
wherever it fell. Note, Sometimes God shows men their sin in their
punishment; they had oppressed Israel in the furnaces, and now the
ashes of the furnace are made as much a terror to them as ever their
task-masters had been to the Israelites.
III. The plague itself was very grievous--a common eruption would be so,
especially to the nice and delicate, but these eruptions were
inflammations, like Job's. This is afterwards called the botch of
as if it were some new disease, never heard of before, and known ever
after by that name, Note, Sores in the body are to be looked upon as
the punishments of sin, and to be hearkened to as calls to
IV. The magicians themselves were struck with these boils,
1. Thus they were punished,
(1.) For helping to harden Pharaoh's heart, as Elymas for seeking to
pervert the right ways of the Lord; God will severely reckon
with those that strengthen the hands of the wicked in their wickedness.
(2.) For pretending to imitate the former plagues, and making
themselves and Pharaoh sport with them. Those that would produce lice
shall, against their wills, produce boils. Note, It is ill jesting with
God's judgments, and more dangerous than playing with fire. Be you
not mockers, lest your bands be made strong.
2. Thus they were shamed in the presence of their admirers. How weak
were their enchantments, which could not so much as secure themselves!
The devil can give no protection to those that are in confederacy with
3. Thus they were driven from the field. Their power was restrained
but they continued to confront Moses, and confirm Pharaoh in his
unbelief, till now, at length, they were forced to retreat, and could
not stand before Moses, to which the apostle refers
(2 Timothy 3:9)
when he says that their folly was made manifest unto all
V. Pharaoh continued obstinate, for now the Lord hardened his
Before, he had hardened his own heart, and resisted the grace of God;
and now God justly gave him up to his own heart's lusts, to a reprobate
mind, and strong delusions, permitting Satan to blind and harden him,
and ordering every thing, henceforward, so as to make him more and more
obstinate. Note, Wilful hardness is commonly punished with judicial
hardness. If men shut their eyes against the light, it is just with God
to close their eyes. Let us dread this as the sorest judgment a man can
be under on this side hell.
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.
14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine
heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou
mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.
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
16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for
to show in thee my power; and that my name may be declared
throughout all the earth.
17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou
wilt not let them go?
18 Behold, to morrow 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.
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.
20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of
Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses:
21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his
servants and his cattle in the field.
I. A general declaration of the wrath of God against Pharaoh for his
obstinacy. Though God has hardened his heart
yet Moses must repeat his applications to him; God suspends his grace
and yet demands obedience, to punish him for requiring bricks of the
children of Israel when he denied them straw. God would likewise show
forth a pattern of long-suffering, and how he waits to be gracious to a
rebellious and gainsaying people Six times the demand had been
made in vain, yet Moses must make it the seventh time: Let my people
A most dreadful message Moses is here ordered to deliver to him,
whether he will hear or whether he will forbear.
1. He must tell him that he is marked for ruin, that he now stands as
the butt at which God would shoot all the arrows of his wrath,
"Now I will send all my plagues." Now that no place is found for
repentance in Pharaoh, nothing can prevent his utter destruction, for
that only would have prevented it. Now that God begins to harden his
heart, his case is desperate. "I will send my plagues upon thy
heart, not only temporal plagues upon thy body, but spiritual
plagues upon thy soul." Note, God can send plagues upon thy soul."
Note, God can send plagues upon the heart, either by making it
senseless or by making it hopeless--and these are the worst plagues.
Pharaoh must now expect no respite, no cessation of arms, but to be
followed with plague upon plague, till he is utterly consumed. Note,
When God judges he will overcome; none ever hardened his heart against
him and prospered.
2. He must tell him that he is to remain in history a standing monument
of the justice and power of God's wrath
"For this cause have I raised thee up to the throne at this
time, and made thee to stand the shock of the plagues hitherto, to
show in thee my power." Providence ordered it so that Moses
should have a man of such a fierce and stubborn spirit as he was to
deal with; and every thing was so managed in this transaction as to
make it a most signal and memorable instance of the power God has to
humble and bring down the proudest of his enemies. Every thing
concurred to signalize this, that God's name (that is, his
incontestable sovereignty, his irresistible power, and his inflexible
justice) might be declared throughout all the earth, not only to all
places, but through all ages while the earth remains. Note, God
sometimes raises up very bad men to honour and power, spares them long,
and suffers them to grow insufferably insolent, that he may be so much
the more glorified in their destruction at last. See how the
neighbouring nations, at that time, improved the ruin of Pharaoh to the
glory of God. Jethro said upon it, Now know I that the Lord is
greater than all gods,
The apostle illustrates the doctrine of God's sovereignty with this
To justify God in these resolutions, Moses is directed to ask him
As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people? Pharaoh was a
great king; God's people were poor shepherds at the best, and now poor
slaves; and yet Pharaoh shall be ruined if he exalt himself against
them, for it is considered as exalting himself against God. This was
not the first time that God reproved kings for their sakes, and let
them know that he would not suffer his people to be trampled upon and
insulted, no, not by the most powerful of them.
II. A particular prediction of the plague of hail
and a gracious advice to Pharaoh and his people to send for their
servants and cattle out of the field, that they might be sheltered from
Note, When God's justice threatens ruin his mercy, at the same time,
shows us a way of escape from it, so unwilling is he that any should
perish. See here what care God took, not only to distinguish between
Egyptians and Israelites, but between some Egyptians and others. If
Pharaoh will not yield, and so prevent the judgment itself, yet an
opportunity is given to those that have any dread of God and his word
to save themselves from sharing in the judgment. Note, Those that will
take warning may take shelter; and those that will not may thank
themselves if they fall by the overflowing scourge, and the hail which
will sweep away the refuge of lies,
See the different effect of this warning.
1. Some believed the things that were spoken, and they feared,
and housed their servants and cattle
and it was their wisdom. Even among the servants of Pharaoh there were
some that trembled at God's word; and shall not the sons of Israel
dread it? But,
2. Others believed not: though, whatever plague Moses had hitherto
foretold, the event exactly answered to the prediction; and though, if
they had had any reason to question this, it would have been no great
damage to them to have kept their cattle in the house for one day, and
so, supposing it a doubtful case, to have chosen the surer side; yet
they were so foolhardy as in defiance to the truth of Moses, and the
power of God (of both which they had already had experience enough, to
their cost), to leave their cattle in the field, Pharaoh himself, it is
probable, giving them an example of the presumption,
Note, Obstinate infidelity, which is deaf to the fairest warnings and
the wisest counsels, leaves the blood of those that perish upon their
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.
23 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.
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.
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.
26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel
were, was there no hail.
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.
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.
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.
30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not
yet fear the LORD God.
31 And the flax and the barley was smitten: for the barley
was in the ear, and the flax was bolled.
32 But the wheat and the rye were not smitten: for they were
not grown up.
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.
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.
35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let
the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses.
The threatened plague of hail is here summoned by the powerful hand and
rod of Moses
and it obeys the summons, or rather the divine command; for fire and
hail fulfil God's word,
And here we are told,
I. What desolations it made upon the earth. The thunder, and fire from
heaven (or lightning), made it both the more dreadful and the more
Note, God makes the clouds, not only his store-houses whence he drops
fatness on his people, but his magazines whence, when he pleases, he
can draw out a most formidable train of artillery, with which to
destroy his enemies. He himself speaks of the treasures of hail
which he hath reserved against the day of battle and war,
Woeful havoc this hail made in the land of Egypt. It killed both men
and cattle, and battered down, not only the herbs, but the trees,
The corn that was above ground was destroyed, and that only preserved
which as yet had not come up,
Note, God has many ways of taking away the corn in the season
either by a secret blasting, or a noisy hail. In this plague the
hot thunderbolts, as well as the hail, are said to destroy
Perhaps David alludes to this when, describing God's glorious
appearances for the discomfiture of his enemies, he speaks of the
hailstones and coals of fire he threw among them,
And there is a plan reference to it on the pouring out of the seventh
Notice is here taken
of the land of Goshen's being preserved from receiving any damage by
this plague. God has the directing of the pregnant clouds, and causes
it to rain or hail on one city and not on another, either in mercy or
II. What a consternation it put Pharaoh in. See what effect it had upon
1. He humbled himself to Moses in the language of a penitent,
No man could have spoken better. He owns himself on the wrong side in
his contest with the God of the Hebrews: "I have sinned in
standing it out so long." He owns the equity of God's proceedings
against him: The Lord is righteous, and must be justified when
he speaks, though he speak in thunder and lightning. He condemns
himself and his land: "I and my people are wicked, and deserve
what is brought upon us." He begs the prayers of Moses: "Entreat the
Lord for me, that this direful plague may be removed." And,
lastly, he promises to yield up his prisoners: I will let you
go. What could one desire more? And yet his heart was hardened all
this while. Note, The terror of the rod often extorts penitent
acknowledgments from those who have no penitent affections; under the
surprise and smart of affliction, they start up, and say that which is
pertinent enough, not because they are deeply affected, but because
they know that they should be and that it is meet to be said.
2. Moses, hereupon, becomes an intercessor for him with God. Though he
had all the reason in the world to think that he would immediately
repent of his repentance, and told him so
yet he promises to be this friend in the court of heaven. Note, Even
those whom we have little hopes of, yet we should continue to pray for,
and to admonish,
1 Samuel 12:23.
(1.) The place Moses chose for his intercession. He went out of the
not only for privacy in his communion with God, but to show that he
durst venture abroad into the field, notwithstanding the hail and
lightning which kept Pharaoh and his servants withindoors, knowing that
every hail-stone had its direction from his God, who meant him no hurt.
Note, Peace with God makes men thunderproof, for thunder is the voice
of their Father.
(2.) The gesture: He spread abroad his hands unto the Lord--an
outward expression of earnest desire and humble expectation. Those that
come to God for mercy must stand ready to receive it.
(3.) The end Moses aimed at in interceding for him: That thou mayest
know, and be convinced, that the earth is the Lord's
that is, that God has a sovereign dominion over all the creatures, that
they all are ruled by him, and therefore that thou oughtest to be so.
See what various methods God uses to bring men to their proper senses.
Judgments are sent, judgments removed, and all for the same end, to
make men know that he Lord reigns.
(4.) The success of it.
[1.] He prevailed with God,
[2.] He could not prevail with Pharaoh: He sinned yet more, and
hardened his heart,
The prayer of Moses opened and shut heaven, like Elias's
and such is the power of God's two witnesses
yet neither Moses nor Elias, nor those two witnesses, could subdue the
hard hearts of men. Pharaoh was frightened into a compliance by the
judgment, but, when it was over, his convictions vanished, and his fair
promises were forgotten. Note, Little credit is to be given to
confessions upon the rack. Note also, Those that are not bettered by
judgments and mercies are commonly made worse.