Disease interpreted as divine judgment, translation of several Hebrew words. The ten plagues in the Book of Exodus were the mighty works of God that gained Israel's release and demonstrated God's sovereignty and were called “plagues” (Exodus 9:14;
Exodus 11:1), “signs” (Exodus 7:13), and “wonders” (Exodus 7:3;
Exodus 11:9). They showed the God of Moses was sovereign over the gods of Egypt, including Pharaoh who was considered a god by the Egyptians.
The primary reference to the plagues in the Bible is in
Exodus 7:1-13:15 (compare
Jeremiah 32:20). Two psalms (78; 105) contain detailed accounts of the plagues, but neither includes all ten. Paul used the plagues to stress the sovereignty of God in the hardening of Pharaoh's heart (Romans 9:17-18). The plagues of the Revelation reflect Old Testament influence (Revelation 8:1;
Natural or Supernatural Modern distinctions between the natural and the supernatural were not allowable considerations for the Israelites. For them, whatever happened, God did it. Everything was under God's immediate control. For the inspired writer, the plagues were nothing more nor less than the Lord's judgment upon the Egyptians and His saving actions for Israel. Most interpreters point out that the plagues depict events of nature that might occur in Egypt. Clearly, the author of Exodus saw them as the product of a purposive, divine will. Since Egypt's magicians duplicated the first two events, the uniqueness of the plagues may rest in their timing, locale, intensity, and theological interpretation.
Purpose The plagues resulted in Israel's freedom. However, the central purpose was the revelation of God. Pharaoh and the Egyptians, as well as Moses and the Israelites, would come to know the Lord through the events of the plagues (Exodus 7:17;
Exodus 8:10,Exodus 8:22;
Exodus 9:14,Exodus 9:16,Exodus 9:29). Paul acknowledged this purpose: “that my name might be declared throughout all the earth” (Romans 9:17). See Exodus; Miracles.
Billy K. Smith