Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Dictionaries
Plagues of Egypt

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary

Search for…
Prev Entry
Next Entry
Plane Tree
Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

It may not be unacceptable to the readers of this work to have brought before them in one short view the account of the plagues of Egypt, in order to take into a comprehensive manner the judgment of God over the Egyptians, while manifesting grace to his Israel.

There were ten different sorts of plagues which the Lord brought upon Egypt, all succeeding one another, with only the intermission of a few days; and each rising in succession with more tremendous judgments, until in the last of them the Egyptians began to discover that if the Lord persisted in the infliction, all Egypt was destroyed.

The first was that of turning the waters of their famous river the Nile into blood. It is worthy remark that the first miracle wrought by Moses was this of turning water into blood; but the first miracle of the Lord Jesus Christ was that of turning water into wine. (John 2:11) And was it not in both instances figurative of the different dispensations of the law and the gospel? Every thing under the law, like the full flowing streams of the Nile turned into blood, is made a source of condemnation: it is called indeed the ministration of death, (2 Corinthians 3:7) Every thing under the gospel brings with it life and liberty. Jesus puts a blessing into our most common comforts, and the whole is sanctified.

The second plague of Egypt was that of the frogs. (Exodus 8:1-2; Exo 8:14) There was somewhat particularly striking in this progression of Egypt's torments. The first was remote and distant, confined to the rivers and water; but this second is brought nearer home, and comes near their persons, in their houses, and their chambers, "Their land, (saith the Psalmist,) brought forth frogs in abundance in the chambers of their kings." (Psalms 105:30) When one affliction loseth its effect, a second and a greater shall follow. If distant corrections are not heard, the stroke shall be both seen and felt within our houses. This progressive punishment of the Lord, even upon his own people, is set forth in the most finished representation. (See Leviticus 26:3-46.)

In the third plague, that of lice, the punishment is heightened. Now the Lord is come home indeed by his afflictions on the person of the Egyptians. Before, the judgment was confined to the river and to the land; but here the Lord made a marked distinction from the former, so as to compel the magicians of Egypt to acknowledge in it the finger of God. (See Exodus 8:16-19)

The plague of flies was the fourth judgment with which the Lord smote Egypt. And here I beg the reader to remark how every visitation became more and more distressing, rising, as it did, in circumstances heightened with misery. The plague of lice was great, but this of flies abundantly more. Even in our own climate, in hot summer-seasons, when passing through narrow lanes and hedges in the country not much frequented, where insects of the winged kind increase unmolested, the horse and his rider sometimes feel their sting, and are almost made mad. But in hot countries the swarms of those creatures are at times destructive indeed. And what must the plague of flies in Egypt have been when purposely armed and sent by the Lord. We may form some conjecture of the dreadful effect that this plague wrought on Pharaoh and his people, for he called for Moses, and in his fright consented to the Israelites' departure. I beg the reader to consult the account of this plague, as recorded in Scripture. (Exodus 8:20-32) And I beg him also to observe how the Lord, concerning this plague, called upon both the Egyptians and the Israelites to observe the tokens of his discriminating grace over his people; for we are told that the Lord marked the land of Goshen, where Israel dwelt, that no swarm of flies should be there. Let the reader pause over this account; and let him say, what must Israel have felt in this marked distinction. Oh, what an evident token of the Lord's love! And is it not so now, and hath been through all ages of the church? Yea, are we not told that thus we are "to return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not?" (Malachi 3:18) I beg the reader to turn to the article: Flies, for a farther illustration of this subject.

The fifth plague of Egypt, rising still in terror, was that of the pestilence and mortality among all the cattle of the Egyptians; in which, as a continuance of the same discrimination as had been shewn before in the plague of the flies, while all the cattle of Egypt died, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. (See Exodus 9:1-7) Beside the very tremendous judgment on Egypt as a nation by this plague, we may remark somewhat leading to the gospel dispensation in this appointment. "The whole creation (we are told) groaneth and travaileth in pain together." (Romans 8:22) The earth bore part in the curse for man's disobedience; hence therefore in man's redemption, of which the bringing Israel out of Egyptian bondage is a type, the inferior creatures are made to bear part in punishment. It is more than probable also, that some among the cattle that were destroyed were included in the idols of Egypt; for certain it is, that from the Egyptians the Israelites learnt the worship of the calf, which afterwards they set up in the wilderness. (See Exodus 32:1-6) What contempt, therefore, by the destruction of cattle, was thrown upon the idols of Egypt!

In the view of the sixth plague of Egypt, "the boils breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast,"we behold the hand of the Lord falling heavier than ever. The persons of Pharaoh and his people in those boils and ulcers were most dreadfully beset. It should seem to have been not only one universal epidemic malady, but a malady hitherto unknown—bodies covered with running sores. When Moses afterwards in the wilderness was admonishing Israel to be cautious of offending the Lord, and threatening punishment to their rebellion, he adverts to those boils as among the most dreadful of divine visitations. "The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed." (Deuteronomy 28:27) The imagination cannot form to itself, in bodily afflictions any thing more grievous; and when to the sore of body, the corroding ulcer of soul is joined, and both beheld as coming from the Lord, surely nothing this side hell can be wanting to give the most finished state of misery! (See Exodus 9:8-12) And if the reader will read also Moses's account of a corrosive mind, he will behold the awful state of having God for our enemy. (Deuteronomy 28:15-68.)

The seventh plague of Egypt was the "thunder, lightning, rain, and hail." (Exodus 9:13-35.) This tremendous storm was ushered in with a solemn message from the Lord to Pharaoh, that there should be a succession of plagues until that the Lord had cut him off from the face of the earth; and that the Lord had indeed raised him up for this very purpose, to shew in him the Lord's power, and that the Lord's name should be declared throughout all the earth. But what I particularly beg the reader to remark in these plagues of Egypt is, the progressive order from bad to worse, leading on to the most finished and full state of misery.

In this we mark also distinguishing grace to some of the servants of Pharaoh. We are told that they, among them that feared the word of the Lord, called home their servants and their cattle to places of shelter before the storm came. And as when Israel went up afterwards with an high hand out of Egypt, a mixed multitude went with them, were not these such as grace had marked for the Lord's own? May we not consider them as types of the Gentile church given to the Lord Jesus, as well as the Jewish church? (Isaiah 49:6)

The eighth plague is introduced by the Lord with bidding Moses, the man of God, to remark to Israel that the Lord had hardened the heart of Pharaoh purposely, that he might set forth his love to Israel in shewing these signs and wonders before them. The Lord delights in distinguishing grace, and the Lord delights that his people should know the proofs of it also. "That thou mayest tell it, (saith the Lord) in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them, that ye may know how that I am the Lord." The plague of locusts succeeded that of thunder, lightning, rain and hail. (Exodus 10:1) This was so grievous that the very earth was covered with them, and the whole land was darkened. (See Locusts.) We read these transactions, and form an idea that the suffering of the people must have been great: but all apprehension must fall short of what was the reality of the evil. (See Exodus 1:1 - Exodus 20:26.)

The ninth plague was that of "darkness covering Egypt," while Goshen, the habitation of Israel, had light. (Exodus 10:21) And this both in duration and extent exceeds all that was ever heard of in the history of the world. Three days it continued in Egypt, so that they saw not one another, neither did any arise from his place; and to aggravate the horrid gloom, it was a darkness which reached to feeling also, though through mercy we know not what that means. Such perhaps as the torments of the damned. Every misery is increased, be it what it may, when the hand of an angry God is felt in it.

The tenth and last plague which the Lord inflicted upon Egypt, preparatory to Israel's departure, was that of the destruction of the first-born both of man and beast; and so universal was it, that it reached from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat upon his throne, to the first-born of the maid servant which ground at the mill. And to aggravate this finishing stroke of misery, the Lord appointed it at midnight. The imagination, can hardly conceive with what horrors the Egyptians arose to the death of their first-born when the midnight cry was so great, because there was not an house where there was not one dead. (Exodus 12:29-30) I must refer the reader to the sacred Scriptures for the wonderful account of this tremendous judgment, for it would too largely swell the pages of this work, to enter into the relation of it here. But I beg the reader, when he hath read the Holy Scriptures on this subject, as contained in the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Exodus, to pause over the history, and to remark with me whether there is not somewhat typical in the destruction of Egypt's first-born, and the salvation of Israel. The lamb the Israelites were commanded to have slain, and which was called by the Lord himself the Lord's Passover was typical of Christ. The sprinkling of the blood on their houses was also typical, and the eating of it was typical; in short, the whole of this service, and appointed in such a moment, while Egypt was destroying, was wholly typical of Christ, and Israel's alone salvation by him. And though in our present twilight of knowledge our greatest researches go but a little way, yet certain it is, the destruction of Egypt, the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, and the heart of his people, and the delivery of Israel, all pointedly preached the same solemn truth, as it is the whole, tenor of revelation to declare, that the distinguishing grace of God is the sole cause wherefore Israel is saved and the Egyptians destroyed. The apostle Paul, commenting on this history, and taught by the Holy Ghost, hath said all that can be said in confirmation of the doctrine itself, and all that can be said by the most unbelieving mind against it, in one of his chapters to the Romans. But the issue of Paul's reasoning finisheth the subject in the most decided manner, by referring the whole to the sovereignty and good pleasure of God. I cannot better close the subject on the history of the plagues of Egypt, than by referring the reader to the apostle's divine conclusions on the same, and very earnestly begging the reader to go over, with suitable diligence and attention, and with prayer to God the Holy Ghost attention, and with prayer to God the Holy Ghost to bless him in the perusal, the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (Romans 9:1-33).

Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Plagues of Egypt'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​pmd/​p/plagues-of-egypt.html. London. 1828.
Ads FreeProfile