I reread the 10 plagues on Egypt that preceded the first Passover (Exodus 7:14-11; Psalm 105:27-36). There is an observable progression to these events I didn’t see until I studied them in the original—primarily because the KJV and most English translations don’t emphasize them.
1. The first one (water to blood) was replicated by the Egyptian magicians; so, obviously, Pharaoh was not that impressed. (Exodus 7:21) says that the water stank, but
2. heaps of dead frogs through Egypt was a more intense stench, not just at the shore of the Nile but now in their homes [Exodus 8:2].
3. The third plague was (perhaps) a species of mosquito native to Egypt. Some say, the gnat or a flea or lice—something that attacks both man and beast. The magicians called this “the finger of God” [Exodus 8:19].
4. These were followed by swarming flies [the mosquitoes did not swarm]. These “flies” could sting. Ps. 78:45 “He sent among them swarms of flies, which fed on them.”
5. According to Exodus 9:2 this next divine strike is the first “plague” as we understand the word. A “disease” hit the Egyptians’ flocks and livestock which was [CSB] “very severe.” This phrase (“very severe”) is not used of the 4 plagues already listed. [but going forward the plagues will be “very severe”!]
6. The 6th plague is a condition that now affects the Egyptians’ person. They are describes as “running blisters or boils spreading or breaking out all over the body” [Exodus 9:9 CSB, “festering boils”].
7. “Hail” now pellets Egypt [Exodus 9:18, the worse ever in Egyptian memory to date]. But God warns the Egyptians to bring their animals inside. This was more of a “shock and awe” event for those Egyptians who believed Moses and Aaron. Unbelievers would die if they stepped outside. We might have thought this to be first but hailstones destroy crops ready for harvest. The locust (the 8th plague) will glean these fields completing the judgment.
8. The eighth plague of locust is very revealing of God’s mind in this matter. Exodus 10:2 “I have made a toy of Egypt.” [RSV I have made sport of the Egyptians]. The word is used in Numbers 22:29 meaning [CSB] to “look like a fool.” This is what it reads: God was mocking the gods of Egypt, gradually increasing the severity of each divine strike against them (Exodus 12:12).
9. Now, a “dark darkness” [Exodus 10:22 a thick gloom] envelopes the land for three days, so much so that, “they could not see one another nor move about” …so dark, they could “feel” it [vs. 21] , like a depression. (Only God knew it was to be a 3 day event.) When Jesus died darkness was upon the earth for 3 hours [Luke 23:44] and Jesus was in the grave for 3 days [Matthew 27:63].
10. We all know the 10th, the death of all first born (Isaiah 43:3 “I gave Egypt for thy ransom”).
At each stage, God sees Himself as the reason for Pharaoh’s hard hearted obstinacy because God knew in His omniscience that Pharaoh was not going to give in easily. God told Moses there would be signs and wonders [plural]. Increasingly things grew worse until the worst thing happened that could happen, the death of the oldest child in each household—which had to fill God with thoughts of His own Son.
But this wasn’t about the Pharaoh! Is it not obvious that God was mocking the gods of Egypt and for this needed to solicit Pharaoh’s cooperation? [Exodus 12:12 “I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD.”] God wasn’t mocking the Egyptians, nor Pharaoh. He was, in truth, revealing the utter futility of devotion to their gods. His salient point was that He alone was God. He was making a fool out of the Egyptian gods.
He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.- Proverbs 3:34