Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Exodus 7:19-24 Blood in the Nile

"The LORD said to Moses,
'Tell Aaron, "Take your staff and stretch out your hand
over the waters of Egypt -- over the streams and canals,
over the ponds and all the reservoirs" --
And they will turn to blood.

Blood will be everywhere in Egypt,
even in the wooden buckets and stone jars.'

Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded.
He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials
and struck the water of the Nile,
and all the water was changed into blood.

The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad
that the Egyptians could not drink its water.
Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts,
and Pharaoh's heart became hard;
he would not listen to Moses and Aaron,
just as the LORD had said.

Instead, he turned and went into his palace,
and did not take even this to heart.

And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water,
because they could not drink the water of the river.

Exodus 7:19-24 (NIV)

God instructs Moses to tell Aaron to take the staff and strike the waters of the Nile, which are immediately turned into blood.  Not only the river itself, but all water in the area -- streams, canals, ponds and reservoirs alike -- are affected.  Even water previously collected in buckets and jars for household use was changed to blood.

The effect must have been startling, especially as the Egyptians gazed at the mighty Nile.  The river was a main deity to the Egyptians, and sacrifices were thrown in as offerings to assure continued supplies of its life-giving waters.  Now the waters rolled past in a blood-red torrent.  The people were probably terrified that they had offended this 'god' in some way.

Pharaoh probably knew of the former Pharaoh's dealings with the Hebrews, and how many of their innocent newborn sons had been cast into the Nile's waters because of that Pharaoh's fears regarding a future uprising  of the rapidly-multiplying  Israelites.  He also knew that Moses and Aaron had come as representatives of the God of the Hebrews.  Did he see the bloody waters as a judgment against the human sacrifices which had occurred in that river?

Fish died in the bloody waters.  The river stank so badly that the Egyptians could not bring themselves to drink from it.

Magicians were summoned to answer this new threat.  They used their arts to duplicate the effects of the bloody waters.  Pharaoh's heart became hard.  He must have figured that this was only another magic trick -- one that his own men were even capable of imitating.  He went back to the palace and did not take this chastening to heart.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian people had to dig along the banks of the Nile in order to obtain water which had been somewhat filtered by the sand.  We are not told of their thoughts regarding this plague.  However, we can imagine that at least some of them were startled enough to begin to pay more attention to the words of Moses and Aaron, and to consider the power of this God whom the Hebrews worshipped.  This plague was not only a warning to Pharaoh, but also another example of God reaching out to the Egyptian people and leading them towards the truth about Himself.

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