Saturday, November 19, 2011

Exodus 8:25-32 Relief and Refusal

Dense swarms of flies had descended upon all Egypt -- except for the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived.  Since there was no mention of any relief from the previous plague of gnats, I assume that both types of creatures were still making life miserable for the Egyptians.  The text also said that the land had been ruined by the flies.  (Ex. 8:24)

Pharaoh realized that something had to be done:

"Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said,
'Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.'

But Moses said, 'That would not be right.
The sacrifices we offer the LORD our God
would be detestable to the Egyptians.
And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes,
will they not stone us?
We must take a three-day journey into the desert
to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God,
as he commands us.'

Pharaoh said, 'I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God
in the desert, but you must not go very far.  Now pray for me.'

Moses answered, 'As soon as I leave you,
I will pray to the LORD,
and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh
and his officials and his people.
Only be sure that Pharaoh does not act deceitfully again
by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.'

Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD,
and the LORD did what Moses asked:
The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people;
not a fly remained.

But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart
and would not let the people go.

Exodus 8:25-32 (NIV)

Pharaoh is still trying to arrange this situation according to his own desires.  First, he tries to persuade Moses to sacrifice to the LORD right there within the land of Egypt.  That way Pharaoh doesn't have to worry about the possibility of the Israelites escaping from the land.

However, Moses knows that the Egyptian people considered such sacrifices detestable.  Sacrificing within Egypt's territory would only provoke the people to stone them.  Besides, as Moses notes, they must take a three-day journey into the desert as the LORD had commanded them to do.

Pharaoh realizes that what Moses is saying is true.  However, he still tries to maintain some control over the situation by insisting that if the Israelites must sacrifice out in the desert, they must not go very far.

Moses agrees to pray to the LORD to remove the flies.  However, he warns Pharaoh not to play games with God by refusing to keep his end of the bargain, as he has done in the past. (Exodus 8:8,15)

After Moses prayed to the LORD, every one of the flies left Egypt.

Pharaoh still does not realize Who he is dealing with; when he has what he wants, he hardens his heart (again) and refuses to allow the Israelites to leave his land. 

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