Exodus 9

These small group studies of Exodus contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Exodus 9 Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

I. God strikes the Egyptian livestock (1-7)

II. The plague of boils (8-17)

III. The plague of hail (18-26)

IV. Pharaoh lies to Moses again after Moses stops the plague of hail (27-35)

I. God strikes the Egyptian livestock (1-7)

Why do you think God continued to warn Pharaoh before sending the plague?

Did God change His command at all?

Are threats good? Is a boss or parents making threats a good thing?

Why do you think God chose this plague? What impact would have on the Egyptians?

Would this plague affect the Israelites? Why do you think God allowed the Israelites to suffer through the first three plagues then? What was God’s purpose for protecting the Israelites during this plague? What can we can learn from this, both the fact that they suffered the first three and the fact they were immune to the fourth one?

What is the significance that not one of the the livestock of the Israelites died?

Did this miracle convince Pharaoh? Why do you think it didn’t? What justifications might he have made for why the Israelites weren’t affected?

1. God doesn’t change His request at all. He is as firm and resolved as ever. He is a rock that will not change.

2. He threatens Pharaoh. Obviously threatening in and of itself is not bad since God did it. We should note that God had both the authority to do it and the right to do it. In addition, He had the power to do it and the plan to follow through. Finally, He had the reason to do it and it was a moral one. From this we can learn that if we follow these same principles threatening can be used with care. Examples? A parent to tell their kids they will be disciplined if they disobey. A boss telling an employee frankly that he will be fired if he breaks the company rules. A government who tells its citizens the death penalty will be applied to murderers. All of these are cases of people with authority and with the right motivation using their power properly. If parents threaten to abandon their children or do other sinful things if they disobey, this is wrong. Or if a boss continually threatens his employees with firing for perhaps not doing favors for him or not being willing to work extra overtime (above the country’s requirements) this would be wrong. Or if it is an idle threat because then it is like a lie. Or if a government threatens its citizens to punish them to do something wrong this would be wrong as well. God does give authority to certain institutions and as long as that authority is used correctly we should not be afraid to use it.

3. There was another difference with this plague from the first three to highlight the fact that it was miracle, that He was responsible for it, that He could control it, and that it was not a coincidence. This time He said that the people of Israel in the land of Goshen would not have to go through this plague. There would be an invisible line something like an electrical force field fence keeping dogs in the yard between Goshen and the rest of Egypt. Pestilence would descend on the Egyptians’ livestock, but not on the Israelites. In addition to proving again His power, this miracle demonstrated God’s love for the Israelites. Although He didn’t save them out of all the plagues (it doesn’t appear), He did deliver them from the worst ones. This is very typical of God’s nature in the Bible. Can you give other examples where God saved His people from destruction (Lot, Noah, Rahab, Daniel and his friends, Rapture)? Why did God protect the Israelites from this plague? I think there are many reasons. One was to show Pharaoh clearly that it wasn’t just a coincidence, but that God was in complete control of the plague.

But beyond that, it would have taught the Israelites through very real experiences God’s love and care for them. If they did have to go through all of the plagues they likely would have complained a lot more to Moses and Aaron, but seeing that they were delivered would have given them faith and confidence. We can also take an important lesson from this to apply today. That is that God does deal differently with us than He does with unbelievers. Praise the Lord for this. We will not be punished together along with unbelievers. God does not dole out wrath without regard to who receives it. Everything He does is carefully calculated and done with a plan. This means we don’t have to go through the worst of the punishments the world will face. We can be saved out. This is the essence of the salvation God offers. God doesn’t destroy the righteous along with the wicked. He is merciful and loving and we should enthusiastically take His offer if we want to escape judgment. Malachi 3:16-18. We should take note that God does treat the righteous and wicked differently, BUT it doesn’t mean that the righteous will never die in natural disasters or the like. It means that GENERALLY when God judges a group of people, He first removes the righteous from that group or at least spares them from the judgment.

4. Like many of the other plagues, this plague focuses on some of the Egyptians sacred objects of worship. Some of the Egyptian gods supposedly appeared with cow heads of took the form of a bull. Cows were even worshiped in some Egyptian cities. In this instance it is like God is killing two birds with one stone. Firstly, He is judging Egypt. Secondly, He is proving the inferiority of the Egyptian gods and sacred symbols. Even their gods cannot defend themselves from God’s plagues. This should have shown the Egyptians who the real God was.

5. Not even one of the Israelites’ livestock died. You would expect with that many cattle and sheep raised by two million people, that at least one would have died for SOME reason, even if not because of the pestilence. But none of them died. This in itself was a miracle that not one of all of those cattle died.

6. Pharaoh sent people to check out the Israelites’ livestock, naturally hoping that many had died so they could justify their own religion. However, although he didn’t find the evidence he hoped to, he still refused to believe. This is typical of the hard hearted. People who are hard hearted towards God will not change no matter what evidence or proof they see. They search and search for any proof to validate their own beliefs and normally can cherry pick the evidence they like. But even if all the evidence is against them, they will find more reasons not to believe. Pharaoh’s heart was once again hardened to the truth, and he did not let the people go.

II. The plague of boils (8-17)

Why throw dirt in the sky instead of just saying some words or using another way? (It seems in the Bible God liked His prophets using visible symbols such as Jeremiah shattering a clay pot to signify that Judah would be shattered. Basically it is a stronger teaching method.)

What was the difference between this and previous plagues (this was the first that targeted human health) directly? Why do you think there was this progression of severity?

What is significant about the magicians’ reaction to this plague? What does this show us about the power of their pagan religion?

What is different about how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened this time? (The Lord hardened it.)

Who hardened it previous times?

Is this fair? Wouldn’t God want Pharaoh to repent and relent? Why harden his heart so that would be impossible?

Why did God say He was launching these plagues against the Egyptians?

Why not kill them all immediately and be done with it?

1. I’ve noticed while reading a lot in the OT the past few months that God likes His prophets to use graphic symbols to teach His people. Jesus did this in many of His parables (He probably saw a person sowing seeds either right before His parable about the sower or not long before. He used fig trees, grape vines, mustard seeds, oil lamps, sheep, and shepherds in His parables). The prophets often did this, such as Jeremiah shattering the pot or God telling Jeremiah to observe the potter. Other examples included burying pots or eating scrolls, etc. In this case, and also with the flies, Moses throws dirt up in to the air. God then miraculously used this very dirt to turn into a fine dust which descended over the land and caused boils on people’s skin. This kind of visible symbol could show people clearly that this was a miracle from God and that Moses caused it to happen (through God’s power). It was a graphic symbol of God’s power. I guess the application we can get is for those of us who teach the word, using visual symbols is a good teaching tool. So I’m going to get some dirt out of a pot on the balcony and show you how Moses threw it to the sky…

2. This marked a progression in the severity of the plagues. It was the first one that targeted human health. And this is when things start to get really personal. You can deal with trouble to get water (especially if you are Pharaoh or the nobles you will just command others to get it for you), you can blockade your houses from the frogs, gnats and flies are a big nuisance and caused a lot of annoyances, but they didn’t do serious damage to people’s health. Cattle dying represent a loss of property. But boils on the skin go a step further. Now people are in very real pain, even in agony. Think back to Job. Review what Satan said to God before attacking Job’s health. This pain would prevent people from sleeping and working hard. They would cause 24/7 agony. God is escalating the plagues because Pharaoh simply won’t listen. All of the previous plagues had had little effect against Pharaoh personally since his slaves would deal with the problems (even fanning the flies off of him). But now, Pharaoh himself contracted boils. He couldn’t escape the results anymore.

3. Now we see the magicians again. Their plight is pitiful. No longer are they trying to show the power of their religion or convince Pharaoh that their gods are as powerful as YHWH. They are such pain that they cannot stand up (this could mean they could no longer perform their public duties). This verse serves to highlight the pathetic weakness of the Egyptian gods and religion, while showing the power of the true God. The magicians could not only not reverse this plague on others. They couldn’t even save themselves. In the end, this is the true state of all other beliefs. Those who believe in other religions will end up like the magicians. Preachers of these other religions can not only not save others, but they cannot even save themselves. This is also true of the demons. Although demons have some supernatural powers, they can’t save anyone from God’s judgment, and they themselves will be judged by God.

4. In the latter part of verse 11 we see that the boils were on ALL Egyptians. It is a subtle indicator that the boils were NOT on the Israelites. While even the most devout and high up believers of the Egyptian religion were struck with boils, even the most common Israelites were spared.

5. In verse 12, the normal refrain “And pharaoh’s heart was hardened.” is changed. This time it tells us that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart. This should not come as a surprise. We already learned way back in chapter three that God would harden Pharaoh’s heart. But in between chapter 3 and chapter 9, we have seen something interesting. See for example 9:7, 8:32, 8:19, 8:15, 7:22, and 7:13. In each of these cases it either says that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened or that he hardened it. In other words, all the previous times, it was his own choice. It doesn’t appear that God took any special action to harden Pharaoh’s heart before now. What can we learn from this?

We learn that Pharaoh was already hard hearted and stubborn. He is responsible for his own decisions and his own response to God’s commands. He himself chose to disobey God’s command and rebel time and time again. It is not like Pharaoh desperately sought to obey God and save His people and God laughed at Him and hardened his heart. It is not like in his mind he wanted to say to the Israelites “Go!”, but only “No!” came out. In English we have an idiom. That is. He made his bed. Now he needs to lie in it. In other words, he got into this situation by his own pig headedness. At this point when God does harden his heart it is only after repeated self-hardenings. We should take a warning from this. What warning? The warning is that if you willfully sin or reject God’s commands many times, you might cross a line of no return. You might harden yourself to the point where you are unable to turn back to God again. We learn of similar judicial hardening in Romans 3. See also Hebrews 6:4-6 for a warning to believers. We should be very careful to always keep a clear conscience before God, repent of known sins, and be soft hearted to God.

6. God repeats the same command. This is like a titanic match between a rock and a stone smashing together again and again. Pharaoh is amazingly stubborn. But God is much more persistent and will win this match.

7. In these verses we see some of the deeper reasons why God was sending My plagues (notice the personal pronoun) on the Egyptians. These reasons are three-fold. Firstly, “the Egyptians would recognize that Yahweh was incomparable, that His power would be demonstrated through the, and that His name, character, attributes, and power would be known everywhere. Egypt could not keep from other nations her humiliation by the plagues of Israel’s Lord. Secondly, A declaration that whatever royal authority Pharaoh had, it had been because of God’s sovereign and providential control of world affairs, which included putting Pharaoh on his throne. This was a telling reminder that He was what \he declared Himself to be., the one and only true and immanent Lord. Three, A reminder of the worst scenario for Egypt if Yahweh had chosen, in lieu of the preceding plagues, to strike the people first – they would have perished. In other words, God had been gracious and longsuffering in the progression of the plagues.

III. The plague of hail (18-26)

What would be unique about the hail storm sent the next day?

In the beginning of the chapter we learned that all their livestock was destroyed. Why then was there still livestock left in verse 19?

What was the result of the warning this time?

What was significant about some of the Egyptians’ response?

What can we learn from the fact that some Egyptians obeyed God and their lives and livestock were spared?

What happened to the Egyptians who didn’t listen to God?

What else did the storm bring besides hail?

Did the Israelites face this plague?

1. The weather about to be unleashed by the incomparable God was unlike anything previously recorded in Egypt’s entire history. They had a long and proud history and likely pridefully thought they could handle anything that Moses could dish out. Pharaoh likely thinking long term and wanting to keep all those slaves which could enrich his economy likely thought if his ancestors could survive all that nature could throw at them and leave a thriving kingdom behind, he and his people could do the same. The problem was, they grossly underestimated the severity of the plagues God would send on them.

2. God warned them ahead of time with the express purpose to allow the Egyptians to save whatever livestock they had by taking them into shelter. This was a very graceful provision to allow a way out for God-fearing Egyptians. I think this verse is also key to understanding accurately God’s character of both justice and mercy when administering these plagues, especially the last one of the death of the first born. We may talk about it more when we come to that plague, but I believe that if there were God fearing Egyptians they could save their family’s first born from certain death by obeying God’s commands regarding the Passover just like they saved their cattle by obeying God’s commands, heeding His warning, and taking their cattle to shelter.

Throughout the entire Bible we see that anyone can come to God if he has faith. And while most Eygptians, like most non-Jews didn’t come to God, there was that opportunity and it seems clear from this verse that some took advantage of it and were converted. This is an important point to remember that God didn’t unilaterally judge all Egyptians (even those who wanted to believe in Him). If there were some, and apparently there were, some Egyptians who believed in God, then God would accept them. In fact, this is one of the very reasons for all of His miracles/plagues. He did them to show the Egyptians His real power. Nothing short of an amazing display like this would convince most Egyptians who grew up believing in their pagan religion. So we learn that these plagues not only were a means for God’s justice/wrath to be shown, but also a means of love and mercy to protect those who trusted in Him and convince more people to trust in Him.

3. Hail can fall at least 100 mph. A golf ball sized hill can kill you if it hits you on the head. Many times pebbles, twigs, or other matter is in hail, causing them to be even ore destructive. They destroy glass and punch holes in plastic or leave giant dents in metal.

4. One question arises when you study the passage carefully. That is that in the first part of the chapter we learn of the pestilence which kills all the cattle. Now, the Egyptians have more livestock again. Where did it come from? First of all, I did some research and most scholars place the total length of the plagues at about 7 months. That means that between some of the plagues there would be a time gap. This gap would allow the Egyptians to import more livestock (buy from traders). Perhaps also they stole some of the Israelites livestock (or the Israelites sold it to them, if they had this right.)

5. The hail storm also came with fire. This was likely a special form of lightning like fireballs, which zig zagged through the sky before hitting the earth. This would have made a grand spectacle. The fire would have been very awe-inspiring and also probably would have started fires throughout the land too.

According to Pliny:

1. Barley is reaped in the 6th month after sowing, wheat in the 7th.

2. Barley is ripe at the end of Feb. or beginning of Mar.

3. Flax is in the flower at the end of Jan.

4. In northern Egypt, the spelt is ripe at the end of Apr. and wheat and spelt ripen at the same time.

5. Therefore, the hail occurred at the end of Jan. or first part of Feb. eight weeks before the Passover.

IV. Pharaoh lies to Moses again after Moses stops the plague of hail (27-35)

Can we see any differences in Pharaoh’s attitude from before?

Did he attempt to negotiate or compromise or face save like previous times?

Why do you think Moses might have chosen to go out of the city before asking God to remove this plague?

Why do you think God sent the hail at this time allowing two crops to be spared? What can we learn from God’s nature by the warnings, the progression of the plagues, the sparing of the Israelites, and the sparing of God-fearing Egyptians?

Did Pharaoh keep his promise? Do you think he planned to break his promise when he confessed in verse 27-28?

What is different this time about the refrain “Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.” (this time his servants’ hearts were too.)

Was God surprised by this broken promise?

How should we react when people break their promises to us like Pharaoh did to Moses?

What applications can we make from this chapter for our lives today?

1. Pharaoh’s attitude appears very different from before. This time he repents and admits that God is righteous and he is wicked. It seems to be a sincere apology. Perhaps it was true at the time. But many times after a person apologizes they walk away and forget the pain they caused or the pain they went through because of their sin, their heart becomes hard and they repeat the same mistake. This is a very normal pattern of sin. Notice also that Pharaoh doesn’t attempt to save face by negotiating. He doesn’t propose a compromise. He seems like he gave in one hundred percent to Moses’ demands.

2. For Moses’ part, he dealt in good faith. Although he knew that Pharaoh would change his mind and that he wasn’t convinced yet, he still agreed to ask God to take away the plague. This is a good example to us. Even if you are having dealings with liars who repeatedly break their promises, don’t stoop down to their level. A lot of people would say, “I have to bribe, or lie, or cheat. That is how things are done. I can’t compete unless I do.” It’s not true. You don’t have to. You can’t control if other people do what is right, but you can control if you do. Don’t allow other people’s lies to affect how you do business. You do what is right and always keep your end of the bargain even if others don’t keep their end.

3. Once again, God mercifully didn’t destroy all their crops. The plagues are a story of progression. God didn’t start off wiping out the people like He could have done, He slowly escalated things step by step to give time and opportunity for repentance. Only when Pharaoh rejected each peace treaty offer, did He take the step up.

4. Pharaoh did break his promise. 9:34-35Both words for hardened are used here. The word for hardened in verse 34 is chabedh, which means hard in the sense of refusing to budge. In verse 35 the word for hard is chazaq, which stresses the strength, or firmness and arrogance, of Pharaoh’s convictions against God. Also we see that not only Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, but all of his servants’ (counselors, advisers, priests, nobles, etc.) hearts were as well. This shows us that the whole court was in sin together.

Study Exodus 10

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