Exodus 9-12

The fifth plague is pestilence, affecting all the livestock of the Egyptians but not of the Israelites.  Pharaoh remains stubborn.  The sixth plague is an inflammation breaking out in boils on humans and animals.  The seventh plague is hail, which kills every person and animal in the open; only the region of Goshen, where the Israelites live, is spared.  The eighth plague is locusts, which destroy all the crops that the hail did not.  The ninth plague is darkness, which lasts three days.  After the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth plagues, Pharaoh wants to let the Israelites leave, but God hardens his heart in order to demonstrate his power.  God plans to kill all the first-born humans and animals of Egypt, as the tenth and final plague.  In preparation, each Israelite family is to sacrifice a year-old male lamb on the fourteenth day, and smear its blood on their house’s door.  God will recognize the blood when killing the first-born, and “pass over” that house.  The family shall eat the flesh that same night with unleavened bread, and discard the remains.  No slave or foreigner should eat the offering unless they are circumcised.  This passover ritual should be observed for all time.  Also, for all time, Israelites should eat unleavened bread for 7 days at this time of year–destroy all leaven on the first day, and refrain from work on both the first and the seventh.

As God promised, he kills the first-born of Egypt, and the Israelites leave after 430 years in captivity.  600,000 men, plus women and children, journey from Rameses to Succoth.

Commentary:

  • These passages are the basis of the Jewish festival of Passover.  Scholars have speculated that originally, the Passover sacrifice and the eating of unleavened bread were two separate festivals.  Passover (Hebrew: pesah, meaning “protection”) was a shepherds’ rite where the shepherds applied blood to their doors to protect them from demons, while the Feast of Unleavened Bread was an agrarian ritual connected to the coming grain harvest.
  • 600,000 men plus women and children is surely exaggerated–Egypt could not have supported this number of people at the time.
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