Moses as God’s ambassador to Pharaoh. — V.1. And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh, He had given him authority as His ambassador, with power to carry out His judgments; and Aaron, thy brother, shall be thy prophet, by acting as spokesman of the revelations given to Moses. V.2. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee, communicate the commands and the revelations of God to Aaron; and Aaron, thy brother, shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. That aim Aaron was always to keep in mind, to induce the king of Egypt to permit the emigration of Israel. V.3. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Because Pharaoh would harden his heart in the first place, the Lord intended to punish him by leaving him in this sin of obduracy. In this way the glory of the Lord would be increased by the many miracles which were to be performed before Pharaoh. V.4. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, on account of his condition of hard-heartedness, that I may lay My hand upon Egypt, and bring forth Mine armies, the hosts that were to wage the Lord’s battles, and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. The Lord would judge, condemn, and punish the entire land of Egypt because the people consented to the sins of their king. V.5. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch forth Mine hand upon Egypt, in avenging justice and in almighty power, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. V. 6. And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, so did they. They accepted the commission given them. V.7. And Moses was fourscore years old and Aaron fourscore and three years old when they spake unto Pharaoh. This concludes the narrative of the call of Moses and Aaron. Both of them now willingly placed themselves under the direction of the Lord, just as all true servants of God perform His will whenever He commands.
The miracles in the presence of Pharaoh. — V.8. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, v.9. When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for you, then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. This miracle, chap. 4, 3–5, was to substantiate the words of the ambassadors, to give definite proof of their divine commission. V.10. And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, the shepherd’s staff which Moses had brought along and had entrusted to Aaron for that purpose, and before his servants, and it became a serpent, a large,. poisonous snake. V.11. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers, the men versed in occult arts and witchcraft. Now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments, for the devil is also able to perform what seems like miracles, with the sufferance of God. v.12. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents, there being, to all appearances, no difference between the miracles. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods, God thus indicating that He was the mightier. Cp. 2 Tim. 3, 8, where the names of the chief sorcerers of Pharaoh are supplied as having been Jannes and Jambres. V.13. And He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said. The fact that his wise men with their witchcraft succeeded in imitating the miracle of Aaron was enough to decide Pharaoh against the Lord, the result being a hardening of his heart. Even so many an unbeliever in our days is confirmed in his opposition to the Gospel by the claims advanced by a false science.
The plague of blood. — V.14. And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. V.15. Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water, to the river Nile; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come, he should stand ready to meet him as Pharaoh approached; and the rod which was turned to a serpent thou shalt take in thine hand. V.16. And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let My people go that they may serve Me in the wilderness, chap. 3, 12. 18; and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. V.17. Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood, not merely be given a blood-red color through the presence of microscopic animals or particles of red clay, but actually be changed into blood, that the river throughout the length of Egypt would flow with the liquid which commonly pulses through the arteries and veins of men and beasts. V.18. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river. With their life element taken from them, the fishes could no longer live, and their decaying carcasses would infect the river and cause an insufferable stench. V.19. And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, the same staff which had served before, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood. Thus not only the Nile with its various arms was involved, but also the canals of the Nile, all lakes or ponds that had been formed by the overflow of the Nile, And that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone, in all pails, jugs, and tubs, in which water was kept for use in the homes. V.20. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the Lord commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, who was thus to witness the cause and to note the effect, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. V.21. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. The Nile was the one source of fertility and life in Egypt, and therefore the Lord indicated by this miracle that it was an easy matter for Him to change all the blessings of the country into curses. The very Nile to which the Egyptians gave divine honor was subject to the command of the God of the Hebrews, and this fact was to be impressed upon them forcibly. V.22. And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments, probably over the water of the wells dug by the Egyptians, v.24. and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them, as the Lord had said. V.23. And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. His heart was in no manner moved to grant the request of Moses and Aaron. V.24. And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; they quickly dug wells in the hope that the underground springs were still pure or that the seepage water had not turned into blood; for they could not drink of the water of the river. V.25. And seven days were fulfilled, after that the Lord had smitten the river, for it was He whose curse rested upon the land, and the miracle had been performed in His power. The plague lasted seven days and may to this day be regarded as an example of warning to all unbelievers.