Exodus 7 Commentary

Irving Jensen (Online) - Used by Permission
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Summary Chart of
The Book of Exodus
Redemption from Egypt
Ex 1:1-18:27
Revelation from God
Ex 19:1-40:38
Getting Israel Out of Egypt Getting Egypt Out of Israel!
Narration Legislation
Birth of
Ex 1-2
Call of
Ex 3-6
Conflict with Pharaoh
Ex 7-10
Ex 11-12
Ex 13-15
Ex 16-18
Ex 19-24
Ex 25-31
Ex 32-34
Ex 35-40
Subjection Redemption Instruction
Suffering and Liberation
of People of God
of God
of God
Moses and
Burdens of Israel
Pharaoh and
Plagues Upon Egypt
Red Sea
and Oppression
and Provision
Law Pattern
and Construction
Israel in Egypt
Ex 1:1-13:16
Israel to Sinai
Ex 13:17-18:27
Israel at Sinai
Ex 19:1-40:38
God's People
God's Grace
in Redemption
God's Glory
in Worship
430 Years

(15% of Exodus)
2 Months

(30% of Exodus)
Mt Sinai
10 Months

(55% of Exodus)

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human effort and failure divine power and triumph
word of promise work of fulfillment
a people chosen a people called
God’s electing mercy God’s electing manner
revelation of nationality realization of nationality

(from Believer's Study Bible)

Exodus 7:1  Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.

  • See - Ex 16:29 Ge 19:21 1Ki 17:23 2Ki 6:32 Ec 1:10 
  • a god - Ex 4:15,16 Ps 82:6 Jer 1:10 Joh 10:35,36 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


This is another example of a poor chapter break. Exodus 6 ends with Moses' repeated excuse that he can't speak (Ex 4:10+, Ex 6:12+, Ex 6:30+) and because of this Pharaoh would not listen to him. God's response once again shows us His boundless patience with His hesitating servant Moses. What is amazing here is that God does not even chastise Moses! O the depth of the mercy of God! Moses would have surely appreciated the words of Charles Wesley's great hymn (as we all can!!!)....

Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear me
The chief of sinners, spare?

Heaven find me on my knees
Hear my soul impassioned pleas
Depth of mercy, can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?

Now incline me to repent
Let me now my sins lament
Deeply my revolt deplore
Weep, believe and sin no more

Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet - Earlier God had told Moses "you will be as God to" Aaron who was to speak for him (Ex 4:16). In other words Moses was like God in that (like God) he had a prophet, his brother Aaron. And just as Moses was not to act on his own initiative but to wait on Jehovah's direction, so too Aaron was not to act on his own initiative, but was to wait for words from God through Moses.

Constable says "Moses was “as God” to Pharaoh in that he was the person who revealed God’s will (v. 1). Pharaoh was to be the executor of that will."

Cassuto comments "Replying to Moses’ doubt, which was stated in the preceding verse in the words, ‘Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips; how then shall Pharaoh listen to me?’, the Lord deals with his objections seriatim. He begins in a paternal tone: 1 See, my son, consider the matter well, and you will be convinced that all your anxieties can be easily set at rest. Regarding your first fear, that you are of ‘uncircumcised lips’, let me put you at ease at once: you have no need to do much speaking, for I have made you a god to Pharaoh. You will not only be a god vis-à-vis your brother Aaron (4:16)—that is, you will instruct him what to say, just as God instructs His prophets—but I have also made you a god before Pharaoh. Although Pharaoh is himself considered a deity, he is nevertheless accustomed to hear the prophets of Egypt address him in the name of their gods; now you will appear before him as one of the divinities, who do not speak directly but through their prophets, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet, and he will speak in your name to Pharaoh. These words possibly contain a bitter ironic reflection on the Egyptian deities who ‘have a mouth yet do not speak.’   But you, Moses, will transcend the gods of Egypt in that you will not be wholly dumb: You shall speak all that I command you—words few in number but decisive in content you will be able to speak, and you will utter them at My command; and Aaron your brother shall speak to Pharaoh, delivering speeches before him whenever required, and he will let go—that means to say, so that he may let go—the children of Israel from his land." (A Commentary on the Book of Exodus)

Thomas on prophet - A prophet is one who represents God to man and, as such, all the Lord’s people are prophets. Are we giving those around a true idea of God?

NET - Moses was to be like God to Aaron, and Aaron was to speak for him. This indicates that the idea of a “prophet” was of one who spoke for God, an idea with which Moses and Aaron and the readers of Exodus are assumed to be familiar.

Exodus 7:2  "You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.

  • Ex 4:15 6:29 Dt 4:2 1Ki 22:14 Jer 1:7,17 Eze 3:10,17 Mt 28:20 Ac 20:27 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land - Notice the pattern. Jehovah speaks the command to Moses and Aaron speaks exactly these words to Pharaoh. One is reminded of the warning in Dt 4:2 that "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." Neither Moses or Aaron were to add to the Word from Jehovah. God's demand remained unchanged and non-negotiable - "Let My people go!" God's plan was unchanged! As Ps 33:11 says "The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation." 

Exodus 7:3  "But I will harden Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.

  • And I - Ex 4:21,29 
  • multiply - Ex 4:7 9:16 11:9 De 4:34 7:19 Ne 9:10 Ps 78:43-51 105:27-36 Ps 135:9 Isa 51:9 Jer 32:20,21 Mic 7:15 Joh 4:48 Ac 2:22 7:36 Ro 15:19 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


But I will harden Pharaoh's heart - Pharaoh's heart problem is a key theme in Exodus 7-10 and is described in one of three ways - (1) God hardened his heart, (2) Pharaoh himself hardened his heart and (3) with the general statement without indicating the cause "his heart was hardened."

Guzik applies this principle noting that "God can do the same today. In our rebellion, we may reach the place where God will strengthen us in the evil we desire: Therefore God also gave them up to their uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts … and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting (Romans 1:24, 28+)."

That I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt - The repeated instances of Pharaoh's heart being hardened would fulfill God's purpose which was to demonstrate his supernatural mathematics in the land of Egypt. Signs are miracles that have special significance, that point to something, and so we see that all of the plagues ultimately point to God's sovereignty which superseded and subjugated the so-called sovereignty of the Pharaoh. Wonders are miracles that produce astonishment and awe in all who witness the miracles. 

PLAGUE - Although we commonly refer to the "Ten Plagues," the actual word "plague" is only used 3 times in Exodus to refer to the "Ten Plagues" (Ex 9:14, Ex 11:1 and Ex 12:13). Our English word plague is from the late 14c., plage, "affliction, calamity, evil, scourge;" early 15c., "malignant disease," from Old French plage (14c.), from Late Latin plaga, used in Vulgate for "pestilence," from Latin plaga "stroke, wound," probably from root of plangere "to strike, lament (by beating the breast)," from or cognate with Greek (Doric) plaga "blow." And so the main idea behind the word plague is a blow or a wound inflicted on another. It is not a good thing when the one inflicting the blow is God Himself! 

Wiersbe - The miracles and plagues were also God’s way of judging the gods of Egypt and proving them false and futile. “Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord” (Ex 12:12; and see Ex 18:11 and Num. 33:4). More than eighty different deities were worshiped in Egypt, but they could do nothing to deliver the land and the people from the terrible judgments Jehovah sent. If nothing else, the Egyptians learned that Jehovah was the true and living God.  But the people of Israel also needed to learn this lesson. According to Ezekiel 20:1–9 (ED: TAKE A MOMENT AND READ THIS PASSAGE RECORDED BELOW), some of the Jews had begun to worship the Egyptian gods; and when they were delivered from Egypt, they took their gods with them!  (ED: STEPHEN DOCUMENTS THIS IN HIS SERMON IN Acts 7 -- SEE EXCERPT BELOW) Did they compromise their faith in an attempt to please their captors and receive better treatment? But how could they forsake Jehovah after seeing all the demonstrations of His power? “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember the multitude of Your mercies” (Ps. 106:7, NKJV).(Be Delivered)

Ezekiel 20:1–9 Now in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came to me saying, 3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Do you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will not be inquired of by you.”’ 4 “Will you judge them, will you judge them, son of man? Make them know the abominations of their fathers; 5 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “On the day when I chose Israel and swore to the descendants of the house of Jacob and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, when I swore to them, saying, I am the LORD your God, 6 on that day I swore to them, to bring them out from the land of Egypt into a land that I had selected for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands. 7 “I said to them, ‘Cast away, each of you, the detestable things of his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.’ 8 “But they rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to Me; they did not cast away the detestable things of their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them, to accomplish My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. 9 But I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made Myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.

Acts 7:39 “Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him (MOSES), but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40 SAYING TO AARON, ‘MAKE FOR US GODS WHO WILL GO BEFORE US; FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT–WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.’ 41 “At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42 “But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL? 43 YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF THE GOD ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP. I ALSO WILL REMOVE YOU BEYOND BABYLON.’  (Acts 7:39-43+)

Guzik points out that "Even as God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, He also gave him reasons to believe and surrender to God—if he wanted to.

Exodus 7:4  "When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.

  • then I will lay - Ex 9:3 10:1 11:9 Jud 2:15 La 3:3 
  • bring out My hosts- Ex 6:26 12:51 
  • great judgments - Ex 6:6 Pr 19:29 Isa 26:9 Eze 14:21 25:11 30:14,19 Rev 15:4 16:7 Rev 19:2 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments - My hosts recalls the description of Ex 6:26 "Sons of Israel...according to their hosts." My people shows God's claim on Israel, a claim Pharaoh was usurping by making them his slaves.

NET on lay My hand - Literally “put my hand into.” The expression is a strong anthropomorphism to depict God’s severest judgment on Egypt. The point is that neither the speeches of Moses and Aaron nor the signs that God would do will be effective. Consequently, God would deliver the blow that would destroy.

NET on My hosts  - Often translated “hosts” (ASV, NASB) or “armies” (KJV), צְבָאוֹת (tséva’ot) is a military term that portrays the people of God in battle array. In contemporary English, “regiment” is perhaps more easily understood as a force for battle than “company” (cf. NAB, NRSV) or “division” (NIV, NCV, NLT), both of which can have commercial associations. The term also implies an orderly departure.

MacArthur adds that My hosts depicts "The nation as organized like an army with its different divisions (its tribes) and also as God’s military instrument upon the Canaanites.' (MSB)

Cassuto writes "As for the second part of the objection that you, Moses, raised before Me, saying, ‘how then shall Pharaoh listen to Me?’ (Ex 6:30, cf Ex 6:12), do not fear. Pharaoh will certainly not listen to you, but this is of no consequence. On the contrary, this is one of the points of My plan: And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and his obduracy will be instrumental in bringing upon him the retributions he deserves for the enslavement of the Israelites and the murder of their infant sons. And I will multiply, for the purpose of this punishment, My signs and My portents in the land of Egypt. Do not, therefore, be concerned if you do not immediately receive a positive reply, and Pharaoh will not listen to you; for it is actually as a result of his refusal to grant your request, that I shall arise and lay My hand on Egypt, and bring forth, in the end, My hosts (see on Ex 6:26), My people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgements (see on 6:6). It is true that Pharaoh said that he did not know YHWH (Ex 5:2), but then he and his people will learn to recognize Me, and the Egyptians shall know that I am YHWH, when they behold my acts, when I stretch forth My hand upon Egypt to inflict punishment upon the oppressors, and when I bring out (this is how Hebrew syntax requires that the word והוֹצֵאתִי wehōṣē’thī [literally, ‘and I shall bring out’], which is coordinated with the preceding infinitive, should be understood) the children of Israel from among them. (Ibid)

Cole on by great judgmentsCf. Ex 6:6, for Israel is ‘in the right’ and pharaoh is ‘in the wrong’, as he himself will admit in Exodus 9:27. This is another way of looking at the ‘signs’ of Ex 7:3, for every plague is also a judicial activity of God, at once righteous Judge and Saviour. (Ibid)

Exodus 7:5  "The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst."

  • Egyptians - Ex 7:17 Ex 8:10,22 Ex 14:4,18 Ps 9:16 Eze 25:17 28:22 36:23 39:7,22 
  • I stretch - Ex 3:20 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD (see Ex 7:17 Ex 8:10,22) - The pagans would know I am the LORD from the power of His plagues. Although they would come to know Him, it would not be in the form of a blessing, but a curse, which fulfilled God's prophecy in Genesis 12:3+ that "the one who curses you I will curse."

MacArthur on know that I am the LORD - This purpose of the Exodus finds repeated mention in God’s messages to Pharaoh and in God’s descriptions of what He was doing (cf. Exodus 7:16; 8:10, 22; 9:14, 16, 29; 14:4, 18). Some of the Egyptians did come to understand the meaning of the name Yahweh, for they responded appropriately to the warning of the seventh plague (Ex 9:20), and others accompanied Israel into the wilderness (Ex 12:38). In the final analysis, Egypt would not be able to deny the direct involvement of the God of Israel in their rescue from bondage and the destruction of Egypt’s army. (MSB)

Kaiser - These miracles would also be an invitation for the Egyptians to personally believe in the Lord. Thus the invitation was pressed repeatedly … and some apparently did believe, for there was a ‘mixed multitude’ (Exodus 12:38) that left Egypt with Israel. (EBC)

NET - By the time the actual exodus took place, the Egyptians would have “known” the name Yahweh, probably hearing it more than they wished. But they will know—experience the truth of it—when Yahweh defeats them.

When I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst - In another anthropomorphism God says He will stretch out His hand, but He uses Moses and Aaron to stretch out His staff (the staff of God - Ex 4:20+, Ex 17:9) to symbolize His power behind the plagues. As a result of God's "stretching" it would enable Him to be "bringing" out His people. We see the contrasting picture of God not stretching out His hand in Ex 24:11. 

Constable has an excellent comment - The ultimate purpose of God’s actions was His own glory (Ex 7:5). The glory of God was at stake. The Egyptians would acknowledge God’s faithfulness and sovereign power in delivering the Israelites from their bondage and fulfilling their holy calling. God’s intention was to bless the Egyptians through Israel (Ge 12:3+), but Pharaoh would make that impossible by his stubborn refusal to honor God. Nevertheless the Egyptians would acknowledge Yahweh’s sovereignty.

Exodus 7:6  So Moses and Aaron did it; as the LORD commanded them, thus they did.

  • Ex 7:2,10 12:28 39:43 40:16 Ge 6:22 22:18 Ps 119:4 Joh 15:10,14 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


So Moses and Aaron did it; as the LORD commanded them, thus they did - Moses the writer repeats "did" as if they had finally come to their senses and realized God meant business! How patience was God with them! How patience God is with each of us who continue to fall back into that sin that so easily entangles us and adversely impacts our "race." (Heb 12:1+)

THOUGHT - Note the phrase as the LORD commanded which is a good reminder for all of us to do exactly (blamelessly) as He instructs and commands us to live our Christian life, not adding humanistic thinking to His clear instructions and commands. As the psalmist says "How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD." (Ps 119:1) In fact given our fleshly tendency to wander off His highway of holiness, our prayer should frequently be "Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it." (Ps 119:35) remembering to use His guidebook, His Word, which "is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Ps 119:105). Indeed, "In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight." (Pr 3:6)

Exodus 7:7  Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

  • Ex 2:23 Ge 41:46 De 29:5 31:2 34:7 Ps 90:10 Ac 7:23,30
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Moses and Aaron should motivate all of us to seek continually and strive diligently to finish well like Paul ("I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" 2 Ti 4:7+) and not to waste our so-called "golden years," but to use our "golden years" to bring great glory to God! If you are an older believer who is retired, I challenge you to not lose the precious, passing opportunities you have today to store up for yourself eternal treasure for tomorrow (in heaven). You might want to read the motivating book by John Piper entitled Don't Waste Your Life! And here is a link to the first 29 pages (of 140 pages) from Randy Alcorn's The Treasure Principle

Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh - Given my age (74 yo), I find great encouragement in this documentation of their advanced ages. God used these men of age to bring about the greatest deliverance of the Old Testament, pointing to the greatest deliverance of the ages, the deliverance made possible by the Cross of Jesus Christ! Dear believer, if you are older, God can use you in a powerful way if you surrender wholly to His Holy Spirit and Holy Word. It is NEVER too late to begin to redeem the time, for He is the God Who is able to restore the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25KJV+). 

Moses would end up living another 40 years and would die at age 120 (Deut. 34:7). Aaron would also end up living another 40 years and would die at age 123 (Num. 33:39). It is never too late to start obeying God’s Word and defending the true doctrines of God.

Guzik - This is retirement age for many, but Moses knew that God’s will was more important than retirement. We also see from this that Aaron was Moses’ older brother, so God went against the conventional customs of that day by making the younger brother more prominent.

Cassuto has an interesting observation that “It is a common feature of biblical narratives for the age of their heroes to be stated at the time when some momentous event befalls them." (A Commentary on the Book of Exodus)

D. L. Moody wittily said that Moses spent
forty years in Pharaoh’s court thinking he was somebody;
forty years in the desert learning he was nobody; and
forty years showing what God can do with somebody who found out he was nobody."
-- Bernard Ramm

How fitting that it was Moses who would pen the following words in Psalm 90....

"As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years,
Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away."  
Psalm 90:10 

Spurgeon comments on this psalm - 

As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years. Moses himself lived longer than this, but his was the exception not the rule: in his day life had come to be very much the same in duration as it is with us. This is brevity itself compared with the men of the elder time; it is nothing when contrasted with eternity. Yet is life long enough for virtue and piety, and all too long for vice and blasphemy. Moses here in the original writes in a disconnected manner, as if he would set forth the utter insignificance of man's hurried existence. His words may be rendered, "The days of our years! In them seventy years": as much as to say, "The days of our years? What about them? Are they worth mentioning? The account is utterly insignificant, their full tale is but seventy."

Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow. The unusual strength which overleaps the bound of threescore and ten only lands the aged man in a region where life is a weariness and a woe. The strength of old age, its very prime and pride, are but labour and sorrow; what must its weakness be? What panting for breath! What toiling to move! What a failing of the senses! What a crushing sense of weakness! The evil days are come and the years wherein a man cries, "I have no pleasure in them." The grasshopper has become a burden and desire faileth. Such is old age. Yet mellowed by hallowed experience, and solaced by immortal hopes, the latter days of aged Christians are not so much to be pitied as envied. The sun is setting and the heat of the day is over, but sweet is the calm and cool of the eventide: and the fair day melts away, not into a dark and dreary night, but into a glorious, unclouded, eternal day. The mortal fades to make room for the immortal; the old man falls asleep to wake up in the region of perennial youth.

For soon it is gone and we fly away. The cable is broken and the vessel sails upon the sea of eternity; the chain is snapped and the eagle mounts to its native air above the clouds. Moses mourned for men as he thus sung: and well he might, as all his comrades fell at his side. His words are more nearly rendered, "He drives us fast and we fly away; "as the quails were blown along by the strong west wind, so are men hurried before the tempests of death. To us, however, as believers, the winds are favourable; they bear us as the gales bear the swallows away from the wintry realms, to lands

"Where everlasting spring abides
And never withering flowers."

Who wishes it to be otherwise? Wherefore should we linger here? What has this poor world to offer us that we should tarry on its shores? Away, away! This is not our rest. Heavenward, Ho! Let the Lord's winds drive fast if so he ordains, for they waft us the more swiftly to himself, and our own dear country. (Psalm 90)

Exodus 7:8  Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,

Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying - Now the great drama of divine redemption begins to unfold in vivid demonstrations of the power of the Almighty God. We have heard these stories since children, but we do well to read them begging the Spirit to open the eyes our our heart to see the greatness of our God and His immeasurable love for those who belong to Him by an everlasting covenant. Yes, Lord, by Your Spirit may the eyes of our heart may be enlightened, so that we will know what is the hope of Your calling, what are the riches of the glory of Your inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of Your power toward us who believe. In Jesus' Name. Amen (Eph 1:18-19+)

Believer's Study Bible - Here begins the first great concentrated period of biblical miracles. The second period comes in the days of Elijah and Elisha, and the third covers the life of Jesus and His apostles. A miracle is a signature of God, His sign of confirmation that the proclaimed message is truly His revelation. Miracles do not contradict God's created order; they are real events, although they transcend the normal pattern of cause and effect.

Exodus 7:9  "When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, 'Work a miracle,' then you shall say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'"

  • Work a miracle - Isa 7:11 Mt 12:39 Jn 2:18 Jn 6:30 Jn 10:38 
  • Take your staff - Ex 7:10-12 Ex 4:2,17,20 9:23 10:13 
  • that it may become a serpent- Ps 74:12,13 Eze 29:3 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, 'Work a miracle' - Pharaoh was in essence asking for accreditation of Moses and Aaron and his request would be answered more than he wanted! Pharaoh's request for a miracle foreshadows the repeated requests by the unbelieving Jews who said to Jesus "What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” (Jn 2:18+, cf Jn 6:30). And even as the majority of the Jews refused to believe in Jesus despite the many signs and wonders He performed, so too we see Pharaoh's heart refuses to believe the signs that point to the one true God. O yes, he will come to know Him, but not as Redeemer, but Judge! 

Then you shall say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.' - It is interesting that this is the first sign God had given Moses to perform before the sons of Israel that they might believe he was sent by God and for their good. (Ex 4:2-4,5+, Ex 4:29-30, 31+). 

Believer's Study Bible - The significance of the miraculous sign is in its challenge to the Egyptian sorcerers and in its demonstration that the true conflict is between Yahweh and the false Egyptian gods (Ex 7:12; Nu 33:4). The conflict will show the marked superiority of the God of Israel. In most, if not all the miracles, there were particular Egyptian gods believed to protect the Egyptians from each of Yahweh's plagues.

Exodus 7:10  So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.

  • as the LORD had commanded - Ex 7:9 
  • iit became a serpent - Ex 4:3 Am 9:3 Mk 16:18 Lu 10:19 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded - Recall they had been before Pharaoh in Ex 5:1-3,4+ but without success. But forgetting what lay behind, they press on in immediate obedience to God's command. They are now fortified by His Word. They had been fortified to an extent by His Word before, but now they really believe His Word and are willing to risk their lives in unquestioning obedience.

Guzik adds "The first time Moses and Aaron went before Pharaoh everything seemed to go wrong (Exodus 5:15–19). It took courage for them to go to Pharaoh again, but Moses simply obeyed God."

And Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent - Aaron carried the staff in Ex 7:19, Ex 8:5, 16,17. The first time this miracle had apparently been performed by Moses before the Jewish elders and people, but here it is Aaron who receives the honor of carrying out this miracle. 

Guzik points out that "This was not exactly the same miracle that Moses experienced on Mount Sinai and performed before the elders of Israel (Exodus 4:2–5 and Ex 4:29–30). That saw the rod of Moses turn into a serpent (ED: serpent = nachash - used in Ex 4:3 and again below in Ex 4:15), but a different Hebrew word is used here (ED: Hebrew = tannin)—something like a crocodile, which was something of a symbol of Egypt itself.

NET on serpent - The noun used here is תַּנִּין (tannin), and not the word for “serpent” or “snake” used in chap. 4. This noun refers to a large reptile, in some texts large river or sea creatures (Gen 1:21; Ps 74:13) or land creatures (Deut 32:33). This wonder paralleled Moses’ miracle in 4:3 when he cast his staff down. But this is Aaron’s staff, and a different miracle. The noun could still be rendered “snake” here since the term could be broad enough to include it.

Serpent (08577)(tannin) is "A masculine noun meaning a serpent, a dragon, and a sea monster. It can connote a creature living in the water (Gen. 1:21; Job 7:12; Ps. 148:7). When the word is used this way, it is also used figuratively to represent the crocodile, which was the symbol of Pharaoh and Egypt (Ps. 74:13; Isa. 27:1; 51:9; Ezek. 29:3). This imagery may help us better understand the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh, when Aaron's staff became a serpent and then swallowed the staff-serpents of Pharaoh's magicians (Ex. 7:9, 10, 12). God was providing a graphic sign of what was to come. It can also connote a creature that lives on the land (Deut. 32:33; Ps. 91:13; Jer. 51:34). There is one other occurrence of this term in the Old Testament where it is used as a descriptor or part of a proper name for a well or a spring (Neh. 2:13). In all its occurrences, this term has either a neutral (Gen. 1:21; Ps. 148:7); or a negative meaning (Isa. 27:1; 51:9; Jer. 51:34). In a few instances, the negative meaning is somewhat lessened, as when God provides a serpent to save His people (Ex. 7:9, 10, 12); or when a serpent was divinely restrained (Ps. 91:13)." (Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament)

Tannin - 28v - AV - dragon 21, serpent 3, whale 3, sea monster 1  Gen. 1:21; Exod. 7:9; Exod. 7:10; Exod. 7:12; Deut. 32:33; Neh. 2:13; Job 7:12; Job 30:29; Ps. 44:19; Ps. 74:13; Ps. 91:13; Ps. 148:7; Isa. 13:22; Isa. 27:1; Isa. 34:13; Isa. 35:7; Isa. 43:20; Isa. 51:9; Jer. 9:11; Jer. 10:22; Jer. 14:6; Jer. 49:33; Jer. 51:34; Jer. 51:37; Lam. 4:3; Ezek. 29:3; Ezek. 32:2; Mic. 1:8

Dwight Pentecost - “What we refer to as the ten ‘plagues’ were actually judgments designed to authenticate Moses as God’s messenger and his message as God’s message. Their ultimate purpose was to reveal the greatness of the power and authority of God to the Egyptians (Ex 7:10–12:36) in order to bring Pharaoh and the Egyptians into subjection to God.” (Thy Kingdom Come)

Exodus 7:11  Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.

  • called for the wise men and the sorcerers- Ge 41:8,38,39 Isa 19:11,12 47:12,13 Da 2:2,27 4:7-9 5:7,11 2Ti 3:8 Rev 19:20 
  • they also - Ex 7:22 8:7,18 De 13:1-3 Mt 24:24 Ga 3:1 Eph 4:14 2Th 2:9 Rev 13:11-15 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Pharaoh's "checkmate" -- Where checkmate in its original sense referred to the placing of an opponent’s king in an inescapable position and in a figurative sense to thwart or counter completely. How? By Pharaoh's "Magic Show."

Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers - Wise men (chakam) were described in Ge 41:8 when another Pharaoh called wise men to interpret his dreams and ended up calling Joseph "discerning and wise" (Ge 41:39). In calling on sorcerers Pharaoh calls in essence calls on Satan (his representatives, even as Moses was God's representative) the purveyor of the powers of darkness to reproduce the miracle. This is not a battle just between Pharaoh and Moses, but between Pharaoh's supporter Satan and Moses' God. This is the conflict of the ages. 

Sorcerers (03784)(kashaph) means to practice sorcery or magic. While the exact meaning of the word is obscure, it involved the use of supernatural powers that hardened hearts against the truth (Ex. 7:11). Those in Israel who used such powers were to be executed (Ex. 22:18). Judgment is promised against sorcerers when the Messiah returns (Mal. 3:5). "Sorcery is a religious act, as communication from the gods is sought. Further, sorcery is often associated with divination and with extispicy (reading various entrails of animals), a prime mode of divination. Extispicy requires cutting open the animal. Kāshaph occurs only in the Piel form, and five of its occurrences are substantive participles. The only finite verb form occurs in 2 Chr. 33:6, where Manasseh is accused of committing numerous sins, one of which is practicing sorcery. Otherwise, kāshaph occurs as a participle meaning "one who practices sorcery" or "sorcerer." The men or advisers that Pharaoh summoned to compete against Aaron were called sorcerers (Exo. 7:11). A similar arrangement is found later in Babylon when king Nebuchadnezzar summoned sorcerers along with magicians to interpret his dream (Da. 2:2). In the end, only God's servant, Daniel (like Joseph), was able to provide the king with the proper interpretation (cf. Da 2:14-45). Sorcerers were not to be allowed in Israel, and God's judgment would be against them. The command in Exo. 22:18 is, "You shall not allow a sorceress to live [in Israel]," is once again delivered to the Israelites in Mal. 3:5 (cf. Deut. 18:10). In fact, many of the commands of Mal. 3:5 reflect the commands of Exo. 22:18-24 (e.g., commands not to oppress the widow, the orphan or the alien). This intertextuality validates the Lord's claim in 3:6, "For I, the Lord, do not change." (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)

Kashaph - practiced sorcery(1), sorcerer(1), sorcerers(3), sorceress(1). Exod. 7:11; Exod. 22:18; Deut. 18:10; 2 Chr. 33:6; Dan. 2:2; Mal. 3:5

And they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts - Note the source of their power was their secret arts, while the source of Aaron and Moses' power was their Sovereign God

Paul writes "Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose (anthistemi - used in Eph 6:13+) the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. (2 Ti 3:8+)

Comment Jannes and Jambres are not mentioned in Exodus but Jewish tradition identified them as those who opposed Moses in Exodus 7:11. See Jannes and Jambres - Wikipedia,\

Constable - These were not sleight-of-hand artists but wise men who were evidently members of the priestly caste (cf. Ge 41:8). The power of their demonic gods lay in their “secret arts” (Ex 7:11). They were able to do miracles in the power of Satan (1 Cor. 10:20; cf. Mt. 24:24; 2 Th 2:9,10; Rev. 13:13–14). The superiority of the Israelites’ God is clear in the superiority of Aaron’s serpent over those of the Egyptian magicians (Ex 7:12). The rod again represented regal authority and implied that Yahweh, not Pharaoh, was sovereign (cf. Ex 4:2–5).

John HannahBut when they did this Pharaoh's magicians duplicated the feat by their secret arts, probably miracles empowered by Satan, not merely some sleight-of-hand trickery. Satan is able to perform "all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders" (2 Th 2:9) that deceive (2 Th 2:10; Rev. 13:11-15; cf. Mt. 24:24). (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

Guzik on they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same - Apparently, this wasn’t mere magic; the enchantments of the Egyptian magicians were examples of dark, demonic power showing itself in what at least appeared to be miracles. Miracles—or at least apparent miracles—are part of Satan’s arsenal. (Read 2 Th 2:9,10).  This means that miracles can prove that something is supernatural, but they cannot prove that something is true.

Driver adds that "Magic flourished in ancient Egypt; and many magical formulae are known to us from the inscriptions."

Samuel Driver - The Egyptian magicians do the same. The art of serpent-charming is indigenous in the East: there are allusions to it in Ps. 58:5, Jer. 8:17, Eccl. 10:11; and it is practised in Egypt to the present day. Modern Egyptian serpent-charmers possess an extraordinary power over serpents, drawing them forth, for instance, by noises made with the lips, from their hiding-places, and by pressure applied to the neck throwing them into such a state of hypnotic rigidity that they can be held as rods by the tip of the tail (Lane, Mod. Eg., ch. 20, in ed. 1871, ii. 93 f.; DB. iii. 889a; EB. iv. 4394: see further references in Di.). The serpent commonly used for the purpose is a species of cobra. As Di., however, remarks, we hear elsewhere only of serpents becoming rods, not of rods becoming serpents: the latter, a also the swallowing up of the magicians’ rods by Aaron’s rod, is ‘peculiar to the Hebrew story (Sage).’

NET says magicians "seem to have been the keepers of Egypt’s religious and magical texts, the sacred scribes."

Believer's Study Bible - Though the identity of these Egyptians is not mentioned, the names were evidently preserved in the oral history of Israel, and a form of them is very possibly given in 2 Ti 3:8 as Jannes and Jambres. Egyptian magicians had long ago mastered the art of inflicting a temporary paralysis on a cobra, making him appear stiff and rodlike. However, their "rods" were swallowed up by the "rod" of Aaron, which should have been a message to Pharaoh of the direction of events for the coming days (v. 12). The magicians were able to copy each of the first few miracles (Ex 7:22; Ex 8:7; Ex 9:11) until the plague of lice (Ex 8:18, 19). This suggests that the miracles gradually increased in difficulty and/or severity. This should teach us that something that appears to be the work of God may really be the work of Satan (2 Th 2:8-12). In order to be a genuine work of God, an experience must be associated with the proclamation of truth and must bring glory to God.

MacArthur on secret arts - By means of their “witchcraft,” the wise men, sorcerers, and magicians demonstrated their abilities to perform a similar feat. Whether by optical illusion, sleight of hand, or learned physical manipulation of a snake, all sufficiently skillful enough to totally fool Pharaoh and his servants, or by evil supernaturalism, the evaluation given in the inspired record is simply “they also … did the same.” However, the turning of rods into snakes, and later turning water into blood (Ex 7:22) and calling forth frogs (Ex 8:7), were not the same as trying to create gnats from inanimate dust (Ex 8:18–19). At that point, the magicians had no option but to confess their failure. (MSB)

NET on secret arts - The term בְּלַהֲטֵיהֶם (bélahatehem) means “by their secret arts”; it is from לוּט (lut, “to enwrap”). The Greek renders the word “by their magic”; Targum Onqelos uses “murmurings” and “whispers,” and other Jewish sources “dazzling display” or “demons” (see further B. Jacob, Exodus, 253–54). They may have done this by clever tricks, manipulation of the animals, or demonic power. Many have suggested that Aaron and the magicians were familiar with an old trick in which they could temporarily paralyze a serpent and then revive it. But here Aaron’s snake swallows up their snakes.

Driver on secret arts - with their usual mystic words or movements.

Exodus 7:12  For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.

  • but Aaron's - Ex 8:18,19 9:11 Ac 8:9-13 13:8-11 19:19,20 1Jn 4:4 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents - This is one of those scriptures where it is best to avoid dogmatism and argument. The staffs of the magicians are said to have become snakes just as in did the staff of Aaron. Some believe that this can be explained only by assuming that either (1) the magicians themselves had power to create life (WHICH I CONSIDER VERY UNLIKELY); or (2) on this occasion God gave them such power. Preferably it would seem that (3) the rods of the magicians were actually rigid snakes which, when cast upon the ground, were seen to be what they really were - snakes. Snakes were, and still are, a common element in the paraphernalia of Egyptian magicians. Compare Ex 4:2. As here the serpents, symbols of Satan who had the power of death (Heb 2:14; Rev 12:9), are swallowed up, so in resurrection death will be "swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor 15:54). Cp. Nu 17:8. Victory was won by our Lord Jesus Christ through His death at Calvary for sin, and by His resurrection.

Thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 15:57).

But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs - Notice Moses does not say Aaron's snake swallowed up the magician's snakes. It we can take this literally, then for a staff to swallow up another staff is even more of a miracle was a staff is inanimate and has not capability to eat anything! 

Charles Spurgeon preached a wonderful message titled The Power of Aaron’s Rod, in which he used this as an example of the truth that God’s power is greater than anything else, and can “swallow up” our idols and sins and such.

Exodus 7:13  Yet Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

  • Ex 7:4 4:21 8:15 10:1,20,27 14:17 De 2:30 Zec 7:11,12 Ro 1:28 2:5 Heb 3:7,8,13 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Yet Pharaoh's heart was hardened (See summary Table of Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart) - Here the text does not distinguish who produced the hardening, Pharaoh or God.

Note that Moses uses two words for hardening the heart. The word here is chazaq meaning strengthened and in context hardened. The other word used is kabad (Ex 8:15, which has the basic meaning of to be heavy like "heavy with sin." When used of Pharaoh's heart it means be morally stubborn regarding a change of action or attitude. (Ex 8:15; Ex 8:32; Ex 9:7; Ex 9:34; Ex 10:1; Ex 14:4; Ex 14:17) Note it is somewhat ironic that the verb kabad is used here for hardening but is used later for honoring (first God, then parents in  Ex 14:18; Ex 20:12)!

Driver says that when chazaq is used it indicates a will or attitude that is unyielding and firm, but when kabad is used, it stresses the will as being slow to move, unimpressionable, slow to be affected (Moses used this word to describe his tongue in Ex 4:10). 

And he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said - Note the two effects of his hard heart - (1) Pharaoh did not listen to Moses and Aaron. (2) God's prophecy was fulfilled, which would (should) serve to fortify their faith, one of the great values of studying Bible prophecy (something many in the church seem to shy away from as too divisive, too confusing, etc). The text does not say specifically what Pharaoh did not listen to, but if we compare God's earlier words (and the words in Ex 7:14, especially Ex 7:16), it undoubtedly was a call "to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land." (Ex 7:2, 7:4+, cf Ex 5:1, 3+

Exodus 7:14  Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.

  • Pharaoh's heart is stubborn - Ex 8:15 10:1,20,27 Zec 7:12 
  • He refuses to let the people go - Ex 4:23 Ex 8:2 9:2 10:4 Isa 1:20 Jer 8:5 9:6 Heb 12:25 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Stubborn means refusing to change one's mind or course of action despite pressure and good reasons given to do so. One who is stubborn is unyielding, resolute, marked by tenacious unwillingness to yield, and unreasonably immovable in purpose or will

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go - A hard heart is a stubborn heart. This passage echoes the words of God to Pharaoh in Ex 4:23 “So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’” 

Exodus 7:15 "Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent.

  • as he is going out to the water, - Ex 2:5 8:20 Eze 29:3 
  • the rod - Ex 7:10 4:2-4 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


The first recorded miracle of Jesus was water to wine (probably red wine) (Jn 2:1-11+), but here Jehovah's first miracle is water to blood!

Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water - Moses and Aaron receive a simple command from God. This one involves timing, so immediate obedience is required. Do we realize that when God tells us to do something, delay is not only disobedience but may even be "disaster" in that we miss the "appointment" which God had intended. Moses and Aaron are not to miss this very special appointment, one which would set in play the most dramatic confrontation between good and evil in the entire Old Testament. God grant us Your grace to not miss Your "pre-planned" appointments for each of us. In Jesus' Name. Amen. 

THOUGHT - What attribute of God is clearly portrayed in this passage? The Providence of God. Remember that even the English word gives us some sense of God providence For it is derived from the Latin providere which is composed of pro = beforehand + videre = to see, which gives us a good picture of the meaning of providence - God sees beforehand! Obviously when applied to God, providence is closely related to God's omniscience (He sees all and knows all at all times). The distinction is that in His Providence, God not only sees but does! In other words, God provides for the future which He alone can see! This transcendent truth will (or should) provide comfort to His children. However, the doctrine of divine providence might arouse anger or even frighten you, depending on what you believe about God the Father and Jesus His Son. Although theologians wax long and eloquent on this topic, in simple terms, the pivotal questions are "Is God able?" and "Do I believe?"

And station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile - The implication of station yourself is that they are in place (waiting) before the Pharaoh arrives. Moses and Aaron were walking fully by faith and not by sight! And indeed their faith was now walking! Faith is an "action verb" for true, saving faith always acts! Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone! 

MacArthur -  Three times Moses would meet him at this early morning rendezvous to warn of plagues, i.e., the first, fourth, and seventh (Ex 8:20; Ex 9:13)

And you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent - Here the word for serpent is again nachash, the same word used in Ex 4:3 and not the word tannin used in Ex 7:9. Clearly the simple staff is taking center stage in this drama of the ages. 

James Montgomery Boice sets the stage for the 10 plagues that begin in this passage writing...

The ancient Egyptians had about eighty major gods and goddesses. A lot of minor deities clustered around the others, but those eighty gods and goddesses were themselves clustered around the three main forces in Egyptian life: the Nile, the land, and the sun. The ancient historian Herodotus called Egypt “the gift of the Nile.” If it weren’t for the Nile, Egypt would have been part of the desert that stretches across North Africa to the west and across the Gulf of Suez to the Arabian Desert to the east. In ancient times the Nile overflowed its banks every year, depositing in that river valley the wonderful soil that had been carried down from central Africa and making Egypt one of the most fertile lands of the ancient world. Combined with the rich land and the water, the brilliant sun produced marvelous crops.

The plagues were directed against these three forces and against the gods and goddesses of Egypt that were grouped around them. The first two plagues were directed against the gods and goddesses of the Nile and everything associated with the Nile. Four plagues were directed against the gods and goddesses of the land. The final four plagues were directed against the sky and everything associated with the sky. Even the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, was against the sky. Pharaoh was considered the earthly incarnation of the sun god Ra, the most powerful force in the sky. His firstborn son would have been the next incarnation. (The Life of Moses: God's First Deliverer of Israel)

Exodus 7:16  "You shall say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now."

  • The LORD, the God of the Hebrews - Ex 3:18 Ex 5:3 9:1,13 10:3 1Sa 4:6-9 
  • Let My people go - Ex 8:1,20 13:15 14:5 Isa 45:13 Jer 50:33 Ac 4:21-23 
  • that they may serve Me - Ex 3:12,18 5:1-3 9:1 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

You shall say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you - Moses and Aaron are first to be crystal clear on Who it is that has sent them. Pharaoh might be taken a little aback as he has already rejected their request and ratcheted up the pressure on the people. And yet here they are again, and this time the meeting ground is not his palace but God's creation, the Nile River, the life blood of the nation of Egypt. The timing and the location have been specifically selected by Jehovah to have maximum impact on hard hearted Pharaoh. 

God of the Hebrews occurs 6 times in the Old Testament all in Exodus - Exod. 3:18; Exod. 5:3; Exod. 7:16; Exod. 9:1; Exod. 9:13; Exod. 10:3

Saying, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness - Notice (1) although Aaron (or Moses) speak the words, the words are God's very words. (2) God sees Israel as My people, not slaves of Pharaoh. (3) Let go is not a suggestion but a command from the Most High God! The Septuagint (Lxx) translates "let go" (shalach) with the verb exapostello in the aorist imperative which is a command to DO IT NOW! DO NOT DELAY(4) God's purpose in  context is that His people would serve Him. For serve the NLT has "worship" where the Hebrew verb abad (usually translated serve but occasionally worship) is translated in the Septuagint (Lxx) with the verb latreuo which means to serve in the sense of carrying out religious duties with a spirit of worship.

THOUGHT - Clearly God wants a repetition of the people's response in Exodus 4:31+ when "they bowed low and worshiped." And this is what Jehovah desires for all of us who have been rescued from slavery to sin and Satan and transferred into Kingdom of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ (Col 1:12-13+) -- that now we would daily "present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is our spiritual service of worship (noun latreia)." (Ro 12:1+) Let me ask you (even as I must ask myself), am I "worshiping" only on Sunday (and doing so because that is what is expected) or am I expectantly, adoringly, gratefully, reverentially worshipping Jehovah every day? In Romans 12:1 the verb "present" is in the active voice which practically means we each need to make a conscious, volitional, willful choice to worship! Living a life of worship won't happen on a whim, but only by our will! May God's Spirit initiate and energize (cf Php 2:13NLT+) such a spirit in each of our hearts, for the glory of the Lamb. Amen

Let My people go occurs 9x in 9v (and only in Exodus) -  Ex 5:1; Ex 7:16; Ex 8:1; Ex 8:20; Ex 8:21; Ex 9:1; Ex 9:13; Ex 10:3; Ex 10:4

But behold, you have not listened until now - Note Moses adds a behold so that we will give special attention to this statement. ESV has "But so far, you have not obeyed." 

Behold (02009)(hinneh) is an interjection meaning behold, pay attention and is used to express strong feelings giving vividness to the scene that follows. Hinneh directs our mind to the text, imploring the reader to give it special attention. In short, the Spirit is trying to arrest our attention! Spurgeon reminds us that "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

Exodus 7:17  'Thus says the LORD, "By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood.

  • you shall know - Ex 7:5 5:2 6:7 1Sa 17:46,47 1Ki 20:28 2Ki 19:19 Ps 9:16 83:18 Eze 29:9 30:8,19 32:15 38:23 39:28 Da 4:17,32,37 5:21,23 
  • and they - Ex 1:22 4:9 Ps 78:44 105:29 Rev 8:8 16:3-6 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries



Thus says the LORD, "By this you shall know that I am the LORD - By what? By the following sign (plague). And what was the purpose? The Pharaoh would know that Jehovah alone is God, the great I Am. He would see that the true and living God, Jehovah, would definitively defeat the "great Khnum" the so-called god of the source of the Nile. And so God began His "attack" purposefully and directly against the life source of the entire nation of Egypt to demonstrate His power. In the ancient world when a nation would defeat another nation, the victorious general would place his foot on the neck of the defeated foe. In effect Jehovah had placed His foot on the impotent god Khnum, reminiscent of  David's prophecy of the Messiah-King in Psalm 110:1-2

(A Psalm of David.) The LORD (FATHER) says to my Lord (SON): "Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet."
The LORD will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, "Rule in the midst of Thine enemies."

Behold (see above on hinneh), I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand and it will be turned to blood - Observe that Aaron (cf Ex 7:19) holds the staff, but God says "I will strike...with the staff." Aaron was God's instrument, His vessel of honor. What Aaron did, God did through him! Note that turned to blood means exactly that -- blood, not like blood or reddish colored water but literal blood! I am an pathologist and have dealt extensively for over 30 years with analyses and diagnoses related to blood, and yet I do not understand how God turned the water to blood, but I believe it without a shadow of a doubt, because God said it! He does not ask us to understand everything He does (after all He is Transcendent and Incomprehensible!) but He does ask us to believe! 

THOUGHT #1 - One is reminded of 2 Ti 2:21+ that each of God's bond-servants are to be "a vessel for honor, sanctified (set apart), useful to the Master, prepared for every good (God initiated,Spirit energized) work." Would you consider yourself a "vessel for honor" based on your choices this past week? If not,  confess any known sins of thought, word or deed and repent and "be ready," for you are now once again a "vessel for honor" for the Lord's use in His timing and for His purposes. 

THOUGHT #2 - Note that Jehovah would use judgment to make Himself known to Pharaoh. This is but a foretaste of all who like Pharaoh have hardened their hearts to Jehovah. He will bring judgment on the world and then they will know He is LORD, but they will still refuse to bow to Him (Rev 6:15-17+, Rev 16:9, 11+ - Rev 16:21+ "men blasphemed God because of the plague of hail"). However, the day will come as Paul described when even these Christ rejecters will have no choice but will be forced to bow --

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:9-11+)

Turned to blood - The Heb. word does not denote red coloring such as might be seen when red clay is washed downstream, but denotes actual substance, i.e., blood. (MacArthur).

Exodus 7:18 The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.

  • the fish - Ex 7:21 
  • will become foul- Ex 7:24 Nu 11:20 21:5 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Fetid means having offensive odor, a stale, nauseating smell as of something decaying (dead fish)! 

The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile - Note the results are (1) death in the water (2) stench coming from the water (3) scarcity of drinking water. Recall that the Nile River was considered the life blood of Egypt, and even considered as divine. God first strike is at the heart of the nation, the Nile River. 

Boice explains that "Egypt is strung out for hundreds of miles along the banks of the Nile. At times habitable land is only ten or fifteen miles wide, although it is wider in other places, such as in the Nile Delta. Suddenly the Nile, which had been the source of life for this ancient land, became a source of death. Everything in the Nile, and in every stream and pond, began to die. The question that would have been raised at once was: Where is the god of the Nile, Osiris, one of the great gods of Egypt? Where was his power? The Egyptians said that the Nile was his bloodstream, yet he appeared to be powerless. Where was Khnum, another of the great Nile gods, the guardian of the Nile sources who made sure the Nile kept flowing? Where was Hapi, the spirit of the Nile in Upper Egypt? Where were the gods and goddesses associated with the fish of the Nile, which were a great source of protein for the people? All these gods were revealed to be powerless."  (The Life of Moses: God's First Deliverer of Israel)

Guzik - this first plague was directed against the numerous Egyptian river deities. The Nile itself was virtually worshipped as a god by the Egyptians, and the LORD God shows that He has complete power over the Nile, not some river god.  The Egyptian god Khnum was said to be the guardian of the Nile, and this showed he was unable to protect his territory. The god Hapi was said to be the spirit of the Nile, and was brought low by this plague. The great god Osiris was thought to have the Nile as his bloodstream; in this plague he truly bled. The Nile itself was worshipped as a god, and there are papyri recording hymns sung in praise of the river. There is a significant mention of something like this in a papyrus from this general period known as the Ipuwer Papyrus (link to a skeptical Wikipedia note!). It actually says (Ipuwer 2.10) that the Nile was blood and undrinkable. The same papyrus repeatedly mentions that servants left their masters.

Exodus 7:19  Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'"

  • stretch - Ex 8:5,6,16 9:22,23,33 10:12,21 14:21,26 
  • their pools , Ge 1:10 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, - Again note the pattern of Jehovah speaking to Moses who speaks to Aaron.

Take your staff - A command to take your staff - was this a separate staff that Aaron possessed or was it Moses' staff, the staff of God? I don't think it was another staff, but was Moses' staff, the one he had used to perform the miracle turning the staff into a serpent. Why? Because if we compare Scriptures, the staff seems to be the same staff described in Ex 7:15 ("the staff that was turned into a serpent" - which would have been Moses' staff) and which is then described by Aaron as "the staff that is in my hand" (Ex 7:17).

And stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood - In Ex 7:17 the reference was just the Nile River, but now it is all the tributaries as well as potable water in every vessel in Egypt. Notice that while we see here that God commands Aaron "stretch out your hand," we see in other passages God says "I will stretch out My hand strike Egypt with all the miracles (Ex 3:20+, cf Ex 7:5), so clearly we see man's responsibility intimately integrated with God's sovereignty.

THOUGHT - This pattern of human responsibility and Divine sovereignty permeates the pages of the Old and New Testaments. I love Paul's beautiful description of the "real" power behind his ministry - "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, YET NOT I, but the grace of God with me." (1 Cor 15:10+, cf 2 Cor 3:5,6+). Notice the key confession "Yet not I but the grace of God with me." O, for all of us to be able to fulfill the work He has prepared beforehand for each of us to walk in (Eph 2:10+), leaning wholly on the supernatural power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29+), so that the glory solely and wholly goes to God, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."(Ro 11:36+) Let it be so Lord. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

And there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone - The text says blood not like blood, so it sounds to me like literal blood. Does this include red and white blood cells, etc? I cannot say, but it sounds like literal blood, even I cannot fully understand how this was manifested.

Guzik - There are nine in total (the tenth is the slaying of the firstborn, which is in a class by itself), and they are grouped together in threes. In this structure of threes, the first two plagues only come after warning and a call to repentance; the third plague in each set comes without warning.

Constable - God designed them to teach the Egyptians that Yahweh sovereignly controls the forces of nature. The Egyptians attributed this control to their gods.

Exodus 7:20  So Moses and Aaron did even as the LORD had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood.

  • he lifted - Ex 17:5,6,9-12 Nu 20:8-12 
  • all the waters - As the Nile was held sacred by the Egyptians, as well as the animals it contained, to which they annually sacrificed a girl, or as others say, both a boy and girl, God might have designed this plague as a punishment for such idolatry and cruelty; and to shew them the baseness of those elements which they reverenced, and the insufficiency of the gods in which they trusted.  All the punishments brought upon them bore a strict analogy to their crimes. Ex 7:17,18 Ps 78:44 105:29 Joh 2:9-11 Rev 8:8 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

So Moses and Aaron did even as the LORD had commanded - Moses gave Aaron Jehovah's command and Aaron carried out the command. 

And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants - Recall they had come to the bank of the Nile to meet Pharaoh when he came down in the morning. Pharaoh had a "front row seat" to the power of Jehovah. 

And all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood - It occurred just as God had said. Note that Moses does not say "like blood" but "to blood."  Both the Hebrew word (dam) and the Greek word (haima) refer to literal blood. (Ex 7:17, Ex 7:19, Ex 7:20, Ex 7:21). This was literally blood, whether we can fully comprehend that or not. Surprisingly even conservative writers suggest it was like blood but not really blood. 

Guzik - Some say the plagues each have a naturalistic explanation. In the case of this first plague, some point out that when the Nile reaches an extremely high flood stage, it collects finely powdered red earth, and this red earth carries organisms that color the water and kill fish. But if this were the cause, it is hard to explain how Pharaoh could possibly be impressed. It is important to understand that these plagues were all literal; there was nothing symbolic about them. Each plague pointed to a greater meaning than the event itself, but they really happened. This guides our understanding about the plagues in the Book of Revelation; there is no reason to see them as merely symbolic either.

Exodus 7:21  The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt.

The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt - Dead fish made the Nile loathesome and literally undrinkable.

Exodus 7:22  But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said.

  • magicians - Ex 7:11 8:7,8 Jer 27:18 2Ti 3:8 
  • and Pharaoh's - Ex 7:13 
  • as the - Ex 7:3 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries

But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts - I do not understand this passage. If the water was already turned to blood, how would the magicians replicate the plague. However it occurred, it would certainly caused Pharaoh to minimize the miracle of Aaron and Moses. Where did they get the water? The only source would have been water dug up (cf Ex 7:24). The miracle they should have done but could not do was turn the blood back to fresh water. 

And Pharaoh's heart was hardened - This is the second time Moses says Pharaoh's heart was hardened but does not tell us if the hardening is a result of his volitional choice or a result of God's judgment on Pharaoh. 

And he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said - The result of Pharaoh's hard heart was that he would not listen to Moses and Aarons command from God. He heard it but he did not "heed" it -- in many contexts, to hear or listen connotes the sense of to obey and that is clearly the case in this passage for Pharaoh heard the words of God (through Moses, from Aaron) but he refuse to obey the command of God. 

Exodus 7:23  Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern even for this.

  • with no concern - Ex 9:21 De 32:46 1Sa 4:20 *marg: Job 7:17 Ps 62:10 Pr 22:17 24:32 *marg: Pr 29:1 Isa 26:11 Jer 5:3 36:24 Eze 40:4 Am 4:7-12 Hab 1:5 Mal 2:2 
  • Exodus 7 Resources - Multiple Sermons and Commentaries


Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern even for this - It this were not the inspired Word of God, one could hardly believe what they are reading. The great Nile River ruined and turned into a stench, and Pharaoh's unbelievable indifference! That would soon change! 

Exodus 7:24  So all the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink of the water of the Nile.

So all the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink of the water of the Nile - The people had to resort to the water supply beneath the surface (as we do today in wells). The people of Egypt suffered because of the stubbornness of their sovereign! That is usually the case when a country has a godless leader! 

Exodus 7:25  Seven days passed after the LORD had struck the Nile.

Seven days passed after the LORD had struck the Nile - One can only imagine the impact of one week of "bloody water" that continually reeked. If you have never smelled dead fish, you don't know what you are missing! But be glad you have missed it, because it is one of the most horrible smells I have ever smelled! (See Why Rotting Fish Smell More than Meat)