Where were we?
Ah, yes. When we left part I of the story of Israelites in Egypt, Moses and his brother Aaron try to free the Israelites (a.k.a. Hebrews) from slavery in Egypt. They turn to the Pharaoh again and again, pleading “Let my people go!” by the name of the God of Israel. Yet the Pharaoh refuses to do so, saying that he does not know the God of Israel.
Well, Pharaoh is about to get to know that God. Like, really really well.
For each time that Moses goes to Pharaoh and Pharaoh refuses to release the Israelites, God inflicts a new disaster on Egypt. This is in order to force the Pharaoh to free the Israelites in Egypt, and allow them to depart from slavery. These disasters serve as “signs and marvels” given by God to answer Pharaoh’s taunt that he does not know the Israeli God.
There were a total of ten plagues, starting from turning the water of the river Nile to blood and ending in the final disaster, in which every firstborn son in Egypt dies, including the firstborn son of the Pharaoh. Yes, that escalated quickly.
The ten plagues inflicted on Egypt are:
- Turning Water to Blood – The waters were turned to blood. The fish in the river died and the Egyptians couldn’t drink the foul water (except for the occasional Bloody Mary…)
- Frogs – Frogs. Just frogs everywhere – in the river Nile, on the land, in the houses and in the beds. It’s not easy being green.
- Lice – Like frogs, but smaller. All over Egypt, bugs crawled forth from the dust to cover the land, and all the dust became lice.
- Wild Animals – Hordes of wild animals running around and destroying everything in their path.
- Pestilence of livestock – a terrible plague on Egyptian livestock, killing horses, donkeys, camels as well as cattle, sheep and goats.
- Boils – The Pharaoh, his servants, the Egyptians and even their animals developed painful boils all over their bodies.
- Thunderstorm of hail and fire – hail violently struck down on Egypt. Man and beast who were exposed to its rage died on the spot; the herbs were scattered to the wind, and the trees lay shattered on the ground. You can say that all hail broke loose…
- Locusts – Like frogs, but hungry. The locusts covered the face of the land and swallowed up every remaining crop and fruit of the trees.
- Darkness – Total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days.
- Death of firstborn – All firstborn Egyptian sons (and firstborn cattle) died. Israelites marked lamb’s blood above their door and were passed over (hence the origin of Passover).
Finally. after all of that, Pharaoh agrees to let the Israelites in Egypt go. As Waze has not been invented yet, the Israeli God leads the Israelites in the form of a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night.
But like any good movie, there’s one last twist. Once the Israelites have already left, Pharaoh changes his mind. He pursues the Israelites to the shore of the Red Sea, where the Israelites have nowhere to escape. Moses performs yet another miracle – he uses his staff to part the Red Sea! The Israelites cross on dry ground, and then the sea closes down on the pursuing Egyptians, drowning them all.
Overall, according to the Bible, Israelites lived about 430 years in Egypt, between 1525 BC and 1095 BC. However, according to other resources, it is believed that they lived in Egypt between the 16th and 13th centuries BC for a total of 215 years.
The journey to the promised land of Canaan takes 40 years. In this time, the Israelites become a nation, and accept the Ten Commandments.
The exodus of the Israelites and their journey to Canaan are the source of the Jewish holidays of Passover and Sukkot.
And the little boy, who was supposed to be killed at birth, and was raised by the daughter of the Pharaoh ends up to be the hero that frees the Hebrews from the vicious grip of (a) Pharaoh!
Oh, how the tables have turned…
This concludes the story of Israelites in Egypt.
What happens next? Find out as the story continues on Chapter Three – King David and Jerusalem (and the Temple too).