It was many years after Joseph died in Egypt that the Hebrew people were put into slavery by the Egyptians. Because they had become so many, the king of Egypt feared that they would one day side with Egypt’s enemies.
So because of this, the King ordered that all the baby boys should be thrown into the Nile River. Moses’ mother waited as long as she could before putting Moses into a basket. She then sent him off in the Nile, hoping that someone would find him, and care for him. We know that Moses was found in that Nile River by the sister of the King, and she kept him, and raised him as her own. Moses grew up in the courts of the king, because he was to be next in line for the throne. So Moses was very educated in the Egyptian ways. One day Moses longed for his people so he went out to the building site to speak with them, but when he got there he saw the foreman beating one of his people. Moses reacted very strongly and hit the man and he died. Moses was very fearful and he quickly hid his body under the sand. The next day Moses went out again to see his people, but they did not receive him. In fact, they asked him if he was going to kill them like he killed the foreman. Moses once again feared that the news would get to the King so he ran to Midian. When he got there he sat down and rested by a well. Seven daughters from a Midian priest came to water their flock. Also other shepherds came and began chasing the girls away when Moses got up and came to their rescue. The girls ran to tell their father what had happened. The father told the girls to go and bring this man home. Well Moses ended up staying with them, and he married Zippora, one of the daughters, and they had two children. Many years had gone by, and one day when Moses was tending the sheep, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire, it did not burn up. Moses thought to himself, “I must go over and see this strange sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” When he came close God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’ God said, ‘I am sending you back to Egypt’. Well, this made Moses fearful all over again. Moses made one excuse after another, but God would not have any of it. So Moses gathered his family and headed back. On the way back he met his brother Aaron who was coming out to meet him. When Moses and Aaron and the family returned to Egypt Moses was 80 years old and Aaron was 83. They gathered the elders of the people. Moses showed them the signs that God spoke to him, and the people believed him.
Now Moses and Aaron went to the king of Egypt, and told him that their God wanted them to go and offer sacrifices in the wilderness, but the king said, “Who is this God that I should obey Him? I will not, and I will not let Israel go.” So the king made it harder for the people to do their work, and the people no longer believed Moses. This only made Moses discouraged and he cried out to God, “Why have you brought trouble on this people?” God said, I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the labors of the Egyptians, and I will rescue you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments. Then I will take you as My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the labors of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession; I am the Lord.’”
So as God told them, Aaron threw down his staff before the king, and it turned into a snake, but his magicians could do the same, but only Aaron’s snake ate up their snakes. Again the king was not impressed. The next day Moses and Aaron went back to the king and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let my people go that they may serve me,’ but the king refused, and so according to God’s command Aaron took his staff again, and struck the Nile River, and it turned to blood. The fish that were in the Nile died, so that the Egyptians could not drink the water from the Nile. But the magicians could do the same, so the king’s heart was hardened once again. Moses and Aaron went back to the king, and once again said, “The God of Israel says, “Let my people go.” The king once again said “NO.” So Aaron took the staff, and once again struck the waters of the Nile and swarms of frogs came up and went into their houses, and into their bedrooms and in their beds, and houses of their servants, and into their ovens, and their food. But once again the magicians could do the same. Then the king pleaded with Moses to stop the frogs. But when God stopped the frogs, then the king once again hardened his heart. Now God tells Moses and Aaron to strike the dust of the earth, and when he did, gnats came upon the people and the animals. But this time the magicians could not do the same, so they told the king this is truly the hand of God, but once again the king would not be moved. So God brought about flies, but this time the flies were only on the Egyptians while God’s people were not touched. The king told Moses, “I will let you go, so that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away.” And so the flies left, but then the king hardened his heart once again.
Moses and Aaron went back to the king once again and told him that the hand of the Lord will come with a very severe plaque on their livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that not one will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel. And so it happened, many of the livestock of Egypt died, but not one of the Israelites’ animals died. And yet once again the king refused to let them go. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take for yourselves handfuls of soot from a kiln, and Moses shall toss it toward the sky in the sight of the king. Then it will become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and will turn into boils breaking out with sores on every person and animal through all the land of Egypt.” So all of the Egyptians were plagued with boils. But again the king refused to let them go. God said, “Tomorrow I will bring about a very heavy hail as never seen before. I tell you, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every person and animal that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die except in the land of Goshen where the Israelites live.” Everyone among the servants of the king who feared the Word of the Lord hurried to bring his servants and his livestock into the houses; but everyone who did not pay regard to the Word of the Lord left his servants and his livestock in the field. The king realized that he had sinned and pleaded for the hail to stop and that the people could go. By now the flax and the barley crops were ruined and many of their livestock had died. When the hail stopped, the king once again hardened his heart and said “No”! Now God’s message was this, “I will bring locusts upon you, and they will cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has survived the hail and they will eat every tree of yours which grows in the field. Then your houses will be filled with them, together with the houses of all your servants and the houses of all the Egyptians. And they did! For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Therefore nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field throughout the land of Egypt. And the people were crying out to the king, “Do you not know that Egypt is destroyed.” But when the locust stopped, the king hardened his heart once again. Moses said to the king, “You must let us go with our children and our livestock so we may sacrifice to our God, if not, God will bring about a darkness, a thick darkness which will last three days.” So it came, and everyone had to stay in their place because they could not see even one another. So all of the Egyptians stayed in place for three days but where the Israelites lived there the sun was shining.” Afterwards as usual, the king realized that he sinned, so when the darkness left and once again the king went back on his word. But this time the king said, “Get away from me! Be careful that you do not see my face again, for on the day you see my face, you shall die!” Moses said, “You have spoken correctly; I shall never see your face again!” Now the Lord said to Moses, “One more plague I will bring on the king and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will assuredly drive you out from here completely. Speak now so that the people hear, that each man is to ask of his neighbor, and each woman of her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold.” And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. And the man Moses was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of the king’s servants and in the sight of the people. Then Moses said to the king, “The Lord said: ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the king who sits on his throne, to the firstborn of the servant girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. So there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. And all these servants of yours will come down to me and bow themselves before me, saying, ‘Go out, you and all the people who follow you,’ and after that I will go out.”
So Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before the king; yet the Lord hardened the king’s heart, even though he just heard the words of Moses, he still would not let the sons of Israel go out of his land.