The River That Ran Blood
Exodus vi: 28, to
Moses and Aaron had spoken to the people of Israel
the words which God had given them, they went to
meet Pharaoh the king of Egypt. You remember that
all the kings of Egypt bore the name of Pharaoh.
Moses and Aaron did not at first ask Pharaoh to let
the people go out of Egypt, never to return, but
"Our God, the Lord God of Israel, has bidden us to
go out, with all our people, a journey of three days
into the wilderness, and there to worship him. And
God speaks to you through us, saying, "Let my people
go, that they may serve me."
But Pharaoh was very angry. He said, "What are you
doing, you Moses and Aaron, to call your people away
from their work? Go back to your tasks and leave
your people alone. I know why the Israelites are
talking about going out into the wilderness. It is
because they have not work enough to keep them busy.
I will give them more work to do."
The work of the Israelites, at that time, was mostly
in making brick, and putting up the walls of
buildings for the rulers of Egypt. In mixing the
clay for the brick they used straw, chopped up fine,
to hold the clay together. Pharaoh said:
"Let them make as many bricks as before; but give
them no straw. Let the Israelites find their own
straw for the brick making."
Of course this made their task all the harder, for
it took much time to find the straw; and the
Israelites were scattered all through the land
finding straw and stubble, for use in making the
brick; and yet they were called upon to bring as
many brick each day as before. And when they could
not do all their task they were cruelly beaten by
the Egyptians. Many of the Israelites now became
angry with Moses and Aaron, who, they thought, had
brought more burden and trouble upon them. They
"May the Lord God judge you, and punish you! You
promised to lead us out, and set us free; but you
have only made our suffering the greater!"
Then Moses cried to the Lord, and the Lord said to
"Take Aaron, your brother, and go again to Pharaoh;
and show him the signs that I gave you."
So they went in to Pharaoh, and again asked him in
the Lord's name, to let the people go. And Pharaoh
"Who is the Lord? Why should I obey his commands?
What sign can you show that God has sent you?"
Then Aaron threw down his rod, and it was turned
into a snake. But there were wise men in Egypt who
had heard of this; and they made ready a trick. They
threw down their rods, and their rods became snakes,
or seemed to. They may have been tame snakes, which
they had hidden under their long garments, and then
brought out, as if they had been rods.
But Aaron's rod, in the form of a snake, ran after
them, and swallowed them all; and then it became a
rod again in Aaron's hand. But King Pharaoh refused
to obey God's voice.
Then Moses spoke to Aaron, by God's command: "Take
your rod and wave it over the waters of Egypt, over
the river Nile, and the canals, and the lakes."
Then Aaron did so. He lifted up the rod, and struck
the water, in the sight of Pharaoh. And in a moment
all the water turned to blood, and the fish in the
river all died; and a terrible stench, a foul smell,
arose over the land. And the people were in danger
of dying. But in the land of Goshen, where the
Israelites were, the water remained as it had been,
and was not turned to blood. So God made a
difference between Israel and Egypt.
The people of Egypt dug wells, to find water; and
the wise men of Egypt brought some water to Pharaoh,
and made it look as though they had turned it to
blood. And Pharaoh would not listen, nor let the
After seven days Moses took away the plague of
blood, but he warned Pharaoh that another plague was
coming, if he refused to obey. And as Pharaoh still
would not obey, Aaron stretched forth his rod again,
and then all the land was covered with frogs. Like a
great army they ran over all the fields, and they
even filled the houses. Pharaoh said:
"Pray to your God for me; ask him to take the frogs
away, and I will let the people go."
Then Moses prayed; and God took away the frogs. They
died everywhere; and the Egyptians heaped them up
and buried them. But Pharaoh broke his promise, and
would not let the people go.
Then, at God's command by Moses, Aaron lifted his
rod again, and struck the dust; and everywhere the
dust became alive with lice and fleas. But still
Pharaoh would not hear, and God sent great swarms
and clouds of flies all over the land, so that their
houses were filled with them, and the sky was
covered. But where the Israelites lived there were
no lice, nor fleas, nor flies.
Then Pharaoh began to yield a little. He said:
"Why must you go out of the land to worship God?
Worship him here in this land."
But Moses said, "When we worship the Lord, we must
make an offering: and our offerings are of animals
which the people of Egypt worship, oxen and sheep.
It would make the Egyptians angry to see us offering
a sacrifice of animals which they call gods."
"Well," said Pharaoh, "you may go; but do not go far
away, and come back." But when Moses and Aaron had
taken away the plague, Pharaoh broke his promise
again, and still held the people as slaves.
Then another plague came. A terrible disease struck
all the animals in Egypt, the horses and asses, the
camels, the sheep, and the oxen; and they died by
the thousand in a day, all over the land. But no
plague came upon the flocks and herds of the
But Pharaoh was still stubborn. He would not obey
God's voice. Then Moses and Aaron gathered up in
their hands, ashes from the furnace, and threw it up
like a cloud into the air. And instantly boils began
to break out on men and on beasts all through the
Still Pharaoh refused to obey; and then Moses
stretched out his rod toward the sky. At once a
terrible storm burst forth upon the land; all the
more terrible because in that land rain scarcely
ever falls. Sometimes there will not be even a
shower of rain for years at a time. But now the
black clouds rolled, the thunder sounded, the
lightning flashed, and the rain poured down, and
with the rain came hail, something that the
Egyptians had never seen before. It struck all the
crops growing in the field, and the fruits on the
trees, and destroyed them.
Then again Pharaoh was frightened, and promised to
let the people go; and again when God took away the
hail at Moses' prayer, he broke his word, and would
not let the Israelites leave the land.
Then after the hail came great clouds of locusts,
which ate up every green thing that the hail had
spared. And after the locusts came the plague of
darkness. For three days there was thick darkness,
no sun shining, nor moon, nor stars. But still
Pharaoh would not let the people go. Pharaoh said to
"Get out of my sight. Let me never see your face
again. If you come into my presence you shall be
And Moses said, "It shall be as you say, I will see
your face no more."
And God said to Moses, "There shall be one plague
more, and then Pharaoh will be glad to let the
people go. He will drive you out of the land. Make
your people ready to go out of Egypt; your time here
will soon be ended."