Now we are going to take a look at the next plague of lice. Pharaoh’s magicians will try to mimic this plague but they will be unsuccessful. They could copy the others, but not this one. Exo 8.19 says, “And the magicians told Pharaoh: ‘This is the finger of God.'” The magicians know now that this is not the work of another magician. They conclude that this is the finger and work of God. In a polytheistic society of many gods, to say something is the work of a divine being is not the same thing as saying something is the work of a “creator God.”
When dealing with Pharaoh, the magicians used “elohim” which we have discussed before as a generic term for a “power.” These magicians are not endorsing the Hebraic idea of a creator God, but that a “god” has come against them. What they are really saying is when they talk to Pharaoh is this. We have seen in the plague of lice is that this is not magic. Moses is not a magician nor is he doing magic tricks. This is the work of a god (elohim/power). We advise you to not get too excited here and throw out our polytheistic ideas over a few bugs. Exo 8.32 goes on to say that after listening to the magicians “Pharaoh’s heart was strengthened (Chazek ha Lev), and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”
Pharaoh is going against a power that is stronger than he thought, so he digs in in his heart. The plagues are going along in two areas. These two areas are power and precision. God is going to make a distinction between the land of Goshen and the rest of Egypt. This act of precision will now involve space not just time. This God is king over both space and time, but Pharaoh will ignore and disregard both of these areas (Exo 8.32).
We have another plague coming that will come against the cattle of Egypt. Precision will come into play here in a bigger way. The Lord will predict this plague at a certain time (Exo 9.5) but precision will also play a role in the realm of space as well. Exo 9.4 says, “But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel.” So, the Lord will not only make a difference between Egypt and Israel, but he will do it a the most basic level.
This increased precision will not get past the notice of Pharaoh because Exo 9.7 says, “And Pharaoh sent, and behold there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead.” What pagan god can do that? Why is Pharaoh even fighting this God called Yehovah? The only control he has to continue is to ignore reality and the obvious, and that is what he does in Exo 9.7. Kaved ha Lev is used to describe the hardening of his heart in order to compartmentalize what is happening. His real enemy is reality as we have mentioned before.
The next plague are boils. The magicians, who duplicated some of the earlier plagues, can’t keep up anymore and they get caught up in the pain of these boils. This plague is so bad, they can’t even function anymore (Exo 9.11). Up till now, it was Pharaoh who hardened his own heart. Now, the Lord enters into the picture and Exo 9.12 says, ” And the Lord hardened (Kabed ha Lev) Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.” Why does God intervene now?
We know that the plagues were very severe. Pharaoh could have quit because he wanted to survive, but that doesn’t mean he had changed his mind about anything. He still would have thought he was a “god” and keep going ahead, making up his own rules. The Lord was not going to let Pharaoh get off that easy, and so he comes in to “strengthen” his heart to continue. That is what Exo 9.12 is saying. The plague of boils broke Pharaoh and his courage departed, so the Lord stepped in because the Lord was not ready for Pharaoh to quit. If Pharaoh needed strength to keep going, God was going to give it to him. The Lord wanted Pharaoh’s surrender based on who he was, the one, true creator God. If not, the Lord was going to make sure Pharaoh got what he needed to keep going till the end.
We are at a pivotal moment in this drama. The hail is coming and when one just reads the account in most bibles, the hail just seems like the next plague, but this was no ordinary plague. Moses says in Exo 9.13-14, “Yehovah said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says Yehovah, God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. For this time I will send all my plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know there is no one like me in all the earth.'”
What does “send all my plagues on you” mean? Does this one plague equal all the others? Is it a unique plague? Will it show Yehovah as the one, true creator God of the Hebrews? This one plague will carry a message about the Lord that equals all the other plagues. God is going to create this plague in such a way that it gets to the heart of Pharaoh because that is the battleground.
Things cannot remain the same after this plague. The Lord says in Exo 9.16, “But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you my power, and in order to proclaim my name through all the earth.” This goes back to what we said earlier. Why did God strengthen Pharaoh? Why did he have Pharaoh play the role he did in all of this? The Lord is answering all those questions right here. Fohrman says it is as if the Lord pauses right before these plagues get really bad and seems to be telling Pharaoh to get real. Haven’t you wondered why you are still here after all the previous destruction?
There is a concept that says, “The answer to every problem is in the problem.” God gives Pharaoh the answer to all of this when he says that he has allowed Pharaoh to stand. God was going to show Pharaoh what power really is, not like the lame gods that he worships. Why? So that the name of the Lord can be proclaimed through the whole earth. The reason Pharaoh is still here is because there is something bigger than Pharaoh here. Pharaoh was going to be part of the revelation of God to all mankind.
We will pick up here in Part 90.