After some generations, the family came to be known as the Israelites.
They proliferated in Egypt. Pharaoh feared they might take arms in
support of some future invader, and thereby escape the country, so
the Israelites were put into forced labor in order to be worn down.
They built great cities for Pharaoh, but only became stronger and
more numerous. The Egyptians increased their demands on the Israelites.
Pharaoh even ordered that the midwives kill all the Israelite baby
boys and let only the girls live, but that didn't work out.
A boy was born in the line of Levi, Jacob and Leah's third son. The
baby's mom, afraid of Pharaoh's order, hid him with her as long as
she could. Then she put him in a basket and sent him down the Nile.
The baby's big sister watched what happened. Pharaoh's daughter's
maid fished the basket out of the weeds. She opened the basket, and
there he was. Just then, the big sister stepped in and offered to
find a wet nurse. Pharaoh's daughter said yes, thanks, and the sister
brought the baby's real mother back to nurse him. Pharaoh's daughter
named the baby Moses.
One day Moses saw an Egyptian beating up on an Israelite. After looking
both ways, Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. He
next day, Moses went out and saw two Israelites fighting. He asked
one of them what he thought he was doing, and the man replied, "Do
you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" The truth
was out. Moses fled to Midian, where he joined with the family of
Reuel. He married Reuel's daughter Zipporah, and fathered Gershom.
In the next chapter, Moses' father-in-law's name changed to Jethro.
One day when Moses was tending Jethro's flock, God appeared to him
in a flame blazing from the middle of a bush. God told Moses that
he would go to Pharaoh, and that he would lead the Israelites out
On the way, God detailed the plan.
"When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before
Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I
will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then
say to Pharaoh, `this is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn
son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me."
But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'
Egypt didn't stand a chance.
At night, in camp, without warning, God attacked Moses and was trying
to kill him. Somehow, Zipporah knew exactly what to do. She took
up a flint knife, and circumcised little Gershom with it. Then she
took the foreskin and rubbed it on Moses' genitals, saying, "You
are my blood-bridegroom!" So God let Moses live. Whew.
Moses teamed up with his brother Aaron. They met with Israel's elders
and let them in on God's plan. Before the first plague, God told
Moses to tell Aaron to throw down his staff. The staff turned into
a snake. Seeing this, Pharaoh called in his sages and sorcerers,
who were able to make snakes from their own staffs. They had some
power too. But God's snake ate up all of Pharaoh's snakes.
First God turned all the water in Egypt into blood, even the water
in buckets and jars. All the fish died. The country reeked.
Next God covered Egypt with frogs. There were frogs everywhere.
There were frogs in ovens, and frogs on beds, frogs jumping in faces,
frogs hopping on heads. Sorry. Later, of course, there were dead
frogs everywhere. They heaped up in the streets, and Egypt smelled
Then God turned the dust into gnats. Up to this point, Egypt's magic
was able to replicate the feats of God. They could turn water into
blood, they could make frogs, but they couldn't make the gnats.
The magicians went to Pharaoh and told him that they felt the Finger
of God. They hadn't felt anything yet.
Next, God brought horseflies.
Then He killed all the livestock. Everything.
He covered all the Egyptians with boils, which broke into sores.
Then He made it hail.
Then God sent locusts, which ate up any greens the hail didn't kill.
Then He plunged Egypt into darkness for three days.
Then God killed the firstborn son in every Egyptian family.
Repeatedly during this ordeal, Pharaoh relented and told Moses to
take the Israelites and go. Then God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and
He brought the next wave of death and misery to the men, women,
and children of Egypt.
Finally, God drowned Pharaoh and his whole army in the sea, and
then the Israelites were free. God had told Pharaoh why the annihilation
of Egypt was His plan.
This is what He said.
I will send the full force of my plagues against
you and against your officials and your people, so you may know
that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could
have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a
plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised
you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and
that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
God could have just executed them, but instead He tortured them.
He took control of Pharaoh's mind and twisted it to extend the misery
of those poor people. Why? God did it for the glory.