Category Archive: Bible – OT – Exodus

November 30, 2006

Darkness in Egypt

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Last night in our Bible study, we were talking about the plagues on Egypt leading up to the Exodus.

The first nine plagues appear to come in three cycles.  In each cycle, the first plague is announced to Pharaoh early in the morning, usually by the water.  The second is also announced to Pharaoh beforehand.  The third happens with no warning at all.

In the first cycle, there’s an emphasis on the Egyptian sorcerers and at the end of that cycle they are admitting their inability: “This is the finger of God.”  The second cycle seems to emphasize the distinction between Egypt and Israel.  The third … well, that’s harder to see at first.

But what jumped out at me last night is that all three of those plagues may have something to do with darkness.  The ninth plague, of course, is darkness.  In the eighth plague, the land is darkened because of all the locusts.  But where’s the darkness in the seventh plague?  It doesn’t show up in English translations.  But it did show up in the margin of my NKJV.

In Exodus 9:32, it says “the wheat and the spelt were not struck, for they are late crops.”  But the word for late, the margin suggested, means “darkened.”  That may be true, given that the root of the word is used for darkness in Isa. 29:18 and Amos 5:20.

And yet … I note that it isn’t the same word used in Exodus 10 for darkness, nor is it obvious to me how the “darkness” (= lateness) of the wheat and spelt would be related to judgment since these were the plants that weren’t destroyed by the hail.  So it just goes to show you that what jumps out at you, even if it is in the NKJV margin, isn’t always really there.

It is interesting, though, that a word related to darkness shows up in connection with these three plagues.  And I suppose that if there was thunder and hail there were likely clouds, which would have brought darkness.  So maybe there’s something there.  But if there is, it isn’t as clear as I thought last night, looking at that marginal note.  Alas.

Any thoughts on the structure of these ten plagues?

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Posted by John Barach @ 6:33 pm | Discuss (0)