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published: 10/8/13

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The 10 Plagues of Egypt



What were the 10 plagues?

In Judaism, the 10 plagues of Egypt are the supernatural acts that YHWH, the God of the Israelites, did through Moses (and Aaron) against the Pharaoh of Egypt, as recorded in the book of Exodus.

The plagues occurred because of Pharaoh’s refusal to free the Israelites and to demonstrate YHWH's superiority of the gods of Egypt, including Pharaoh. The plagues are often seen as increasingly in intensity and they are often organized in the following manner:

  • Cycle one: Plagues 1-3 (blood, frogs. gnats/lice)
  • Cycle two: Plagues 4-6 (flies, livestock, boils)
  • Cycle three: Plagues 7-9 (hail, locusts, darkness)
  • And the 10th is the climactic plague (death of the firstborn)

Below you will find an overview of the 10 plagues. Please click on the title for a full description of each plague, which includes the complete biblical text, summary information, and more.




Descriptions of the 10 Plagues

1. Water turned to blood (click for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, the fish die, the river smells, and the people don't have drinkable, useable water. Pharaoh's magicians duplicate this plague.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 7:14-25
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Khnum (guardian of the Nile), Hapi (spirit of the Nile), Orisis (god of the underworld), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? Yes
Who was the immediate agent? Aaron
Was a staff used? Yes
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

2. The plague of frogs (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, frogs come out of the water and cover the land. Pharaoh's magicians duplicate this plague. (It is the last one they are able to reproduce.)

Where is this plague described? Exodus 8:1-15
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Heqt (associated with fertility and childbirth), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? Yes
Who was the immediate agent? Aaron
Was a staff used? Yes
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

3. The plague of gnats/lice (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, all the dust of Egypt becomes a swarm of gnats/lice.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 8:16-19
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Seth (an earth god), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? None mentioned
Who was the immediate agent? Aaron
Was a staff used? Yes
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

4. The plague of flies (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, swarms of flies cover the land of Egypt.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 8:20-32
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Hathor (a goddess represented by a cow), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? Yes
Who was the immediate agent? God
Was a staff used? Not mentioned
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

5. The plague against livestock (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, all the Egyptian livestock die, but not the Israelites' don't.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 9:1-7
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Ptah (god of Memphis), Hathor (a goddess represented by a cow), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? Yes
Who was the immediate agent? God
Was a staff used?
Not mentioned
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

6. The plague of boils (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, boils break out on all people in Egypt.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 9:8-12
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? any god represented by an animal, like Hathor
Was there a warning? None mentioned
Who was the immediate agent? Moses
Was a staff used? Not mentioned
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

7. The plague of hail (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, hailstorms kill all slaves and animals not brought under cover in response to the warning that this calamity was coming. These storms also destroyed vegetation.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 9:13-35
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Seth (an earth god), Nut (the sky goddess), Serapis (the god of fire and water), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? Yes
Who was the immediate agent? Moses
Was a staff used? Not mentioned
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

8. The plague of locusts (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, locusts cover the land and eat the remaining vegetation not destroyed by the hail.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 10:1-20
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Isis (the goddess of life), Seth (an eath god), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? Yes
Who was the immediate agent? Moses
Was a staff used? Yes
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

9. The plague of darkness (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, complete darkness covers Egypt for three days.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 10:21-29
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Re (or Amun, the sun god and chief deity of Thebes), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? None mentioned
Who was the immediate agent? Moses
Was a staff used? Yes
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

10. The death of the firstborn (click here for the full article)

Summary: In this plague, the firstborn of the people and cattle of Egypt die, but the Israelites are spared.

Where is this plague described? Exodus 11:1-10, 12:29-32
Which Egyptian gods were insulted by this? Pharaoh (who was considered divine), perhaps others as well
Was there a warning? Yes
Who was the immediate agent? God
Was a staff used? Yes
Did Pharaoh promise to let the Israelites go? Yes

Recommended for you:

Nephilim

Leviathan

The Ten Commandments

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Source:

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, which is in the public domain (with minor edits).