GOD AGAINST THE GODS

PMT 2018-023 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last article I gave a brief exposition of God’s name which was given to Moses to encourage him to lead Israel out of bondage. We saw in that name reason to have hope in this world. Our God is a great God. And I will continue in Exodus by showing that our God is a great God above all gods. I will do this by briefly focusing on the Ten Plagues against Egypt and summarizing their theological purpose.

The ten plagues against Egypt are:

1. The turning of water into blood (Exo. 7:15–25).
2. The swarming of frogs (Exo. 8:3–15).
3. The turning of dust into gnats (Exo. 8:16-19)
4. The swarming of flies (Exo. 8:21–29).
5. The deadly pestilence on livestock (Exo. 9:1-7).
6. The painful boils on beast and man (Exo. 9:8–12).
7. The destructive and deadly storm of hail and fire (Exo. 9:18–35).
8. The catastrophic swarm of locusts (Exo. 10:1-20).
9. The thick darkness for three days (Exo. 10:21-29).
10. The death of the firstborn animals and men (Exo. 11:1–10; 12:29–32).

The Bible shows that the plagues are ultimately directed against the gods of Egypt: “against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments” (Exo. 12:12b; cp. Exo. 15:11; 18:11; Num. 33:4; Jer. 46:25). In this study I will present a collection of evidences for the focus of the plagues.

First plague. By turning the water to blood, God is defeating the god/goddess Hapi who was personified in the Nile River. Some ancient Egyptian texts even call the Nile by the name Hapi, a hermaphroditic god of fertility. Khnum was the god of the source of the Nile. Rather than the Nile bringing life to Egypt, under God’s judgment it pictures (Exo. 7:17, 21) and effects (Exo. 7:18, 20) death.


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Second plague. By causing the swarming frogs, God is defeating the goddess Hekhet, who was pictured as a female human with a frog’s head. She was supposed to constrain the frogs, but God overwhelms her power and multiplies them.

Third and fourth plagues. These plagues involve swarming insects (gnats and flies). These two plagues seem to be directed at least partly against the god Kheprer who was symbolized by a flying beetle. The god was pictured as a human male with a scarab’s head. His name meant “come into being” and he was the god of creation and rebirth. God overwhelmed this god of creation by creating extreme swarms of pests.

Fifth plague. The pestilence on the livestock is directed at the various bull cults of Egypt, such as Buchis, Apis, and Mneuis. Other gods and goddesses were associated with livestock, such as cows and pigs. The bull particularly represented strength and vitality. These gods were not strong enough to resist the Lord God Almighty (Exo. 6:3).

Sixth plague. The boils appear to serve as a denunciation of Sekhmet, the goddess of healing who could avert plagues. She was the special protector of the Pharaohs. Her healing work proves fruitless against God’s plagues.

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Seventh plague. Several goddesses are associated with the sky from which the hail and fire fall. Nut was the sky goddess, Shu was the goddess of air, and Tefnut was the goddess of rain. The divine hail and fire falling from the sky demonstrate her powerlessness before God.

Eighth plague. Locusts caused enormous destruction to crops and thus the food supply in Egypt. Therefore the Egyptians worshiped Senehem who protected from locust and other pest swarms. This god also fails before the Lord’s onslaught.

Ninth plague. The god who personified the sun was Amon-Re, the leading god of the Egyptian pantheon. He daily brought sunlight to the world. But he is rendered impotent for three days in the plague of darkness. God is the giver and withholder of light, not Amon-Re.

Tenth plague. Egypt was ruled by a succession of Pharaohs. The tenth plague destroys all the firstborn of the Egyptians, including Pharaoh’s firstborn son (Exo. 11:5; 12:29), disrupting dynastic succession. This plague also strikes out at Anubis, the god of the mummification and the afterlife, as well as the protector of graves. The plague overthrows the power of these god and shows God is the giver and taker of life.

Moses challenged mighty Egypt and their pantheon of gods. And he won a glorious victory for God and his people. Our hope in challenging this dark world lies in God. We must seek God’s power to effect revival and reformation in our world today.

“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; He also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and joy are in His place. (1 Chron. 16:25–27)

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