The Seventh Plague-Hail

Exodus 9:13-35

The final plague in our portion this week (the remaining three appear next week) is hail. God again sends Moses to warn Pharaoh of the impending plague early in the morning. What makes this plague different, however, is that God gives the Egyptians an escape: bring everything you own indoors, and it will stay safe. Those who fail to heed to warning will see their crops destroyed, their cattle killed, and worse.


The hail of the plague is unlike anything we have ever experienced, let alone the Egyptians, who live in a warm climate. The Torah tells us the hail combines ice with fire, a combination which does not typically exist in nature. As the Israel Bible relates, the miraculous combination shows us that anything can exist in harmony to do God’s bidding.


The hail terrified Pharaoh, who offered to allow the Hebrew slaves to leave and worship God, but once the danger passed, the Egyptian ruler again reneged on his promise and hardened his resolve to keep his slaves.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

The Torah relates that every time Moses entreats God to end a plague, he first leaves Pharaoh’s presence. In fact, by our plague Moses says he must first leave the city! Why do you think that is? After all, isn’t God present everywhere?


Comments ( 14 )

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  • Christine Farr

    In verse 19 it states that every person and animal that is in the field and not brought inside will die when the hail falls on them. Yet in verse 27 Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron. How was it possible for the messenger to be outside in the hailstorm to fetch Moses and Aaron? I am assuming just like God made distinction with the people of Israel that Moses and Aaron were protected but how did the messenger of Pharaoh survived?

  • Shaq

    creeper? oh mannnn so we back in the mine try swing our picaxe side to side

    • Bob

      Don't mine at night – I know you're looking at that cave, and you're feeling kinda brave, go to bed you'll be alright. Don't mine at night.

  • Herman Arentsen

    The going out of sight of Pharo is a forebode of the going out of the country of the people of Israel. Pharo should get familiar with the Hebrews "going out of his sight", "going out of the country". Moreover the people did get more time to act according to the words of Moshe and save their lifestock and Moshe and Aaron had time to get away from the ordeal and could safely arrive in Goshen.

  • Kenneth

    The city was the refuge of the people. Those outside the city died. So MANY of the Egyptian people hearkened and were spared, although Pharaoh and his magicians and closest servants remained hard of heart. Moses in faith of God’s protection went out of the refuge of the city into the storm and by the power of God stopped the storm. The living Egyptians again witnessed or heard of the miracle of starting and stopping another plague. These plagues either softened the heart or hardened it. Not all Egyptians died in these plagues, though all were affected for good or for bad.

    • Angela B

      I agree, because the city is a place of refuge and hence Moshe had to display Yahweh's power out of the city. Thank you.

    • Stephanie Balfour

      How did the messenger to Moses, letting him know Pharaoh wanted to talk to him? If it wasn't a messenger, what was the means of communication

  • Christine

    Do you think it could also be the fact that it was The Lord who had hardened Pharoahs heart. I would not want to be in his presence while I was entreating the Lord. It could be done but very difficult

    • Drew

      Most tragically there is the moral threat. We sometimes forget, or don’t even know, that the conditions of slavery the Israelites experienced in Egypt were often enough felt historically by Egyptians themselves. The great pyramid of Giza, built more than a thousand years before the exodus, before even the birth of Abraham, reduced much of Egypt to a slave labour colony for twenty years. When life becomes cheap and people are seen as a means not an end, when the worst excesses are excused in the name of tradition and rulers have absolute power, then conscience is eroded and freedom lost because the culture has created insulated space in which the cry of the oppressed can no longer be heard.
      That is what the Torah means when it says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Enslaving others, Pharaoh himself became enslaved. He became a prisoner of the values he himself had espoused. Freedom in the deepest sense, the freedom to do the right and the good, is not a given. We acquire it, or lose it, gradually. In the end tyrants bring about their own destruction, whereas those with willpower, courage and the willingness to go against the consensus, acquire a monumental freedom.
      From a longer article by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

    • Angela B

      Yes Christine, I agree, this too could have been the reason.

  • Jerry

    Perhaps Moshe lacks confidence in his ability to entreat Hashem and does not wish to risk embarrassment in front of Pharaoh.

    • There are different ideas among the commentators as to why he had to leave. Many point out that Moses did now want to pray in front of Egyptian gods/idols, which would have obviously been in Pharaoh’s palace. Therefore, Moses had to always leave Pharaoh’s presence before beseeching God. However, by the plague of hail, it is specifically mentioned that he must leave the city. One explanation given is that many heeded the warning and brought their livestock in, to avoid being harmed by the plague. The fields were outside the city, and now the sheep and cattle, Egyptian gods, usually outside of the city, where within the city walls. Therefore, Moses had to leave the city to ‘get away’ from them. Another idea was that Moses wanted to see, first-hand, the damage caused by the hail so that he would be able to pray with more intention. Since the hail did not affect the homes, but rather the fields, Moses had to leave the city in order to first see the damage. Then he was able to pray to make it stop.

      • Drew

        Moses and the messenger must have had a huge faith to walk from wherever to Pharaoh thru the hail etc. So wouldnt he have seen the damage walking in?

      • Angela B

        I like the reasoning that "because he did not want to pray in front of the Egyptian gods."

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