Plagues of Locusts and Darkness

Exodus 10:1-28

God tells Moses to return once more to Pharaoh, for He has hardened his heart against the plagues and God wishes to send another one: locusts. Whatever grain was not destroyed by the plague of hail will now be consumed by the flying insects.

 

Pharaoh’s courtiers are moved by Moses’s threats, and ask Pharaoh to let the Hebrews serve their God as requested. Pharaoh acquiesces, but only on condition that the men go alone, leaving the women and children behind. Moses declines, and the swarms sweep through the country, devastating whatever is left of the agricultural crop.

 

Pharaoh begs for mercy, and is given a reprieve, as God sends a strong wind to blow the locusts away. Pharaoh does not free the slaves, however, so God sends a crippling darkness over the land. This time, to end his suffering, Pharaoh agrees to allow women and children to join in the sacrificial service, but asks that the cattle be left behind. Again Moses refuses those terms, and Pharaoh orders him out of his presence, never to return.

 

By the plague of locusts, God adds an interesting facet: until now, as the Israel Bible points out, God has said the plagues were intended to show Egypt (and the world) God’s power. Now, however, He adds another dimension: the Israelites are meant to recognize God through His plagues. This teaches us that even the faithful occasionally need a “spiritual boost”.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

The plagues have been getting progressively worse, from the nuisance of frogs and lice to the life-threatening hail, culminating in the deaths of all Egyptian firstborns. Yet the penultimate plague is darkness. What makes darkness so devastating that it would be the second-last plague? Why do you think God “saves” darkness for nearly the end?

Comments ( 22 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • Darkness is the culmination of those plagues. It means total dependency. There is not one reference point outside yourself. The significance of it is : outside the only true G-d of Israel there is no referencepoint in the world. HE is the only one true LIGHT of the world. All other so-called gods are fake. Do not trust them, they leave you in darkness. So this plague has a double meaning: total victory over the idols of Egypt and to show the Egyptian people that without HaShem you cannot do anything. Not even Pharoah the so-called “son of ra”, is able to bring light in this darkness. (Ra'm'ses)

  • It was very interesting that the Egutptian sorcerers could not perform the miracle of mosquitoes? God is the one who controls the supernatual.

  • Diana Brown

    It seems to me that all the signs and wonders that HaShem performed up until Parsha Bo was to let the Nations know that Israel’s G-d was a G-d who could work beyond the borders of the nation where His Name was placed. He could work in other nations. At that time, no other nation boasted that their god could work beyond their border. That is why some of the Egyptians began to plead with Pharaoh. They knew HaShem was greater than any god they had ever prayed to. Pharaoh’s heart was so hard that he thought he could make deals with G-d. Moses stood in the gap until Pharaoh sent him away.
    Now it’s Israel’s turn to know the greatness of their G-d. It would seem to me (if I were a Hebrew slave at that time) that one thing I would have known is the story of Joseph. Building on the things that happened in his life I would know when HaShem was allowed by Joseph to move in his life, he saved not only Joseph’s people but Egypt as well.
    So couldn’t the Hebrews see Joseph’s life going in reverse before their very eyes and the blessings of Egypt being removed with every change? The darkness would be the pit Joseph was thrown into. The final plague was reminiscent of when Jacob had his firstborn taken from him without a warning. HaShem did intervene and warn Pharaoh before the death of the firstborn because He wanted Egypt to learn of Him. He wants world restoration.

    • Diana, thank you for your insightful comments! There is definitely truth to the idea that God is ‘proving’ that He is The God, and He is not limited to borders! Also, I really like the analogy of the plagues being the life of Joseph in reverse. Though I’m not sure people living through it would have the ability to see it that way, as people reading the story after the fact-and knowing the beginning, middle and end of both stories, I can definitely see similarities.

  • Christine

    Thank you all so much for your comments, dreams and education.
    Christine

  • Drew

    I,m amazed how scripture links to scripture in ways we cant imagine. I am looking forward to the day when the spaces between the letters are explained.
    3 days of darkness linked to ”let there be light” which just happens to be verse 3.coincidence?…. Sure!!

    • It would take a million lifetimes to discover all the amazing meanings of each word, each letter, each space in the Torah, but we can (and must) at least begin. The Talmud teaches us that there is even a reason for each crown on each letter written in the Torah! (The Torah has a special and unique print, where some of the letters look fancy with ‘crowns’ on top).

  • Na'ahma

    One time I had a dream that I had died. I found myself in a place of horrific darkness. So thick and smothering and hopeless! And the whole time I was there, I knew G-d was there. I wanted desperately to see Him, to see His light but it was too late. I had made my choice. The darkness was made darker by my knowledge of His presence outside of it. And it was knowing I would spend eternity longing for that presence that made me scream for mercy. I woke up terrified. It was a very long time ago but I have never forgotten it. When I read in the Scriptures about the darkness that awaits unbelievers, I now have a point of reference.
    I share this dream quite a bit with those who doubt. And I am unafraid to say that The Word talks about such darkness and I ask, “What if you’re wrong?” I plant the seed. God brings it to fruition.
    Not sure how this fits in in this portion but I felt moved to share.

    • Drew

      There was an Aussie millionaire who died and came back. He said nothing to it it,s just darkness, dont think he realized it,s for eternity.
      Dan 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
      Everlasting life sounds great, not interested in other.

    • Na'ahma, in answering the plague of darkness as the second last plague, I am forced to link it to your explanation; darkness announces death which is eternal separation from Yahweh, it is a warning for those that are still alive that eternal separation is coming. It therefore announced the death of the Egyptian first born.

  • Ken2

    I am beginning to appreciate the reasons these nine plagues were sent by God were to address the false gods (beliefs) of Egypt. I need to study this more.

  • Kenneth

    The Egyptian’s worshiped the sun as the chief god. The sun light & what it brought to the Egyptian economy & way of life made the sun very important to them. But God who made the Sun & the Earth is able to shut out the light as and when He wants & was able to show the Egyptian peoples just that. Our God is the only true God & He controls the universe totally. Pharaoh, & his court needed to understand who the true God is; the sun that gives light & nourishment or the God who made the sun.

    • Kenneth

      I continually look to the Almighty to see His hand in the situation & what He is trying to achieve. There is only one true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. We need to ensure that He takes the pinnacle of our existence & we revolve around Him & His works. The Almighty God shows just how powerful He is but in a small devastating way to the Egyptians & the Hebrew nation at that time

      • I’m really enjoying all these comments! As Kenneth pointed out, the plague of darkness can definitely be seen as an ‘attack’ against the Egyptian sun god. And as Ken mentioned, it is a wonderful exercise to see how each plague was a direct attack against the way the Egyptians, and other civilizations, perceived god and thought about how it is run. Through the ten plagues, God makes it clear that He is the one and only God, the one who created the world and therefore the one who controls ‘nature’.

    • I agree with you and with Drew that this was judgment on the Egyptian sun-god.

  • Drew

    The darkness conveyed a message to the Egyptians, for the sun was their supreme god. It,s daily rising seen as a triumph over the snake demon apophis, the embodiment of darkness.
    The midrash calls the the plague ”the darkness of hell/geihinnom” and connects it to the primordial darkness before God said ”let there be light”

    • Drew

      Prophecy is pattern. Look at v 16 ”Moses and Aaron”, v18 ”He” went out. Who? One stayed behind?
      Think back to Abraham and Isaac, both go up to sacrifice but only Abraham comes down. Obviously Isaac comes down but the text doesnt
      say so.
      One stayed behind!

      • Interesting observation. I think that since v. 18 is discussing how ‘he’ entreated the Lord, ie. Moses prayed for the plague to start, the verse is only referring to Moses. But I would assume that Aaron left as well-it just wasn’t his role to pray on behalf of Pharaoh for the end of the plague.

  • Kenneth

    Suggestion for the portion titles: please provide the Hebrew meaning
    The portion of Shemot (Names)
    The portion of Va’era
    The portion of Bo

    • Good suggestion. The truth is, the names for the portions are generally one of the first words in the opening verse. As you said, Shemot is names. Va’era is ‘and I appeared’ and Bo means ‘Go’. Wishing everyone a wonderful week of learning!

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