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Psalm 78:43-51 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

43 [a]When he performed his signs in Egypt,
    his wonders in the plain of Zoan.
44 God turned their rivers to blood;
    their streams they could not drink.
45 He sent swarms of insects that devoured them,
    frogs that destroyed them.
46 He gave their harvest to the caterpillar,
    the fruits of their labor to the locust.
47 He killed their vines with hail,
    their sycamores with frost.
48 He exposed their cattle to plague,
    their flocks to pestilence.
49 He let loose against them the heat of his anger,
    wrath, fury, and distress,
    a band of deadly messengers.
50 He cleared a path for his anger;
    he did not spare them from death,
    but delivered their animals to the plague.
51 He struck all the firstborn of Egypt,
    the first fruits of their vigor in the tents of Ham.

Footnotes:

  1. 78:43–55 Ex 7–12 records ten plagues. Here there are six divine attacks upon Egypt; the seventh climactic act is God’s bringing Israel to the holy land.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Exodus 7-12 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 7

The Lord answered Moses: See! I have made you a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother will be your prophet.[a] You will speak all that I command you. In turn, your brother Aaron will tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his land. Yet I will make Pharaoh so headstrong that, despite the many signs and wonders that I work in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Therefore I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring my armies, my people the Israelites, out of the land of Egypt. All Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of their midst.

This, then, is what Moses and Aaron did. They did exactly as the Lord had commanded them. Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

III. The Contest with Pharaoh

The Staff Turned into a Serpent. The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: When Pharaoh demands of you, “Produce a sign or wonder,” you will say to Aaron: “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, and it will turn into a serpent.” 10 Then Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord had commanded. Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it turned into a serpent. 11 Pharaoh, in turn, summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same thing by their magic arts. 12 Each one threw down his staff, and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed their staffs. 13 Pharaoh, however, hardened his heart and would not listen to them, just as the Lord had foretold.

First Plague: Water Turned into Blood.[b] 14 Then the Lord said to Moses: Pharaoh is obstinate[c] in refusing to let the people go. 15 In the morning, just when he sets out for the water, go to Pharaoh and present yourself by the bank of the Nile, holding in your hand the staff that turned into a snake.[d] 16 Say to him: The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you with the message: Let my people go to serve me in the wilderness. But as yet you have not listened. 17 Thus says the Lord: This is how you will know that I am the Lord. With the staff here in my hand, I will strike the water in the Nile and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the Nile itself will stink so that the Egyptians will be unable to drink water from the Nile.

19 The Lord then spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron: Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—its streams, its canals, its ponds, and all its supplies of water—that they may become blood. There will be blood throughout the land of Egypt, even in the wooden pails and stone jars.

20 This, then, is what Moses and Aaron did, exactly as the Lord had commanded. Aaron raised his staff and struck the waters in the Nile in full view of Pharaoh and his servants, and all the water in the Nile was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the Nile itself stank so that the Egyptians could not drink water from it. There was blood throughout the land of Egypt. 22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same[e] by their magic arts. So Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said. 23 Pharaoh turned away and went into his house, with no concern even for this. 24 All the Egyptians had to dig round about the Nile for drinking water, since they could not drink any water from the Nile.

Second Plague: The Frogs. 25 Seven days passed after the Lord had struck the Nile. 26 Then the Lord said to Moses: Go to Pharaoh and tell him: Thus says the Lord: Let my people go to serve me. 27 If you refuse to let them go, then I will send a plague of frogs over all your territory. 28 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up and enter into your palace and into your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your servants, too, and among your people, even into your ovens and your kneading bowls. 29 The frogs will come up over you and your people and all your servants.

Chapter 8

The Lord then spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron: Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams, the canals, and the ponds, and make frogs overrun the land of Egypt. So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their magic arts and made frogs overrun the land of Egypt.

Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to remove the frogs from me and my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” Moses answered Pharaoh, “Please designate for me the time when I am to pray for you and your servants and your people, to get rid of the frogs from you and your houses. They will be left only in the Nile.” “Tomorrow,” he said. Then Moses replied, “It will be as you have said, so that you may know that there is none like the Lord, our God. The frogs will leave you and your houses, your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.”

After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh’s presence, Moses cried out to the Lord on account of the frogs that he had inflicted on Pharaoh; and the Lord did as Moses had asked. The frogs died off in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. 10 Heaps of them were piled up, and the land stank. 11 But when Pharaoh saw there was a respite, he became obstinate and would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

Third Plague: The Gnats. 12 Thereupon the Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron: Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, and it will turn into gnats[f] throughout the land of Egypt. 13 They did so. Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and gnats came upon human being and beast alike. All the dust of the earth turned into gnats throughout the land of Egypt. 14 Though the magicians did the same thing to produce gnats by their magic arts, they could not do so. The gnats were on human being and beast alike, 15 and the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”[g] Yet Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

Fourth Plague: The Flies. 16 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: Early tomorrow morning present yourself to Pharaoh when he sets out toward the water, and say to him: Thus says the Lord: Let my people go to serve me. 17 For if you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies upon you and your servants and your people and your houses. The houses of the Egyptians and the very ground on which they stand will be filled with swarms of flies. 18 But on that day I will make an exception of the land of Goshen, where my people are, and no swarms of flies will be there, so that you may know that I the Lord am in the midst of the land. 19 I will make a distinction[h] between my people and your people. This sign will take place tomorrow. 20 This the Lord did. Thick swarms of flies entered the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants; throughout Egypt the land was devastated on account of the swarms of flies.

21 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go sacrifice to your God within the land.” 22 But Moses replied, “It is not right to do so, for what we sacrifice to the Lord, our God, is abhorrent to the Egyptians.[i] If we sacrifice what is abhorrent to the Egyptians before their very eyes, will they not stone us? 23 We must go a three days’ journey in the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord, our God, as he commands us.” 24 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord, your God, in the wilderness, provided that you do not go too far away. Pray for me.” 25 Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you I will pray to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, his servants, and his people. Pharaoh, however, must not act deceitfully again and refuse to let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” 26 When Moses left Pharaoh, he prayed to the Lord; 27 and the Lord did as Moses had asked, removing the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, his servants, and his people. Not one remained. 28 But once more Pharaoh became obstinate and would not let the people go.

Chapter 9

Fifth Plague: The Pestilence. Then the Lord said to Moses: Go to Pharaoh and tell him: Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go to serve me. For if you refuse to let them go and persist in holding them, the hand of the Lord will strike your livestock in the field—your horses, donkeys, camels, herds and flocks—with a very severe pestilence. But the Lord will distinguish between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that nothing belonging to the Israelites will die. And the Lord set a definite time, saying: Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land. And on the next day the Lord did it. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. But although Pharaoh found upon inquiry that not even so much as one of the livestock of the Israelites had died, he remained obstinate and would not let the people go.

Sixth Plague: The Boils. So the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: Each of you take handfuls of soot from a kiln, and in the presence of Pharaoh let Moses scatter it toward the sky. It will turn into fine dust over the whole land of Egypt and cause festering boils[j] on human being and beast alike throughout the land of Egypt.

10 So they took the soot from a kiln and appeared before Pharaoh. When Moses scattered it toward the sky, it caused festering boils on human being and beast alike. 11 Because of the boils the magicians could not stand in Moses’ presence, for there were boils on the magicians as well as on the rest of the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said to Moses.

Seventh Plague: The Hail. 13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: Early tomorrow morning present yourself to Pharaoh and say to him: Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: Let my people go to serve me, 14 for this time I will unleash all my blows upon you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me anywhere on earth. 15 For by now I should have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with such pestilence that you would have vanished from the earth. 16 But this is why I have let you survive: to show you[k] my power and to make my name resound throughout the earth! 17 Will you continue to exalt yourself over my people and not let them go? 18 At this time tomorrow, therefore, I am going to rain down such fierce hail as there has never been in Egypt from the day it was founded up to the present. 19 Therefore, order your livestock and whatever else you have in the open fields to be brought to a place of safety. Whatever human being or animal is found in the fields and is not brought to shelter will die when the hail comes down upon them. 20 Those of Pharaoh’s servants who feared the word of the Lord hurried their servants and their livestock off to shelter. 21 But those who did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left their servants and their livestock in the fields.

22 The Lord then said to Moses: Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall upon the entire land of Egypt, on human being and beast alike and all the vegetation of the fields in the land of Egypt. 23 So Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the Lord sent forth peals of thunder and hail. Lightning flashed toward the earth, and the Lord rained down hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 There was hail and lightning flashing here and there through the hail, and the hail was so fierce that nothing like it had been seen in Egypt since it became a nation. 25 Throughout the land of Egypt the hail struck down everything in the fields, human being and beast alike; it struck down all the vegetation of the fields and splintered every tree in the fields. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were, was there no hail.

27 Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and said to them, “I have sinned this time! The Lord is the just one, and I and my people are the ones at fault. 28 Pray to the Lord! Enough of the thunder[l] and hail! I will let you go; you need stay no longer.” 29 Moses replied to him, “As soon as I leave the city I will extend my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail so that you may know that the earth belongs to the Lord. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.”

31 Now the flax and the barley were ruined, because the barley was in ear and the flax in bud. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they grow later.

33 When Moses had left Pharaoh and gone out of the city, he extended his hands to the Lord. The thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured down upon the earth. 34 But Pharaoh, seeing that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, sinned again and became obstinate, both he and his servants. 35 In the hardness of his heart, Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.

Chapter 10

Eighth Plague: The Locusts. Then the Lord said to Moses: Go to Pharaoh, for I have made him and his servants obstinate in order that I may perform these signs of mine among them and that you may recount to your son and grandson how I made a fool of the Egyptians and what signs I did among them, so that you may know that I am the Lord.

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and told him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: How long will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go to serve me. For if you refuse to let my people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. They will cover the surface of the earth, so that the earth itself will not be visible. They will eat up the remnant you saved undamaged from the hail, as well as all the trees that are growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and the houses of your servants and of all the Egyptians—something your parents and your grandparents have not seen from the day they appeared on this soil until today.” With that he turned and left Pharaoh.

But Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will he be a snare for us? Let the people go to serve the Lord, their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is being destroyed?” So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, who said to them, “Go, serve the Lord, your God. But who exactly will go?” Moses answered, “With our young and old we must go; with our sons and daughters, with our flocks and herds we must go. It is a pilgrimage feast of the Lord for us.” 10 “The Lord help you,”[m] Pharaoh replied, “if I let your little ones go with you! Clearly, you have some evil in mind. 11 By no means! Just you men go and serve the Lord.[n] After all, that is what you have been asking for.” With that they were driven from Pharaoh’s presence.

12 The Lord then said to Moses: Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come upon it and eat up all the land’s vegetation, whatever the hail has left. 13 So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord drove an east wind[o] over the land all that day and all night. When it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 The locusts came up over the whole land of Egypt and settled down over all its territory. Never before had there been such a fierce swarm of locusts, nor will there ever be again. 15 They covered the surface of the whole land, so that it became black. They ate up all the vegetation in the land and all the fruit of the trees the hail had spared. Nothing green was left on any tree or plant in the fields throughout the land of Egypt.

16 Pharaoh hurriedly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord, your God, and against you. 17 But now, do forgive me my sin only this once, and pray to the Lord, your God, only to take this death from me.” 18 When Moses left Pharaoh, he prayed to the Lord, 19 and the Lord caused the wind to shift to a very strong west wind, which took up the locusts and hurled them into the Red Sea.[p] Not a single locust remained within the whole territory of Egypt. 20 Yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

Ninth Plague: The Darkness. 21 Then the Lord said to Moses: Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that over the land of Egypt there may be such darkness[q] that one can feel it. 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was dense darkness throughout the land of Egypt for three days. 23 People could not see one another, nor could they get up from where they were, for three days. But all the Israelites had light where they lived.

24 Pharaoh then summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, serve the Lord. Only your flocks and herds will be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.” 25 But Moses replied, “You also must give us sacrifices and burnt offerings to make to the Lord, our God. 26 Our livestock also must go with us. Not an animal must be left behind, for some of them we will select for service[r] to the Lord, our God; but we will not know with which ones we are to serve the Lord until we arrive there.” 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was unwilling to let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, “Leave me, and see to it that you do not see my face again! For the day you do see my face you will die!” 29 Moses replied, “You are right! I will never see your face again.”

Chapter 11

Tenth Plague: The Death of the Firstborn. Then the Lord spoke to Moses: One more plague I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. After that he will let you depart. In fact, when he finally lets you go, he will drive you away. Instruct the people that every man is to ask his neighbor, and every woman her neighbor, for silver and gold articles and for clothing. The Lord indeed made the Egyptians well-disposed toward the people; Moses himself was very highly regarded by Pharaoh’s servants and the people in the land of Egypt.

Moses then said, “Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go forth through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the slave-girl who is at the handmill,[s] as well as all the firstborn of the animals. Then there will be loud wailing throughout the land of Egypt, such as has never been, nor will ever be again. But among all the Israelites, among human beings and animals alike, not even a dog will growl, so that you may know that the Lord distinguishes between Egypt and Israel. All these servants of yours will then come down to me and bow down before me, saying: Leave, you and all your followers! Then I will depart.” With that he left Pharaoh’s presence in hot anger.

The Lord said to Moses: Pharaoh will not listen to you so that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. 10 Thus, although Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders in Pharaoh’s presence, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go from his land.

Chapter 12

The Passover Ritual Prescribed.[t] The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: [u]This month will stand at the head of your calendar; you will reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every family must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a household is too small for a lamb, it along with its nearest neighbor will procure one, and apportion the lamb’s cost[v] in proportion to the number of persons, according to what each household consumes. Your lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You will keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole community of Israel assembled, it will be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They will take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They will consume its meat that same night, eating it roasted with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or even boiled in water, but roasted, with its head and shanks and inner organs. 10 You must not keep any of it beyond the morning; whatever is left over in the morning must be burned up.

11 This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you will eat it in a hurry. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For on this same night I will go through Egypt, striking down every firstborn in the land, human being and beast alike, and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the Lord! 13 But for you the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thereby, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.

14 This day will be a day of remembrance for you, which your future generations will celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord; you will celebrate it as a statute forever. 15 For seven days you must eat unleavened bread. From the very first day you will have your houses clear of all leaven. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day to the seventh will be cut off[w] from Israel. 16 On the first day you will hold a sacred assembly, and likewise on the seventh. On these days no sort of work shall be done, except to prepare the food that everyone needs. 17 Keep, then, the custom of the unleavened bread, since it was on this very day that I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. You must observe this day throughout your generations as a statute forever. 18 From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day of this month you will eat unleavened bread. 19 For seven days no leaven may be found in your houses; for anyone, a resident alien or a native, who eats leavened food will be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; wherever you dwell you may eat only unleavened bread.

Promulgation of the Passover. 21 Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and procure lambs for your families, and slaughter the Passover victims. 22 Then take a bunch of hyssop,[x] and dipping it in the blood that is in the basin, apply some of this blood to the lintel and the two doorposts. And none of you shall go outdoors until morning. 23 For when the Lord goes by to strike down the Egyptians, seeing the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and not let the destroyer come into your houses to strike you down.

24 “You will keep this practice forever as a statute for yourselves and your descendants. 25 Thus, when you have entered the land which the Lord will give you as he promised, you must observe this rite. 26 When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’ 27 you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice for the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he delivered our houses.’”

Then the people knelt and bowed down, 28 and the Israelites went and did exactly as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.

Death of the Firstborn. 29 And so at midnight the Lord struck down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, as well as all the firstborn of the animals. 30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians; and there was loud wailing throughout Egypt, for there was not a house without its dead.

Permission to Depart. 31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Leave my people at once, you and the Israelites! Go and serve the Lord as you said. 32 Take your flocks, too, and your herds, as you said, and go; and bless me, too!”[y]

33 The Egyptians, in a hurry to send them away from the land, urged the people on, for they said, “All of us will die!” 34 The people, therefore, took their dough before it was leavened, in their kneading bowls wrapped in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 And the Israelites did as Moses had commanded: they asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 Indeed the Lord had made the Egyptians so well-disposed toward the people that they let them have whatever they asked for. And so they despoiled the Egyptians.

Departure from Egypt. 37 The Israelites set out from Rameses for Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, not counting the children. 38 A crowd of mixed ancestry[z] also went up with them, with livestock in great abundance, both flocks and herds. 39 The dough they had brought out of Egypt they baked into unleavened loaves. It was not leavened, because they had been driven out of Egypt and could not wait. They did not even prepare food for the journey.

40 The time the Israelites had stayed in Egypt[aa] was four hundred and thirty years. 41 At the end of four hundred and thirty years, on this very date, all the armies of the Lord left the land of Egypt. 42 This was a night of vigil for the Lord, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt; so on this night all Israelites must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations.

Law of the Passover. 43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the Passover statute. No foreigner may eat of it. 44 However, every slave bought for money you will circumcise; then he may eat of it. 45 But no tenant or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It must be eaten in one house; you may not take any of its meat outside the house. You shall not break any of its bones.[ab] 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate this feast. 48 If any alien residing among you would celebrate the Passover for the Lord, all his males must be circumcised, and then he may join in its celebration just like the natives. But no one who is uncircumcised may eat of it. 49 There will be one law[ac] for the native and for the alien residing among you.

50 All the Israelites did exactly as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 On that same day the Lord brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt company by company.

Footnotes:

  1. 7:1 Prophet: Hebrew nabi, one who can legitimately speak for God and in God’s name to another or others. Just as God spoke to Moses, so Moses will speak to Aaron, who will be a “prophet” to Pharaoh. Cf. 4:16.
  2. 7:14–12:30 After a brief preface (vv. 8–13) drawn from the Priestly source, a narrative depicting the series of ten disasters that God brings upon Pharaoh because of his stubbornness ensues. Although most of these disasters, known traditionally as the “ten plagues of Egypt,” could be interpreted as naturally occurring phenomena, they are clearly represented by the biblical authors as extraordinary events indicative of God’s intervention on behalf of Israel and as occurring exactly according to Moses’ commands. See Ps 78:43–51 and 105:27–36 for poetic versions of these plagues, which also differ significantly from the account here.
  3. 7:14 Pharaoh is obstinate: lit., “Pharaoh’s heart is heavy” (kabed); thus not precisely the same Hebrew idiom as found in vv. 13 and 22, “stubborn,” lit., “Pharaoh’s heart was hard(ened)” (hazaq) (cf. the related idiom with Pharaoh as the object, e.g., 4:21).
  4. 7:15 The staff that turned into a snake: the allusion is to 4:2–4 rather than 7:9–12. The latter comes from the hand of the Priestly writer and features Aaron—with his staff—as the principal actor.
  5. 7:22 The Egyptian magicians did the same: this is an exaggeration, presumably influenced by the similar statement in v. 11; whereas the magicians could turn their staffs into snakes after Aaron had done so, after Aaron’s sign there should not have been any water in Egypt still unchanged to blood for the magicians “to do the same” with it (cf. v. 24).
  6. 8:12, 17 Gnats, flies: it is uncertain what species of troublesome insects are meant here in vv. 12–14 and then in vv. 17–27, the identification as “gnat” (vv. 12–14) and as “fly” (vv. 17–27) being based on the rendering of the Septuagint. Others suggest “lice” in vv. 12–14, while rabbinic literature renders Hebrew ‘arob in vv. 17–27 as a “mixture of wild animals.” In the Hebrew of the Old Testament, the word occurs only in the context of the plagues (see also Ps 78:45 and 105:31).
  7. 8:15 The finger of God: previously the magicians had, for the most part, been able to replicate the signs and wonders Moses performed to manifest God’s power—turning their staffs into snakes (7:11–12), turning water into blood (7:22), and producing frogs to overrun the land of Egypt (8:3). But now for the first time they are unable to compete, and confess a power greater than their own is at work. Cf. Lk 11:20.
  8. 8:19 A distinction: while some uncertainty surrounds the Hebrew here rendered as “distinction,” it is clear that now the Israelites begin to be set apart from the Egyptians, a separation that reaches a climax in the death of the Egyptian firstborn (11:7).
  9. 8:22 Perhaps Moses is deceiving the Pharaoh much like the “God-fearing” midwives (1:16–20), although ancient historians writing about Egypt some time after the period in which the exodus is set do note Egyptian prohibitions on sacrificing cattle or slaughtering sacred animals. As such, the Egyptians might well have fiercely resented certain sacrificial practices of the Israelites. Certain animals were held sacred in Egypt, as the representations of various deities.
  10. 9:9 Boils: the exact nature of the disease is not clear. Semitic cognates, for example, suggest the Hebrew root means “to be hot” and thus point to some sort of inflammation. The fact that soot taken from the kiln is the agent of the disease would point in the same direction. See further Lv 13:18–23; Dt 28:35; 2 Kgs 20:7.
  11. 9:16 To show you: some ancient versions such as the Septuagint read, “to show through you.” Cf. Rom 9:17.
  12. 9:28 Thunder: lit., “divine voices,” “voices of God,” or the like.
  13. 10:10 The Lord help you…: lit., “May the Lord be with you in the same way as I let you…”; a sarcastic blessing intended as a curse.
  14. 10:11 Pharaoh realized that if the men alone went they would have to return to their families. He suspected that the Hebrews had no intention of returning.
  15. 10:13 East wind: coming across the desert from Arabia, the strong east wind brings Egypt the burning sirocco and, at times, locusts. Cf. 14:21.
  16. 10:19 The Red Sea: the traditional translation, cf. Septuagint and other Versions; but the Hebrew literally means “sea of reeds” or “reedy sea,” which could probably be applied to a number of bodies of shallow water, most likely somewhat to the north of the present deep Red Sea.
  17. 10:21 Darkness: commentators note that at times a storm from the south, called the khamsin, blackens the sky of Egypt with sand from the Sahara; the dust in the air is then so thick that the darkness can, in a sense, “be felt.” But such observations should not obscure the fact that for the biblical author what transpires in each of the plagues is clearly something extraordinary, an event which witnesses to the unrivaled power of Israel’s God.
  18. 10:26 Service: as is obvious from v. 25, the service in question here is the offering of sacrifice. The continued use of the verb ‘bd “to serve” and related nouns for both the people’s bondage in Egypt and their subsequent service to the Lord dramatizes the point of the conflict between Pharaoh and the God of Israel, who demands from the Israelites an attachment which is exclusive. See Lv 25:55.
  19. 11:5 Handmill: two pieces of stone were used to grind grain. A smaller upper stone was moved back and forth over a larger stationary stone. This menial work was done by slaves and captives.
  20. 12:1–20 This section, which interrupts the narrative of the exodus, contains later legislation concerning the celebration of Passover.
  21. 12:2 As if to affirm victory over Pharaoh and sovereignty over the Israelites, the Lord proclaims a new calendar for Israel. This month: Abib, the month of “ripe grain.” Cf. 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; Dt 16:1. It occurred near the vernal equinox, March–April. Later it was known by the Babylonian name of Nisan. Cf. Neh 2:1; Est 3:7.
  22. 12:4 The lamb’s cost: some render the Hebrew, “reckon for the lamb the number of persons required to eat it.” Cf. v. 10.
  23. 12:15 Cut off: a common Priestly term, not easily reduced to a simple English equivalent, since its usage appears to involve a number of associated punishments, some or all of which may come into play in any instance of the term’s use. These included the excommunication of the offender from the Israelite community, the premature death of the offender, the eventual eradication of the offender’s posterity, and finally the loss by the offender of all ancestral holdings.
  24. 12:22 Hyssop: a plant with many small woody branches that was convenient for a sprinkling rite.
  25. 12:32 Bless me, too: in a final and humiliating admission of defeat, once again Pharaoh asks Moses to intercede for him (cf. 8:24). However, Pharaoh may be speaking sarcastically.
  26. 12:38 Mixed ancestry: not simply descendants of Jacob; cf. Nm 11:4; Lv 24:10–11.
  27. 12:40 In Egypt: according to the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch “in Canaan and Egypt,” thus reckoning from the time of Abraham. Cf. Gal 3:17.
  28. 12:46 You shall not break any of its bones: the application of these words to Jesus on the cross (Jn 19:36) sees the Paschal lamb as a prophetic type of Christ, sacrificed to free men and women from the bondage of sin. Cf. also 1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pt 1:19.
  29. 12:49 One law: the first appearance of the word torah, traditionally translated as “law,” though it can have the broader meaning of “teaching” or “instruction.” Elsewhere, too, it is said that the “alien” is to be accorded the same treatment as the Israelite (e.g., Lv 19:34).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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