This chapter is just explaining that after Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and asked to be allowed to go into the wilderness, they were rejected. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he exercised more cruelty on the Israelites by no longer providing them straw to make bricks. They would have to collect it themselves, but were also required to make the same amount of bricks. The Israelite supervisors approach Pharaoh and plead with him, but he calls them lazy and reiterates his command.
They come across Moses and Aaron outside and yell at them, essentially, because they are treated badly. Moses turns to the heavens and pleads with God because he obviously doesn’t remember that the only reason that they’re treated badly is because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
The beginning of this chapter is a lot of recap. “I’m The Lord…Abraham…Isaac…Jacob…Land of Canaan…Israelite slaves…Egyptians…Pharaoh…” God told Moses to tell the Israelites this story, but they wouldn’t listen because they were broken. Moses explained that the Israelites would not listen to him. God told him to go tell Pharaoh to let his people go, but Moses said he couldn’t speak to Pharaoh because the Israelites wouldn’t listen to him.
We come to, surprise surprise, a genealogy. I’d like to take a moment to wonder why God didn’t, instead of hardening Pharaoh’s heart, speak directly into the Israelites’ hearts and tell them, “Hey, this Moses guy is your dude and you got nothing to worry about. Follow him and he’ll show you some crazy stuff. Wait until you see what I have planned for the Red Sea.” But no, God always has some bizarre Rube Goldberg device of a plan to “fix” things. Remember that flood from way back when that was supposed to cure the world of wickedness? How’d that work out?
From a writer’s perspective, I can understand the whole “harden Pharaoh’s heart” thing as a plot device. The god in this story wants to ensure that he can put on display his plagues and miracles so that people will believe.
OK, finally, on to the main event. All the training is done and now Moses is like God and Aaron is his prophet. They went before Pharaoh and when he told them to perform a wonder, Aaron took Moses’ staff, threw it to the ground and it became a snake. Pharaoh called on his sorcerers and magicians and they performed the same trick. Is this Penn and Teller’s Fool Us? However, Aaron’s snake swallowed up all the other snakes. Also, I have to chuckle because the name of this section with the staff and snake trick is called “Aaron’s Miraculous Rod”. I’m going to hell.
Pharaoh’s heart is, of course, still hardened because God made it so, so he sends Moses and Aaron out to the Nile River to meet Pharaoh. There would demand that he let the Israelites go. When Pharaoh refused, Moses or Aaron or both struck the water with the miraculous rod and the river turned to blood, all the fish died, and it stank. The Egyptians had to dig for water to drink. However, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to replicate the trick and so the Israelites would not be set free on this day.
Once again, pardon my language, but this is nothing more than a mystical dick-wagging contest between Arron and Moses and the Pharaoh’s magicians. I have a feeling that this will keep going for the rest of the plagues.
Coming up next: Frogs.