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Egyptian Cattle Die The Fifth Plague: Livestock Diseased Fifth and Sixth Plagues Death of the Animals The Fifth Plague: Death of the Egyptians' Livestock
9:1-7 9:1-7 9:1-7 9:1-5 9:1-7
The Plague of Boils The Sixth Plague: Boils Boils The Sixth Plague: The Boils
9:8-12 9:8-12 9:8-12 9:8-12 9:8-12
The Seventh Plague: Hail Seventh Plague Hail The Seventh Plague: The Hail
9:13-17 9:13-21 9:13-21 9:13-21 9:13-19
The Plague of Hail
9:22-26 9:22-26 9:22-26 9:22-26 9:22-26
9:27-35 9:27-35 9:27-35 9:27-28 9:27-32
9:33-35 9:33-35

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph
  4. Etc.


  1. Exodus 9 records four plagues.
    1. disease on animals, Exod. 9:1-7
    2. disease on animals and humans, Exod. 9:8-12
    3. Same as 2.
    4. hail, Exod. 9:18-35 (the longest account of any of the plagues)

  2. If it is true that the ability of the Egyptian wise men to duplicate the plagues was the initial reason for Pharaoh to have a hard heart, that is no longer the case (cf. Exod. 9: 12,35). He refuses to believe (cf. 9:30).

  3. Exodus 9:14-16 is a unique feature of this plague. It gives the specific theological purpose of both the plagues and, for that matter, Israel (also note Exod. 9:29; see SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH'S ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN).

  4. YHWH revealing His power (cf. Exod. 9:14,16,29) over Egyptian gods is having some effect (cf. 9:20-21).
    The disease on "livestock" of all kinds would reflect on the Egyptian deities' powerlessness.


1Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 For if you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them, 3behold, the hand of the Lord will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks. 4But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel."'" 5The Lord set a definite time, saying, "Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land." 6So the Lord did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died. 7Pharaoh sent, and behold, there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.

9:1 The literary pattern continues.

9:2 "for if. . ." This chapter records two divine warnings to Pharaoh.

  1. Exod. 9:2-7
  2. Exod. 9:13-16

9:3 "the hand of the Lord" See SPECIAL TOPIC: HAND.

▣ "will come" The NET Bible (p. 134, #5) makes the point that this form (i.e., Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE, FEMININE, SINGULAR of the VERB "to be," BDB 224, KB 243) occurs only here. It translates it as "will surely bring."
Brevard Childs quotes G. S. Ogden (p. 129), who thinks the PARTICIPIAL form is meant to conform to a pattern in Exodus (i.e., Exod. 7:17,27; 9:3; 10:4).
This is the type of grammatical detail that must not be raised to exegetical significance (i.e., the literalism of the rabbis). Remember, the key to proper interpretation is "authorial intent" at the paragraph level.

▣ "livestock" Because of Exod. 9:19 one wonders

  1. is this a full list of livestock in Exod. 9:3
  2. is this hyperbolic language (cf. Exod. 9:6)
  3. does the remaining livestock refer to the ones placed indoors in Exod. 9:19-20

9:4 "the Lord will make a distinction" See note at Exod. 8:22. Note the emphatic statement at the close of Exod. 9:6 and beginning of 9:7.

9:5 "The Lord set a definite time, saying, 'Tomorrow. . .'" In Exod. 8:10 Moses allowed Pharaoh to pick the time a plague would cease. Here, YHWH picks the time another plague will start.
Pharaoh just does not see the clear handwriting on the wall (idiom from Daniel 5).

9:7 Pharaoh sent servants to confirm Moses' prophecy about the Hebrews' herds/flocks.

8Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Take for yourselves handfuls of soot from a kiln, and let Moses throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh. 9It will become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and will become boils breaking out with sores on man and beast through all the land of Egypt." 10So they took soot from a kiln, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses threw it toward the sky, and it became boils breaking out with sores on man and beast. 11The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians. 12And the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.

NKJV, TEV, Peshitta  "ashes"
The term (BDB 806, KB 925) occurs only here in the OT. Many scholars think it comes from a similar root, "to blow" or "breathe out" (i.e., speak). However, this is speculation.

9:9 "boils" This term (BDB 1006, KB 1460, cf. Deut. 28:27) denotes an inflamation, ulcer, or eruption. KB suggests it may refer to leprosy; if so, then this would be connected to one of the first signs shown to Moses in Exod. 4:6-8.
Some scholars think the root is related to an Arabic cognate root for "heat" (i.e., feverish place on the skin).
This same word is used to describe the illness of (1) Hezekiah, from which he almost died (cf. 2 Kgs. 20:7); and (2) Job (cf. Job 2:7).

▣ "sores" This term (BDB 101, KB 9) occurs only here (i.e., Exod. 9:9,10). KB says in Akkadian the root means "blisters" or "ulcers." It is a generally synonymous term with "boils."
In Exod. 9:15 a more general term, "pestilence" (BDB 184), is used, which refers to the plagues in general (cf. Exod. 5:3; Lev. 26:25; Num. 14:12; Deut. 28:21).

9:11 This verse accentuates the helplessness of Egyptian idolatry!

9:12 "the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart" See full note at Exod. 4:21.

13Then the Lord said to Moses, "Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 14For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. 15For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. 16But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. 17Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go.

9:14 "I will send all My plagues on you" The term "all" may refer to rain, hail, and lightning, all of which come with a powerful storm (cf. Exod. 9:23-24).
The hail, like the plagues of Exod. 9:8-12, affected humans and animals (Exod. 9:25).

9:14-15 "so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. . .in order to proclaim My name through all the earth" Here, we see the underlying redemptive purposes of the plagues, not only to Israel and Egypt, but unto the entire world. From Gen. 12:3 we know that the call of Abraham was a call to redeem the world; from Exod. 19:5-6, that Israel was meant to be a nation of priests because all the world belonged to Him; and from Isaiah 53, that though Israel failed in her mission to inform the world that the Ideal Israelite, the Messiah, will one day bring together all of the people to the one and only true God (cf. Isaiah 41-42). See SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH'S ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN and SPECIAL TOPIC: MONOTHEISM.

9:16 YHWH's mercy to Pharaoh (cf. Rom. 9:16) and to Egypt (cf. Exod. 9:15; the most powerful nation of this period in the ANE) was for the purpose of revealing Himself to the whole world (i.e., "erets," see SPECIAL TOPIC: LAND). The plagues reveal His power; His sparing Israel, His love (also note the mercy in Exod. 9:20-21).


9:17 "you exalt yourself" This VERB (BDB 699 I, KB 757, Hithpael PARTICIPLE) is used in this sense only here. Normally the VERB refers to building

  1. siege works (possibly an Egyptian loan word)
  2. highways
The closest parallel usage is Pro. 4:8, where it is used symbolically of "wisdom" being exalted. Pharaoh had built barriers around his own heart.
Notice the connection between YHWH and His people. To exalt oneself against one is to exalt oneself against both (i.e., Acts 9:4; 22:7; 26:14).

18Behold, about this time tomorrow, I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die."'" 20The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses; 21but he who paid no regard to the word of the Lord left his servants and his livestock in the field.

9:18 "I will send a very heavy hail" Again, the timing, intensity, and selectivity of location seem to be the theological thrust. There is some discussion among scholars about the rarity of hail in Egypt, but this cannot be documented and is simply speculation at this point. Josephus (Antiq. 2.14.4) says the hail was larger than had ever been seen before.
Fire and water were deified by Egyptian mythology (i.e., Temple of Serapis). YHWH controls both.

▣ "such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now" This type of literary hyperbole becomes a standard way of referring to the last days (cf. Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19; Rev. 16:18; also note I Macc. 9:27).

9:19 "Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety" Here is the first plague involving a faith response, which will deliver one from its effects. From Exod. 9:20, we see that some of Pharaoh's servants believed in the Lord and acted in faith. This should have been a model for Pharaoh to follow!

9:21 "but he who paid no regard to the word of the Lord" This VERB (BDB 962, KB 1321, Hiphil PERFECT) was used in Exod. 7:23 to describe how Pharaoh treated "God's word." Now some of his servants do the same (cf. Exod. 9:34).
This same VERB is used in Deut. 32:46 to encourage and warn Israel to believe and obey God's word.

22Now the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, on man and on beast and on every plant of the field, throughout the land of Egypt." 23Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24So there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25The hail struck all that was in the field through all the land of Egypt, both man and beast; the hail also struck every plant of the field and shattered every tree of the field. 26Only in the land of Goshen, where the sons of Israel were, there was no hail.

9:23 "fire ran down to the earth" This describes recurrent lightning.

9:24 "and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail" This literally is "fire taking hold of itself" (BDB 542, KB 534, Hithpael PARTICIPLE). This is idiomatic for constant lightning flashing back and forth across the sky.

9:25 The hail killed humans and beasts and destroyed most plant life.

9:26 In Goshen, where the Israelites lived, there was no hail (cf. Exod. 8:22).

27Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "I have sinned this time; the Lord is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones. 28Make supplication to the Lord, for there has been enough of God's thunder and hail; and I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer." 29Moses said to him, "As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord. 30But 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, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. 32But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they ripen late.) 33So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread out his hands to the Lord; and the thunder and the hail ceased, and rain no longer poured on the earth. 34But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not let the sons of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.

9:27 This is a surprising statement from the Pharaoh. He admits that his unbelief and hard heart are sins (cf. Exod. 10:16-17). He surely acknowledges YHWH's supremacy and righteousness (see SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS) in the sense that he is legally incorrect and YHWH has shown Himself to be an accurate predictor and fulfiller of the plagues (note Neh. 9:33; Dan. 9:14).

NASB, NRSV, JPSOA  "God's thunder"
NKJV, Peshitta  "mighty thundering"
TEV, NJB, REB  "this"
LXX  "God's sounds"
The MT has a CONSTRUCT "hail" (BDB 876) and Elohim (BDB 43). Elohim is interpreted as
(see UBS Handbook, p. 228).
Thunder was often identified with the voice of YHWH (cf. Exod. 19:16,19).

9:29 "I will spread out my hands to the Lord" The normal position of the Jewish prayer was with the hands and eyes lifted toward heaven (cf. Exod. 9:33; 1 Kgs. 8:54; 2 Chr. 6:13; Ezra 9:5; Job 11:13; Ps. 88:9; Isa. 1:15).

▣ "that you may know that the earth is the Lord's" This same theological emphasis is seen in Exod. 19:5; 20:11.

9:30 Pharaoh had seen the hand of God several times but had hardened his heart. Moses knew he would do it again (cf. Exod. 9:34-35).
For "fear" see SPECIAL TOPIC: FEAR (OT). For YHWH and Elohim see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY, C. and D.

9:31-32 This is an editorial comment to explain how the hail ruined some of the crops in January and February and the locusts destroyed other crops in March and April.

9:31 "flax" Normally this crop is called by a MASCULINE NOUN (BDB 833); only here is it FEMININE (BDB 834). BDB suggests it means "young growing flax."

9:32 "spelt" This (BDB 493, KB 490, cf. Isa. 28:25; Ezek. 4:9) was possibly a type of wheat but of lesser quality. It has been found in Egyptian tombs of the period. See Ezek. 4:9 for a list of the different kinds of grains.

9:34-35 Notice how the author places both free will (Exod. 9:34) and God's sovereignty (9:35 is a summary type statement) side by side with no sense of a contradiction! See SPECIAL TOPIC: ELECTION/PREDESTINATION AND THE NEED FOR A THEOLOGICAL BALANCE and SPECIAL TOPIC: PREDESTINATION (CALVINISM) VS. HUMAN FREE WILL (ARMINIANISM).

9:34 "he sinned again" This clearly states the responsibility of the hardening on Pharaoh himself.

▣ "he and his servants" One wonders who this refers to. The magicians have already publicly stated they think the plagues are the finger of God (or gods) in Exod. 8:19. So, this must refer to Pharaoh's personal servants who have heard Moses' words and seen the miraculous signs (cf. Exod. 9:21,30,34; 10:1). Unbelief is contagious!


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. How does Exodus 9 continue to show the plagues as a direct attack on Egyptian gods?
  2. Explain the theological significance of Exod. 9:14-16.
  3. Why is Exod. 9:20-21 unique in this section of Exodus?
  4. What is the implication of Exod. 9:27? Is it in a theological or legal sense?
  5. How is Exod. 9:30 related to 9:34?
  6. Is Exod. 9:31-34 an editorial comment? Why?

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