(Background Reading: Exodus 9:8-35; 10)

Exodus 9:8 And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.

9 And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt.

10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.

11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.

12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.

13 And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.

15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.

16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go?

18 Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.

19 Send therefore now, and gather thy cattle, and all that thou hast in the field; for upon every man and beast which shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die.

20 He that feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses:

21 And he that regarded not the word of the LORD left his servants and his cattle in the field.

22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.

23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt.

24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.

25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.

26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail.

Exodus 10:3 And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me.

4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:

13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.

14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such.

15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

21 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.

22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

23 They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you.

25 And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God.

26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.

27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.

28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die.

29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.

MEMORY VERSE: Marvelous things did he … in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. —Psalm 78:12

CENTRAL THOUGHT: The next four plagues were the boils upon man and beast, hail with thunder and fire, devouring locusts, and thick darkness; however, Pharaoh yet hardened his heart against God and would not let the children of Israel go.


Exodus 9:8 “Ashes of the furnace”: soot; probably from the very furnaces in which they had made the Israelites labor. Possibly a brick-kiln; or an iron-smelting furnace. Later, in Deuteronomy 4:20, God used the words “iron furnace” to describe the Israelites’ suffering in Egypt (I Kings 8:51 and Jeremiah 11:4 also use this term). “A furnace of this kind is round, sometimes thirty feet deep, and requiring the highest intensity of heat. Such is the tremendous image chosen to represent the bondage and affliction of the Israelites [Rosenmuller]” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary). “Sometimes God shows men their sin in their punishment. They had oppressed Israel in the furnaces, and now the ashes of the furnace are made a terror to them” (Matthew Henry Commentary).

Exodus 9:9 “Boils … blains”: eruptions with blisters.

Psalm 78:12 “The field of Zoan”: Zoan or Tanis (a Greek word in the Septuagint); “an ancient city of Lower Egypt, situated on the eastern side of the Tanitie arm of the Nile. The name given to it in the Egyptian language signified ‘low region.’ The Hebrews seem to have been located in this region, and it was in this part of Egypt—that is, in the country lying roundabout Zoan—that the wonders of God were principally manifested in behalf of his people” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).


Several details in our lesson are worth a closer look: The cattle of Egypt had just died, but Israel’s cattle survived the sixth plague. The Lord began this separation in the plague with the flies. From this time forward, His people were spared the devastation of the Egyptians.

The next plague was sent unannounced. Moses and Aaron simply stood before Pharaoh, lifted their hands into the air and tossed handfuls of soot toward the sky. The resulting boils on man and beast hit the magicians so hard they could not stand. Little by little their powerful standing in the sight of the people had been weakened. In the plague of lice, they had been unable to reproduce the wonder and protested to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God!” The magicians could no longer stand upright. From this time forward, there was no further mention of them.

In this lesson God speaks the words which were quoted by Paul in Romans 9:17. “For this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee…” Some believe this shows that Pharaoh was created to be an instrument of judgment and by God’s sovereignty had no choice but to be hardened. But consider how God yet gave Pharaoh time to humble himself before He sent the plague of hail, fire and thunder. As He had done with the plague of flies and murain upon the livestock, God gave Pharaoh a future time for a plague. “Tomorrow.” Pharaoh had all night! He had an opportunity to show reverence and fear for God by taking his cattle into shelter. Those who did so among his servants were spared the death of their cattle. Yet he did not yield all that night. After the terrible devastation, He did make a confession of his sin and a hasty promise to let the Israelites go, which he retracted after God stopped the thunder and hail.

God gave Pharaoh another all-night chance with the locust plague. He could hear the wind blowing all night. At any time he could have humbled his heart. Again, he did not until after the plague when he repented and asked for forgiveness. After God took away the locusts, he changed his mind, thus hardening his heart again. God’s purpose was to show His power to the Egyptians and to His people. He used Pharaoh for this purpose while still giving him a chance to change, all along the way.

Do you notice what God did for the Israelites during the time of palpable darkness? “All the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” From where did this light come? Surely it was the very light of God, such as was in the time of creation before God made the sun, moon and stars!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Name and number the nine plagues we have studied so far.
  2. Share what became of Pharaoh’s magicians.
  3. What accompanied the hail?
  4. Describe the timing and manner of the plague of locusts.
  5. How was the darkness described?


Many Bible scholars and commentators agree that Exodus 9:15, “For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth,” may more accurately mean, “HAD I stretched out my hand … you would have been cut off….” This opens a great possibility to the mind. It was of the Lord’s mercies to the Egyptians and the Israelites that he allowed Pharaoh to remain, or be sustained through all of these pestilences. He could have cut him off at the very first. But to show his power, he supported Pharaoh’s life and gave him opportunity after opportunity to yield to God’s command.

He is no less merciful to mankind today. Have you been spared miraculously when you were yet in your sins? “For this cause” God raised you up, that he might show in you His power. You can change the course of things in your life if you will fully yield to God.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


Moses asked Pharaoh to let the people go, and four times Pharaoh tried to compromise with him.

1. “Go sacrifice in the land” (Exodus 8:25). In other words, “Just stay right here and you can all worship together.” Moses knew that wouldn’t ever work. He said, “They [the Egyptians] will stone us,” because he knew the Egyptians revered the [sacrificial] animals as gods.

2. “Go not very far away” (Exodus 8:28), which meant, “Stay close enough so you can come right back, and we can still use you.”

3. “Only the men can go” (Exodus 10:11), meaning, “Keep your wives and children here so you will come back often.”

4. “Leave all the animals here” (Exodus 10:24). Pharaoh was very wily. If they left the animals, they wouldn’t have anything to sacrifice, so they wouldn’t even leave; also, since all the Egyptians’ cattle were destroyed they needed the Israelite’s cattle to replace theirs.

In this lesson we can compare Egypt’s bondage to the bondage of sin and show how Satan wouldn’t mind us leaving if we didn’t go very far away. He may suggest that we could just stay where we are and worship together with him; however, we would still be under his bondage. Or, we could leave part of our treasures behind in Egypt, go worship—and come back; or we could worship without sacrifices.

We need to run away from him as far as we can go and never look back. Take your loved ones, take your sacrifices, and flee. “I once was in bondage in Egypt’s dark night, but Jesus has brought me out into the light. He banished my sins and hath made my heart right. I’ll never go back again” (Evening Light Songs, #168).

—Bro. James Bell