The Eighth Plague: Locusts sent from the sky (against Seth – Egyptian God of Storms and Disorder)
Despite the plague of hail, Pharaoh would not listen to the message of the Lord, still he relies on his own Egyptian gods and goddesses.
The eighth plague issued by the Lord had an even greater purpose than all the previous ones, it was to be felt so that Pharaoh would tell even “his sons and son’s sons” the mighty things of the Lord, thus teaching even future generations of the power of the “strong hand of God” over all the other Egyptian gods and goddesses.
Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh with the same request, “Let my people go so that they may serve me”, and pronounced the judgment of locusts if not heeded. This is the second wave of destruction to follow the hail, and whatever crops were left in tact after that display, were now completely consumed by the swarms of locusts that were unleashed from the sky. This wonder definitely affected their life source. By hitting them in their food supply, the Lord displayed the possibility of eminent death if a change of heart did not occur.
The Lord sent Moses back to Pharaoh to announce the next plague.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, (Exodus 10:1, NAS)
Here the word for hardened is chabedh again, which means hard in the sense of refusing to budge. The Lord again says that He hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and his staff. He further stated the reason, which was in keeping with His Strategic Plan (Exodus 7:3-5). He hardened their hearts so He could perform His signs among them. The word sign is the Hebrew ‘oth, a sign or symbol. The signs, e.g. hail and locusts, have symbolic meaning. Later when they occur in history, Bible Doctrine can be applied using the same symbolic definitions to understand the divine viewpoint of history. Thus, the signs will provide keys for future generations to understand divine viewpoint of history.
And that you may recount in the hearing of your children and your grandchildren: How I made mincemeat of the Egyptians, and how I put My signs on them so you all may know that I, the LORD. (Exodus 10:2)
The Lord’s purpose was, furthermore, to make such an impressive news story that the Israelites would tell their grandchildren, which means passing the story down to future generations. The story would be so miraculous that it would be told to all future generations. The word for making mincemeat of is the Hebrew `alal, which means to make sport of; make hay of; romp on; publicly humiliate; abuse. It was used for public humiliation (making an ass of) of Balaam by his donkey (Numbers 22:29). It was used for abusing a woman (Judges 19:25). “How I put My signs on them,” is a reference to setting the Stage of Life. Knowing “that I, the LORD” means understanding the Lord’s superiority to all opposition from man or the Cosmic System of Satan.
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let my people go so they may worship Me.'” (Exodus 10:3)
Pharaoh in his arrogance has refused to humble himself before the Lord, which means he has rejected divine authority.
4 ‘For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. 5 ‘And they will cover the eye of the earth, so that no one shall be able to see the land. They shall also eat the rest of what has escaped—what is left to you from the hail—and they shall eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field.
The name for locusts is the Hebrew ‘arebeh, which means multiplier from the verb rabah, to multiply, become many. The “eye of the earth” is based upon the ancient idea that the earth with its covering of plants looks up to man (Numbers 22:5, 11). The locusts would eat all the plants left from the hail storm.
The names for locusts in the Bible are based upon their behavior. Joel covers four types of them:
The leftovers of the gnawer the multiplier ate, and the leftovers of the multiplier the licker ate, and the leftovers of the licker the devourer ate. (Joel 1:4)
The gnawer is gazam, the locust as the gnawer from gaza`, which means to cut off or saw in two in Arabic. Note: the Hebrew word gaza` is not the same as the name of the city of Gaza, which is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew tsazah. The multiplier is arebeh, which means multiplier from the verb rabah, to multiply, become many. The licker is jeleq, which means licker; to lick, lick off. The devourer is chasil, which means devourer, from chasal, to finish off, consume.
‘Then your houses shall be filled, and the houses of all your servants and the houses of all the Egyptians, something which neither your fathers nor your forefathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.’” And he turned and went out from Pharaoh. (Exodus 10:6)
The plague will be the worst plague of locusts since creation.
Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go so they may worship the LORD their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is destroyed?” (Exodus 10:7)
The members of Pharaoh’s staff made strong arguments for letting the Israelites go. They called Moses a snare to them. A snare, or trap, is used for trapping animals and is a symbol of destruction. They realized that Moses had forced them into a deadly combat in the confrontation with God that was destroying them. Following their appeals, Pharaoh had Moses and Aaron brought back.
Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, worship the LORD your God! How many are those who wish to go?” (Exodus 10:8)
Pharaoh wanted to know how many of the Israelites would be going out to worship.
And Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” (Exodus 10:9, NAS)
Moses informed Pharaoh that all Israel would be going as well as their flocks and herds. This struck a nerve with Pharaoh.
He said to them, “So be it. The LORD be with you when I let you and your little ones go. Look because evil is before your faces.” (Exodus 10:10)
Pharaoh’s reply to Moses was mocking, which would be more clear if the inflection of the voice could be heard in verse 10. The first part of verse 10 is like the idiom, “Heaven help you.” Pharaoh is telling Moses, “May the Lord help you in the same way I let you and you little ones go.” This was contempt for Moses, Aaron, and God. Then he said, “Look because evil is before your faces,” which means you have evil in view.
Therefore, Pharaoh rejected Moses’ request and made a counter offer.
Not so! Go then, you men, and worship the LORD for that you are seeking. And drove them out from the presence of Pharaoh. (Exodus 10:11)
“Not so” means let it not be as you desire. Pharaoh ordered Moses to take only the men to worship the Lord, and then he had Moses and Aaron escorted out – which is like the expression, “he ran them out of his presence.”
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt, and eat every plant of the land, even all that the hail has left.” 13 So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 And the locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt – extremely dense. Before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. 15 For they covered the eye of the whole land so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.
The Lord caused an east wind to blow. This means that the weather angels implemented the divine request. The east wind is a bad omen. The east wind blew all day and all night, which means the locusts came from a great distance. It is not unusual for locusts to breed in one location and then ride the winds to other areas. This is a good example of how the angels implement the Plan of God precisely on schedule. Angels undoubtedly induced the locusts to breed and swarm and then caused the wind to carry them to Egypt precisely on schedule.
The plague of locusts was the worst in the history of Egypt and the worst that Egypt would ever have. The locusts completely covered the ground and they were so dense in the air that the sky was darkened. They ate everything green in Egypt as testified by verse 15 as well as the Ipuwer papyrus, which said:
5:12 Forsooth, that has perished which was yesterday seen.
The land is left over to its weariness like the cutting of flax.1
6:1 No fruit nor herbs are found . . . hunger.3
The End of the Plague of Locusts
Exodus 10:16-19, NAS
16 Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 “Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.” 18 And he went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 19 So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.
Pharaoh confessed his sin against God to Moses and begged for relief just one more time. He asked Moses to forgive his sin and remove the plague that threatened him and the Egyptians with death. Pharaoh was headed for the sin unto death. Yet, he was still in confusion. He could not be forgiven of his sins until he accepted the Lord as the only true God. Moses wouldn’t be able to forgive his sins anyway, for only God can forgive sins.
So, it was not surprising that when the Lord removed the plague of locusts by blowing them into the Red Sea, that Pharaoh again hardened his heart.
But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go. (Exodus 10:20, NAS)
The word for hardened is chazaq, which stresses the strength, or firmness of Pharaoh’s convictions against God. There is a pattern of alternating words for hardened. Before the plague of locusts (Exodus 10:1), the word for hardened was chabedh, which means hard in the sense of refusing to budge; while after the plague, it was chazaq, for the strength, or firmness of Pharaoh’s convictions. Thus, Pharaoh stood firm before and was strengthened after the plague. This is the same as withstanding before, which is like defense, and standing strong after, which is like offense. The defensive hardness represents legalism while the offensive hardness represents lawlessness. l.