The sun, the most worshipped God in Egypt (other than Pharaoh himself), gave no light. The Lord showed that he had control over the sun as a witness that the God of Israel had ultimate power over life and death. The psychological and religious impact would have had a profound influence on the Egyptians at this point. Darkness was a representation of death, judgment and hopelessness. Darkness was a complete absence of light.
The Lord told Moses to stretch out his hand toward the sky and the plague of darkness would come.
Exodus 10:21-22, NAS
21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.
The darkness of the 9th plague was a supernatural darkness in which there was a total absence of light, such as the bottom of a mine. It was much worse than a power outage. The darkness is described as being so great that it could be felt. Further, the description, “thick darkness” in verse 22 is literally “darkness of obscurity” or “dark darkness” where two synonyms for darkness are combined for emphasis like “black dark.”
They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings. (Exodus 10:23, NAS)
The darkness was so great that the Egyptians saw no one nor did they rise from their places for three days. However, the Israelites had light in their dwellings. The number, three, (reference 3 days) represents the Justice of the Holy Spirit, who implemented this plague.
9:11 The land is without light.
The “plague of darkness is further described in another ancient Egyptian document, a black granite monolith or shrine at the
border of Egypt, inscribed with hieroglyphics all over its surface. The shrine’s message declares:”
EL-ARISH: The land was in great affliction. Evil fell on this earth. . . It was a great upheaval in the residence. . . . Nobody left the palace during nine days, and during these nine days of upheaval there was such a tempest that neither the men nor the gods could see the faces of their next.
Light represents Eternal Life (John 1:4; 1 John 1:5); while darkness represents the absence of that light..
Then Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.” (Exodus 10:24, NAS)
Pharaoh offered the concession of letting the women and children go, but he withheld permission for the flocks and herds to go. He obviously believed in holding some collateral lest Israel keep going and not return. However, Moses objected to this ploy.
Exodus 10:25-26, NAS
25 But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice them to the Lord our God. 26 “Therefore, our livestock, too, will go with us; not a hoof will be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the Lord our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not know with what we shall serve the Lord.”
Moses stated emphatically with the expression, “not a hoof will be left behind,” that all the livestock had to go with them. Moses had previously stated that the livestock must go with them in Exodus 10:9. However, Pharaoh was still demonstrating his arrogance by trying to negotiate a change in the requirements. From the exchange between Moses and Pharaoh, it can be seen that God does not negotiate and Moses does not negotiate.
But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. (Exodus 10:27 NAS)
The word for hardened here is chazaq, which stresses the strength, or firmness of Pharaoh’s convictions against God. This same word for hardened appeared after the previous plague. It shows that Pharaoh had again taken the offensive and needed more punishment.
Exodus 10:28-29, NAS
28 Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!” 29 And Moses said, “You are right; I shall never see your face again!”
Pharaoh in his denial and project proceeded to blame everything on Moses. He told Moses to leave and that he would die if he ever saw his (Pharaoh’s) face again. At this point, Satan had taken over the soul of Pharaoh, and Pharaoh had committed the sin that ends in death (1 John 5:16; Hebrews 10:26-30). Pharaoh, in threatening Moses with death, had pronounced his own death sentence. Moses knew that he would not have to see Pharaoh again because the Lord already revealed it to him. While Moses was with Pharaoh, he announced to him the final plague, which would allow Israel to go.
Now the Lord had said to Moses, “One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here. When he lets you go altogether, he will even drive away. (Exodus 11:1)
Exodus 11:1-8 is a summary of the events surrounding the last meeting with Pharaoh. Moses knew this when he was talking to Pharaoh, and that’s why he could answer with such confidence that Pharaoh would never see his face again. The Lord told Moses there would be one more plague. The word for plague is nega`, which means death blow, or stroke. However, this is a different word for plague than maggapheh, which was used to describe the nine plagues in Exodus 9:14. The words are synonyms. However, the phrase, “one more plague,” means one final plague. In other words, there were 9 plagues plus one final plague of a different kind. The final plague would be the death blow, coup de grace, or sin unto death. Thus, the judgments of God are 9 plagues plus the sin unto death – not 10 plagues. The number, 9, stands for the 9 plagues, which were followed by the final judgment of the sin unto death.
The Lord told Moses that not only would Pharaoh let him go, but he would even pay to get rid of him. The Lord told Moses to speak to the people and tell them to ask for articles of silver and gold, e.g. ornaments, jewelry, and utensils.
2 “Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold.” 3 And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.
The Lord granted the people favor with the Egyptians, and Moses was also renowned. So the Israelites walked away from Egypt with a fortune – the spoils of victory. This is explained in the next chapter.
Exodus 12:35-36, NAS
35 Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36 and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
According to the Ipuwer papyrus:
3:2 Gold and lapis lazuli, silver and malachite, carnelian and
bronze… are fastened on the neck of female slaves.
Death of the Firstborn
Exodus 11:4-6, NAS
4 And Moses said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the first-born of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the first-born of the cattle as well. 6 ‘Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again.
The Lord said that about midnight, He would go into the midst of Egypt. The “midnight” was not the day of Moses’ visit to Pharaoh during the Plague of Darkness because there would not have been sufficient time for preparation for the Passover, which took four days. The “midnight” was at a later date. The Lord would personally execute the last plague, whereas Moses and Aaron had been used to initiate the all the other plagues. Death is a sovereign decision of God, who alone determines the time, the manner, and place of death. Thus, the responsibility for the death of the firstborn would not be shared with Moses or Aaron.
The plague would begin in the middle of Egypt, which means the center of the throne. It would strike every firstborn from the first born of Pharaoh to the meanest slave-girl grinding at the mill. “The captive who is in the dungeon” is substituted for “slave-girl,” or “maid,” in Exodus 12:29. Prisoners were often employed in hard labor. Even the first born of the cattle would die. There would be a great cry of grief throughout Egypt that would be unsurpassed in history.
According to the Ipuwer papyrus:
4:3 (5:6) Forsooth, the children of princes are dashed against the walls.
6:12 Forsooth, the children of princes are cast out in the streets.
6:3 The prison is ruined.
2:13 He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere.
3:14 It is groaning throughout the land, mingled with lamentations.1
4:4, 6:14 Forsooth, those who were in the place of embossment are laid on the high ground.3
2:8 Forsooth, the land turns round as does a potter’s wheel.
2:11 The towns are destroyed. Upper Egypt has become dry (wastes?).
3:13 All is ruin!
7:4 The residence is overturned in a minute.
4:2 . . . Years of noise. There is no end to noise.
6:1 Oh, that the earth would cease from noise, and tumult (uproar) be no more.
The description indicates that it was accomplished by means of an earthquake.
7 ‘But against any of the sons of Israel not a dog shall point its tongue, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ 8 “And all these your servants will come down to me and bow themselves before me, saying, ‘Go out, you and all the people who follow you,’ and after that I will go out.” And he (Moses) went out from Pharaoh in burning anger.
During the plague of the death of the firstborn, Israel would be unscathed. The phrase, “not a dog shall point its tongue” is an idiom that means that no dog would growl or bite. The tongue of the dog refers to the sounds of the dog in growling or barking. Israel was on the right side of history and Egypt on the wrong side. After the death of the firstborn all the staff of Pharaoh would implore Moses to leave Egypt. After coming to Pharaoh with nothing but his stick and no support, Moses would be renowned in the eyes of Pharaoh’s staff and the world. Moses told Pharaoh all this, and they had their final falling out.
Pharaoh ordered Moses out, and Moses left in burning anger. Moses had shown restraint throughout the plagues, but now he showed anger because God’s mercy in dealing with Pharaoh had come to an end. Pharaoh and all Egypt with him were about to be punished with the worst wrath of human history since the Flood. They would not dedicate their babies to the Lord, and the Lord would kill their firstborn for living under the power of Satan and his demons (such as Baal). The father is the head of the home, but if the father is kingdom of darkness, the rest of the family will be subject to the powers of darkness, and the curse of God. Before a child reaches the age of accountability, it is at the mercy of God. The children who died in Egypt before reaching accountability went to Heaven, whereas their worthless parents went to Hades (2 Samuel 12:15-23).
The Egyptians were very moral people and did not generally have the problems of illegitimate children, which is prevalent in the world today. However, when the parents rejected the authority of God, they brought down the severe punishment of child abuse upon their heads. Their children were killed in the sanctification of God, who delivered the Israelite children and killed the Egyptian children. And the children were blessed by dying because they went to Heaven, but the parents were cursed and suffered grief. However, not all the Egyptians were guilty. Some of the Egyptians were saved and left Egypt with Moses.
Pharaoh’s heart was yet again hardened per the Plan of God.
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 And Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land.
The word for hardened is chazaq, which stresses the strength, or firmness of Pharaoh’s convictions against God.
Moses started out under God’s command with only a stick (his staff) and no support. As a leader he stood alone. Pharaoh, in contrast had the world. However, because of his hardness of heart, Pharaoh caused the destruction of his own life and the whole Egyptian empire. Moses became a man of renown, even among Pharaoh’s staff. The Lord provided the hearing. Moses started out with nothing and won everything. The Lord gave him everything in grace. Pharaoh started out with the world and squandered it through his arrogance.