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.
The Sixth Plague: Ashes turned to Boils and Sores (against Isis – Egyptian Goddess of Medicine and Peace)
Unannounced, the sixth Egyptian plague is given, and, for the first time, directly attacks the Egyptian people themselves.
On instruction from the Lord, Moses took ashes from the furnace of affliction, and threw them into the air. As the dust from the ashes blew all over Egypt, it settled on man and beast alike in the form of boils and sores.
As with the previous two, throughout the remaining Egyptian plagues the division is drawn between the Egyptians and the children of Israel, as God gives protection to his covenant people. The severity of the judgment of God has now become personal, as it is actually felt by the people themselves.
Cleanliness being paramount in the Egyptian society, this plague pronounces the people “unclean.” The magicians who have been seen throughout the previous plagues are unable to perform ceremonial rituals to their Gods and Goddesses in this unclean state, which did not allow them to even stand before Pharaoh; they are seen no more in the rest of the scriptural account. It is great to notice the contrast: Moses and Aaron are the only ones left standing in front of Pharaoh, with the “One True God” as their support.
When the Lord dealt with the Egyptians in the sixth plague, He challenged the system of healing they used.
Egypt is often thought of as medically advanced for an ancient civilization. The reason for this is that the Egyptians were riddled with every kind of disease and infirmity, so they observed carefully and recorded the symptoms! Trying to be healed was very important to them (as it was and is all over the world). Sadly, for them, healing was not a matter of medicine (like the herbologists of India and China developed) but of magic.
Different ailments, diseases or injuries were attributed to different gods or goddesses who could either cause or prevent them.
The goddess Isis was the Egyptian goddess of medicine and well being. There were also others like Sekhmet (warrior goddess with head like a lioness), and Nut (the sky goddess against whom the seventh plague was sent), who, the Egyptians believed, could send or cure disease, wounds and injuries. Each kind of ailment had a corresponding ritual, potion and amulet to appease the god or goddess who could bring about its healing. Physicians guarded the secrets and mysteries of healing. Nonetheless, the Ancient Egyptians were not a healthy people.
One of their rituals for healing was gruesome. They would offer a human sacrifice, burning the victim alive on a high altar, and then scatter the ashes toward the sky. It was believed that as the scattered ash descended, healing would descend upon the people.
So, when Moses took a handful of ash and tossed it toward the heavens, it was a direct confrontation of this belief. It caused boils to break out which none of the Egyptian physicians or magicians could heal. The Isis and the other gods and goddesses of Egypt were shown to be powerless.
When Israel left Egypt, one of the first promises God gave them was for healing. In Exodus 15 He said if they would listen to His voice and obey Him, He would not put any of the diseases of Egypt on them…because He is Jehovah Raphe, the LORD their Healer.
Exodus 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. (Hebrew,Jehovah Rapha).