Now we get into the beginning of the plagues.
Moses and Aaron, 80 and 83 years old, respectively, confront Pharaoh about all this Hebrew-enslavement nonsense. Pharaoh, of course, has no reason to listen to them or to believe any of this voodoo. He tells them, as God knew he would, to show him a miracle. So Moses gives his brother the signal, and Aaron’s rod turns into a serpent. Yeah, don’t read too much into that.
Pharaoh sees this serpent and doesn’t think much of it, so he calls his magicians and sorcerers to do the same trick, proving that this is not a divine miracle. Holy crap, if the Bible is to be taken literally, then sorcery is definitely a thing. Who knew? Well, I knew… but true magic is worked through God. I’ll get into that some other time.
So yeah, the sorcerers get their rods out, and Aaron’s serpent and their serpents fight… and… all this talk of “rods” and “serpents.” God, why do you have to make it weird? Somewhere, the Almighty is giggling. Anyway, Aaron’s serpent-rod eats those of the sorcerers. Pharaoh is not amused and declines to let the Hebrews leave.
Moses and Aaron talk with God, or rather God talks to them, and they head back to see Pharaoh the next day, presumably, when he goes out to get water. Why the Pharaoh is getting his own water is beyond me. But Moses and Aaron are waiting for him by the riverbank. “Let My people go!” sayeth Moses in the name of the Lord. Predictably, Pharaoh refuses. Aaron proceeds to turn all of Egypt into a death metal album cover, and the river and all the water in Egypt is turned to blood.
Apparently, just to prove that this strange occurrence was not divine either, the magicians gather up some of what must be the last remaining water in Egypt and turn it into blood with their sorcery. Pharaoh completely disregards Moses and Aaron and holds out for at least seven days, since B-Day +7 is where Exodus 7 leaves off.
There is one interesting thing I got out of Matthew Henry’s commentary: He says
“See what changes we may meet with in the things of this world; what is always vain, may soon become vexatious. See what mischievous work sin makes. If the things that have been our comforts prove our crosses, we must thank ourselves. It is sin that turns our waters into blood.”²
This reminds me of something that was shared with me by my partner. She shared an excerpt from C.S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain,” an awesome book that discusses why humans suffer and examines human suffering from a Christian standpoint. My partner just bought it for me, actually, and I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading the whole thing for myself.
But the passage I am reminded of which is appropriate as God is just laying waste to Egypt by proxy goes something like this:
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Lewis says that pain drives us to action, as opposed to our comforting “sins and stupidities.” This to me rings true. The problem to me is that people can get so accustomed to pain that they ignore it or accept it as inevitable when in reality it is not. Our pain reminds us that something needs to change. Physical, mental, and spiritual pain all serve a purpose. When our waters turn to blood, we have to soften our hearts and become humble. We have to admit that something is wrong. Only then, in the name of God, can we create change.
² Henry, Matthew. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=2&c=7