Context is everything in biblical interpretation. The ancient Egyptians served many false gods. The Plagues that were set upon the people of Egypt were relative to the gods of the land demonstrating that God was the true God and that their gods were weak, ineffective, and false. So when God killed the firstborn of Egypt, he was executing the wicked, punishing them for their oppression of his people, and ultimately laying the foundation for the arrival of the Messiah who hundreds of years later, would redeem mankind by his sacrifice on the cross.
- Turning the Nile to blood, Exodus 7:14-25. Isis was the Egyptian god of the Nile. Khnum was the guardian of the Nile.
- Frogs, Exodus 8:1-5. Heget was the goddess of birth and had the head of a frog.
- Gnats, Exodus 8:16-19. Set was the god of the desert.
- Flies, Exodus 8:20-32. Re was the sun god. Uatchit was a god possibly represented by the fly.
- Death of Livestock, Exodus 9:1-7. Hathor, goddess with a cow's head. Apis was the bull god.
- Boils, Exodus 9:8-12. Sekmet, goddess that had power over disease. Sunu, the god of pestilence.
- Hail, Exodus 9:13-35. Nut, the goddess of the sky. Set, god of storms.
- Locusts, Exodus 10:1-20. Osiris, god of crops.
- Darkness, Exodus 10:21-29. Re, the sun god. Horus, a sun god. Hathor, sky goddess.
- Death of firstborn, Exodus 11:1 - 12:30. Min, god of reproduction. Isis, goddess who protected children. Pharaoh, considered a god.1
The death of the first-born (Exodus 12:29) was not only a final blow to Pharaoh and all of Egypt demonstrating the powerlessness of Pharaoh and the truth of God's Word, but also it was used as a prophetic typology. In the account of the death of the first-born, all who had the blood of a lamb placed on their doorposts would escape the judgment of God on the households. This blood on the doorpost was representative of the actual blood of Christ who is called the Lamb of God. Therefore, God allowed the first-born to be killed as a judgment upon Pharaoh as a proof of God's superiority and as a prophetic representation of the death of His Son, Jesus. It was a representation of the gospel message that the true firstborn of God who would later die for the sins of the world, and that all who are covered by the blood of Christ will be saved from their bondage to sin. It does not indicate that God is mean--especially if we realize that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). It illustrates that God was arranging history to bear witness to the greatest act of love: the crucifixion.
- 1. The information for this list was taken from "The Plagues and the Gods and Goddesses of Egypt," as found in Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, 1985.