The Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 10: The Plague of Hail

Exodus 9.13-35

This plague was unique

Some have suggested that the plagues were caused by natural events. They opine that the Nile became red because algae flowed down from the mountains. The algae forced the frogs on the land. The death of the frogs brought the flies. The flies bit the livestock transferring the disease anthrax which eventually affected the human population with the boils. These naturalistic interpretations of the plagues cannot reasonably account for the plague of hail. Moses, the author of Exodus, notes that this hailstorm was like no other. Egypt had never undergone such a grievous hail storm before.

Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. (vs. 18)

Two things put this plague in the realm of the miraculous. First, Egypt receives little rain. Cairo receives only about 2 inches of rainfall annually. South of Cairo, throughout most of Egypt, rain is rare. The announcement of this plague to Pharaoh would be akin to God’s announcement of a flood in Noah’s day.


Second, this plague discriminated. Hail fell on all of Egypt, except the place where the Israelites lived. If rain was to fall in Egypt, it would have fallen in Goshen (near modern-day Cairo). For a storm of this magnitude to appear throughout Egypt but not in Goshen is remarkable in its own rite. This plague not only included a grievous hail, but it also provided a force shield for God’s chosen people.

The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.(v 26)

This plague was an attack on the gods and religious system of Egypt

In at least two different ways, this plague attacked the belief system of the Egyptians. First, this plague attacked a goddess who controlled cosmological events. Nut was the sky goddess. Second, this plague af- fected the worship system of Egypt. The gods Isis and Seth had responsibilities related to the crops. Crops, such as flax, which provided linen for the garments of the priests throughout the land was destroyed by this plague.

This plague devastated an already crippled economy

In the lesson on the Plague of Livestock, we saw that the plague already wiped out most of the cattle of Egypt thereby forcing the Egyptians to secure cattle from other countries. Inscriptions on certain Pharaohs’ tombs record the efforts they made to improve their livestock. Entire herds were brought in from the south and from Lybia. On at least two occasions, Syrian cattle were sent to Egypt. Much of the cattle they  just secured would have been destroyed by the hail.

Due to the rather steady climate, the Egyptians had a number of harvesting and planting times. Yet, this plague was timed so that it brought devastation on two key crops, at harvest time.

The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. (v 31)

Flax and barley supplied clothes and food.

Application: This plague expresses the patience of God. He was not using the plagues as an unmerciful punishment on the Egyptians. He wanted repentance.

Let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. (Ex 9:13–16).

In the most vivid language, God said that He was patient and by now, could have “wiped them off the earth.” Not only does the word “wipe” mean to destroy. It means to “erase any memory of them.” Why so strong?

The Egyptians made it a practice to rewrite their history. Hatshepsut was a daughter of a pharaoh. She eventually became a pharaoh, herself. This was highly controversial as it was a place reserved for men. After her death, her stepson, Thutmosis III became pharaoh and made it one of his campaigns to erase every inscription made about Hatshepsut. He was so successful that it was not until 1903 AD, when Hatshepsut was discovered.

Unlike the Egyptians, God’s patience is recorded in history. Why? Because the plagues are not about destroying the Egyptians. The plagues are designed to demonstrate God. He is and always has been the Sovereign. Unlike the magicians who could no longer stand before Moses, God stands Pharaoh up and shows great patience and restraint. It is God who is being glorified and set in complete contrast to Pharaoh and the rest of the gods of Egypt.

Next Lesson: Lesson 11: The Plague of Locusts

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