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The first plague: water changes into blood

Exodus 7:20

Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood.

Full bible text

Exodus 7:14-23
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.” The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.” Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 

About this painting


As messengers of God Moses and Aaron have to speak to Pharaoh: ’Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness’. Pharaoh refuses to acknowledge God and let His people go. Then a confrontation follows. God demonstrates His omnipotence to Pharaoh by causing plagues over Egypt. These plagues will eventually force Pharaoh to let the people go.

The first plague is the changing of Egypt’s waters into blood. When Pharaoh goes out to the river in the morning, Moses and Aaron must confront him on the bank of the Nile. They must make it clear to him that due to his refusal to let the people go, the water of the Nile will be changed into blood.

Before Pharaoh’s eyes, Moses (or Aaron) strikes the water with the staff that earlier had been changed into a snake. And the water, of the life source of Egypt, changes into blood, so that the fish die and the smell of death rises.

Pharaoh’s wizards cannot change the blood into water again, but seem to be able to turn water into blood as well, so Pharaoh sticks to his refusal. He hardens his heart and chooses not to acknowledge God.

 

-Moses acts as the ‘mediator of the Old Covenant’ who brings the punishment of God upon the oppressor. In the end he will lead the people out of Egypt.

Moses is a foreshadowing of the ‘Mediator of the New Covenant’, who, in Rev.19, is called ‘the Word of God’. He is the person riding on the white horse, who executes the judgements over the gentiles. That is why his robe is ‘dipped in blood’. (19:13)

Verse 15 says: 'He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty'

In Rev.16:6-8 we read about a judgement of God where the water is changed into blood. According to 16:6 this is the retribution for the shedding of the blood of the holy people and the prophets.

The changing of water into blood in Ex. 7 may be likewise retribution for the drowning of the new-born Hebrew boys in the Nile.


In this first plague water is changed into blood. The first sign/wonder Jesus worked in public was the changing of water into wine. John 2. In the Last Supper Jesus connects wine to blood when He says: 'This cup (filled with wine) is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22:20. His blood was shed for us when He carried the just judgement in our place.


 

 

 

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