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DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN.
(EXODUS XII. 29, 30.)
The children of Israel, who had long been smarting under the oppressions of Pharaoh in Egypt, were not forgotten by the Almighty. About B.c. 1648, according to Hales, Moses was commissioned, in connexion with his brother Aaron, to bring them out of their house of bondage, by a series of judgments, which humbled that proud nation and its lawless tyrant in a remarkable manner.
Convinced by a miracle of his Divine commission, and having gained over the people of Israel to acquiesce in his intended proceedings, Moses, with Aaron, boldly entered into the presence of Pharaoh, and thus addressed him :-“ Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness." Offended at this freedom of speech, Pharaoh haughtily replied: “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go," Exod. v. 1, 2. Still undaunted, Moses and Aaron pleaded Israel's cause with earnestness; but their zeal only served to increase the rage of the tyrant, and the oppression of their brethren.
Thus opposed by a rash and weak mortal, the Almighty now said unto Moses : “See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh,” Exod. vii. 1. And he gave him an assurance that the Egyptians should acknowledge his holy name in the day when he stretched forth his hand upon Egypt, and brought forth his chosen ones from thence.
Moses, therefore, with his brother Aaron, went again to Pharaoh, and demanded the release of the Hebrews. The proud monarch regarded them again with contempt; when Aaron, at the command of Moses, threw down his rod, and it became a serpent. Upon seeing this, Pharaoh sent for his magicians, and they performed a similar act by their enchantments. The rod of Aaron, however, swallowed up their rods, thereby demonstrating the superiority of the first miracle, and the reality of the mission of Moses. Still Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he refused to comply with the demand.
The judgments mentioned, and which are known in sacred history as “The ten plagues,” now followed in rapid succession. They are thus briefly enumerated :