Exodus 5–10

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 69–70


Introduction

While Moses was being prepared for his mission, he learned that nothing is greater than God’s power (see Moses 1:10, 13–15, 20–22, 33). This knowledge helped him have the faith to do all the Lord asked of him. The children of Israel needed to develop that same faith in order to put their trust in God to lead them safely out of Egypt to the promised land. Through dramatic displays of His power, the Lord provided the Israelites an opportunity to develop that faith. By the time they left Egypt, they had ample opportunity to know that their God was the true and living God and that He has power over everything.

When the Church was restored in the latter days, the Lord said that “the weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones [showing] that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh” (D&C 1:19). This has been the Lord’s pattern from the beginning. At the time of Moses, Egypt was the greatest nation on earth in areas such as wealth, education, technology, mathematics, and astronomy. In contrast, the Israelites were slaves who did menial labor. When he confronted the pharaoh, Moses had spent the previous forty years in the desert as a herdsman. He had no followers, position, or power. But he did have the Lord with him and an absolute trust in the power of God over all things. The Egyptians had numerous gods and even considered the pharaoh to be a god, but the Lord showed that idols have no power to save, and only those who put their trust in Him are truly strong and powerful.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

Exodus 5. Why do we sometimes experience increased opposition when we try to do what is right? (30–35 minutes)

Ask students if they have ever experienced bad consequences from doing what was right. Invite one or two to briefly share their experiences with the class. Have students read Exodus 5 and report what Moses and Aaron tried to do and what happened because of it. Have them tell in their own words what the people said to Moses and what Moses said to the Lord (see vv. 21–23).

Ask students why they think the Lord might have permitted Pharaoh to make it difficult for Moses to accomplish his mission. Help them understand the following two reasons:

  • Pharaoh used his agency. He continued his rebellion until the consequences of his decisions convinced him to obey the word of the Lord, as was prophesied in Exodus 3:19–20.

  • The Lord demonstrated to the children of Israel that it was only by His power that they were delivered from Egypt (see Exodus 6:6–8). Had the exodus from Egypt been accomplished through a simple agreement between Moses and Pharaoh, the Israelites would have had little understanding of the power and foreknowledge of God. When Israel finally left Egypt, there was no doubt by what power they were delivered, even in the minds of the Egyptians (see Exodus 7:3–5; 8:10, 19, 22; 9:13–14, 29; 10:1–2; 11:4–7).

Ask students:

  • How do you think you would have felt if you had lived among the children of Israel during that time and witnessed the many miracles?

  • How did the Egyptian people react to the plagues? (see Exodus 12:31–33).

  • Have you ever experienced the Lord’s help in overcoming a problem that was too difficult for you to handle on your own?

  • Why was it important that the Lord allow you to struggle with the problem on your own before He helped?

  • How did your struggling affect your faith in God?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 121:1–8 and 122:5–9. From what we learn in these two scriptures, why does the Lord allow us to experience difficulties instead of making it easy for us, even when we are trying to do what is right?

Share your testimony of how our trials in mortality play an important role in our becoming like God.

Exodus 7:1–22; 8:5–10, 16–24. There are counterfeit miracles that are deceptions by people or by Satan and are not of God. (10–15 minutes)

Hold up a piece of paper currency (use real money). Ask if any student knows how to tell if the currency is authentic. Display some toy currency or an obviously hand drawn replica of the money. Ask why it is easy to tell the difference between the authentic money and the replica. Write the word counterfeit on the board and ask what the word means. (“To imitate something of value with intent to deceive” or “a fraudulent replica.”) Ask:

  • Why does counterfeit money sometimes fool people?

  • Why might a young child not know play money is not real?

  • Why is experience with the real item important if we are to avoid deception?

Have students read Exodus 7:11, 22; 8:7 and look for counterfeits. Ask: How are people able to perform such tricks today? Read the commentary for Exodus 7:11–12 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (p. 107). Draw two columns on the board; label one Magicians and the other God (through Moses). Have students study Exodus 7:10–12, 19–22; 8:5–10, 16–24; 9:11 and compare the deception of the magicians with the power of God. List what Moses and the magicians were able to do. Ask:

  • What were the magicians able to do, and how helpful was it?

  • What were the magicians not able to do?

Identify some of the counterfeits Satan uses today to confuse people and bring us into bondage. (For example, lust instead of love, priestcraft instead of priesthood, civil marriage instead of eternal marriage, and human wisdom instead of God’s inspiration.) Have students read Moroni 7:16–19 and discover how we can judge good from evil. Read 1 Nephi 22:25–28 and discuss how we can gain power over Satan and his counterfeits.

Exodus 7–10. The plagues of Egypt strengthened the faith of the Israelites, convinced the Pharaoh to release Israel from bondage, attacked the credibility of the Egyptian gods, and are symbolic of the kinds of destruction that awaits the wicked before the Lord’s Second Coming. (45–55 minutes)

Before class begins, ask a few students to draw a simple picture of each of the first nine plagues of Egypt on separate pieces of paper, along with a written title to identify the plague (see the chart below for a list of the plagues). Have the students display their pictures in random order. Invite the rest of the class to arrange the pictures in the order they think they occurred. (If they make mistakes, they will correct them in the next activity.)

Draw on the board the chart found with activity B for Exodus 7–10 in the student study guide (p. 45). Assign each of the scripture blocks for the plagues to individuals or groups of students. Have them read the scripture and report what they learn. As they report, have them arrange the pictures of the plagues in the correct order as needed. Invite students to share their impressions or questions about the events.

Tell students that in addition to getting Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, the plagues served other important purposes. Share with them the information in the commentary for Exodus 7–10 in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (pp. 107–8) and the following chart. (Do not share the information in the column on latter-day prophecies yet.)

Plagues

Egyptian Gods

Parallels in Latter-day Prophecies

1. Water to blood (see Exodus 7:17–25)

Hapi (or Hopi)—controlled the waters of the Nile, which was itself considered sacred

See Revelation 8:8; 16:3–6

2. Frogs (see Exodus 8:2–6)

Heqt (or Heket)—goddess with a frog’s head

See Revelation 16:12–14

3. Lice, or gnats (see Exodus 8:16–17)

Seth—god of the earth; the earth was turned into lice, or gnats

4. Flies (see Exodus 8:21–24)

Possibly Uachit—represented by a fly

See Doctrine and Covenants 29:18–20

5. Cattle dying (see Exodus 9:2–7)

Apis and Mnevis—bull gods; Hathor—goddess with a cow head; Khnum—a ram god

6. Boils and blains (see Exodus 9:8–11)

Sekhmet—a goddess with power over disease; Sunu—the pestilence god; Isis—a goddess of healing

7. Hail and fire (see Exodus 9:22–26)

Nut—the sky goddess; Osiris—the god of crops and fertility

See Revelation 8:7

8. Locusts (see Exodus 10:12–15)

Osiris—god of crops and fertility

See Revelation 9:3

9. Darkness (see Exodus 10:21–23)

Khepri, Re (or Ra) and Amun—sun gods

See Revelation 6:12; Doctrine and Covenants 45:42; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:33

10. Death of the firstborn (see Exodus 12:12–30)

Pharaoh—considered a god, but had no power to save his own son from death; Isis—goddess who protected children

Discuss the following questions:

  • Which plagues were the Egyptians able to duplicate?

  • Why do you think plagues were sent on objects of nature, such as the Nile River and the cattle?

  • When did the Lord send the plagues only on the Egyptians and not on the Israelites? (see Exodus 8:22).

  • What were the plagues to teach the Israelites? (see Exodus 6:1–8).

  • If you had been one of the Egyptians, how might the plagues have affected your thoughts regarding your gods? (see Exodus 7:17; 8:22; 9:13–16).

  • After which plague would you have been willing to let Israel go?

  • If you had been one of the Israelites, how might those miracles have affected your feelings for the God of Israel?

  • What additional insight does the Joseph Smith Translation give to Exodus 7:13? (see the footnote).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 84:96–97 and note some of the similarities to Exodus 7–10. Share the scriptures in the column on latter-day prophecies on the chart. Ask students what the Lord did for ancient Israel to spare them from the plagues (see Exodus 8:22–23). Read 2 Nephi 6:13–15 and discover who will be spared from the destructions of the last days. Ask students what believers in Christ must do to be spared (see D&C 133:7–11).

Share your testimony of the importance of not partaking of the world’s wickedness even though, for now, we must live among its temptations.

Exodus 7–10. Miracles may strengthen existing faith, but they do not create faith or testimony. (10–15 minutes)

Bring to class a blank piece of paper, a similar piece of paper with some very small printing on it, and a magnifying glass. Write magnifying glass and writing on the paper on the board.

Hold up the blank piece of paper and ask a student to come to the front of the class and use the magnifying glass to find and read the small writing on the paper. After the student struggles with the task for a few moments, ask why he or she cannot read the writing on the paper. Give the student the paper with the small printing on it and ask him or her to read the writing on that paper. After the student finds and reads it, make the phrases on the board into incomplete equations, as shown in the following box. Tell students that today they will discover what the magnifying glass and the paper have to do with Moses and Pharaoh.

Magnifying glass =

Writing on paper =

Ask students the following questions:

  • If the prophet today performed such a miracle, would it increase or magnify your faith that he was a prophet? Why?

  • Would everyone be as convinced as you that he is a prophet? Why not?

Have students read Exodus 7:13–14; 8:15–19; 9:7–12; 10:27; 11:1–10. Ask them why the miracles did not convince Pharaoh of the truth. Read Doctrine and Covenants 63:7–12 with your students and discuss what the Lord said about miracles and faith. Share the following truth from Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“There is no provision in the law of faith that miracles will create faith. Signs follow; they do not precede” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:632).

Refer to the two unfinished equations on the board and ask if the students can now fill in the blanks. Ask:

  • How helpful is a magnifying glass on paper with no writing on it?

  • How helpful are miracles for those who, like Pharaoh, choose to rebel and disbelieve?

Help students understand that the writing on the paper, no matter how small, represents our faith, and the magnifying glass represents a miracle or a sign. Just as a magnifying glass will increase the size of the writing, miracles can increase faith. However, miracles do not create faith any more than the magnifying glass creates the writing. Remind them that “signs shall follow them that believe” (D&C 84:65; see also D&C 58:64).