Nowadays the Egyptians and the Hebrews are two nations that are in peaceful relations. However, according to The Old Testament, in particular, Exodus 11, the Hebrews were slaves, while the Egyptian Pharaoh was the one who captured them. There is a legend about ten plagues of Egypt, or Biblical plagues, and Moses, the messenger of God. What did actually happen? Why did God punish Egyptians exactly with the death of firstborns? Was he right or too cruel?
All the plagues of God affected only the Egyptians. Why? Let us start from the beginning. The Egyptian Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites, and for that the whole nation was punished with ten plagues. God sent a messenger to the Egyptian Pharaoh, a man whose name was Moses. He was the one who advised the Pharaoh to free the Hebrews, otherwise God would punish them with the scariest plagues, one by one. The Pharaoh was skeptic and believed only in his idols, his Gods, that is why he refused to free the Israelites.
God kept his promise and the first plague, blood, hit Egypt and its people. The Nile waters turned in blood and the fish died. Although the Pharaoh’s magicians proved that they could turn water into blood too, and the Pharaoh refused Moses’s demand again. Then there was the second plague, frogs, but again the Pharaoh’s magicians could copy this kind of magic. The third plague was that of lice and gnats. Even though magicians admitted that it was the act of God, the Pharaoh refused to free Hebrews. Six more plagues hit Egyptians, but the Pharaoh was adamant to entreaties of his people. God sent Moses for the last time to ask the Pharaoh to free his people, so they could worship him, but he refused. Then God said to Moses that at midnight he would walk all over Egypt and all firstborns, including the Pharaoh’s son, would die. God also told Moses to warn the Hebrews, so that their firstborns would survive. He told them to put signs on their houses, bloody signs, so that when God would go near their houses, he could see the sign and pass the house. Then the night of Egyptian cries began. All Egyptian firstborns along with the Pharaoh’s son died. Only then he gave up, freed people from slavery, and admitted the power of the Hebrews’ God. However, why did God kill all Egyptian firstborns rather than the whole population?
When the Pharaoh refused God, he rejected him, and the same was with the Egyptian population. They all rejected the only one true God by worshipping false gods, idols, and supporting slavery. Having lived with the Hebrews for more than 400 years, the Egyptians might have heard about the power of Israel’s God and what he had done for these hundreds of years. Moreover, the Egyptians might have heard about the signs made by Moses and God and about God’s warnings, seen first several plagues and that these nine plagues affected only them, not the Israelites; yet the Egyptians ignored all the signs. Of course, there were exceptions and some Egyptians did admit God’s power and survived some of the plagues. They were also warned about that last terrible plague of killing firstborns, and they could have actually asked the Hebrews what they could do to protect their houses and to please their God. However, the Egyptians decided to listen to their Pharaoh, rejecting the true God.
Of course, some could say that God was being manipulative and cruel, but let us remember that at first, there were nine plagues and the Pharaoh was exactly the one who ordered to kill all Israel’s firstborns, so he could reduce the population. The tenth plague, the scariest one, was the fault of the Pharaoh. Exactly after the Pharaoh’s deed, God declared that all firstborns of Egypt would die. Although that was not God’s revenge, it was something like a side effect, when God showed the Pharaoh that his deed could hit his own home too. It was like the whole nation was punished for the sins of their “Father.” However, even after freeing the Hebrews, the Pharaoh could not calm down. The Israelites were not far away from the city, when the Pharaoh decided to go with his army after them and get the slaves back. Then God said to Moses and his friend and God’s messenger Aaron to put his rod in the water of the Red Sea. When Moses did what God had told, the Red Sea waters were parted and the route to the other side of the continent appeared. Although the Pharaoh was close, all Israelites managed to cross this path made by God’s power. When the Pharaoh with his army were trying to cross the sea too, God destroyed the army and the ruler, uniting the waters of the Red Sea. Only then the Israelites were actually free from slavery by their God.
Of course, presently, someone could say that God was not so merciful as it is always said in the Bible, but it was his way of justice. Let us not forget that God is the creator of everything and everyone, so it is his will to decide who needs punishment and who does not. Although this story and episode from The Old Testament is just a legend, one should not forget about God’s power or question his deeds. God is the justice, so to his every deed, there is a certain justified explanation. Whether they have faith or not, the duty of people is to try at least follow God’s laws.