When God purposed to remove His children from Egypt He had to show Himself and His power to Israel. Since they had been in Egypt several hundred years they knew Egyptian gods very well. His “attack” on the polytheistic belief system started on the human connection with the gods – Pharaoh. He was the mediator between the gods
and the people and the cobra was his protection. It was sculpted into a uraeus (the hood flared cobra) which pharaoh wore on his head. This all deals with one of their creation stories. Pharaoh set the tone for the beliefs of the nation and the swallowing of his symbol and that of the magicians set the tone for the rest of the Exodus.
Many documentaries have been made tying all of the Plagues together but I noticed an interesting connection between the first three (see Start to Out of Egypt). The Nile River was not only their source of water but also the major trade route. Several gods/goddess served as water deities so this judgment was also a major sign for the children of Israel. The third plague was on the land and again several deities are recognized as soil/sand/desert gods. It is interesting that plague number two was frogs/toads as they are amphibians and live in or on both water and land. The frog/toad binds the first and third plague together. There was an animal (besides man) that was affected with each of the first three plagues (1st fish, 2nd frogs, 3rd gnats/mosquitoes with the livestock). The Hebrew word associated with plague three could have been fleas, gnats, mosquitoes, or lice. There are logical connections for Plagues One through Four because bad water and dead fish would have contributed to frogs then mosquitoes and the piles of dead frogs would have supplied meat for the flies. As I said in my post Frogs, beer was important to Egyptians and a favorite type of beer was “red as human blood.”
Plague Three the magicians could not reproduce the plague and finally had to admit that God was stronger than they were. I did find it notable that they only attributed this plague as being the “finger of God” and not the hand or arm. Maybe they at least realized that it could get a lot worse.
In studying this I have wondered how long the Nile stayed polluted? Was it just seven days? It does not say but if God were also teaching Israel about the weakness of Egyptian gods making them work to get their water would have been major! So the first three plagues “defeated” the gods of Pharaoh, water, fish, frogs (beer/bread), and land.
- pic of uraeus http://www.sofiatopia.org/maat/eyes.htm
- toad pic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amietophrynus_regularis#mediaviewer/File:Pantherkroete-04.jpg