The plagues upon Egypt comprise a sacred architecture – yet in a negative sense. They lifted up Egypt as a defiled Bronze Altar upon which was symbolically offered Canaan, the kingly firstborn of Ham.
The Prophetic Grid in the Judgment Upon Egypt
Since the time of Joseph, Pharaoh had become the “World” version of Jacob’s uncle Laban with his household gods, treating “family” as servants for unrighteous gain. Just as Jacob plundered Laban and his gods, so the children of Israel would plunder Egypt and its gods.
The structure of the ten plagues is Ethical architecture. Joseph’s obedience as Firstfruits built up Egypt four centuries before (Ascension), and now the Lord would construct a Bridal body on his righteous bones (Maturity).1Between Ascension and Maturity there is always the refining fire of Testing, a battle between the serpent (in this case, the serpent-crowned Pharaoh) and the Adam who must prove wiser than a serpent by the Spirit of God. This explains the contest between the serpents in Exodus 7.
Likewise, the plagues upon Egypt must be seen as the reversal of the prosperity brought by Joseph as God’s right hand man. Just as God filled Egypt for the sake of Israel, He would now empty it for the sake of Israel. Pharaoh’s hardened heart had rendered Egypt a vessel of destruction, and its power would be shattered.
Just as Joseph had received two dreams as a double witness from God, the priestly (sheaves – Firstfruits) and kingly (sun, moon and stars – Pentecost), so Joseph’s Pharaoh also received two dreams, the priestly (fat and lean cows – Altar) and kingly (the blessed and cursed harvest – Lampstand). The result was the vindication of Joseph as The Prophet, the wise man with God’s Spirit (Genesis 41:38) acting as a father to the king (Genesis 45:8).
The later Pharaoh who did not know Joseph (and thus did not “receive” the Law) also saw the signs and heard the double witness of Moses and Aaron. Egypt by now should have been a prophetic nation, but she had used the blessing of God as an opportunity to fill up her sins. Instead of becoming a house of prayer for all nations (as she had been a house of bread), she was a den of thieves, a brood of snakes. The root word for prayer in the expression “house of prayer” in Isaiah 56:7 possibly carries the idea of asking God to judge, so the prophetic stage of this process was fulfilled in the prayers of the Israelites for freedom from their bondage.
Both Egypt and Israel were now ripe for judgment. Egypt was rich, and Israel was a nation within a nation, ready to become “God’s firstborn” (Exodus 4:22).
In Covenant terms, plunder and plagues are always a multiplication of either obedience or disobedience to the Ethics. Consequently, the plagues are a multiplication of Moses’ own three-by-three Ethical grid (Exodus 4).
|Garden/Priest: Serpentine Tree (Adam)||Rod||Serpent||Rod|
|Land/King: Serpentine Flesh (Cain)||Hand||Scaled Skin (leprosy)||Hand|
|World/Prophet: Serpentine River (Noah)||Voice||Water & Blood||Voice|
The Plagues as Architecture
The Ten Plagues are related to the Ten Words (especially when one uses the “scroll division” as I do) but my point here is to show the plagues as a “negative multiplication” of the signs Moses was given to warn Pharaoh and show him God’s power.
- This construct is an upside-down Noah’s ark, where it is the seed of the Woman that perishes. The waters below are the bloody door and the waters above are the windows of heaven. The Nile turning to blood was a reminder of the blood of the Hebrew infants, which were later protected by a bloody door.
- This division of waters also prefigures Israel’s journey from Egypt to Canaan. The next mention of hail is in Joshua 10:11, where Israel’s victory over the corrupt king of Jerusalem was assisted by hailstones.
- The Septuagint translators who lived in Egypt (centuries later) identified the fourth plague as the dog fly which attaches itself to the edges of eyelids.
- Between Aaron as Priest (Day 1) and Moses as Prophet (Day 3), the Lord reclaimed His throne as true King. The only “serpent plague” here is the Lord, and it is Pharaoh whose serpents are swallowed up.
- Notice that God separated between the Hebrews and Egyptians (as a Veil) on “Day 2.”
- Now, these three “Creation days” are symbolic. The journey into the wilderness was to be three days. Consequently, the time of Pharaoh’s hardening (as Bronze) kept Israel in slavery for “three days.” But how long was the entire period in reality?
- The first plague lasted a “Sabbath week,” and the ninth plague was three days of darkness—ten days in total, which is the time between Trumpets and Atonement. Based upon the timing of Passover and the mentions of harvest, it seems that the total period of plagues lasted for five “moons” (as in Revelation 5:9-10). Israel plundered Egypt and marched out in military array, that is, five abreast. Five and ten are military numbers, and also the numbers of the hands and feet.
- Just as Day 3 produced the Firstfruits of the Land, the third set of plagues leads to the death of the firstborn. The plagues upon Egypt were a sacred architecture yet in a negative sense. They lifted up Egypt as a defiled Bronze Altar upon which was symbolically offered Canaan, the kingly firstborn of Ham (Genesis 9:25, Psalm 105:23).2See Cutting Off Canaan.
- This brings us to the Table of Facebread. It is fitting that Pharaoh’s last words to Moses concerned his “face.”
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|1.||↑||Between Ascension and Maturity there is always the refining fire of Testing, a battle between the serpent (in this case, the serpent-crowned Pharaoh) and the Adam who must prove wiser than a serpent by the Spirit of God. This explains the contest between the serpents in Exodus 7.|
|2.||↑||See Cutting Off Canaan.|