“Lesson 44: Exodus 7–11,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 44,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
After Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, the Lord revealed that He would “multiply [His] signs and [His] wonders” in Egypt (Exodus 7:3). However, even after witnessing a miracle and the plagues that afflicted Egypt, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the children of Israel go.
To help establish the context of the events recorded in Exodus 7, read aloud the following statements. Invite students to verbally indicate whether each statement is true or false.
Pharaoh said he was willing to let the children of Israel go free, because he respected the Lord’s power. (False. See Exodus 5:1–2.)
After Moses and Aaron asked Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go, the Israelites were eager to listen to Moses and follow his leadership. (False. See Exodus 5:19–21.)
Moses was confident in his abilities and excited about his responsibility to free the children of Israel from bondage. (False. See Exodus 3:11.)
Summarize Exodus 7:1–5 by explaining that the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to return to Pharaoh and tell him again to free the children of Israel.
If you had been in Moses’s position, do you think you might have been reluctant to return to speak with Pharaoh? Why or why not?
Consider inviting students to ponder situations in which they might be reluctant to follow counsel from the Lord, their parents, or Church leaders.
Invite a student to read Exodus 7:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what Moses and Aaron did in response to the Lord’s direction to return to speak with Pharaoh.
As you consider the challenges Moses and Aaron faced, what stands out to you about their obedience to the Lord’s direction?
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we act in faith and obey the Lord, then …
Invite students to consider how they might complete this statement as they learn what happened as a result of Moses and Aaron’s obedience to the Lord.
Invite a student to read Exodus 7:8–10 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what happened when Moses and Aaron did what the Lord had commanded them.
If possible, hold up a rod (a long piece of wood, such as a broomstick). Drop the rod on the floor.
How do you think you might have responded if you had been in Pharaoh’s position and had just seen Aaron’s rod turn into a serpent?
Invite a student to read Exodus 7:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Pharaoh responded after Aaron’s rod turned into a serpent. Ask students to report what they find.
What do you think Aaron’s rod swallowing the rods of the magicians symbolized? (As students respond, you might point out that the Lord’s power is greater than the power of mortals or of the devil.)
How do you think this experience might have influenced Moses and Aaron?
Point to the incomplete statement on the board. Ask students how they might complete the statement based on what Moses and Aaron experienced as they were obedient to the Lord. Using students’ words, complete the statement on the board so it conveys the following principle: If we act in faith and obey the Lord, then He will bless us to be able to do what He asks of us.
Pick up the rod on the floor and display it again for the class. Invite a student to read Exodus 7:13, and ask the class to look for Pharaoh’s response after Aaron’s rod swallowed the magicians’ rods. Ask students to report what they find.
Point out that verse 13, footnote a, includes an important clarification from the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. It explains that the Lord did not harden Pharaoh’s heart but that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. As the Prophet Joseph Smith was working on his inspired translation of the King James Version of the Bible, he corrected each indication that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, because in each case, Pharaoh had hardened his own heart (see the Joseph Smith Translation in footnotes to Exodus 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10). You may want to testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he restored many plain and precious truths.
Why do you think it is important to know that Pharaoh, not the Lord, hardened Pharaoh’s heart?
Invite a student to read Exodus 5:2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the question Pharaoh asked when Moses first told him to let the children of Israel go.
Explain that the Lord answered Pharaoh’s question by performing miracles and sending plagues as a witness of His power. Explain that each of the following scripture references describes one of the 10 plagues the Lord sent upon Egypt. (Write these scripture references on the board before class or provide students with a copy of the list.)
The following three activities are suggestions for how you might study the plagues as a class. Choose the option that best meets students’ needs. (You might also want to adapt these suggestions as needed.)
Give students 10–15 minutes to silently study each of the plagues. You may want to suggest that they mark and number each of the plagues in their scriptures. Students could also write a summary of each plague in the margin of their scriptures. Invite them to also look for how Pharaoh responded to each of the plagues.
Ask students to divide a piece of paper into ten sections. Invite students to label each section with the number and scripture reference of the plagues as indicated on the list of the 10 plagues. Explain that they will have 10–15 minutes to read the scripture references and draw a picture depicting the plague that is described in the appropriate box on their paper. Invite them to also look for how Pharaoh responded to each of the plagues. You may want to collect their drawings and display them for the class.
Assign one or more students to study one of the scripture references on the list of the 10 plagues until each of the references has been assigned. Invite them to also look for how Pharaoh responded to each of the plagues. Give students 5–7 minutes to read their assigned reference and draw the plague it describes on the board or pieces of paper.
After the activity, invite students to report to the class what they learned about each of the plagues. (If students drew pictures, you may want to encourage them to use the pictures they drew to help them explain the plagues to the class.)
After students have summarized the 10 plagues, ask the class the following questions:
What can we learn about the Lord’s power from the 10 plagues? (The Lord’s power is far greater than the power of mankind, the devil, and the false gods mankind worships.)
How did Pharaoh respond to each of the plagues? (He continued to harden his heart and refused to let the children of Israel go.)
Why do you think the Lord gave Pharaoh so many opportunities to soften his heart, repent, and obey the command to let the children of Israel go instead of forcing Pharaoh to let them go?
After students respond, you may want to invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Gerald N. Lund of the Seventy:
“Individual agency is so sacred that Heavenly Father will never force the human heart, even with all His infinite power. Man may try to do so, but God does not. To put it another way, God allows us to be the guardians, or the gatekeepers, of our own hearts. We must, of our own free will, open our hearts to the Spirit, for He will not force Himself upon us” (“Opening Our Hearts,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 33).
Based on the scriptures we have studied today, how would you state a truth about our agency? (Students may identify a variety of truths, but make sure it is clear that the Lord allows us opportunities to soften our hearts and repent, but He will not force us to repent.)
You may want to explain that we have the ability to choose whether or not to follow the Lord. Although we have the ability to make choices for ourselves, we do not have the ability to choose the consequences of our actions.
What do you think might have happened if Pharaoh had chosen to soften his heart? (As students respond, you may need to point out that much of his people’s suffering and sorrow could have been prevented.)
What principle can we learn from the consequences that resulted because Pharaoh refused to soften his heart? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but be sure to emphasize that if we refuse to soften our hearts and repent of our sins, then we will bring negative consequences upon ourselves and others. Consider writing this truth on the board.)
How might we be blessed by choosing to repent and follow the Lord sooner rather than later?
After students respond, you may want to ask a student to read aloud the following statement:
“If you have sinned, the sooner you repent, the sooner you begin to make your way back and find the peace and joy that come with forgiveness. If you delay repentance, you may lose blessings, opportunities, and spiritual guidance. You may also become further entangled in sinful behavior, making it more difficult to find your way back” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 28).
Share your testimony of the truths you have identified and discussed in this lesson. Invite students to write a goal in their class notebooks or scripture study journals concerning how they will act on one or more of these truths.