“Unit 9: Day 3, Exodus 7–11,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 9: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
After Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, the Lord revealed that He would “multiply [His] signs and [His] wonders” (Exodus 7:3) in Egypt. Even after witnessing a miracle and the plagues that afflicted Egypt, however, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let the children of Israel go. The Lord allows the wicked, such as Pharaoh, agency to do as they will, “according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them at the last day” (Alma 14:11).
Exodus 7:1–5 explains that the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to return to Pharaoh and tell him to free the children of Israel. You may remember that Moses and Aaron had already asked Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go.
Exodus 7:3, 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 Joseph Smith Translation, Exodus 7:13 [in Exodus 7:13, footnote a]; 9:12 [in Exodus 9:12, footnote a]; 10:1 [in Exodus 10:1, footnote a], 20 [in Exodus 10:20, footnote a], 27 [in Exodus 10:27, footnote a]; 11:10 [in Exodus 11:10, footnote a]).
Pharaoh had responded by increasing the Israelites’ labors. Because of Pharaoh’s actions after Moses and Aaron spoke with him, some of the children of Israel would not listen to them.
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?
Take a moment to ponder situations in which you might feel reluctant to follow counsel from the Lord, your parents, or Church leaders.
Read Exodus 7:6, looking 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?
Read Exodus 7:8–10, looking for what happened when Moses and Aaron did what the Lord had commanded them.
Imagine what it would have been like to have seen this miracle. 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?
Read Exodus 7:11–12, looking for Pharaoh’s response after seeing Aaron’s rod turn into a serpent.
You may wonder how Pharaoh’s magicians could have power to perform “miracles.” President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
“All down through the ages and in almost all countries, men have exercised great occult and mystical powers, even to the healing of the sick and the performing of miracles. Soothsayers, magicians, and astrologers were found in the courts of ancient kings. They had certain powers by which they divined and solved the monarch’s problems, dreams, etc. One of the most striking examples of this is recorded in Exodus, where Pharaoh called ‘the wise men and the sorcerers’ who duplicated some of the miracles the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron to perform. …
“… The Savior declared that Satan had the power to bind bodies of men and women and sorely afflict them [see Matthew 7:22–23; Luke 13:16]. If Satan has power to bind the bodies, he surely must have power to loose them. It should be remembered that Satan has great knowledge and thereby can exercise authority and to some extent control the elements, when some greater power does not intervene” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. , 1:176, 178).
Aaron’s rod (serpent) swallowing the rods (serpents) of the magicians symbolized that the Lord’s power is greater than the power of mortals.
How does this event reflect the power of God given to Moses? How would that begin to help the children of Israel?
One principle we learn from this account is that if we act in faith and obey the Lord, then He will bless us to be able to do what He asks of us.
Read Exodus 7:13, looking for Pharaoh’s response after Aaron’s rod swallowed the magicians’ rods.
When Moses first approached Pharaoh and told him of the Lord’s command to free the Israelites, Pharaoh asked, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?” (Exodus 5:2). The Lord answered this question by performing miracles and sending plagues as a witness of His power.
- In your scripture study journal, create a table like the one shown. Label each section with the number and scripture reference of the plagues as indicated. Next to each reference draw a simple illustration of the plague. Then record how Pharaoh responded to each of the plagues.
The 10 plagues
A simple drawing of each plague
Water to blood (see Exodus 7:14–25)
Frogs (see Exodus 8:1–15)
Lice (see Exodus 8:16–19)
Flies (see Exodus 8:20–32)
Cattle dying (see Exodus 9:1–7)
Boils and blains (see Exodus 9:8–12)
Hail and fire (see Exodus 9:13–35)
Locusts (see Exodus 10:1–20)
Darkness (see Exodus 10:21–29)
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What can we learn about the Lord’s power from the 10 plagues?
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?
Elder Gerald N. Lund of the Seventy taught: “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).
Complete the following principle we can learn from the number of opportunities the Lord gave Pharaoh to soften his heart and repent: The Lord allows us , but He will not .
What do you think might have happened if Pharaoh had chosen to soften his heart sooner?
The following is one principle we can learn from the consequences of Pharaoh’s decision to not soften his heart: If we refuse to soften our hearts and repent of our sins, then we will bring negative consequences upon ourselves and others.
As you read the following statement, mark phrases that help you understand why it is important to repent sooner rather than later: “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).
- In your scripture study journal, summarize in your own words how we might be blessed by choosing to repent and follow the Lord sooner rather than later.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Exodus 7–11 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: