Homilies on Genesis and Exodus

By Ronald E. Heine; Origen | Go to book overview

HOMILY IV
On the ten plagues with which Egypt was smitten

WE HAVE JUST HEARD A MOST FAMOUS STORY READ. The story should be known in the whole world because of its importance. It relates that Egypt, along with Pharao the king, was chastened with great scourgings of signs and prodigies that they might restore to their natural freedom the Hebrew people whom, born from free parents, they had violently reduced to slavery. But the story of the events is so connected that if you should diligently examine the individual parts you would discover more things to which your mind clings than things which can be dismissed. And because it would take a long time to set forth the individual statements in the order of the Scripture, we will survey briefly the contents of the whole story.

As the first sign, therefore, " Aaron threw down his rod and it became a snake."1 The assembled enchanters and magicians of the Egyptians "likewise made" snakes from their rods.2 But the snake which had been made from Aaron's rod devoured the snakes of the Egyptians. What ought to have amazed Pharao and made belief easy had the opposite effect. For the Scripture says, " Pharao's heart was hardened and he did not listen to them."3 Now here indeed the text says, " Pharao's heart was hardened." The same thing is written also in the first plague no less, where water is turned into blood.4 It is the same also in the second plague when frogs appear in abundance;5 in

____________________
1
Cf. Ex 7.10.
2
Cf. Ex 7.11.
3
Ex 7.13. Cf. Phil. 27 for Origen's discussion elsewhere of the hardening of Pharoah's heart.
4
Cf. Ex 7.22.
5
Cf. Ex 8.11.

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