Livestock and Boils

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.”  If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats.  But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’”

The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died.  Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh.  It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.”

So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals.  The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians.  But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.

–          Exodus 9:1-12



First, the details of the next two plagues of Egypt:



Plague 5, Death of Livestock, Exodus 9:1-7

How was it initiated:  Moses says that the sign from God will be tomorrow.

What / Who were affected:  A plague caused all the Egyptian livestock to die, but not in Goshen to prove to Pharaoh that the source of the plague was the God of Israel.

Could the Egyptian Magicians duplicate the miracle:  There is no mention of the magicians.

In Pharaoh’s Response, who was in control: Pharaoh investigated, but his heart was hardened.

Relief from Plague:  Not mentioned.

Similar Plague of the End Times:  Not mentioned.



Plague 6, Boils, Exodus 9:8-12

How was it initiated:  Moses tossed soot into the air.

What / Who were affected:  Boils appeared on both men and animals throughout Egypt.  Nothing is said about the land of Goshen.

Could the Egyptian Magicians duplicate the miracle:  This is the last mention of the magicians.  They have such painful boils that they cannot stand before Moses to attempt this plague.

In Pharaoh’s Response, who was in control: Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God.

Relief from Plague:  Not mentioned.

Similar Plague of the End Times:  Revelation 16:8-9, The sun brightens and scorches the people.  Blisters from second degree burns is different than boils, but both affect the skin and are painful.

Notes:  Some have postulated a scientific explanation of the first six plagues.  If the water turning to blood was really a blood-like microscopic algae, the water would be red in color and as thick as blood.  With the abundance of the algae, the sea life would die from lack of oxygen, eventually choking out the algae itself.  This would create a horrible stench from rotting sea life and algae.  The frogs would have to leave the infested waters, appearing everywhere.  As the frogs die from lack of their water habitat, the gnats move in to feed on the carcasses of the frogs, followed by the flies.  With the gnats and flies in such abundance, they could carry disease to the people and animals to form the plague of death for animals and the boils on people and the remaining animals.  This does not toss out God’s hand in the miracles, but it is one explanation of the method that God could have used.


Here we see death for the first time with the death of the livestock in the fifth plague.  God seems to like symmetry in some things.  The first five plagues end with death to livestock (possibly anthrax or hoof and mouth disease), then the tenth plague ends with death to the first-born animals and people.


If anyone gets hung up on the multiple deaths to animals, note that the first is specifically livestock.  With time between plagues, the Egyptians can buy more from neighbors, including the Israelites.  Exodus mentions more than once that the Egyptians (outside the royal court, of course) were friendly with the Israelites.  Also, livestock would not include dogs and cats and other animals that might be domesticated.


There is no direct parallel between the fifth plague and the tribulation, but it is obvious that upon the sounding of the first trumpet (Revelation 8:7) when hail and fire with blood rains upon the earth, the fire burns a third of the earth, killing the trees and grass.  One could assume that many animals die from the fire, but the resultant lack of food and destroyed habitat would lead to a vast number of animals starving.  This is not the same as a disease, but the imbalance in the earth’s resources would have a ripple effect on every living thing.


When it comes to boils, I have known a doctor to refuse to treat it.  Someone that I know had a boil.  My wife called the doctor with her diagnosis and possible treatment of lancing the boil.  The doctor told her to lance the boil at home, if the boil were to burst in the doctor’s office, they would have to shut down the office to disinfect.


Note: My wife’s training in the Air Force as a medic (and surgical technician) was extensive, but she was also curious, asking the doctors thousands of questions during surgery.  If the surgery was routine, they loved the distraction from the mundane, answering her questions.  As a result, within family and friends she would be consulted when the patient did not get the answer they wanted from the doctor.  My wife would not treat them, but would suggest a second opinion.  In this case, she performed the treatment when the doctor did not want to do it.  Some of my wife’s suggestions for second opinions resulted in lives being saved.


With the thought of infection carrying boils in mind, you have something that is extremely painful.  Note that the magicians cannot face Moses due to the pain and are never heard from again in this narrative.  But any lanced boil leads to the liquid poison in the boil to spread to other surfaces.  This causes the disease to spread at an alarming rate.


This is the first time that we see Pharaoh’s heart being hardened by God.  Might we suggest that Pharaoh did not like pain?


The only notable parallel in the tribulation is the pouring of the fourth bowl.  Instead of a disease causing boils, it is the bright sun scorching the people, causing severe sunburn.  I am thinking second and third degree burns instead of an irritating redness to the skin.  This would result in the same kind of pain to the skin’s surface.


God is showing His power.


Soli Deo Gloria.  To God alone be the Glory.


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