Monday, July 14, 2008

The Plagues and the Passover, part II

On the relationship of the tenth plague to the previous nine, Waltke writes:

The severity and universality of the tenth plague, its manner of accomplishment by a direct act of God instead of by Moses' staff...and the unique celebration of the tenth plague as a lasting ordinance underscore the importance of the event in Old Testament Theology (OTT, 381).

Clearly Waltke sees the discontinuity as well as the continuity. The circumstantial nature of the tenth plague is clear: it addresses Pharoah's attempt to kill the male Israelite children. But, it also transcends the circumstantial, becoming paradigmatic. The judgement that falls is universal and predicates a universal judgement on all mankind, without distinction. So, it is interesting that Waltke mentions the work of Paul Wright who notes that the pattern of the ten plagues is 3+3+3+1.

This schema of 3+3+3+1 appears to form the basis of the plague series found in the book of Revelation. Paralleling itself to the plagues in Exodus, Revelation takes on a similar framework in the seven seals, trumpets, and bowls, where the three sets of three have become three sets of seven culminating in the smiting of the nations.

The judgement of the tenth plague is universal, only the slain lamb's blood turns away the Destroyer. Could this idea of a ransom of redemption also secure the immunity of the Israelites from the other plagues, which are actually also essentially universal? If MT Ex8:19 does in fact read ransom (pdt) then perhaps this idea is expressed there. However, Kaiser (EBC) thinks that the MT has been wrongly transcribed at this point...

the letter d was omitted by haplography from the text that originally read prdt from the verb prd "to separate" in the Hiphil (EBC)

Even so, when we think of Plague Ten, we ought to recognise its distinct universal nature as a paradigm of the global judgement to come at the eschaton. Not only is there a link to Revelation, but also to the words of Jesus in Jn12:31, spoken so soon before Passover and his own atoning redemptive death as the Lamb of God...
Now judgement is upon this world, now the ruler of this world is cast out.