God sends Moses to the Israelites to tell them that he is about to redeem them but Moses makes it clear that they might not believe him.Having perfomed the first two miracles it seems Moses goes on to perfom the last miracle which somehow seems to impress the Israelites.Moses is said to have perfomed all the miracles.

Exodus 4:8 NIV

8 Then the Lord said, “If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. 9 But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.”

Yet Moses performs the same or similar miracle but Pharaoh is not impressed

Exodus 7:20-22 NIV

20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

Was there something significant to the Israelites about the third miracle which made them believe?

1 Answer 1


No, I don't believe there was anything significant about the third plague as opposed to the second or the fourth, nor does the text suggest this. The premise of the question is that God implies to Moses the Isrealites will believe after the third miracle when that's when Moses interrupts him to express his own unbelief and the discussion turns to Aaron.

If Moses would not have expressed his doubt, God could have gone on to describe the other plagues - and perhaps he did - but the text veers off from the plagues at this point.

Moreover in the account of the third miracle, there is no description about any change in attitude on the part of the Israelites.

In terms of the belief of the Israelites, it swings back and forth from belief to unbelief, and continues swinging all the way until the Babylonian exile. Nothing suggests the third plague made a difference to them.

But there is something interesting about the belief/unbelief of the people during this part of the book:

  • They kneel and worship after Aaron speaks to them (4.31)
  • They grumbled to Moses after the brick quota was not reduced (5.20)

Then the plagues start, and the Israelites are completely passive. All the action is happening between Moses and Pharoah up until the passover meal, when after giving all the instructions, the people knelt down and worshipped again and performed the passover rites (12.27-28, 12.50)

  • Then God didn't take them via the straight route because they would change their mind and go back to Egypt (13.17)
  • The Israelites started grumbling when Pharoah's army approached (14.10)
  • But after the deliverance across the sea they believed (14.29)
  • But then they grumbled again at Marah for lack of water (15.24)
  • And they grumbled because of lack of meat (16.2)
  • Then they were confused about manna (16.15)

And it goes on, with alternating belief and unbelief.

What is interesting about the 12 plagues is that except for the passover rites,everything else is done on their behalf. Indeed Pharoah kicked them out after the death of the firstborn so there was no choice even in leaving, they were expelled.

Exodus 12.30-31

And Pharaoh got up at night, he and all his servants and all Egypt, and a great cry of distress was in Egypt because there was not a house where there was no one dead. And he called Moses and Aaron at night, and he said, “Get up, go out from the midst of my people, both you as well as the Israelites, and go, serve Yahweh, as you have said.

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