The second miracle that God had Moses and Aaron perform was turning the Nile river into blood.
Why Blood in the water of the Nile?
There are many cultures across the world who have a wide variety of world-views. Scientists, Scholars, and literary figures, such as Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell have studied many of these and found a number of similarities. Among every culture, blood is a significant cultural symbol and phenomenon.
We bleed when we hurt and often when we die, so it should be no surprise that it draws sharp emotional responses from everyone, just as part of the human experience. Over time, these emotional responses are passed down in intentional ways to create religious concepts that then shape the culture. Since all cultures share similar dramatic responses to blood, we can use a little of our own experience to help understand what happened at the Nile.
Significance of the Blood in the Nile River
The Nile river valley is a small area in the middle of rugged, harsh wilderness, that can actually support agriculture. Both the fresh water and the fish help irrigate and add nutrients to the soil there. What would happen if there was a massive oil spill in the Nile River? The Civilization would collapse.
Oil spills were not a concern for the Ancient Egyptians, but their aversion to blood, as well as the hesitancy to eat dead animals (fish) who died of an unknown ailment, kept them alive. It may not be true in all parts of the world, but the cultures of the Middle East all have a high reverence for cleanliness. Blood was something considered unclean for many of them. If the Nile River turned to blood, it would make the entire kingdom unclean.
The Significance of Blood
What happens to people who drink blood? We have a cultural label for them. Vampires. Vampires are anti-life, monsters, and predators of human beings. We often do not care if it is human or animal blood they are drinking, there is something unnerving about that. If the source of all fresh water, the Nile, became blood, everyone would be left drinking blood, and perhaps suffering ill effects from it.
How would you respond if all of the water from your plumbing turned to blood?
Pharaoh’s Response to the Bloody Nile
Pharaoh reacts to this challenge the same way he did to the snake trick. He had his court magicians replicate it. Unfortunately for him, this did not fix the water problem. If anything, it only made it worse. Here we see Pharaoh abandoning his duty as the keeper of peace in the land, in order to battle with Moses, regarding who is the true God of Egypt. He has left his people in a mess. Their fresh water from the Nile is turned to blood and unusable for a week.
God is right in calling Pharaoh stubborn at the beginning of this passage, and this stubbornness appears to be more than the “hardening” of his heart that God takes credit for doing.
What other aspects of this passage can you relate to just by sharing common human experiences with the Hebrews and the people of Ancient Egypt?
What do you see here?
I’d love to hear what you see in this passage. You can comment below or send a text to 859-636-6965 for a faster response. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the miracles of God in human experience.