“So they took ashes from a kiln, stood in front of Pharaoh and threw them in the air; and they became infected sores on men and animals. The magicians couldn’t even stand in Moshe’s presence because of the sores, which were on them as well as on the other Egyptians.“-Exodus 9:10-11
All the plagues up until now were directed towards the destruction of Egypt’s economic well being with the attack on the livestock, the chief means of barter in those days, being the final stroke.
However, the next plague was aimed at the physical well-being of the Egyptians.
Moses and Aaron took ashes from a kiln (a brick-lined oven used for baking) and scattered them into the air.
Soon after a plague of painful boils broke out on the bodies of both people and animals.
Now I’m sure you’ve heard the common refrain that it matters not how much wealth you have if you don’t have your health.
In fact, I’ve read quite a few accounts from those who were bedridden who testified that they would literally pay any amount of money into the billions if they could just get their health back.
While dire poverty may seriously impede one’s ability to live a fulfilling life, it is nothing compared to not having one’s health.
Even if a person has no money, if he or she is of sound body and mind, he or she already possesses the latent potential to create much wealth.
Innovation, creativity and the ability to work hard are all linked to a sense of well-being whose foundation is good health.
So we are told the boils were so bad that the soothsayers could no longer stand before Moses.
Yet in spite all of this suffering, Pharaoh’s heart remained strong-willed and hardened.
Here we get a glimpse of the idea that although health is much more important than wealth, in the hierarchy of priorities it ranks below one’s “spirit” or “will”.
I’ve known many who suffered horrendous physical ailments, yet were able to live happy and fulfilling lives.
Because their spirit was strong.
They still had hope or faith.
Even the Apostle Paul was given a thorn in the flesh, yet produced mightily for the Kingdom of God because of his faith.
If our faith or hope goes, then it really doesn’t matter if we have wealth or health, we’re already dead.
So if I were to rank these three in order of importance, they would be ordered as follows:
God had systematically attacked the Egyptians’ wealth, their livelihoods, their animals and their own bodies.
Next, with plague number 7, YHVH would begin attacking their spirits.
In other words, he was about to strike the “faith” aspect of the three components that comprise total well-being mentioned above.
As bad as these first six plagues were, they were nothing compared to what was to follow.