The Fifth Plague - Murrain of Beasts

Ex. 9:1-7


Verse 1, Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.

I.   Moses is once again instructed to “go in unto” Pharaoh.

A.     Their meeting places.


Before Pharaoh’s Throne

In Another Place

Exodus 5:1

The First Request


Exodus 7:10

Rod into Serpent


Exodus 7:15


by Water - Water into Blood

Exodus 8:1

Frogs from the water


Exodus 8:8

Begging for frogs to leave


Exodus 8:20


by Water - Swarms {of flies}

Exodus 8:25

First Compromise Offer


Exodus 9:1

Murrain of Beasts


B.     The message hasn’t changed.

1.       Some might think a different message would work better.

2.       The message remains the same because God’s commands haven’t changed.

3.       Some might think “repent and believe” isn’t working so we ought to change our message.

a.       Many have changed to “make a commitment to the Lord.

b.       Others have declared sinners ought to do better.

c.       Some have compromised the message to get followers.

4.       But the condition of sinful men remain the same.

5.       Hell, heaven, God, Satan, and sin hasn’t changed: the message of salvation cannot change either.


Verse 2, For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still,

I.   Note the word “if.”

A.     Pharaoh has the way to avoid it.

B.     Sinners have a way of avoiding eternal damnation.

1.       They must realize they are lost, and rightly condemned to an eternal hell.

2.       They must realize that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, repent of their sinfulness, trusting the sacrifice Jesus paid for them on the cross.

C.     Refuse.

1.       The power to change is placed in Pharaoh’s hand.

2.       The power to obey or disobey is placed in the hand of the sinner.

3.       All Pharaoh and the sinner has to do is to meet God’s conditions and all shall be well.


II.   God only desires what is rightfully His - let my people go.

A.     Satan wants God’s people.

B.     An example is Peter.

1.       Luke 22:31-34 – Satan desires to have Peter, but he is kept by God so he will not eternally fall.

2.       Peter, and us, is kept by God, not by our own strength.


Verse 3, Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.

I.   The hand of the Lord - not Aaron or Moses hand.

A.     Show:

1.       God will always do his part.

2.       God often waits on us to do our part.

3.       Moses must tell it like God said it before God will do his part.

B.     God did all of this plague.

1.       Moses and Aaron did nothing.

2.       We’d sometimes like God to do it all, but we must step out by faith (note the first four plagues).

C.     Sometimes we think our “little” is so much, then God steps in and does it all without us.

1.       This shows we need Him much more than He needs us.

2.       I am very glad God has chosen to use us.

D.     It is very important to notice the four times in verses 3-6 that the Lord acts.

1.       Verse 3 - The hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle.

2.       Verse 4 - The LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and Egypt.

3.       Verse 5 - The LORD set the time of the plague.

4.       Verse 6 - The LORD did what He said He would do.

E.      These four things are revealed.

1.       God does every thing he said he will do.

2.       God does many more things he never reveals to us.

3.       God doesn’t have to reveal anything to anybody, but he does because he desires us to understand him, how he thinks, and what his long term plans are.


II.   More than a “pestilence”, but a “mortality.”

A.     The word “murrain” means:

1.       A pestilence.

2.       A plague.

3.       A cattle disease of some sort.

B.     The word “grievous” means:

1.       Very heavy, abundant, numerous, very difficult to bear, burdensome.

2.       This will not be something Egypt will easily recover from.

C.     Some might think the cattle will just get sick.

1.       Verse 4 - None of the cattle of Israel shall die.

2.       Verse 6 - The cattle of Egypt died, but none of the cattle of Israel died.

3.       Verse 7 - Pharaoh discovered that none of the cattle of Israel died.

D.     Cattle refers to all the various kinds of animals in the field.

1.       See my comments on verse 6 for more explanation.  Notallcattledied 

2.       Compare Exodus 9:20,21.

3.       Cattle in barns will not die, but cattle in the field will die.

4.       Household pets would not be killed – Children would ask a lot of questions, wondering if their pets will die because the cattle in the field died.

5.       Children are most likely to be hurt by the death of their pets.

6.       Children wouldn’t be hurt, but it would be a very strong message to their parents.

E.      There are 5 different kinds of animals that will be affected.

1.       horses: probably used in battle.  There are many places in scripture that confirm the numerous horses in Egypt.

a.       Exodus 14:9 – Pharaoh will use the horses that didn’t die in the murrain to chase Israel when they leave Egypt.  The destruction of the Lord upon Egypt is also given in Deut. 11:4.

b.       Deut. 17:16 – Moses warns Israel that a king they place over themselves should not return to Egypt, or multiply horses to himself like Pharaoh did.

c.       I Kings 10:28 – Egypt continues in their wicked ways as shown when Solomon gets horses and other items of wealth from Egypt.

2.       Asses: probably used as bearers of burdens.

3.       Camels: probably used in commerce as they could travel over dry land without water.

4.       Oxen: probably used to plough with, and for commerce.

5.       Sheep: probably used for their wool, and for commerce.

a.       Genesis 46:34 – Sheepherders are an abomination to the Egyptians.

b.       I suppose things have changed since Jacob first came into Egypt.


III.   Egypt worshipped cattle, so God kills their gods.

A.     God often removes that which hinders us in His service.

1.       I heard a man pray, “Lord, remove the hindrance so they can serve God faithfully.”

2.       That might be a good prayer, but we had better ready for the results!


IV.   It should be noted that the plagues upon Egypt are getting more and more severe.

A.     The plagues at first were very mild.

1.       Nobody was hurt when the rod became a serpent.

2.       People were hurt when the water became blood.

3.       When frogs came upon the land, they hurt the people more.

4.       When lice came from the dust, that would hurt exceedingly.

5.       When the swarm {of flies} came, that would be worse than the lice.

B.     The plagues will continue getting worse and worse until all Egypt is finally destroyed.


Verse 4, And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children’s of Israel.

I.   The Lord makes a difference between Israel and Egypt.

A.     The word “sever” doesn’t mean to split apart.

1.       It means to make it distinct, to mark it out as separate, to make that area distinguished from other areas.

B.     This would be very remarkable to all concerned.

1.       It ought to make the Egyptians fear God and search out how to obey His every command.

2.       It ought to make the Israelites forever faithful to God.

C.     It does neither of these things.

1.       The Egyptians harden their hearts, not turning to God at all.

2.       Israel will soon forget God’s mercy upon them and turn their backs on Him.

D.     Miracles do not make for strong Christians.

E.      God also makes a distinction between his people and the people of Satan.

1.       Sometimes lost people are more prosperous than saved people.

a.       Compare the rich man and Lazarus.

b.       Job 21:7-16 – Job tells his three “friends” that the wicked sometimes have more than the faithful.

2.       Some saved people have much prosperity in this world.

a.       Abraham was a rich man, who was faithful to God.

b.       Daniel had the presence of God and his prosperity with him all the days of his life, even though he lived in a pagan country.

3.       I Corinthians 4:9 – Paul, the greatest apostle of all (as far as men are concerned), said he was counted the least of all apostles.  “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.”


Verse 5, And the LORD appointed a set time, saying, To morrow the LORD shall do this thing in the land.

I.   The Lord set the time.

A.     Moses didn’t set the time.

1.       He only told Pharaoh what God told him to say.

2.       Pharaoh should certainly get the message that Moses wasn’t God, but was taking his instructions from God.

B.     Tomorrow.

1.       Pharaoh would have time to think about what he was doing.

2.       He would have time to contact Moses, so Moses could pray that God would stop the plague.

3.       When the murrain came the next day, it would be very obvious that God had caused it.

C.     It may be that God chose “tomorrow” because that is the time Pharaoh first set for the plague of frogs to leave.

1.       Exodus 8:10 - The frogs shall leave tomorrow.

2.       Exodus 8:29 – The swarms were also removed tomorrow.

3.       As far as putting off repenting is concerning, tomorrow never gets here.

4.       As far as the judgment of God is concerned, tomorrow does come.

D.     God has set a time for our lives.

1.       We can die sooner if we live foolishly, but we can add years to our lives by honoring our parents.

2.       God has set a time for the rapture.

3.       God has set a time for the tribulation.

4.       God has set a time for the destruction of this world.

5.       God has set a time for all the lost to be turned into eternal destruction.

6.       Just as sure as “tomorrow” came for Pharaoh, it will also come to all unbelievers.


Verse 6, And the LORD did that thing on the morrow, and all the cattle of Egypt died: but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one.

I.   The Lord did His work.

A.     God will always do what he said he would do.

1.       Just as sure as God killed the cattle of Egypt, he will cast the lost into hell, judgment, and finally into the Lake of Fire.

2.       What will you do with Jesus?

B.     It is very likely that Egypt thought God might not do anything.

1.       I would imagine they would hope Moses was only talking.

2.       Sinners often do not believe God will do what He will do.

3.       Their hearts are blinded.

4.       Present pleasant circumstances often harden the heart toward repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

5.       This is why some people face tragedy, and have time to turn to God.

C.     Moses and Aaron didn’t do anything to show the plague will start.

1.       In previous miracles, Moses and Aaron had used the rod God, or done something to show the beginning of the miracle.

2.       God wants Egypt to understand He is doing these miracles, not Moses and Aaron.

a.       Compare Exodus 9:15 and 22.

b.       When Moses stretches forth his hand, he is representing God who is stretching forth His hand.



Actions of Moses

No Actions of Men

Exodus 7:9,10

Rod becomes a Serpent

Rod thrown down


Exodus 7:19

Water become blood

Rod stretched out


Exodus 8:5

From come from water

Rod stretched out


Exodus 8:16

Lice from dust

Rod stretched out


Exodus 8:24

Swarms {of flies}


And the LORD did so

Exodus 9:6

Murrain of beasts


And the LORD did so

Exodus 9:8


Moses sprinkle ashes


Exodus 9:22

Hail and fire

Rod stretched out



II.   Compare the death of the cattle of Egypt and Israel.

A.     All the cattle of Egypt died.   Back

1.       The word “all” means the whole, anything, everything, totality, each.

a.       There is some doubt that all of Egypt’s cattle died.

2.       There are some cattle left that die in the plague of hail and fire.

3.       See Exodus 9:9, 10, 19, 25.

4.       The scripture says those cattle left in the field shall die.

5.       It is likely those cattle not in the field remained alive.

a.       This is indeed a very grievous murrain.

b.       This massive death would cause severe changes in Egypt.

6.       The word “die” has the meaning of being executed, to die because of a penalty, to come to a premature death by reason of neglect of wise moral conduct.

a.       These cattle didn’t die because of natural causes.

b.       Some might figure a swift disease caused the deaths, but we ought to believe what the Bible says instead of what men say.

B.     I would imagine the Egyptians would be very angry at somebody for this loss.

1.       As Christians, we would think they would be mad at Pharaoh.

2.       It is  more likely, however, they were mad at Moses, God’s representative.

3.       They would think they were getting along just fine before Moses and Aaron showed up with this “story” about some God wanting Israel to go into the wilderness to serve Him.

4.       They would consider Moses, not as an ambassador of God, but of a potential new leader of Israel, a threat to Pharaoh’s authority, and Egypt’s prosperity.

C.     None of the cattle of Israel died.

1.       We, as Christians, would think Israel would be greatly relieved because their cattle was still alive.

2.       It might give them reason to fear the Egyptians more than ever.

a.       Of course, if God can protect the cattle of Israel, he can also protect them – and us.

b.       The Egyptians would naturally feel a great sense of loss.

c.       They would see that Israel still had their cattle.

d.       Some of the Egyptians might try to steal some of Israel’s cattle.

e.       There is no record of any of this happening, but it is certainly in line with human nature.


III.   The is nothing said about the disposal of the dead bodies.

A.     Exodus 8:13-14 - Egypt gathered the dead frogs into piles and the stink filled the land.

B.     How do you get rid of the body of a dead god??


Verse 7, And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.

I.   Pharaoh found out for himself that none of the Israelites cattle was injured.

A.     Compare Exodus 8:22 - Pharaoh was told there would be no flies in the land of Goshen.

1.       Whether he believed it or not, I don’t know.

2.       There is no record he checked to see whether it was so or not.

B.     The evidence points out that Pharaoh was so miserable with the swarms that were around him, that he didn’t see if the swarms were in Goshen.

1.       With the murrain of beasts, no humans were injured.

2.       Therefore, Pharaoh wouldn’t be so intent on his own misery.

C.     The word “behold” is an interjection, a word of wonderment and admiration.

1.       It was a great surprise when not one of Israel’s cattle were dead.

2.       An even more amazing fact is that this surprise did not result in a softening of Pharaoh’s heart.

3.       Miracles do not make for strong Christians.

D.     There is a hearing of the word of God that is a realization of fact, without any repentance or conviction.

1.       Compare Pharaoh’s hard heart after he knew none of the cattle of Egypt died.

2.       When Pharaoh knew God had kept his word, his heart was hardened.

3.       The truth will set you free – if you will believe the truth.


II.   Everyone surely ought to believe that God has killed the Egyptian’s cattle.

A.     Various explanations.

1.       A veterinarian might explain that a sudden fatal illness traveled through the air, which killed the cattle.

2.       He might explain that a bacteria in the water caused the deaths.

3.       Any explanation would have to take into account that only the cattle in the field were killed, and that none of Israel’s cattle were killed.

4.       Any explanation would have to take into account that only the Egyptian’s cattle that were in the field were killed.  Those in barns and such were apparently excluded from the murrain.

5.       Any explanation would have to take into account that Moses accurately predicted this murrain.

B.     The religious leaders could not condemn the Egyptians because of their rebellion to their own gods.

1.       They would be killed if they suggested such a thing.

2.       Egypt was under enough strain at this time, and didn’t need their own religious leaders adding to that strain.


III.   This is not only a loss of wealth, but a loss of the gods.

A.     The Egyptians would not have their wealth to trust in.

B.     The Egyptians would not have their gods to trust in.

C.     God is slowly removing everything the Egyptians are trusting in.

D.     They still won’t trust in God.


IV.   There is no repentance in hell.

A.     If people won’t repent on this earth, they won’t repent in hell.

B.     The rich man was able to see Lazarus, but he never repented.  The rich man suffered, but didn’t repent. He didn’t mind others repenting, but would not repent himself.  He would enjoy somebody else hearing and not going to hell, but he will not repent.