John Martin: The Seventh Plague of Egypt

The Seventh Plague of Egypt: John Martin

The Seventh Plague of Egypt is an 1823 biblical painting by English Romantic painter John Martin.

Analysis of Martin’s The Seventh Plague of Egypt

This story is taken from the book of Exodus in the Bible when Moses calls upon God to release on the kingdom of Egypt the seventh plague of thunder and hail so that the Israelites may be freed from slavery.

Moses, on the left with his arms upraised, “And Moses stretched forward his rod toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire rained down onto the earth” seems to command the storm which is exploited by English painter John Martin (1789-1854) in true dramatic and Romantic style as a terrifying tempest that reduces even the magnificent architecture to insignificance. A great expanse of the 1823s The Seven Plague of Egypt is devoted to the broad sweeps of the hailstorm and its destructive force, while the puny citizens flee before the wrath of God.

This is one example of many dramatic biblical paintings created by the artist throughout his lifetime.

The Story of The Seventh Plague of Egypt

The Seventh Plague of Egypt is a biblical event described in the Book of Exodus. According to the narrative, the plagues were a series of divine punishments unleashed upon Egypt by God through the prophet Moses in response to the Pharaoh’s refusal to release the Israelites from slavery.

The seventh plague is commonly known as the Plague of Hail. It occurred after Pharaoh repeatedly refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt, despite witnessing the devastating consequences of the previous plagues. In this plague, God sent a severe hailstorm upon Egypt, accompanied by thunder and lightning.

The hail was unlike any that had ever been seen before in Egypt. It was so powerful that it destroyed crops, livestock, and people in the open fields. Only those who heeded Moses’ warning and sought shelter were spared. The hailstorm was a catastrophic event that brought widespread devastation and suffering to the land.

The severity of the Plague of Hail caused Pharaoh to momentarily relent and acknowledge the power of God. He summoned Moses and Aaron, asking them to intercede with God to stop the hail. Moses agreed and prayed to God, who promptly ended the storm. However, as soon as the hail ceased, Pharaoh’s heart hardened once again, and he refused to let the Israelites go.

The Plague of Hail serves as a pivotal moment in the story of the Exodus, showcasing both the power of God and Pharaoh’s stubbornness. It also foreshadows the subsequent plagues that were to come as God continued to demonstrate His authority and demand the release of His people.

The story of the plagues of Egypt holds deep significance in Jewish and Christian traditions, representing God’s deliverance of the Israelites from oppression and His judgment upon the Egyptian gods. It is often interpreted as a demonstration of God’s power over creation and His commitment to fulfilling His promises.

While the exact historical and scientific details of the plagues are a subject of debate, they remain an integral part of the biblical narrative and continue to be studied, interpreted, and reflected upon by scholars, theologians, and believers around the world.

John Martin’s The Seventh Plague of Egypt can be found in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the United States which acquired the work in 1960 for £900 from a private collector.

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