The Lord God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he could preform these miraculous signs among them. Generation after generation would tell their sons and grandsons about what the Lord did in Egypt. The miraculous signs give validity to the “I AM” statement given to Moses by God at the burning bush. (Ex.3:14)
Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh with the word of the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.” Pharaoh had it in his head that the Hebrews belonged to him; therefore, they are to serve him. Pharaoh could not deny the destruction that had come to Egypt, just as Moses and Aaron had warned him. Now he was being threatened with a swarm of locust that would destroy the remaining crops that were not destroyed in the hailstorm. Under the pleas from Pharaoh’s servants, he told Moses and Aaron that the men could go, but not the women and children. Pharaoh could not loose control. If he could hold on to just a little control of the situation, he could hold on to his pride, but the Lord demanded full obedience. Pharaoh must capitulate to the Lord’s command or face the consequences.
So, Moses and Aaron went out from the Lord and Moses stretched out his hand (as the Lord commanded him) over the land of Egypt. The Lord directed an East wind that blew day and night. The next morning, the locust came and ate every green thing in Egypt. “A locust will consume its own weight each day. Locust swarms have been known to cover as many as four hundred square miles, and even one square mile could teem with over one hundred million insects.” (IVP BBC OT) Pharaoh called to Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the LORD your God and against you.” When he asked Moses and Aaron to make supplication to the Lord, they did, and the Lord shifted the wind to the west, which blew the locust out to the red sea. However, Pharaoh was not really repentant because he still would not let the people go.
The Lord told Moses to stretch out his hand toward the sky and a thick darkness covered the land which could be felt. This may have been a dust storm since the text says, “may be felt;” however, the other effects of a dust storm are not mentioned. The statement, ‘may be felt,” could also indicate a feeling of coming death. Once again, Pharaoh was willing that the people go but he had to maintain some sort of control in the situation. He would let the people go, including the women and children; however, they could not take their livestock. Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron that they could no longer see his face, and if they did, they would die. Moses said to Pharaoh, “You are right; I shall never see your face again!” This is saying, without saying, that Pharaoh would be the one who dies.