Psalm 105 – Historical Retrospective: God’s Faithfulness Toward Israel & The River is Blood in the Admonitions of Ipuwer

1 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.

2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.

3 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.

4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.

5 Remember his marvelous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the Judgments of his mouth;

6 O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen.

7 He is the LORD our God: his Judgments are in all the earth.

8 He hath remembered his covenant forever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.

9 Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac;

10 And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:

11 Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance:

12 When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it.

13 When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people;

14 He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes;

15 Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

16 Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread.

17 He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:

18 Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron:

19 Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.

20 The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free.

21 He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance:

22 To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.

23 Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.

24 And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.

25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtly with his servants.

26 He sent Moses his servant; and Aaron whom he had chosen.

27 They shewed his signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham.

28 He sent darkness, and made it dark; and they rebelled not against his word.

29 He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.

30 Their land brought forth frogs in abundance, in the chambers of their kings.

31 He spake, and there came divers sorts of flies, and lice in all their coasts.

32 He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire in their land.

33 He smote their vines also and their fig trees; and brake the trees of their coasts.

34 He spake, and the locusts came, and caterpillars, and that without number,

35 And did eat up all the herbs in their land, and devoured the fruit of their ground.

36 He smote also all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength.

37 He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and there was not one feeble person among their tribes.

38 Egypt was glad when they departed: for the fear of them fell upon them.

39 He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give light in the night.

40The people asked, and he brought quails, and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

41 He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.

42 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant.

43 And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:

44 And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labor of the people;

45 That they might observe his statutes, and keep his laws. Praise ye the LORD.

A confession of the manifold sins and ingratitude’s of the Israelites.  Thanking and praising the Lord for His unchanging Word and covenant expressed in His sovereignty, His power, and His care through every trail in order that He might have a testimony in His people.

The River is Blood
in the Admonitions of Ipuwer
 

In the early 19th century a papyrus, dating from the end of the Middle Kingdom, was found in Egypt.

It was taken to the Leiden Museum in Holland and interpreted by A.H. Gardiner in 1909.

The complete papyrus can be found in the book Admonitions of an Egyptian from a heiratic papyrus in Leiden.

The papyrus describes violent upheavals in Egypt, starvation, drought, escape of slaves (with the wealth of the Egyptians), and death throughout the land.

The papyrus was written by an Egyptian named Ipuwer and appears to be an eyewitness account of the effects of the Exodus plagues from the perspective of an average Egyptian.

The text called The Admonitions of Ipuwer is a lament over the breakdown of society in Egypt, and some compare it to the laments over upheavals found in the Biblical prophets.  Ipuwer is most famous in Biblical studies because it contains a line stating that the Nile is blood – and yet people drink from it anyway.

This has an obvious historical parallel in the turning of the Nile to blood during the period of the plagues prior to the Exodus (Ex 7:14-25).  Psalm 105:29 expresses it this way:

He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.  Although the date of the composition of Ipuwer is unknown, this lament was probably written long before the Exodus and thus there  is no describing the Biblical event.

The expression that the Nile “turned to blood” in Ipuwer may help us to understand what the term would have meant to ancient readers.  The implication does not appear to have been that the river was literally full of blood, but more likely that the water was so polluted as to have been barely usable.