This happened because Joseph, great-grandson of Ibrahim (PBUH) went to Egypt. Then, years later, his family followed. This is all explained in Genesis 45-46 – the First Book of Musa in the Taurat.
So we now come to the Signs of another great Prophet – Musa (PBUH). The second Book of the Taurat, called Exodus, records how the prophet Musa (PBUH) led the Israelites out of Egypt. Allah commanded Musa (PBUH) to confront the Pharaoh of Egypt, resulting in a contest between Musa and the sorcerers of Pharaoh. This produced nine plagues or disasters against Pharaoh. Allah gave these as signs to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh did not submit himself to Allah’s will and disobeyed these signs.
Surah An-Nazi’at (Surah 79 – Those Who Drag Forth) describes these events in this way
Has the story of Moses reached thee?
Behold, thy Lord did call to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa:-
“Go thou to Pharaoh for he has indeed transgressed all bounds:
“And say to him, ‘Wouldst thou that thou shouldst be purified (from sin)?-
“‘And that I guide thee to thy Lord, so thou shouldst fear Him?'”
Then did (Moses) show him the Great Sign.Surah an-Nazi’at 79:15-20
Surah Al-Muzzammil (Surah 73 – The Enshrouded One) describes Pharaoh’s response:
But Pharaoh disobeyed the apostle; so We seized him with a heavy Punishment.Surah Al-Muzzammil 73:16
What was the ‘Great Sign’ of Musa mentioned in Surah An-Naziat and the ‘heavy punishment’ on Pharaoh described in Surah Al-Muzzammil? Both the Sign and the Punishment came next, in the 10th plague.
The 10th Plague
So Allah is going to bring about a tenth deadly plague (disaster). At this point, the Taurat gives some preparation and explanation before the tenth plague comes. The Qur’an also refers to this point in the account in the following ayat
To Moses We did give Nine Clear Signs: As the Children of Israel: when he came to them, Pharaoh said to him: “O Moses! I consider thee, indeed, to have been worked upon by sorcery!
Moses said, “Thou knowest well that these things have been sent down by none but the Lord of the heavens and the earth as eye-opening evidence: and I consider thee indeed, O Pharaoh, to be one doomed to destruction!”Surah 17 Isra’, The Night Journey: 101-102
So how was Pharaoh’s destruction going to happen? Allah had previously given out destruction in different ways. For the people of Noah’s day, it was drowning in a worldwide flood. For Lut’s wife, it was turning into a pillar of salt. But this destruction would be different because it was also to be a Great Sign – for all peoples. As the Qur’an says:
Then did (Moses) show him the Great Sign.Surah 79 Those Who Drag Forth: 20
Read the explanation of the 10th Plague in the Taurat with the link here. The Taurat gives a detailed account and it will help to better understand the explanation below.
Passover Lamb Saves from Death
This scripture tells us that Allah decreed that every firstborn son across Egypt would die that night. However, those staying in houses where a lamb had been sacrificed and its blood painted on the doorposts of that house would live. Pharaoh, if he did not obey, would lose his son and heir to the throne. Every household in Egypt would lose their firstborn son unless they sacrificed a lamb and painted its blood on their doorposts. So Egypt faced a national disaster.
But those who remained in houses where sacrificed lamb’s blood was painted on the door frames would live. The Angel of Death would pass over that house. So the Israelites called this day Passover.
But for whom was the blood on the doors a Sign? The Taurat tells us:
The LORD said to Moses … ” … I am the LORD. The blood [of the Passover lamb] will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.Exodus 12:13
The LORD was looking for the blood on the door and if He saw it Death would pass over. But the blood was not a sign for Him. It says that the blood was a ‘sign for you’ – the people, including you and me.
But how is it a Sign for us? After this happened the LORD commanded them:
When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped.Exodus 12: 25-27
Passover Starts Jewish Calendar
In fact, we see at the beginning of this story that this tenth plague began the ancient Israelite (Jewish) calendar.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.Exodus 12:1-2
Starting at this time, Allah commanded the Israelites to begin a calendar that celebrated Passover on the same day every year. It marked their new year. For 3500 years Jewish people have been celebrating Passover every year to remember this event. Since the Jewish calendar year is a little different from the Western calendar, the Passover day moves each year on the Western calendar.
So to this day, still 3500 years later, Jewish people continue to celebrate Passover every year in memory of this event from the time of Musa (PBUH) in obedience to the command given then by the LORD in the Taurat.
Here is a modern-day picture of Jewish people slaughtering lambs for the upcoming Passover. It is similar to the Eid celebration.
If we follow Passover celebrations in history we will realize something remarkable. Notice when the arrest and trial of Isa al Masih PBUH happened:
Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.John 18:28
They arrested and executed Isa al Masih precisely on Passover of the Jewish calendar. This was the same day all Jews were sacrificing a lamb to remember those lambs in 1500 BCE that caused Death to pass over. Remember from Sign 3 of Ibrahim, one of Isa’s titles given to him by the prophet Yahya (PBUH) was:
The next day John (i.e. Yahya) saw Jesus (i.e. Isa) coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I meant when I said ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’”.John 1:29-30
Isa (PBUH) Condemned on Passover
Isa al Masih, the ‘Lamb of God’, was sacrificed on the very same day that all the Jews were sacrificing a lamb in memory of the first Passover that started their calendar. This is why the Jewish Passover occurs at the same time as Easter. Easter commemorates the death of Isa al Masih and since that happened on the Passover, Easter and Passover happen close together. Since the Western calendar is different they are not on the same day, but usually in the same week.
What Signs Do
Now think for a minute about what ‘signs’ do. You can see some signs below here.
When we see the ‘skull and crossbones’ sign it makes us think of death and danger. The sign of the ‘Golden Arches’ makes us think about Mcdonald’s. The ‘√’ on Nadal’s bandana is the sign for Nike. Nike wants us to think of them when we see this on Nadal. Signs are made to direct our thinking not to the sign itself but to something it points to.
Allah had said to Musa that the first Passover blood was a sign for us the people. So what was Allah pointing to with this sign? With the remarkable timing of lambs sacrificed on the same day as Isa al Masih, the ‘Lamb of God’, the sign points to the coming sacrifice of Isa.
The Sign of Passover and Ibrahim
It works in our minds as shown in the diagram.
The sign points us to think about the sacrifice of Jesus. In the first Passover, the Israelites sacrificed lambs and painted the blood painted so that death would pass over them. This sign pointing to the Masih tells us that likewise the ‘Lamb of God’ was also sacrificed and his blood spilt so death would pass over us.
With Ibrahim’s sacrifice the place where the ram died so his son could live was Mount Moriah – the same place where Isa al Masih (PBUH) was offered for sacrifice 2000 years later. That allows us to ‘see’ the meaning of the Masih’s sacrifice by pointing to the location. Passover also points to the Masih’s sacrifice but from a different perspective. It points to the day of the calendar – the calendar started with the first Passover. In two different ways, the most important stories in the Taurat point directly to the sacrifice of Isa al Masih using sacrificed lambs. I cannot think of any other person in history whose achievement was foreseen in two such dramatic ways, more than 1000 years beforehand. Can you?
Conclusion: Pharaoh and Egypt
But to finish this Sign, what happened to Pharaoh? The passage from Taurat tells us that he did not heed the warning and his firstborn son (the heir) died that night. So he finally allowed the Israelites to leave Egypt. But then he changed his mind and pursued them to the Red Sea. There the LORD caused the Israelites to pass through the Sea but Pharaoh drowned along with his army. After the nine plagues, the Passover deaths, and the loss of the army, Egypt was greatly diminished. Never again did she regain her status as the world’s foremost power. Allah had judged her.
After the Exodus from Egypt, Moses received the Law, which we review next. For an advanced look at how the Injil summarizes this sign see this. For a discussion on the sacrificial death of Isa al Masih read here.