Metal Music

Metallica – Creeping Death (Live, Sofia 2010)

Creeping Death is the seventh track on Ride the Lightning. It is a reworking of the Exodus song “Die By His Hand”. It is the first and only single from the album. Writing credits go to James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton, and Kirk Hammett.

Hebrews born to serve, to the pharaoh
To his every word, live in fear
Of the unknown one, the deliverer
Something must be done, four hundred years

The song is based off the second half of the movie The Ten Commandments, when the plagues are spreading and killing the people. Cliff Burton commented on it, saying that it was like “creeping death”. The “creeping death” is actually the Plague of the Firstborn (Exodus 12:29). Some of the other plagues are mentioned in the song as well.

Biblical References

The song is being told from the point of view of the Angel of Death as summoned by Moses, the leader of the Hebrews in Egypt and also mentioned dialogues he has with God. Throughout the song, some of the ten plagues are mentioned, all from the story of the “Hagadah”, The Passover exodus. Moses repeatedly demanded from Pharaoh to set the Hebrew slaves free from Egypt, famously known as “Let my people go” and insisted he was sent by God, to the promised land of Cannan (For the last 400 years the Hebrew people lived in the Goshen region of Egypt “Land of Goshen” and were made slaves of the Pharaohs), which would not be affected by the plague (Exodus 8:22-23).

To prove his point and persuade Pharaoh as Pharaoh refused to do, Moses, guided by God, laid ten strikes on the Egyptians. The ten strikes:

  • To kill the first born Pharaoh’s son: The tenth and most severe strike — The God of Israel killed every firstborn Egyptian that was a boy (In reference to the Pharaoh’s order to throw every Hebrew firstborn into the Nile). One such child was the Pharaoh’s firstborn.
  • I will be with thee, bush of fire: Refers to God speaking to Moses through a burning bush.
  • Blood, Running red and strong, down the Nile: The first of the ten plagues, water of the Nile turned to blood.
  • Plague: This line refers to any of the ten plagues.
  • Darkness three days long: The ninth of the ten, the sun was blocked for three days.
  • Hail to fire: The seventh of the ten, burning hail fell from the sky.
  • Blood, lamb’s blood painted door; I shall pass: Passover; the night God slew the firstborns of Egyptian families. The Hebrews were warned earlier by Moses to paint the doorpost with lamb blood so God would pass over their houses and not kill their sons.

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