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The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Plagues
1-7. The Fifth Plague:—Murrain, i.e. cattle plague.
Visitations of cattle plague are not uncommon in Egypt. An outbreak in 1842 carried off 40,000 oxen. The miraculous nature of the plague recorded here consisted in its occurring at a set time (Exodus 9:5), and in the exemption of the cattle of the Israelites, and of the cattle that were housed. This plague was, so far, the most destructive in its effects, entailing a much more serious loss of property than the former.
3. Cattle] A general term including the species mentioned in this verse. In the field] Those that were housed escaped, to suffer afterwards from the plague of hail: see Exodus 9:19, Exodus 9:25. The words in Exodus 9:6, all the cattle.. died, are to be understood with this limitation. Horses were a comparatively recent importation into Egypt, and chiefly used in military operations. They are frequently mentioned in the OT. in connexion with Egypt: see e.g. Genesis 47:17; Exodus 14:9; Deuteronomy 17:16 note, Isaiah 31:1.
8-12. The Sixth Plague:—Boils.
This plague affected both man and beast, and, unless we may suppose that the narrative is condensed, was sent without warning.
8. Furnace] i.e. the brick-kiln. The scattering of the fine ashes upon the wind was probably intended to be symbolic of the spread of the disease.
9. Boil breaking forth with blains] An inflamed swelling with pustules. In Deuteronomy 28:27 it is called the ’botch of Egypt.’ Certain skin diseases are communicated to man from cattle, and the sixth plague may have been connected in some way with the preceding.
11. Could not stand before Moses] i.e. could not withstand Moses. They were attacked themselves, and could neither imitate nor remove the plague.
12. Hardened the heart of Pharaoh] see on Exodus 4:21.
13-35. The Seventh Plague:—Hail.
14. All my plagues] Pharaoh must not think that God has exhausted His means. There are others which will prove sufficient for His purpose.
15, 16. Better with RV, ’For now I had put forth my hand, and smitten thee.. and thou hadst been cut off.. but in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand’ (i.e. have preserved thee alive), ’for to shew thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.’ God might have delivered His people by summarily destroying Pharaoh and all his subjects, but He has restrained the full extent of His vengeance for His greater glory: cp. Romans 9:22-23; Isaiah 48:9.
18. Very grievous hail] Hail and thunderstorms are not unknown in Egypt, but are rare and seldom dangerous.
Since the foundation thereof] i.e. since it was inhabited: cp. Exodus 9:24.
20. Some of the Egyptians, at all events, had been impressed with the previous plagues, and had come to believe the predictions of Moses.
23. Fire ran along upon the ground] RV ’ran down unto the earth.’ Hailstorms are frequently accompanied with electrical disturbances.
25. Brake every tree] Broke the bough so that, in the case of fruit trees, there could be no prospect of fruit.
27. I have sinned this time] I acknowledge this time that I have sinned.
28. For it is enough] RV ’for there hath been enough.’
31. Flax] Largely grown for making linen which was worn by the priests, and used, among other purposes, for swathing mummies. The word rendered boiled, i.e. podded, is explained in RM as meaning ’was in bloom.’ It means, rather, ’was in bud.’ Flax flowers as a rule in February, and barley comes into ear about the same time. Wheat is a month later than barley, and spelt (here incorrectly called rie, which is not grown in Egypt) is sown and ripens at the same time as wheat. The condition of the crops indicated here fixes the time of the plague at about the end of January.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Exodus 9". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent