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EXODUS - CHAPTER EIGHT
There is no way to determine how much time elapsed between the first and the second plagues. The second plague, like the first, was a judgment not only upon the land of Egypt, but upon the gods they worshipped.
Jehovah instructed Moses to announce a second sign to Pharaoh. This was to be a plague of frogs throughout the entire land. It would affect every area of Egyptian society, from the court of Pharaoh to the lowest slave in the land. It would be particularly odious, because of the extreme cleanliness of the Egyptians. Frogs would come from the Nile and the marshes and pools adjacent, and would cover the land. They would invade the houses, the bedchambers, and the beds of the Egyptians. They would even find their way into the vessels used to prepare food.
This plague was against the Egyptian goddess Heka, a frog-headed female deity, representative of creative power. Frogs were sacred to this deity.
"Frog" tseparda, designates the "Rana Mosaica." It resembles our toad, a filthy, disgusting creature which crawls along the ground. Its constant croaking becomes very annoying after a short time.
Moses and Aaron obeyed the voice of Jehovah, and brought upon Egypt the plague of frogs. And as God had promised, these loathsome creatures filled the land of Egypt.
As in the case of the first plague, the magicians of Egypt were able to duplicate what Aaron had done. They, too, brought up frogs from Egypt’s waters. But there could have been no measure of comfort to this, because they only added to the misery of the Egyptians.
Since the Egyptians regarded the frog as sacred, they were afraid to kill these creatures which invaded their houses and robbed them of any enjoyment of life. Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, with the urgent request that Jehovah would remove this pestilence from his land.
"Glory over me," verse 9, is Moses’ deference, that he would do as Pharaoh had asked. God gave Pharaoh a choice: he could set the time he wanted the frogs removed, and it would be so.
The frogs died, according to Moses’ word. But there remained a very real problem. The dead frogs did not vanish. The Egyptians piled them in heaps, and the sickening odor permeated the entire land.
Initially, Pharaoh agreed to let Israel leave Egypt, to worship Jehovah. But this was an insincere statement, made when Pharaoh was extremely uncomfortable. When the plague was over, Pharaoh changed his mind. Once more he refused to let Israel go, as he had promised.
This is an example of insincere repentance. Many today make vows to God when faced with unpleasant or distressing circumstances. But when the distress is past, they renege on their word. God sternly warns against this, Ec 5:1-7.
The third "stroke" was upon the soil of Egypt. Aaron smote the ground, and the very dust brought forth the plague. The Egyptians worshipped the earth as a deity, just as they worshipped the River Nile. This "stroke" demonstrated God’s superiority over this important deity in Egypt’s pantheon.
"Lice" ken or kennim (p1), mentioned only here and in Ps 78:46. Identification of this insect is uncertain, though some suggest it was a small sandfly, capable of inflicting a painful sting. These insects permeated the entire land of Egypt, tormenting both man and beast. Oxen and horses were particularly affected. The small insects swarmed in the air, flying into the eyes and nostrils of the animals, driving them to madness.
The magicians of Egypt tried to duplicate this plague, but were unable to do so. They reported to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of a god" (lit.), or "this is beyond man’s power; it is supernatural," much as Nicodemus was convicted regarding the miracles of Jesus, Joh 3:2. The inference: "This is in no way attributed to Moses and Aaron. We are vanquished, not by Moses and Aaron but by a power greater than them and us." Pharaoh hardened his heart once more, and refused to agree to Jehovah’s demand.
The first three plagues or "strokes" appear to have affected the entire land of Egypt, including the region of Goshen where Israel lived. The final six affected only the Egyptians. The final plagues showed that Jehovah reigned even in Egypt, though they did not recognize His authority.
Jehovah instructed Moses to appear once more before Pharaoh at the riverside, as he came for the early morning sacrifice (see Ex 7:15). The purpose: to announce the fourth "stroke." There would be a difference between this and the three previous ones. The fourth and future plagues would be upon the Egyptians only; the Land of -Goshen where Israel lived would be exempt. This would be indisputable proof that Jehovah was indeed the true God over all the earth.
"Flies" ha-arob, a distinct species of insect. The word in the Septuagint is kunomuia, the "dog-fly." This is not the common house-fly, Musca domestica, but the Musca canina. Historians (Philo, Munk) record that these flies are a terrible affliction in Egypt. They attack both men and beasts, fastening on every uncovered surface, especially the eyelids and corners of the eyes. Their bites are painful, and can cause severe inflammation. They "corrupted the land" likely by depositing their eggs everywhere.
Some suggest these insects were beetles, the Blatta orientalis, or kakerlaque. The beetle was sacred to Ra, the sun-god. Chepra, one form of Ra, is represented as a man with a beetle for a head. This insect has powerful jaws, capable of inflicting severe pain upon both man and beast. They attack indiscriminately, gnawing and destroying clothes, furniture, leather, and either eat or corrupt all edibles.
The fourth "stroke" of pestilent insects devastated Egypt. But the land of Goshen where Israel lived was free of these "flies." This was indisputable evidence of the truth of Jehovah’s Word.
The plague of "flies" wrung from Pharaoh grudging permission for Israel to go from the land and worship their God. At first, Pharaoh argued that Israel could worship in Egypt. Moses refused this offer. The sacrifices Israel was required to offer were "abomination of the Egyptians," that is, the Egyptians would abominate the killing. Cattle were sacred to the Egyptians, emblematic of Apis, one of their deities. Sheep were unclean, thus unfit for use in worship. To slaughter these animals would be regarded as sacrilegious, and might provoke a bloody riot, or even a civil war.
Pharaoh then offered to let Israel go, "not. . .very far away," to worship Jehovah. He admits his reason for refusing to let Israel go: he was afraid he would lose them and the revenue they produced. Moses offered no objection to this compromise. He warned against any deceit by Pharaoh.
The plague was to be lifted the next day. The sudden disappearance of the "flies" was as miraculous as their appearance. This was undeniable evidence of Jehovah’s power.
When the plague was lifted, Pharaoh refused to let Israel go. This is an example of insincere repentance.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Exodus 8". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany