Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Exodus 8

Verses 1-32

The Second, Third, and Fourth Plagues

1-15. The Second Plague:—Frogs.

This plague, like the first, was not only in itself loathsome, but an offence to the religious notions of the Egyptians. The frog was a sacred animal, and regarded as representing the reproductive powers of nature. At least one divinity was represented with a frog’s head. This sacred sign became an object of abhorrence tinder this plague. This also was an aggravation of a natural phenomenon, but. its supernatural nature was attested by its sudden occurrence in accordance with a previous intimation (Exodus 8:2).

3. Ovens] These were large earthenware jars or pots about 3 ft. high, which were heated by being filled with burning brushwood. The dough was baked by being laid in thin layers on the hot sides of the jar. Sometimes the oven consisted of a hole dug in the ground outside the house and plastered with clay. It was heated in the same manner as before, and after the fuel was withdrawn, the oven was wiped out and the dough pressed to the hot sides. Kneading-troughs] wooden bowls.

7. The plague would not be difficult to imitate, seeing the frogs abounded everywhere. But the magicians could not remove the plague.

9. Glory over me] RV ’Have thou this glory over me’: an expression of courtesy equivalent to ’I am at your service.’

13. The frogs died] They did not return to the Nile, but remained to pollute the land. The removal of the plague in a manner intensified it.

16-19. The Third Plague:—Lice.

16. Lice] RM ’sandflies,’ Or ’fleas.’ Opinion has been divided both in ancient and modern times as to the nature of these insects. From the fact that they are here said to have attacked the beasts as well as man, and to have come out of the dust, it has been inferred that they were gnats or mosquitoes. Several kinds of small stinging insects are known to breed in the sand, and these pests are particularly prevalent after the fall of the Nile and the drying up of the pools. On the other hand, RV has good authority for retaining the rendering ’lice’ in the text. Rawlinson says that lice in N. Africa constitute a terrible affliction, and he quotes Sir S. Baker to the effect that ’at certain seasons it is as if the very dust of the land were turned into lice.’ It will be observed that the third plague came without warning.

18. The magicians fail to imitate this plague, and acknowledge its supernatural origin. They said, ’This is the finger of God,’ or ’of a god.’ This does not amount to an acknowlodgment of Jehovah. They may have been thinking of their own gods.

20-32. The Fourth Plague:—Flies.

21. Swarms of flies] The nature of the pests is not indicated, as the Heb. word means simply ’swarms.’ The LXX calls them ’dog-flies’: cp. Isaiah 7:18. A general opinion is that they were beetles, of a peculiarly destructive sort. If this is correct, then the plague was again a severe blow to the religious notions of the Egyptians. The beetle was sacred, and was regarded as the emblem of the Sun-god. ’It was sculptured on monuments, painted on tombs, engraved on gems, worn round the neck as an amulet, and honoured in ten thousand images’ (Geikie). A colossal figure of a scarabæus beetle is in the British Museum.

22. It is implied here that hitherto the Hebrews had suffered along with the Egyptians. But now the exemption of the Hebrews from the plagues would show that it was the God of the Hebrews who was working on their behalf, and not one of the gods of the Egyptians as the magicians had suggested (Exodus 8:19).

24. Was corrupted] MG ’was destroyed.’

25. In the land] of Egypt. Pharaoh was unwilling to lose the services of the Hebrews.

26. The abomination of the Egyptians] Animal worship was very prevalent in Egypt, certain kinds of animals being regarded as peculiarly sacred and on no account to be slaughtered. For the Israelites to sacrifice cattle, sheep, and goats would be to outrage the religious feelings of the Egyptians, and might lead to war and bloodshed. That Moses had good grounds for his fear on this account cannot be questioned. Diodorus, the historian, tells of a Roman ambassador who was put to death for accidentally killing a cat. A modern instance of the danger of offending religious prejudices may be seen in the Indian Mutiny, which is said to have been occasioned by the serving out of greased cartridges to the Bengal troops. The end of the cartridge was usually bitten off before being inserted in the musket, and of this these men, who were Hindus and forbidden by their religion to eat cow’s flesh, had a superstitious abhorrence.

27. See on Exodus 3:18.

29. Deal deceitfully] see Exodus 8:8, Exodus 8:15.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Exodus 8". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.