Bible Commentaries
Exodus 8

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-32

Exodus 8:3. The river shall bring forth frogs. The season was now approaching for the frogs to leave the pools, lakes, and river. God preserved and strengthened the young, or tadpoles of this amphibious creature, and by the same providence caused them to die in answer to prayer.

Exodus 8:9. Glory over me. That is, according to the next verse, set me a time when I shall entreat the Lord to remove this plague, and glory over me if it be not removed when I shall entreat.

Exodus 8:17. Lice; כנים Kinnim. The frogs had already invaded their houses; now the vermin attacked their bodies.

Exodus 8:21. Swarms of flies. The readings here are various, All sorts of flies; gnats, hornets, wasps, &c. This would seem, from Psalms 78:45, to be the true sense of the text; yet others contend that serpents and scorpions are implied. Some have said that lions, leopards, and wolves were superadded; but Exodus 8:31 restricts the plague to insects.

Exodus 8:26. The abomination of the Egyptians; that is, the victims we shall sacrifice would be to them an abomination, because they adored some of the animals which other nations burned on their altars. The Egyptians worshipped a ram under the name of Jove, and a calf or bull under the name of Apis, called Epaphus by the Greeks. Herodotus, who travelled in Egypt 200 years before Christ, states that when Cambyses was returned with the remains of his half-perished army from the deserts of Numidia, whither he had led them as a fool without guides and provisions, he found the people of Memphis dressed in their best clothes, and celebrating a feast. This he thought was a festival of joy at the complete failure of his expedition. When they told him that the feast was on account of their god, who rarely discovered himself, having appeared to them; he replied that they told him falsehoods, and began to kill them. He then commanded the priests to appear before him, and they made him the same answer, He replied, that if their god was so condescending as to show himself to the people, he would not hide himself from the king; and commanded them to lead him immediately into the presence of their god. This Apis, according to the priests, was the first calf of a cow, which was not allowed to have a second; it was engendered by a thunderbolt of Jupiter. The calf was black all over the body, except a square white mark on the forehead. On its back was placed an eagle, and the hair of the tail divided into two tresses. As soon as Cambyses saw the calf, he burst out into a fit of laughter, exclaiming, “Oh wicked priests, are the gods then made of flesh and blood? Do they feel a cut of the sword? Truly this god is worthy of the Egyptians.” On saying these words, he gave their god a long cut on the skin, and made the wound so deep that the animal bled to death. Christian reader, this idol, however now abominable in its figure and rites, had once a sacred origin. Like the fable of Semélè, mother of Bacchus, begotten by Jupiter, and twice born by divine and human geniture, it represented the incarnation of the Word or Wisdom of God. See Romans 1:20. Satan had thus perverted the mysteries of godliness into mysteries of iniquity, and drawn as far as he could, the worship of mankind to himself.


We are here led to trace the hand of heaven in its farther visitations of judgment on the impenitent oppressors of his people. The Lord having once commenced a controversy with a nation, or a sinner, will not retire from the contest till victory shall attend his counsel. In like manner shall the christian ministry be crowned with success in the salvation or the destruction of those who hear. God has clothed his word with more awful characters of judgment, that those who despise mercy may tremble at his severity.

Wicked men we see are not averse to the prayers of the righteous, provided they solicit the removal of their afflictions: Entreat the Lord, said Pharaoh, to take away the frogs. But inquiry should first be made, whether those afflictions have been sanctified, and whether there are appearances that henceforth they will serve God in newness of life.

Whenever the punishment of sin is removed, the sinner, like Pharaoh, is apt to harden his heart, and resume his former course. This is especially true respecting unlawful gains, or some favourite vice and sensual indulgence.

Pharaoh having despised the Lord and the greatness of his power, was afflicted, and his whole kingdom which had joined in the sin, with the meanest of insects. Yes, the insects which they had been accustomed to consider as mean, when commissioned from heaven became formidable, and menaced the whole land with destruction. It is wise for man not to despise the smallest afflictions which the Lord is pleased to send, for in the issue they may be of serious moment to our health and happiness.

Pharaoh was cautioned by Moses not to deal deceitfully any more. This faithful language ministers should still enforce, whenever they find men to have failed in paying their vows to the Lord. If a sinner has been repeatedly spared, been raised up from the bed of affliction, or delivered from sore troubles, and should after all resume, like the Egyptian monarch, his former habits of life, the day will surely come when the Lord will no more be entreated, neither shall his hand spare.

We learn lastly, that although the Lord’s people may, for their greater purification, suffer for a while the common lot of affliction; yet in the issue a difference shall be made. Israel till now had suffered in part with their oppressors, but henceforth the Lord distinguished his own from his enemies. The land of Goshen was marked as the sacred asylum of a praying people. Let the saints therefore at all times rejoice, even in the most awful times of public calamity, for the judgments of God are inflicted by a wise and discriminating hand.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Exodus 8". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.