Bible Commentaries

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Exodus 8

Verses 1-15

The Plague of the Frogs

v. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let My people go that they may serve Me. This command became a formula in the course of the plagues and was intended to impress Pharaoh by its very repetition.

v. 2. And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders, the entire country to the extremest boundaries, with frogs;

v. 3. and the river, otherwise the source of fertility and blessing, shall bring forth frogs abundantly, it would swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs;

v. 4. and the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. As the frogs came up out of the water and the mire of the Nile, there was not a spot in Egypt safe from their clammy presence, not even the inner bedrooms of the houses, not even the large wooden vessels in which the Egyptian women kneaded the bread-dough, not even the very persons of the Egyptians: the frogs would persist in creeping everywhere.

v. 5. And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, almost as in the first plague, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.

v. 6. And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. There was one immense expanse of frogs as far as one could see.

v. 7. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, with their verses of incantation, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. They could imitate the miracle on a small scale, but they were unable to remove the plague.

v. 8. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, Intreat the Lord that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people. He was forced to admit, not only that Jehovah actually existed, but that this plague was His punishment, and that He was the only one able to remove its horror. And I will let the people go that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord. The promise was pressed from him by the great emergency which was upon him.

v. 9. And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me, be magnified above me, an expression used by Moses to refer all honor to Jehovah; when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy, literally to cut off, to put away definitely, the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only? The fact that Pharaoh was even permitted to set the time for the deliverance from the plague was to direct his thoughts to the superior power of the God of the Hebrews.

v. 10. And he said, Tomorrow, thinking, perhaps, that it would be impossible to remove the frogs in such a short time. And he said, Be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord, our God. Moses hoped that the fulfillment of his definite promise would have some influence upon the king.

v. 11. And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. As persistently as the clammy creatures had sought the company of men, so rapidly they would turn back to their natural haunts.

v. 12. And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh; and Moses cried unto the Lord, with a loud and insistent appeal, because of the frogs which He had brought against Pharaoh.

v. 13. And the Lord did according to the word of Moses, He stood by His servant in granting his request; and the frogs died out of the houses, literally away from the houses, out of the villages, or courts, and out of the fields.

v. 14. And they gathered them together upon heaps, by the bushel; and the land stank from the odor of decay.

v. 15. But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, there was relief from the pressure of the plague and he could once more get his breath, he hardened his heart and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said. Thus it happens even in our days that obstinate sinners will cry for help when the hand of God rests heavily upon them. But there is no real change of heart in their case, and as soon as they feel relief, they forget all their solemn promises.

Verses 16-19

The Plague of the Lice

v. 16. And the Lord said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. The insects referred to are very small gnats, which crawl on the skin, and even into the noses and ears, and inflict painful stings. These tiny animals were, by a special creative act of God, to come up out of the dust in countless millions, like the dust.

v. 17. And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. The Nile had twice become the source of a plague, and here the very land which yielded such rich harvests brought forth an insect pest which was unbearable.

v. 18. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, they also smote the dust while they murmured verses of incantation, to bring forth lice, but they could not; so there were lice upon man and upon beast. In this case the Lord did not consent to their imitating His miracle, and so they were unable to perform the apparently simple feat.

v. 19. Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God. They were forced to declare their impotence in the face of God's almighty power, to acknowledge that the God of the Hebrews was mightier than they. And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said. In spite of all the evidence, in spite of the confession of his wisest sorcerers, he persisted in his obstinacy. Even the blind children of this world are obliged to acknowledge occasionally that God's punishments strike the world, and yet they refuse to repent.

Verses 20-32

The Plague of the Flies

v. 20. And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water, the river Nile, probably for purposes of worship; and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let My people go that they may serve Me. It is a monotonous repetition intended to wear down the hard heart of the king.

v. 21. Else, if thou wilt not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses; and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. As nearly as can be determined, the flies here referred to are the dog-flies or blood sucking gad-flies, whose sting is particularly painful. The grievousness of the plague, moreover, would be increased by the fact that the flies would come in such great numbers as to fill the land and cover the ground.

v. 22. And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; the Lord intended to make a miraculous distinction in favor of the children of Israel; to the end thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth, therefore possessing absolute power also over the land of Egypt as the omnipotent Sovereign over all.

v. 23. And I will put a division between My people and thy people, set a redemption in favor of the children of Israel, to deliver them from the plague ; tomorrow shall this sign be.

v. 24. And the Lord did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt; the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies. Not only were the people tortured with the severe stings, as well as the animals, but the vegetation was attacked by the maggots that developed from the eggs deposited on it.

v. 25. And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. The fierceness of the plague drove Pharaoh to this first concession, at least to grant the children of Israel a few days of rest for a sacrificial festival.

v. 26. And Moses said, It is not meet so to do, to do so would have been against the rule which the Lord wanted to have observed; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord, our God, for the Egyptians were highly scandalized if animals sacred to them were offered; lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? The idea of offering sacrifices to Jehovah in Egypt, where the true God was not accepted, was in itself an abomination to the Egyptians, and they would not have hesitated about making known their objections.

v. 27. We will go three days' journey Into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord, our God, as He shall command us. Moses refused to recede from his original demand in any manner.

v. 28. And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the Lord, your God, in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away, a restriction which he was cautious to add; intreat for me. He feigned a compliance which was far from that which the situation demanded.

v. 29. And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will lntreat the Lord that the swarms of files may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow; but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord. This was a warning against the trickery which Pharaoh had exhibited before, v. 15. and indicated that Moses was master of the situation.

v. 30. And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord.

v. 31. And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and He removed the swarms of flies, the obnoxious vermin, from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. It was another miraculous removal of a plague.

v. 32. And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go. It may happen now and then that obstinate sinners will declare themselves willing to reform in the one or the other thing which is offensive to the Lord; but such outward changes do not affect the heart, which remains hardened in sins as before. There is only one thing for Christians to do, namely, to serve the Lord in the manner which He prescribes in His Word. All self-chosen worship is an abomination to the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Exodus 8". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.