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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Exodus 8

Introduction

CHAP.VIII.

The plague of frogs: of lice: of flies: the land of Goshen is free from them: Pharaoh still hardeneth his heart.

Before Christ 1491.

Verse 1

Exodus 8:1. The Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh To render Pharaoh wholly inexcusable, sufficient warning was always given him of every approaching punishment. This plague of frogs, as well as the former, was excellently adapted to subvert the superstitions of Egypt, and to demonstrate the over-ruling power of Jehovah; for as the bank of the river Nile was the grand scene of the magical operations of the Egyptians, in which blood and frogs made a principal part of the apparatus; so, by commanding that river to produce such an infinite multitude of these creatures to annoy them, Jehovah, with wonderful propriety, suited their chastisement to the nature of their crimes: for frogs were not only the instruments of their abominations, but likewise the emblems of those impure demons, whom they invoked by their incantations. Revelation 16:13-66.16.14. See Owen on the Old Testament Miracles.

Verse 3

Exodus 8:3. And the river shall bring forth That is, the river Nile, with all its streams, ponds, lakes, and, in a word, the whole body of waters which proceeded from, and were formed by it alone in Egypt. The Nile was remarkably fruitful of frogs; but a quantity so immense as was produced instantaneously on this occasion, undoubtedly indicated a miraculous power. The expressions, into thy house, thy bed, thine ovens, &c. declare, that the swarm should be so great as to throng, contrary to the nature of the reptile, into the most frequented and the dryest places. And the fourth verse, limiting this plague to Pharoah and his people, shews again how graciously God preserved the Israelites from it. A distinction which, one would have thought, should have caused the blindest to see, and the hardest to feel.

Verse 7

Exodus 8:7. And the magicians did so Here, as before, the grand test of their power would have been to have removed this plague of frogs from the land. But this was beyond the reach of their ability; see the following verses. See also Bochart's Hieroz. part 2: lib. 5 cap. 2 where there is an acute discussion of this miracle.

Verse 9

Exodus 8:9. And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me Finding that his magicians could not remove the plague, this haughty tyrant, who had said I know not Jehovah, now requests the ambassadors of this great God to become intercessors for him with their Almighty Master; while he, humbly but fallaciously, promises to grant their request, and to dismiss them with honour, Exodus 8:8.; upon which Moses says, Glory over me: when, &c. that is, take this honour to thyself to appoint me the time when I shall entreat for thee. The margin of our Bibles has it, have this honour over me; and the meaning of the phrase in this place seems to be no more than I give you leave, or you shall command me. Bonfrerius expresses the sense of the original in a similar manner: Tibi hunc honorem defero, ut eligas quando, &c. You shall have the honour to choose the time when, &c.

Verse 10

Exodus 8:10. And he said, To-morrow Nothing could tend more strongly to prove that Jehovah was the sole author of these miraculous punishments, than the permission given to Pharaoh to choose his own time for the removal. Indeed Pharaoh had no sooner fixed upon the time, than Moses leads him to this reflection: He said, be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know, that there is none like unto the Lord our God. Some have been very anxious to find out a reason why Pharaoh should choose the morrow, rather than the present day, for the removal of the frogs: whereas the Hebrew, agreeable to the marginal translation, expresses his desire of an instantaneous removal. It should be rendered, and he said, against to-morrow; למחר lemachar; i.e. let them be instantly removed.

Verse 12

Exodus 8:12. Because of the frogs Houbigant renders this, respecting that which be had promised Pharaoh touching the frogs. The phrase עלאּדבר ol-debar, which we render, properly enough, because of, is, literally, touching the affair.

Verse 14

Exodus 8:14. And they gathered them together upon heaps This was a sadly convincing proof to the Egyptians that this was no deception, but a true miracle; and that the reptiles thus miraculously brought upon them were real. The ingenious Calmet is of opinion, that the corruption of these frogs occasioned the following plague of flies, which he supposes to have laid their eggs there in such abundance, as to produce the swarms after-mentioned. For though, says he, these plagues may justly be reckoned supernatural as to the manner in which they were effected, yet God made the previous disposition of nature and second causes subservient to his design.

REFLECTIONS.— The seven days of the first plague being expired, God brings a second. He has many arrows in his quiver. But, 1. He sends to beg his people's deliverance, for Pharaoh's sake as well as theirs; for God delighteth not in the death of a sinner. He adds threats to his entreaty, but in vain. Hereupon, 2. The plague is inflicted. The frogs come up, as an invading army; no place is free, not even their beds and kneading-troughs. Note; When God pursues the guilty conscience of the sinner, even his bed cannot give him rest, nor his meals be in quiet. 3. The magicians imitate or aggravate the judgment. It is a bad power, which we had better be without, only to be able to do hurt. 4. Pharaoh now at last begins, for a moment, to relent. Moses and Aaron are called: he begs their prayers, and promises to let the people go. In times of suffering, many will call for the help and prayers of those whom before they despised. 5. We have Moses's prayer, and the success of it. Note; (1.) If we must pray for our persecutors, how much more for those who give us hopes of penitence. (2.) The prayer of faith is wonderfully effectual. 6. Pharaoh's impenitence: no sooner respited than again hardened. Like his, are most sick-bed promises, that with returning health are all forgotten. Neither God's patience, nor his judgments, will savingly convert the sinner's heart, if he submit not to Divine Grace. The more smitten, the more spared; the more impenitent.

Verse 16

Exodus 8:16. The Lord said unto Moses We observed on Exo 8:1 that God, in mercy, was pleased to warn Pharaoh of his judgments before they came: but now, he having notoriously falsified his promise, and shewed a disposition which would not be reclaimed, God orders Moses to bring a third plague, without any sort of warning. The word כנים kinnim, which we render lice, signifies a species of insects. LXX, σκνιπες, or σκνιφες. So the Vulgate, sciniphes or cyniphes, gnats. Origen describes them as winged insects, but so small as to escape any but the acutest sight; and says; that when settled on the body, they pierce it with a most sharp and painful sting. So that these insects seem to have their name from their settling or fixing upon the bodies of men and beasts, and eating into the contexture or substance of them. I have no doubt but they were of some of those species which the Egyptians worshipped as their representative gods; and so, probably, of the cantharides, scaraboeus, or beetle kind. See Parkhurst on the word, and the next note. Bochart strongly supports the idea which our version gives us. If they were lice, they were, most probably, of a kind peculiarly offensive; and, considering the cleanliness for which the Egyptians were so famous, one cannot conceive a more noisome and grievous plague to them than this, in the single view of neatness, separate from its other inconveniences.

Verse 17

Exodus 8:17. All the dust of the land became lice Owen observes, that the earth was another object of the Egyptians' worship, to which they addressed their solemn devotion, and offered the first products of the year, as the donor of their corn, grain and fruit, and the author of their sustenance. To make them sensible, therefore, that the earth did not put forth those life-sustaining productions (for which they adored it with mistaken gratitude) by an independent virtue of its own, but only in consequence of the Divine establishment; to make them sensible of this, I say, God reversed the nature of its productions, causing it to bring forth lice throughout all the land. Before, they were nourished by what the earth produced; now, they are destroyed by it. "And because they had gone astray so very far in the ways of error, as to hold the cattle of the field, yea, noisome beasts, reptiles, and insects, for gods:" therefore the former were killed by a murrain; and a mixture of the latter was sent to torment them; "that they might know that wherewithal a man sinneth, by the same also shall he be punished." See Wis 11:15-16.

Verse 18

Exodus 8:18. And the magicians did so, &c.— This verse is not accurately translated. The clause at the end manifestly points out its true meaning, so there were lice upon man, and upon beast; indicating to us, what is the true sense of the passage, that the magicians endeavoured not to bring forth, but to draw off, or take away, the lice; which they were utterly unable to do: so the lice continued upon man and beast. The verse therefore should be rendered, and the magicians endeavoured, with their inchantments, to take away, or remove, the lice; and they could not: so there were lice upon man and upon beast. In which view the passage is plain, and the context clear; as this certainly was a reasonable trial of the magicians' power, and, as we find, a trial which compelled them to acknowledge the finger of God, Exodus 8:19. The LXX evidently lead to this translation which we have given: for they use the word εξαγαγειν, to remove or dispel. See Trommius's Concordance. And the Chaldee, Syriac, and other versions have it, to draw off, expel. And, in this sense, all the speculations of commentators, why the magicians were not able to produce lice, as they had done frogs, &c. before, are vain and superfluous.

Verse 19

Exodus 8:19. This is the finger of God The finger of A God, as some would have it. This is the immediate power and work of God. See Luk 11:20 compared with Mat 12:28. 1 Samuel 6:9. Psalms 109:27.

REFLECTIONS.— The vilest and most despicable of the creatures, when sent from God, are sufficient to plague the proudest. The frogs are gone, and Pharaoh at ease. But now without warning,

1. The lice come upon him: nor man nor beast is free from these loathsome intruders. They who will not repent of their sins shall be plagued for them.
2. The magicians are baffled in their attempts. The devil can go no farther than his chain. They are made to own the finger of God. Thus the most inveterate of God's enemies have oft-times bore testimony to his glory.
3. Pharaoh's determined hardness of heart. When God gives a man up to a reprobate mind, nothing can save him.

Verse 20

Exodus 8:20. Rise up early, &c.— See note on ch. Exodus 7:15.

Verse 21

Exodus 8:21. Swarms of flies A mixture or multitude of noxious creatures: ערב orab, signifies a mixture collected from various species of little beasts or insects. Some understand by it serpents, scorpions, and other venomous animals. The margin of our Bibles renders it, a mixture of noisome beasts. Wis 2:15-17. Whatever may be the precise meaning of ער

Verse 22

Exodus 8:22. I will sever in that day I will distinguish, &c. See Exodus 8:23. The LXX has it παραδοξασω ; a word which, like the Hebrew, implies a remarkable and glorious distinction. The cause of God's making such a distinction, as well as working these amazing prodigies, is never forgotten by the sacred writer; to the end that thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth: the Sovereign and Uncontrolled Ruler of the whole world.

Verse 24

Exodus 8:24. The land was corrupted Le Clerc understands the expression, the land was corrupted of the flesh and other eatables in the land; which, these vermin having preyed upon and fly-blown, bred maggots, stench, and putrefaction. Bochart understands it of the inhabitants of the land. The original word signifies to destroy or spoil, as well as to corrupt; so that we may imagine the air was infected, and many of the people poisoned and stung to death by them. The Psalmist says, these flies devoured them, Psalms 78:45. Heathen historians have recorded facts something similar to the plagues of frogs and flies. Pliny mentions a city in France which was of old depopulated by frogs. And that whole countries have been infested with flies, appears from the number of gods which were worshipped, because they were supposed to have driven them away. Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, 2Ki 1:2 signifies the god of flies. The Romans had their Hercules, muscarum abactor, the driver away of flies. The Eleans had their god Myagrus, whom they invoked against pestilential swarms of flies; and Jupiter, for the same reason, was stiled Απομυιος and Μυωδης.

Verse 25

Exodus 8:25. Go ye, sacrifice—in the land In the 8th verse Pharaoh allows them to sacrifice, without specifying the place: here he confines them to the land of Goshen, to which Moses objects; as the animals they were to sacrifice to the Lord being those which were worshipped by the Egyptians, it would be such an affront and abomination to them as would endanger the lives of the Israelites. This is the meaning of the phrase, Exodus 8:26 shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians? See Gen 43:32 and Gen 47:34. The Chaldee paraphrase renders the latter part of Exodus 8:26, "for we shall take the animals, which the Egyptians worship, to sacrifice to the Lord our God." The Syriac, "for, if we shall sacrifice the gods of the Egyptians before their eyes, they will stone us." Herodotus, says Bishop Warburton, expressly tells us, that the Egyptians esteemed it a profanation to sacrifice any kind of cattle, except swine, bulls, clean calves, and geese; and that heifers, rams, and goats, were held sacred, either in one province or another:—and, if he came any thing near the truth in his account of the early superstition of Egypt, the Israelites, we see, could not avoid sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians. And with what deadly hatred and revenge they pursued such imaginary impieties, the same Herodotus informs us in another place. See Herod, lib. ii. c. 42. 45. 65. and Div. Leg. vol. ii. part i. p. 36.

Verse 27

Exodus 8:27. As he shall command us In the LXX, &c. it is, As he hath commanded us. See ch. Exodus 3:18.

Verse 31

Exodus 8:31. There remained not one This immediate and entire removal of the flies was as extraordinary, and as plainly indicated the hand of God, as the bringing them upon the land. Probably a strong wind swept them into the sea, or into the desarts of Africa.

REFLECTIONS.— 1. Pharaoh is warned of God's resolution to send a grievous swarm of flies. He was probably praying at the river to his false gods, and here is a message to him from Jehovah. Distinction shall be made between God's people and his, more evidently to demonstrate the hand of God in the judgment. Whilst Egypt in general is full of flies, Goshen shall be free. Note; God is able to secure his servants from common desolations here; but if they should now sink with others in affliction, the day is near when he will make an awful and eternal separation between the righteous and the wicked.

2. Pharaoh calls for Moses and Aaron; and, tormented with these noisome insects, he makes some reluctant concessions: they shall worship, but in Egypt.
The proposal is rejected, and the reason given. They insist upon liberty to depart, and he with unwillingness consents they shall go, but not far out of his reach. Note; (1.) Sins which we are driven from by a tormented conscience through fear only, like a favourite cast off in a passion, will soon be taken in again. (2.) In order to serve God acceptably, we must be separate from the ways and company of a wicked world. (3.) No service can please him, but what is according to his will and word.

3. Moses is content to intercede for him, but admonishes him not to deal deceitfully. God is not mocked. Forced repentance usually betrays itself; but though we impose upon men, we cannot upon God: we can only deceive ourselves to our ruin.
4. The plague is removed, and Pharaoh's hypocrisy appears. It is bad trusting to wicked men's words. The ambition and pride of despotic kings make them often break their solemn treaties; but they only thereby court their own destruction.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 8". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/exodus-8.html. 1801-1803.