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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Exodus 8

 

 

Verses 1-15

B.—The frogs

Exodus 7:26–8:11 [in the English Bible, Exodus 8:1-15]

26 [ Exodus 8:1]And Jehovah spake [said] unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, 27 2]Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou28 3]refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders[FN7] with frogs. And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly [swarm with frogs], which [and they] shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the houses of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine29 4]ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs: And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.[FN8]

Chap. Exodus 8:1 [ Exodus 8:5].And Jehovah spake [said] unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine [thy] hand with thy rod over the streams, and over the rivers [canals], and over the ponds, and cause frogs [the frogs] to come up upon the land2 6]of Egypt. And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and3 7]the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments [secret arts], and brought up frogs [the frogs] upon4 8]the land of Egypt. Then [And] Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat Jehovah, that he may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice [may sacrifice] 5 9]unto Jehovah. And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory [Have thou honor] over me:[FN9] when [against what time] shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that 6 10]they may remain in the river only? And he said, To-morrow [Against tomorrow]. And he said, Be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know7 11]that there is none like unto Jehovah our God. And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; 8 12]they shall remain in the river only. And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried unto Jehovah because of the frogs which he had9 13]brought against Pharaoh. And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses: and the frogs died out of the hoses, out of the villages [courts], and out of10 14]the fields. And they gathered them together upon heaps [piled them up in heaps]: 11 15]and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite,[FN10] he hardened[FN11] his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had said.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

7:27 ( Exodus 8:2). גְּבוּל here, as often, has a wider meaning than border; it is equivalent to our “territory.”—Tr.].

7:29 ( Exodus 8:4). This sounds more pleonastic than the original, where the order of the words is reversed: “Upon thee, and upon thy people,… shall the frogs come up.”—Tr.].

[ Exodus 8:5 ( Exodus 8:9). הִתְפָּאֵד is variously rendered. Gesenius and Fürst assume a root distinct from the one the Hithp. of which means to boast, and render it “prescribe,” “declare.” “Prescribe for me when I shall intreat,” etc. The LXX. and Vulg. give it the same meaning. Others understand the meaning to be: “Take to thyself honor; for when shall I intreat” etc. i.e., I will give thee the honor of fixing the time when the plague shall cease. These two explanations yield nearly the same sense. Others have been resorted to (e.g., “Give glory over me,” i.e., I will run the risk of a failure, by allowing thee to fix the time), but are less plausible.—Tr.].

[ Exodus 8:11 ( Exodus 8:15). הָרְוָחָה has the article, and the sentence reads, “saw that the respite (literally, breathing-space) came,” i.e., the hoped for respite.—Tr.].

[ Exodus 8:11 ( Exodus 8:15). וְהַכְבֵּד “And he made heavy.” Comp. note on Genesis 7:14. The Inf. Abs. is used for the finite verb.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Exodus 7:26 [ Exodus 8:1] sqq. The second plague; the frogs. They come up out of the mire of the Nile when the water falls, especially from the marshes of the Nile. On the small Nile-frog called rana Mosaica or Nilotica by Seetzen, see Keil.[FN12] How did the natural event become a miracle? (1) By the announcement of the extraordinary enhancement of it to the extent of making it a plague; vid. Exodus 8:28-29 [ Exodus 8:3-4]; (2) by the equally confident promise of the sudden death of the frogs. The imitation of this miracle by the sorcerers may here too have consisted in their seeming, during the continuance of the plague, to have increased it by their incantations.

Exodus 8:10 [ Exodus 8:14]. חֹמֶר, the largest dry measure of the Hebrews.

Footnotes:

FN#7 - 7:27 ( Exodus 8:2). גְּבוּל here, as often, has a wider meaning than border; it is equivalent to our “territory.”—Tr.].

FN#8 - 7:29 ( Exodus 8:4). This sounds more pleonastic than the original, where the order of the words is reversed: “Upon thee, and upon thy people,… shall the frogs come up.”—Tr.].

FN#9 - Exodus 8:5 ( Exodus 8:9). הִתְפָּאֵד is variously rendered. Gesenius and Fürst assume a root distinct from the one the Hithp. of which means to boast, and render it “prescribe,” “declare.” “Prescribe for me when I shall intreat,” etc. The LXX. and Vulg. give it the same meaning. Others understand the meaning to be: “Take to thyself honor; for when shall I intreat” etc. i.e., I will give thee the honor of fixing the time when the plague shall cease. These two explanations yield nearly the same sense. Others have been resorted to (e.g., “Give glory over me,” i.e., I will run the risk of a failure, by allowing thee to fix the time), but are less plausible.—Tr.].

FN#10 - Exodus 8:11 ( Exodus 8:15). הָרְוָחָה has the article, and the sentence reads, “saw that the respite (literally, breathing-space) came,” i.e., the hoped for respite.—Tr.].

FN#11 - Exodus 8:11 ( Exodus 8:15). וְהַכְבֵּד “And he made heavy.” Comp. note on Exodus 7:14. The Inf. Abs. is used for the finite verb.

FN#12 - Keil gives no information except by referring to Seetzen. Seetzen distinguishes the rana Nilotica from the rana Mosaica, the latter being the most abundant. Frogs of this kind creep rather than jump, and are called toads by Seetzen, though they are found in water until after the inundation (which continues three months, beginning about June25). The Egyptian name for this frog is defda.—Tr.].


Verses 16-19

C.—The gnats

Exodus 8:12-15 [ Exodus 8:16-19]

12 [ Exodus 8:16]And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice [gnats] throughout all the13 17]land of Egypt. And they did so; for [and] Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth [land], and it became lice [gnats] in [on] Prayer of Manasseh, and in [on] beast; all the dust of the land became lice [gnats] 14 18]throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments [secret arts] to bring forth lice [the gnats], but they could not: 15 19]so [and] there were lice [gnats] upon Prayer of Manasseh, and upon beast. Then [And] the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had said.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Exodus 8:12 [ Exodus 8:16] seq. Gnats. כִּנִּם or כִּנִּים. Josephus, the Rabbins, [the A. V.], and Luther render: “lice.” The LXX, σκνῖφες; the Vulg, sciniphes. Very small, painfully stinging gnats, crawling on the skin, and even in the nose and ears. They are very abundant in Egypt. The dust marks the transition from the mire to the time of drought. The transformation of the dust into gnats is a symbolic Acts, like the transformation of water into blood. They come out of the dust, and fly around like the dust, too small to measure or to seize. Keil says: “The gnats come out of the eggs laid in the dust or ground by the preceding generation.… The miracle consists in both cases not in an immediate creation, but in the pre-announcement, and the corresponding sudden creative (?) generation and supernatural (?) increase of these animals.” Out of the eggs, and at the same time supernatural—this is discordant.

Exodus 8:14 [ Exodus 8:18]. The scribes.חַרְטֻמִּים. Of the three forms of designation, מְבַשְּׁפִים sorcerers, חֲכָמִים wise men, and חַרְטֻמִּיםἱερογραμματεῖς, Egyptian scribes, attached to the court, interpreters of hieroglyphic writings, the chief one is here selected, making the expression of their impotence the stronger. They cannot imitate this miracle. Why not? Knobel says: Because, according to the writer’s view, this was a case involving the production of creatures. Keil: Because God’s omnipotence in the case of this miracle put a check upon the demoniacal forces which the sorcerers had employed. Strange that the characteristic mark of magic wonders is again continually overlooked. The agency of Satan consists in lying forces and signs and miracles. Satan, in all that he says ( Matthew 4) is the liar. If we take Exodus 8:13 literally, we might say that Moses had already transformed all the dust of Egypt into gnats, and that hence there was no dust left for them to work miracles on. But it is more obvious to assume that in this case they found the deception harder, or rather, that they were seized with a religious terror, and now declared to Pharaoh that they could go with him no further, in order to induce him to retrace his steps. This seems to be implied in their declaration: “This is the finger of God.” According to Bochart this means: nos non cohibent Moses et Aaron, sed divina vis, ulrisque major. Keil adds: “If they had meant the God of Israel, יהוה would be used.” But did they know Jehovah? And did they not also, as Egyptian priests, refer all their doings to the influence of the Godhead? According to Kurtz, by “finger” they meant an indication [Fingerzeig], a warning of the Egyptian gods themselves. Keil, on the other hand, finds in the finger of God simply an expression of creative omnipotence, as in Psalm 8:4, 3]; Luke 11:20; Exodus 31:18. Yet the educating wisdom of God is emphasized, especially in Exodus 31:18. The recognition of the fact that God’s finger displayed itself is the prelude of the perception of His strong hand and His outstretched arm. Therefore the phrase cannot be intended to designate either the gods of Egypt, who could not possibly, in the mind of the priests, take part with Moses and Aaron, or the God of Israel according to the Egyptian notion of Him, but only the deity, as conceived by a general overpowering religious feeling.

Exodus 8:15 [ Exodus 8:19]. Was hardened. Keil’s inference, “This punitive miracle, therefore, made on Pharaoh no impression,” obliterates the antithesis which the text brings out [viz., that although the magicians saw a divine hand in the miracle, yet Pharaoh remained obdurate].


Verses 20-32

D.—The blood-sucking gad-fly

Exodus 8:16-28 [ Exodus 8:20-32]

16 20] And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh: lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus17 21]saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else [For] if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies [send the 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 [full of the flies], 18 22]and also the ground whereon they are. And I will sever [separate] in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies [no flies] shall be there: to the end thou mayest know that I:19 23] am Jehovah in the midst of the earth [land]. And I will put a division between20 24]my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be. And Jehovah did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies [came grievous flies] into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt; the land was corrupted [was like to be destroyed[FN13]] by reason of the swarm of flies [the flies].

21 25]And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to22 26]your God in the land. And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall [should] sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to Jehovah our God; lo, shall we [if we should] sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their23 27]eyes, and will they [eyes, would they] not stone us?[FN14] We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Jehovah our God, as he shall24 28]command us. And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to Jehovah your God in the wilderness: only ye shall not go very far away: 25 29]entreat for me. And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat Jehovah that the swarms of flies may [and the flies will] depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to-morrow; but [only] let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice26 30]to Jehovah. And Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated Jehovah27 31]And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies [the flies] from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there28 32]remained not one. And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this [heart this] time also, neither would he [and he did not] let the people go.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

[ Exodus 8:20 [ Exodus 8:24]. The Hebrew is תִּשָּׁחֵת. There is no propriety in rendering the future verb here, as is commonly done, by the Preterite. Besides, from the nature of the case, the Preterite is too strong; the land was not wholly destroyed; there was a danger that it would be, and therefore Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in order to avert the prospective ruin of the land. The future tense expresses an action as strictly future, or as future with reference to another past event, or as customary, or as going on either at a past or present time. Here we must understand that the devastation was going on, and total ruin was impending. Hence we may render: “was being destroyed,” or (as we have done) “was like to be destroyed.”—Tr.].

[ Exodus 8:22 [ Exodus 8:26]. The particle הֵן, commonly meaning, “behold,” seems to have here, as occasionally elsewhere, the force of a conditional particle. There is no mark of interrogation in the sentence, and apparently Moses says: “Lo, we shall sacrifice … and they will not stone us.” But the sense seems to require the last clause to be taken interrogatively.—Tr.]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Exodus 8:16 [ Exodus 8:20] sqq. The gnats are followed by a worse plague, called עָרֹב. This definite phrase cannot signify “all kind of vermin” (Luther, πάμμυια, Sym.). The LXX. render κυνόμυια, “dog-fly,” by which is to be understood the larger species of flies, the blood-sucking gad-fly, as is especially to be seen in the plague of the cattle (vid. Hengstenberg, Egypt, etc., p116). Raphael Hirsch: “beast of the desert.” There is no reason why the adjective כָּבֵד, Exodus 8:20, should not be rendered literally, the heavy (grievous) dog-fly. If כָּבֵד is to convey the notion of multitude, this must also be indicated by the substantive. Moreover, the attributive “numerous” would rather weaken than strengthen the thought. Numerous flies![FN15]—In this plague two new factors enter: (1) It is expressly noticed that the laud of Goshen, i.e., Israel, shall be exempt from this plague. (2) This time, without the symbolic use of Moses’ rod, the visitation is announced only, and announced by Jehovah as His own act. Moses and Aaron are already sufficiently accredited as messengers of God; now their God will manifest Himself more definitely as the God of Israel, Jehovah, as He is also at the same time the God (Elohim) absolutely, and, therefore, also in the midst of Egypt.

Exodus 8:17-18 [ Exodus 8:21-22]. Notice the sententious form of the antithesis, מְשַׁלֵחַ and מַשְׁלִיחַ.—[Literally: “If thou will not send my people away, I will send the flies upon thee,” etc.—Tr.]

Exodus 8:19 [ Exodus 8:23]. “פְּדוּת,” says Keil, “does not signify διαστολή, divisio (LXX, Vulg.), but ransom, redemption.” At all events, however, it would be obscure to translate: “I will put a redemption between my people and thy people.” We understand: a quarantine.[FN16]

Exodus 8:21 [ Exodus 8:25]. Pharaoh’s first concession. He is willing to grant to the people a sacrificial festival, accompanied by cessation from labor, but not to let them go out of the land, because he forebodes the consequence of a conditional emancipation, whereas he is unwilling to relax his despotic power over them.

Exodus 8:22 [ Exodus 8:26]. It is not meet [Lange: safe]. De Wette translates נָכון by “fitting,” Keil by “established.” The first expresses too little, the second too much.[FN17]The abomination of the Egyptians.—Knobel says: “The Egyptians sacrificed only bulls, calves and geese (Herod. II:45), but no cows, as being sacred to Isis (Herod. II:41; Porphyr. Abstin. 2, 11); also no turtle-doves (Porphyr4, 7). Also no sheep and goats, at least, not generally; in the worship of Isis at Thiborna in Phocis none could be offered (Pausan10, 32, 9), and in Egypt those who belonged to the temple and district of Mendes offered no she-goats or Hebrews -goats, though they did offer sheep; whereas the opposite was the case in Upper Egypt (Herod. II:42, 46). The Egyptians were greatly scandalized when sacred animals were sacrificed or eaten (Josephus, Apion I:26). The Hebrews, on the other hand, sacrificed sheep, goats and rams, and cows no less, e.g. for peace-offerings ( Leviticus 3:1), burnt-offerings ( 1 Samuel 6:14), sin-offerings ( Numbers 19), and others ( Genesis 15:9).” It is singular that Keil can suppose the meaning to be only that the ceremonial rules and ordinances [of the Egyptians] were so painfully minute that the Jewish method of offering sacrifices might well scandalize the Egyptians. The sacrifice of cows would of itself be to them abominable enough. The more sacred the animal was, the more abominable did the sacrifice of it seem to be. But the chief point in the matter seems to be overlooked. It was the offering in Egypt of sacrifices to Jehovah, a god foreign to the Egyptians, which must have been an abomination. Even after the Reformation many Catholic princes thought that each land could have but one religion.

Exodus 8:24 [ Exodus 8:28]. Pharaoh permits them to go out a little distance on condition that they will intercede for him. Moses assents, without repeating the demand for a three days’ journey, but requires that Pharaoh shall not deceive him, but keep his word.

Exodus 8:28 [ Exodus 8:32]. The fourth hardening of the heart.


Footnotes:

FN#13 - Exodus 8:20 [ Exodus 8:24]. The Hebrew is תִּשָּׁחֵת. There is no propriety in rendering the future verb here, as is commonly done, by the Preterite. Besides, from the nature of the case, the Preterite is too strong; the land was not wholly destroyed; there was a danger that it would be, and therefore Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in order to avert the prospective ruin of the land. The future tense expresses an action as strictly future, or as future with reference to another past event, or as customary, or as going on either at a past or present time. Here we must understand that the devastation was going on, and total ruin was impending. Hence we may render: “was being destroyed,” or (as we have done) “was like to be destroyed.”—Tr.].

FN#14 - Exodus 8:22 [ Exodus 8:26]. The particle הֵן, commonly meaning, “behold,” seems to have here, as occasionally elsewhere, the force of a conditional particle. There is no mark of interrogation in the sentence, and apparently Moses says: “Lo, we shall sacrifice … and they will not stone us.” But the sense seems to require the last clause to be taken interrogatively.—Tr.]

FN#15 - Lange apparently has here in mind Keil’s interpretation, schwere Menge, “grievous multitude,” a meaning borne out by Exodus 10:14; Genesis 1:9, etc.—Tr.]

FN#16 - Lange s translation agrees with that of A. V. Knobel conjectures that instead of פְּדוּת, we should road פֶּלֶת, “separation,” from the verb פָּלָה, which is used in the preceding verse. But such a noun nowhere occurs, though it would be an allowable formation. Better assume, with Gesenius, Fürst, and the most, that the noun has here a rare, though perhaps its original, meaning, that of redemption being derived from it.—Tr.]

FN#17 - Lange’s rendering “sicher” is without analogy, except as “sicher” may mean “certain,” “sure,” which can hardly be Lange’s intention here. Keil’s explanation is the usual one: “festgestellt,” defined by statutum, rectum, “right.” The more common meaning is “fixed;” but this cannot be the force of the word here.—Tr.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Exodus 8:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/exodus-8.html. 1857-84.

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