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Exodus 8:1-20

Context
8:1 (7:26) 1  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Release my people in order that they may serve me! 8:2 But if you refuse to release them, then I am going to plague 2  all your territory with frogs. 3  8:3 The Nile will swarm 4  with frogs, and they will come up and go into your house, in your bedroom, and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading troughs. 5  8:4 Frogs 6  will come up against you, your people, and all your servants.”’” 7 

8:5 The Lord spoke to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Extend your hand with your staff 8  over the rivers, over the canals, and over the ponds, and bring the frogs up over the land of Egypt.’” 8:6 So Aaron extended his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs 9  came up and covered the land of Egypt.

8:7 The magicians did the same 10  with their secret arts and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt too. 11 

8:8 Then Pharaoh summoned 12  Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray 13  to the Lord that he may take the frogs away 14  from me and my people, and I will release 15  the people that they may sacrifice 16  to the Lord.” 8:9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “You may have the honor over me 17  – when shall I pray for you, your servants, and your people, for the frogs to be removed 18  from you and your houses, so that 19  they will be left 20  only in the Nile?” 8:10 He said, “Tomorrow.” And Moses said, 21  “It will be 22  as you say, 23  so that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 8:11 The frogs will depart from you, your houses, your servants, and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.”

8:12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried 24  to the Lord because of 25  the frogs that he had brought on 26  Pharaoh. 8:13 The Lord did as Moses asked 27  – the 28  frogs died out of the houses, the villages, and the fields. 8:14 The Egyptians 29  piled them in countless heaps, 30  and the land stank. 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, 31  he hardened 32  his heart and did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted. 33 

The Third Blow: Gnats

8:16 34 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Extend your staff and strike the dust of the ground, and it will become 35  gnats 36  throughout all the land of Egypt.’” 8:17 They did so; Aaron extended his hand with his staff, he struck the dust of the ground, and it became gnats on people 37  and on animals. All the dust of the ground became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt. 8:18 When 38  the magicians attempted 39  to bring forth gnats by their secret arts, they could not. So there were gnats on people and on animals. 8:19 The magicians said 40  to Pharaoh, “It is the finger 41  of God!” But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, 42  and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had predicted.

The Fourth Blow: Flies

8:20 43 The Lord 44  said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and position yourself before Pharaoh as he goes out to the water, and tell him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Release my people that they may serve me!

1 sn Beginning with 8:1, the verse numbers through 8:32 in English Bibles differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 8:1 ET = 7:26 HT, 8:2 ET = 7:27 HT, 8:3 ET = 7:28 HT, 8:4 ET = 7:29 HT, 8:5 ET = 8:1 HT, etc., through 8:32 ET = 8:28 HT. Thus in English Bibles chapter 8 has 32 verses, while in the Hebrew Bible it has 28 verses, with the four extra verses attached to chapter 7.

2 tn The construction here uses the deictic particle and the participle to convey the imminent future: “I am going to plague/about to plague.” The verb נָגַף (nagaf) means “to strike, to smite,” and its related noun means “a blow, a plague, pestilence” or the like. For Yahweh to say “I am about to plague you” could just as easily mean “I am about to strike you.” That is why these “plagues” can be described as “blows” received from God.

3 tn Heb “plague all your border with frogs.” The expression “all your border” is figurative for all the territory of Egypt and the people and things that are within the borders (also used in Exod 10:4, 14, 19; 13:7).

sn This word for frogs is mentioned in the OT only in conjunction with this plague (here and Pss 78:45, 105:30). R. A. Cole (Exodus [TOTC], 91) suggests that this word “frogs” (צְפַרְדְּעִים, tsÿfardÿim) may be an onomatopoeic word, something like “croakers”; it is of Egyptian origin and could be a Hebrew attempt to write the Arabic dofda.

4 sn The choice of this verb שָׁרַץ (sharats) recalls its use in the creation account (Gen 1:20). The water would be swarming with frogs in abundance. There is a hint here of this being a creative work of God as well.

5 sn This verse lists places the frogs will go. The first three are for Pharaoh personally – they are going to touch his private life. Then the text mentions the servants and the people. Mention of the ovens and kneading bowls (or troughs) of the people indicates that food would be contaminated and that it would be impossible even to eat a meal in peace.

6 tn Here again is the generic use of the article, designating the class – frogs.

7 sn The word order of the Hebrew text is important because it shows how the plague was pointedly directed at Pharaoh: “and against you, and against your people, and against all your servants frogs will go up.”

8 sn After the instructions for Pharaoh (7:25-8:4), the plague now is brought on by the staff in Aaron’s hand (8:5-7). This will lead to the confrontation (vv. 8-11) and the hardening (vv. 12-15).

9 tn The noun is singular, a collective. B. Jacob notes that this would be the more natural way to refer to the frogs (Exodus, 260).

10 tn Heb “thus, so.”

11 sn In these first two plagues the fact that the Egyptians could and did duplicate them is ironic. By duplicating the experience, they added to the misery of Egypt. One wonders why they did not use their skills to rid the land of the pests instead, and the implication of course is that they could not.

12 tn The verb קָרָא (qara’) followed by the lamed (ל) preposition has the meaning “to summon.

13 tn The verb הַעְתִּירוּ (hatiru) is the Hiphil imperative of the verb עָתַר (’atar). It means “to pray, supplicate,” or “make supplication” – always addressed to God. It is often translated “entreat” to reflect that it is a more urgent praying.

14 tn This form is the jussive with a sequential vav that provides the purpose of the prayer: pray…that he may turn away the frogs.

sn This is the first time in the conflict that Pharaoh even acknowledged that Yahweh existed. Now he is asking for prayer to remove the frogs and is promising to release Israel. This result of the plague must have been an encouragement to Moses.

15 tn The form is the Piel cohortative וַאֲשַׁלְּחָה (vaashallÿkhah) with the vav (ו) continuing the sequence from the request and its purpose. The cohortative here stresses the resolve of the king: “and (then) I will release.”

16 tn Here also the imperfect tense with the vav (ו) shows the purpose of the release: “that they may sacrifice.”

17 tn The expression הִתְפָּאֵר עָלַי (hitpaeralay) is problematic. The verb would be simply translated “honor yourself” or “deck yourself with honor.” It can be used in the bad sense of self-exaltation. But here it seems to mean “have the honor or advantage over me” in choosing when to remove the frogs. The LXX has “appoint for me.” Moses is doing more than extending a courtesy to Pharaoh; he is giving him the upper hand in choosing the time. But it is also a test, for if Pharaoh picked the time it would appear less likely that Moses was manipulating things. As U. Cassuto puts it, Moses is saying “my trust in God is so strong you may have the honor of choosing the time” (Exodus, 103).

18 tn Or “destroyed”; Heb “to cut off the frogs.”

19 tn The phrase “so that” is implied.

20 tn Or “survive, remain.”

21 tn Heb “And he said”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

22 tn “It will be” has been supplied.

23 tn Heb “according to your word” (so NASB).

24 tn The verb צָעַק (tsaaq) is used for prayers in which people cry out of trouble or from danger. U. Cassuto observes that Moses would have been in real danger if God had not answered this prayer (Exodus, 103).

25 tn Heb “over the matter of.”

26 tn The verb is an unusual choice if it were just to mean “brought on.” It is the verb שִׂים (sim, “place, put”). S. R. Driver thinks the thought is “appointed for Pharaoh” as a sign (Exodus, 64). The idea of the sign might be too much, but certainly the frogs were positioned for the instruction of the stubborn king.

27 tn Heb “according to the word of Moses” (so KJV, NASB). Just as Moses had told Pharaoh “according to your word” (v. 10), now the Lord does “according to the word” of Moses.

28 tn Heb “and the frogs died.”

29 tn Heb “and they piled them.” For clarity the translation supplies the referent “the Egyptians” as the ones who were piling the frogs.

30 tn The word “heaps” is repeated: חֳמָרִם הֳמָרִם (khomarim khomarim). The repetition serves to intensify the idea to the highest degree – “countless heaps” (see GKC 396 §123.e).

31 tn The word רְוָחָה (rÿvakhah) means “respite, relief.” BDB 926 relates it to the verb רָוַח (ravakh, “to be wide, spacious”). There would be relief when there was freedom to move about.

32 tn וְהַכְבֵּד (vÿhakhbed) is a Hiphil infinitive absolute, functioning as a finite verb. The meaning of the word is “to make heavy,” and so stubborn, sluggish, indifferent. It summarizes his attitude and the outcome, that he refused to keep his promises.

33 sn The end of the plague revealed clearly God’s absolute control over Egypt’s life and deities – all at the power of the man who prayed to God. Yahweh had made life unpleasant for the people by sending the plague, but he was also the one who could remove it. The only recourse anyone has in such trouble is to pray to the sovereign Lord God. Everyone should know that there is no one like Yahweh.

34 sn The third plague is brief and unannounced. Moses and Aaron were simply to strike the dust so that it would become gnats. Not only was this plague unannounced, but also it was not duplicated by the Egyptians.

35 tn The verb is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive, meaning “and it will be.” When הָיָה (hayah) is followed by the lamed (ל) proposition, it means “become.”

36 tn The noun is כִּנִּים (kinnim). The insect has been variously identified as lice, gnats, ticks, flies, fleas, or mosquitoes. “Lice” follows the reading in the Peshitta and Targum (and so Josephus, Ant. 2.14.3 [2.300]). Greek and Latin had “gnats.” By “gnats” many commentators mean “mosquitoes,” which in and around the water of Egypt were abundant (and the translators of the Greek text were familiar with Egypt). Whatever they were they came from the dust and were troublesome to people and animals.

37 tn Heb “man,” but in the generic sense of “humans” or “people” (also in v. 18).

38 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the main clause as a temporal clause.

39 tn Heb “and the magicians did so.”

sn The report of what the magicians did (or as it turns out, tried to do) begins with the same words as the report about the actions of Moses and Aaron – “and they did so” (vv. 17 and 18). The magicians copy the actions of Moses and Aaron, leading readers to think momentarily that the magicians are again successful, but at the end of the verse comes the news that “they could not.” Compared with the first two plagues, this third plague has an important new feature, the failure of the magicians and their recognition of the source of the plague.

40 tn Heb “and the magicians said.”

41 tn The word “finger” is a bold anthropomorphism (a figure of speech in which God is described using human characteristics).

sn The point of the magicians’ words is clear enough. They knew they were beaten and by whom. The reason for their choice of the word “finger” has occasioned many theories, none of which is entirely satisfying. At the least their statement highlights that the plague was accomplished by God with majestic ease and effortlessness. Perhaps the reason that they could not do this was that it involved producing life – from the dust of the ground, as in Genesis 2:7. The creative power of God confounded the magic of the Egyptians and brought on them a loathsome plague.

42 tn Heb “and the heart of Pharaoh became hard.” This phrase translates the Hebrew word חָזַק (khazaq; see S. R. Driver, Exodus, 53). In context this represents the continuation of a prior condition.

43 sn The announcement of the fourth plague parallels that of the first plague. Now there will be flies, likely dogflies. Egypt has always suffered from flies, more so in the summer than in the winter. But the flies the plague describes involve something greater than any normal season for flies. The main point that can be stressed in this plague comes by tracing the development of the plagues in their sequence. Now, with the flies, it becomes clear that God can inflict suffering on some people and preserve others – a preview of the coming judgment that will punish Egypt but set Israel free. God is fully able to keep the dog-fly in the land of the Egyptians and save his people from these judgments.

44 tn Heb “And Yahweh said.”



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