8:16 1 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Extend your staff and strike the dust of the ground, and it will become 2 gnats 3 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 4 and on animals. All the dust of the ground became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.
1 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.
2 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.”
3 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.