1 sn This plague demonstrates that Yahweh has power over the livestock of Egypt. He is able to strike the animals with disease and death, thus delivering a blow to the economic as well as the religious life of the land. By the former plagues many of the Egyptian religious ceremonies would have been interrupted and objects of veneration defiled or destroyed. Now some of the important deities will be attacked. In Goshen, where the cattle are merely cattle, no disease hits, but in the rest of Egypt it is a different matter. Osiris, the savior, cannot even save the brute in which his own soul is supposed to reside. Apis and Mnevis, the ram of Ammon, the sheep of Sais, and the goat of Mendes, perish together. Hence, Moses reminds Israel afterward, “On their gods also Yahweh executed judgments” (Num 33:4). When Jethro heard of all these events, he said, “Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all the gods” (Exod 18:11).
2 sn With the seventh plague there is more explanation of what God is doing to Pharaoh. This plague begins with an extended lesson (vv. 13-21). Rain was almost unknown in Egypt, and hail and lightning were harmless. The Egyptians were fascinated by all these, though, and looked on them as portentous. Herodotus describes how they studied such things and wrote them down (1.2.c.38). If ordinary rainstorms were ominous, what must fire and hail have been? The Egyptians had denominated fire Hephaistos, considering it to be a mighty deity (cf. Diodorus, 1.1.c.1). Porphry says that at the opening of the temple of Serapis the Egyptians worshiped with water and fire. If these connections were clearly understood, then these elements in the plague were thought to be deities that came down on their own people with death and destruction.
3 tn Heb “and Yahweh said.”
4 tn Or “take your stand.”