7:11 Then Pharaoh also summoned wise men and sorcerers, 1 and the magicians 2 of Egypt by their secret arts 3 did the same thing.
7:22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same 4 by their secret arts, and so 5 Pharaoh’s heart remained hard, 6 and he refused to listen to Moses and Aaron 7 – just as the Lord had predicted.
8:18 When 10 the magicians attempted 11 to bring forth gnats by their secret arts, they could not. So there were gnats on people and on animals.
1 sn For information on this Egyptian material, see D. B. Redford, A Study of the Biblical Story of Joseph (VTSup), 203-4.
2 tn The חַרְטֻּמִּים (kharttummim) seem to have been the keepers of Egypt’s religious and magical texts, the sacred scribes.
3 tn The term בְּלַהֲטֵיהֶם (bÿlahatehem) means “by their secret arts”; it is from לוּט (lut, “to enwrap”). The Greek renders the word “by their magic”; Tg. Onq. uses “murmurings” and “whispers,” and other Jewish sources “dazzling display” or “demons” (see further B. Jacob, Exodus, 253-54). They may have done this by clever tricks, manipulation of the animals, or demonic power. Many have suggested that Aaron and the magicians were familiar with an old trick in which they could temporarily paralyze a serpent and then revive it. But here Aaron’s snake swallows up their snakes.
4 tn Heb “thus, so.”
5 tn The vav consecutive on the preterite introduces the outcome or result of the matter – Pharaoh was hardened.
6 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.
7 tn Heb “to them”; the referents (Moses and Aaron) have been specified in the translation for clarity.
8 tn Heb “thus, so.”
9 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.
10 tn The preterite with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated to the main clause as a temporal clause.
11 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.