Chapter 8

  1. The Second Plague: Frogs

    • The Lord told Moses to go tell Pharaoh, “If you refuse to let My people go I will plague your entire land with frogs. The Nile River will swarm with them. They’ll be everywhere- your palace, your bedroom, in your bed, in the houses of all of your people, in your ovens and bowls, even jumping all over you and all of your people.”

    • The Lord then told Moses to instruct Aaron to stretch his staff out over all the rivers, canals, and ponds, causing the frogs to descend upon all of Egypt. Aaron obeyed.

      • Again, Guzik makes an excellent point, “This series of plagues will end with death coming to almost every home in Egypt. God could have brought that terrible last plague early in this series, but did not – and did not for a determined purpose. God used this series of plagues to glorify Himself (especially above the gods of the Egyptians), and to give Pharaoh chance to repent…We should see the good mercy of God in doing this. He might have gone directly to the more severe judgment, but instead gave Pharaoh many chances to repent and change.”

      • NLT Illustrated Study Bible points out the significance of the frog plague from an Egyptian perspective, “The Egyptians revered frogs (represented by Heqet, frog headed goddess of fruitfulness) as having the key of life beyond death…The Egyptians gave special reverence to amphibians because of their ability to live in two different worlds; Egyptians were deeply concerned with survival in the next world, after death. God showed that frogs have no special hold on life. Now frogs filled the land with the stink of death.”

      • “This plague is sometimes said to have been a natural result of what happened to make the Nile River uninhabitable. However, the extent of the plague was more than a natural result.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

Goddess Heqet (or Heket) is associated with the flooding of the Nile, the germination of corn and childbirth. Midwives were often called the Servants of Heqet and women in childbirth often wore amulets depicting Heqet. Heqet was considered the wife of Khnum, who formed the bodies of new children on his potter’s wheel.
    • Again, the magicians were able to produce more frogs by their occult practices.

    • Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Ask the Lord to remove these frogs. Then, I’ll let the people go so that they can worship Him.”

      • You can’t help but notice God’s sense of humor in this plague. He knew that they worshiped frogs, so He literally inundated the Egyptians with them which created quite a precarious situation for the Egyptians. Thomas explains, “The frogs could not be killed because of their sacredness, and yet such large numbers of them would be revolting in their loathsomeness, especially because cleanliness was a particular mark of the Egyptians.”

      • “The magicians were able to duplicate the plague in some sense, but Pharaoh did not ask them to rid the land of frogs. Instead, he begged Moses to take them away. He already knew where the real power was.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

    • Moses responded, “Just say when- tell me when to pray . When I pray, the frogs will be gone- remaining frogs will live in the Nile River only.

    • Pharaoh replied, “Tomorrow.”

    • Moses said that he would do just as Pharaoh requested. He told Pharaoh that the Lord would take care of the frogs the next day so that Pharaoh would know that there is no one like Him.

    • As soon as he left Pharaoh, Moses prayed to the Lord about the frogs covering Egypt. The Lord kept His promise and the frogs that were covering Egypt died. There were so many dead frogs that the Egyptians piled them up in heaps and all of Egypt was filled with the stench of their dead bodies.

    • As soon as Pharaoh saw that they had been relieved of the frogs, he hardened his heart, and refused to listen to Moses and Aaron.

  1. The Third Plague: Gnats

    • Then the Lord told Moses to have Aaron strike the dirt with his staff , and the dust would become gnats that swarm Egypt.

    • Aaron did as he was told. Gnats covered the people and animals all over Egypt.

      • Some Bible translations say this was a plague of gnats, some say it was a plague of lice. Which is it? NLT Illustrated Study Bible explains the ambiguity, “The word translated ‘gnats’ is very general. Technical Old Testament dictionaries often translate it as ‘vermin’. The English term ‘bugs’ would come close. The whole land was infested with insects of one sort or another.”

      • Guzik notes the significance of this plague from the Egyptian perspective, “This plague struck at the heart of all Egyptian worship, especially at their priests. The Egyptian priesthood was extremely careful about hygiene and ritual cleansing; an infestation of lice made them unable to worship their gods…The plague of lice was also upon every beast. The gods of Egypt would not receive the sacrifice of lice-infested animals, so this stopped their sacrificial system.”

    • The magicians couldn’t duplicate this miracle and proclaimed that it was “the finger of God.” However, Pharaoh wouldn’t listen.

      • “This shows that as great as Satan’s power is, it is limited – and it comes to its limit rather early.” (Guzik)

  1. The Fourth Plague: Swarms of Flies

    • The Lord told Moses to get up early and meet Pharaoh on his way to the water and relay this message to him: “If you don’t let My people go so that they can worship Me, tomorrow I’ll send swarms of flies to fill your land and plague you and your people. However, this time I’ll make a distinction between My people and yours. There will be no flies in Goshen, where My people live.”

    • The next day swarms of flies descended upon Egypt just as the Lord had said and they ruined the land.

      • In her article Sacred Insects in Egypt, Darlene Zagata, discusses the significance of insects in Egyptian culture, “Insects were important religious symbols in ancient Egyptian culture and mythology. They were featured prominently in hieroglyphs, seals, and carvings. Depictions of insects were used as talismans for protection, and even placed in burial tombs. To the ancient Egyptians, these tiny creatures were powerful symbols of resurrection and eternal life.” On flies in particular, Zagata continues, “In ancient Egypt, flies represented courage and tenacity. Stone carvings in the form of flies have been found and dated to approximately 3500 BC. According to Egyptian mythology, flies protected against misfortune and disease.”

Egyptian fly amulet from the Met Museum. This amulet is made of hippopotamus ivory and dates 1550-1295 BC.
    • Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and told him that the people could go sacrifice to their God as long as they stayed within Egypt.

    • Moses responded that this offer wasn’t acceptable because the Egyptians detested their sacrifices and if they were seen, the Egyptians would stone them. Moses explained that they must go into the wilderness for three days to sacrifice as the Lord had instructed them.

      • Cole explains what Moses means when he says that their sacrifices are detestable to the Egyptians, “Moses refuses on the grounds that to sacrifice in Egypt would be like killing a pig in a Muslim mosque, or slaughtering a cow in a Hindu temple…In the sense that the Egyptians would consider the sacrifice of a sacred animal as blasphemous.”

    • Pharaoh agreed to this saying, “Ok fine, but don’t go to far away. Hurry and pray for me.”

        • “This shows Pharaoh knew exactly who the plagues came from, and how they could be stopped (by humbly appealing to the Lord God).” (Guzik)

    • Moses told Pharaoh that the flies would leave the next day, but he warned Pharaoh not to be deceptive by changing his mind.

    • The next day, the Lord kept His promise and removed all the flies from Egypt. However, Pharaoh again changed his mind and refused to let the people go.

      • We don’t know if Pharaoh intentionally lied to Moses or if he just changed his mind once his problem was resolved. Either way, Guzik points out that we have more in common with Pharaoh than most of us would like to admit, “Many people turn to God in a time of calamity, and when things get better, they almost immediately turn their hearts back in hardness to God. Pharaoh was not an unusual example of humanity; he was like many or most of us, ancient or modern.”