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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Exodus 8

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Plagues Upon Egypt

A. The second plague: Frogs.

1. (Exo 8:1-4) The warning of the second plague.

And the LORD spoke to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs. So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants."' "

a. Go to Pharaoh: In His good mercy God gives Pharaoh another chance at repentance, but Pharaoh will not take it.

b. I will smite all your territory with frogs: God threatened a plague of frogs for a specific reason. The Egyptian goddess Heqt was always pictured with the head of a frog. For this reason frogs were considered sacred and could not be killed. God will show the Egyptians the foolishness of a frog-god!

i. Egyptians worshipped the frog as a female goddess because frogs were common around the Nile, because they reproduced rapidly, and because being amphibians they are part of two worlds, creatures of both land and water.

2. (Exo 8:5-7) God brings frogs upon the land through Moses and Aaron and the magicians of Egypt do the same.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your hand with your rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.'" So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt.

a. The frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt: It's hard to miss God's sense of humor. He shows just how ridiculous it is to worship a frog-god as He says, "If you want to worship frogs, I'll give you all the frogs you want!"

i. "Though he is the Lord of hosts he has no need of powerful armies, the ministry of angels, or the thunderbolts of justice to punish a sinner or a sinful nation; the frog or the fly in his hands is a sufficient instrument of vengeance." (Clarke)

b. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs: The ability of the magicians to do the same with their enchantments points to a supernatural power present; this isn't the work of a skilled illusionist, this is occult power at work.

i. For all their occult powers, all the magicians can do is make more frogs! This increases the problem instead of solving it, yet it gives Pharaoh an excuse to further harden his heart.

3. (Exo 8:8-15) Pharaoh asks Moses for help.

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the LORD." And Moses said to Pharaoh, "Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only." So he said, "Tomorrow." And he said, "Let it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. And the frogs shall depart from you, from your houses, from your servants, and from your people. They shall remain in the river only." Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh. And Moses cried out to the LORD concerning the frogs which He had brought against Pharaoh. So the LORD did according to the word of Moses. And the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards, and out of the fields. They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.

a. Entreat the LORD that He may take away the frogs: Here, God's previous promise (Exodus 7:1) is fulfilled. Pharaoh will not go to the LORD himself, but he will go to Moses as if he were God.

b. So the LORD did according to the word of Moses: When Moses prays, God answers - and all the frogs die! The understated description "the land stank" gives a hint at how nauseating it was.

c. He hardened his heart: Even when Pharaoh's plea was granted, his heart did not change - he hardened his heart - yet Pharaoh did just as God said he would.

B. The third plague: Lice.

1. (Exo 8:16-17) God tells Moses to initiate the plague of lice.

So the LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your rod, and strike the dust of the land, so that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt.'" And they did so. For Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast. All the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

a. Stretch out your rod: This plague comes unannounced. This time God does not show Pharaoh the mercy of a warning and an invitation to repentance.

i. We must never think God is unfair when He does not show mercy. If someone is totally fair, they would never show mercy.

b. Struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast: This plague struck at the heart of all Egyptian worship, especially at their priests. The Egyptian priesthood was extremely scrupulous about hygiene and ritual cleansing and an infestation of lice made them unable to worship their gods.

i. 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.

2. (Exo 8:18-19) The magicians of Egypt are unable to duplicate this plague.

Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not. So there were lice on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, just as the LORD had said.

a. Now the magicians so worked with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: If these magicians could use occult powers to change a rod into a snake, to turn water into blood, and to summon frogs, why couldn't they bring forth lice? Because as great as Satan's power is, it is limited - and it comes to its limit rather early.

b. This is the finger of God: When the magicians say this to Pharaoh, it shows they know there is a power greater than their own, yet it is a power that they do not honor and serve.

c. Pharaoh's heart grew hard, and he did not heed them: The hardness of Pharaoh's heart is shown when he will not even heed the analysis of his own advisers. There is no rational reason why he insists on resisting the LORD God.

C. The fourth plague: Flies.

1. (Exo 8:20-23) Moses warns Pharaoh of a plague of flies.

And the LORD said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, 'Thus says the LORD: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be."'

a. Let My people go, that they may serve Me: There is no record of a specific reply from Pharaoh to this request, but since the plague came, he obviously did not soften his heart towards the LORD God or Israel. Perhaps the reaction isn't described because there was no reaction - perhaps he just ignored Moses' message.

b. In order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land: To coldly ignore God is to communicate our hatred of Him as clearly as if we were to try and kill Him. It is a terrible insult to have God in your midst and to act as if He doesn't matter.

2. (Exo 8:24) The plague of flies comes.

And the LORD did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies.

a. Thick swarms of flies came: Literally, it says God sent a swarm (Hebrew, awrob) upon Egypt; it does not specify what the swarm is. It may have been a variety of gross insects. Psalm 78:45 says these swarms devoured them, and this indicates that there were "biting" insects in the swarm.

b. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies: This shows that the point of this plague was probably the same as the plague of lice. The Egyptian gods could not be worshipped amidst this uncleanness.

c. Into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt: God promised (Exodus 8:22) that the land of Goshen, the place where the children of Israel lived, would be spared this disgusting plague.

3. (Exo 8:25-27) Pharaoh tries to compromise with Moses.

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God in the land." And Moses said, "It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the LORD our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us? We will go three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He will command us."

a. Go, sacrifice to your God in the land: In this, Pharaoh suggests a compromise, allowing Israel a holiday for their God, but demanding they stay within the land of Egypt to worship. This is the natural course of action for politicians but God is no politician. He will strike no bargain with Pharaoh.

b. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us? Moses reminds Pharaoh of the social uproar this would cause, and sticks to the original request, refusing to compromise.

i. We see God building character and strength in Moses. Perhaps when he first appeared before Pharaoh he would have been willing to strike this kind of bargain. Now he really knows that God is control, and he doesn't have to settle for less than the perfect will of God.

4. (Exo 8:28-32) Pharaoh's false repentance.

And Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me." Then Moses said, "Indeed I am going out from you, and I will entreat the LORD, that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. But let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD." So Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated the LORD. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses; He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also; neither would he let the people go.

a. Intercede for me: This shows Pharaoh knows exactly who the plagues are coming from, and how they can be stopped (by appealing to the LORD God). Nevertheless, Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also.

b. I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness: This is a clear promise, and one that Pharaoh did not live up to. We cannot tell if Pharaoh deliberately lied to Moses or simply changed his mind once the plague of flies was gone.

i. Many people "turn to God" in a time of calamity, and when things get better, almost immediately turn their hearts back in hardness to God. Pharaoh isn't an unusual specimen of humanity; he is a rather typical one.

ii. As we continue in sin, God can allow our hearts to harden. A man doesn't start by gambling away his paycheck; it starts with continuing on in friendly betting, and his heart grows hard. A man doesn't start with unspeakable perversion; it starts with a few magazines, a couple of videos, and his heart grows hard. A woman doesn't start addicted to alcohol; it starts with some social drinking and her heart grows hard.

iii. "The drunkard, the murderer himself, is a man who at first did evil as far as he dared, and afterwards dared to do evil which he would once have shuddered at." (Chadwick)

©2004 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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