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31. He spake, and there came a swarm of flies, 226226 The original word for a swarm of flies is ערב, arob. For some account of the noxious insects here meant, see volume 3, page 258, note 2. and lice 227227 The Hebrew word for lice is כנים, kannim. The reading in the Septuagint is σκνιφες, and in the Vulgate sciniphes, which signifies a species of little gnats that sting painfully in the marshy country of Egypt; the culex reptans of Linnaeus, or the culex molestus of Forskal. In support of the accuracy of this interpretation it has been said, that as the translators of the Septuagint dwelt in Egypt, it can hardly be supposed that they were ignorant of what was intended by the Hebrew name. Philo, an Alexandrian Jew, and Origen, a Christian father, who likewise lived at Alexandria, have also been produced as confirming this interpretation. Both Philo and Origen represent these insects as being very small, but very troublesome. The latter describes them as winged insects, but so small as to escape any but the acutest sight; and says, that when settled on the body, they wound it with a most sharp and painful piercer. Jerome also supports this view, while Gesenius, Boothroyd, and others, concur in it. The Jewish interpreters, however, and Josephus, understand the original word as denoting lice; which has been adopted by the translators of our English Bible, and which Bochart likewise follows, with most of the modern commentators. Bochart argues that gnats could not be intended: — 1. Because the creatures here mentioned sprang from the dust of the earth, and not from the waters. 2. Because they were both on men and cattle, which cannot be spoken of gnats. 3. Because their name comes from a root which signifies to make firm, fix, establish, which could not apply to gnats, flies, etc., as they are almost constantly on the wing. 4. Because כנה, kinah, is the term given by the Talmudists for louse. The translation given by Calvin, and in our English Bible, appears the most correct, but whichever we adopt, it is necessary to conclude (which the history expressly states) that the creatures were brought in swarms, most extraordinary even for Egypt, and thus a miraculous interposition was made manifest. This judgment was the more noisome and disgraceful to the Egyptians, from the great external purity which they affected, and from their being very nice both in their persons and clothing; bathing and making ablutions continually. They were particularly solicitous not to harbour any vermin, thinking it would be a great profanation of the temple which they entered, if any animalculae of this sort were concealed in their garments. in all their borders. 32. He gave them hail for rain, and flaming fire upon their land. 33. And he smote their vines and their fig trees; and destroyed the trees throughout their borders. 34. He spake, and the grasshopper came, and the caterpillar 228228 The Hebrew word translated caterpillar is ילק, yelek. This word is in our English Bible rendered caterpillar here, and in Jeremiah 51:27; but in Joel 1:4, 2:25, and Nahum 3:15, it is rendered cankerworm. In the passage in Nahum the creature is spoken of as winged and bristled, whence some commentators suppose that a kind of locust is intended. “It certainly means some insect remarkable for destroying vegetables, probably the ‘chafer’ or ‘maybug,’ βρουχος, as the LXX. render it in five passages out of eight wherein it occurs. The Vulgate throughout renders it bruchus, the ‘chafer.’ Michaelis thinks it means the ‘chafer,’ particularly in its vermicular state, when it is much more destructive to plants, namely, by gnawing, eating, and cankering their roots, than after it has taken wing.” — Parkhurst’s Lexicon on ילק, under לק, 2. without number, 35. And they devoured all the herbage in their land, and consumed the fruit of their ground. 36. And he smote all the first-born in their country, even the beginning of all their strength. 229229 The beginning, or the first-fruit of all their strength, is understood by Lowth to mean the first-born of the mother. His note on the verse in Merrick’s Annotations is as follows: — “Απαρχὴν πόνου, Primitias laboris vel partus LXX. Vulg. Hieron. Compare Genesis 35:18. This, I think, is the right translation. The first-born, that were slain on this occasion, were those that opened the womb; the first-born of the mother, not of the father, as it appears from the circumstances of the history.” The first-born of cattle is no doubt also intended. — See Genesis 49:3; and Psalm 78:51 37. And he brought them forth with silver and gold: nor was there a feeble person among his tribes. 38. Egypt rejoiced at their departure: for their terror had fallen upon them.
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