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8. Frogs, Gnats, and Flies

And the Lord spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneadingtroughs: 4And the frogs shall come up both on thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

5And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. 6And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.

8Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat 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 do sacrifice unto the Lord. 9And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only? 10And he said, To morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the Lord our God. 11And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. 12And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the Lord because of the frogs which he had brought against Pharaoh. 13And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields. 14And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank. 15But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

16And the Lord said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man, and in beast; all the dust of the land became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 19Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

20And the Lord said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. 23And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be. 24And the Lord did so; and there came a grievous swarm of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt: the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies.

25And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. 26And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? 27We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God, as he shall command us. 28And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me. 29And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will intreat the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to morrow: but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord. 30And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord. 31And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 32And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

1. And the Lord spake. Again, as if the matter were only now begun, God demands of Pharaoh His own peculiar right, viz., that His people should serve Him, but out of the land of Egypt, that His worship might be separate and pure from all defilement, for He desired (as was before said) by this separation of His people to condemn the superstitions of the Egyptians. Meanwhile there was no excuse for the tyrant, when, with sacrilegious boldness, he presumed to deprive God of His just honor. Therefore, in refusing to let them go, he was declared not only to be cruel, but also a despiser of God. Threatening is also added, that at least he may, however unwillingly, be driven to obey; for thus must the stubborn be dealt with, who never are brought to duty except when forced by fear or punishment. Indeed, God sometimes also threatens His own servants, in order to stimulate their laziness; but especially is He more severe towards the perverse and disobedient. Thus is it said, (Psalm 18:26,)

“With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.”

This is the reason why He sanctions His command with threats9292     In the Fr. the word here used is miracles, probably a misprint for menaces. when He addresses Pharaoh. In this second plague there are, besides, two things to be remarked by us; for, first, God shews that the Egyptians had hitherto held their lives by a precarious tenure, as it were, because He had protected them from the incursion of frogs by His special mercy. We know that Egypt, on account of its many marshes, and the sluggish and almost stagnant Nile, was full of frogs and venomous animals; now, when great multitudes of them come forth suddenly, cover the surface of the fields, penetrate even to the houses and bed-chambers, and finally ascend even into the royal palace, it plainly appears that they were before only restrained by God’s hand, and thus that the God of the Hebrews was the guardian and keeper of that kingdom. Secondly, God chose not only to inflict a punishment upon the Egyptians, but to expose them to mockery by its ignominious nature; nor can we doubt but that their pain must have been much embittered by this contumely, when they saw that they were thus evil-entreated not by some victorious army, but by filthy reptiles; and besides this, that their calamity had its origin in the Nile, which enriched their country with so many advantages. But let us learn from this history that there are many deaths mixed up with our life, and that it is not otherwise lengthened out to us, except as God restrains the dangers which everywhere beset us; and again, although He may not openly strike us with lightning from heaven, nor arm his angels for the destruction of men, still, at His slightest nod, all creatures are ready to execute this judgments; and, therefore, we must ascribe it to His kindness and long-suffering, if the wicked do not perish at each moment. Finally, if we are ever galled by ignominy or disgrace, let us remember that this happens designedly, that the shame itself may mortify our pride.


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