|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:14-25 Here is the first of the ten plagues, the turning of the water into blood. It was a dreadful plague. The sight of such vast rolling streams of blood could not but strike horror. Nothing is more common than water: so wisely has Providence ordered it, and so kindly, that what is so needful and serviceable to the comfort of human life, should be cheap and almost every where to be had; but now the Egyptians must either drink blood, or die for thirst. Egypt was a pleasant land, but the dead fish and blood now rendered it very unpleasant. It was a righteous plague, and justly sent upon the Egyptians; for Nile, the river of Egypt, was their idol. That creature which we idolize, God justly takes from us, or makes bitter to us. They had stained the river with the blood of the Hebrews' children, and now God made that river all blood. Never any thirsted after blood, but sooner or later they had enough of it. It was a significant plague; Egypt had great dependence upon their river, Zec 14:18; so that in smiting the river, they were warned of the destruction of all the produce of their country. The love of Christ to his disciples changes all their common mercies into spiritual blessings; the anger of God towards his enemies, renders their most valued advantages a curse and a misery to them. Aaron is to summon the plague by smiting the river with his rod. It was done in the sight of Pharaoh and his attendants, for God's true miracles were not performed as Satan's lying wonders; truth seeks no corners. See the almighty power of God. Every creature is that to us which he makes it to be water or blood. See what changes we may meet with in the things of this world; what is always vain, may soon become vexatious. See what mischievous work sin makes. If the things that have been our comforts prove our crosses, we must thank ourselves. It is sin that turns our waters into blood. The plague continued seven days; and in all that time Pharaoh's proud heart would not let him desire Moses to pray for the removal of it. Thus the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath. No wonder that God's anger is not turned away, but that his hand is stretched out still.
Verse 21. - The fish that was in the river died. It is most natural to understand "all the fish." There was blood, etc. Literally, "and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt." The exact intention of the phrase is doubtful, since undoubtedly "in numberless instances, the Hebrew terms which imply universality must be understood in a limited sense (Cook). "All the land" may mean no more than "all the Delta."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the fish that was in the river died,.... Which was a full proof that the conversion of it into blood was real; for had it been only in appearance, or the water of the river had only the colour of blood, and looked like it, but was not really so, it would not have affected the fishes, they would have lived as well as before; and this plague was the greater affliction to the Egyptians, not as it affected their drink but their food, fish Numbers 11:5 being what the common people chiefly lived upon; see Gill on Isaiah 19:8 and the river stunk; the blood into which it was turned being corrupted through the heat of the sun, and the dead fishes swimming upon it being putrefied:
and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and they had no other water to drink of (k); for rain seldom fell in Egypt, though sometimes it did in some places; see Gill on Zechariah 14:18. The water of the river Nile was not only their common drink, but it was exceeding pleasant, and therefore the loss of it was the greater; it was so remarkable for the sweetness and delicacy of its taste, that in the time of Pescennius Niger, when his soldiers murmured for want of wine, he is reported to have answered them,"what! crave you wine, and have the water of the Nile to drink?''which Mr. Maillett, who lived sixteen years consul for the French nation at Grand Cairo, confirms, and says, that it is grown to be a common proverb, that whoever has once tasted it will ever after pine for it (l); with this compare Jeremiah 2:18,
and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt; in the river, wherever it flowed, in all its streams and channels, and wherever any water was collected out of it, or fetched from it, let it be in what reservoir it would. This is the first plague executed on the Egyptians, and a very righteous one by the law of retaliation for shedding the blood of innocent babes, through casting them into this river; and this will be the second and third vials of God's wrath, which will be poured on antichrist, or mystical Egypt, who will have blood given to drink because worthy, see Revelation 16:3. Artapanus (m), an Heathen writer, bears testimony to this miracle, though he does not so fully and clearly express it as it was; he says,"a little after, that is, after the former miracle of the rod turned into a serpent, the Nile, that river whose swelling waves overflow all Egypt, was smitten with the rod; and the water being gathered and stagnated, boiled up, and not only the fishes were destroyed, but the people perished through thirst.''
(k) Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 29. (l) See the Bishop of Clogher's Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 287. (m) Apud Euseb Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 435.
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