|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.
Verses 24-25. - Necessity is the mother of invention. Finding the Nile water continue utterly undrinkable, the Egyptians bethought themselves of a means of obtaining water to which they never had recourse in ordinary times. This was to dig pits or wells at some distance from the river, and so obtain the moisture that lay in the ground, no doubt derived from the river originally, but already there before the change of the water into blood took place. This, it appears, remained water, and was drinkable, though probably not very agreeable, since, owing to the nitrous quality of the soil in Egypt, well-water has always a bitter and brackish taste. It sufficed, however, for drinking and culinary purposes during the "seven days" that the plague continued (ver. 25). Verse 24. - All the Egyptians digged. Not the Hebrews. The water stored in the houses of the Hebrews in reservoirs, cisterns, and the like, was (it would seem) not vitiated; and this would suffice for the consumption of seven days. Water to drink. Blood would not become water by percolation through earth, as Canon Cook appears to think ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 278); but there might have been sufficient water in the ground before the plague began, to fill the wells dug, for seven days.
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And all the Egyptians digged round about the river,.... On each side of it, in order to get clear water; and Aben Ezra thinks the Hebrews also, who were affected with this, and the two following plagues, the frogs and lice: but it is much more reasonable to conclude that they were free from them all. This they did
for water to drink: for there was none in the river, streams, ponds and pools, or in vessels, in which they used to reserve it, and therefore could come at none but by digging; and whether they obtained any in that way is not said:
for they could not drink of the waters of the river; it being turned into blood, and stunk so exceedingly; and though they might strain it, and make it in some measure, drinkable, and might make use of the juice of herbs, and other things, to extinguish their thirst, and the better sort might have a stock of wine, yet multitudes must be greatly distressed, and many perish, as Philo (n) the Jew says they did.
(n) De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 617.
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