|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:20-32 Pharaoh was early at his false devotions to the river; and shall we be for more sleep and more slumber, when any service to the Lord is to be done? The Egyptians and the Hebrews were to be marked in the plague of flies. The Lord knows them that are his, and will make it appear, perhaps in this world, certainly in the other, that he has set them apart for himself. Pharaoh unwillingly entered into a treaty with Moses and Aaron. He is content they should sacrifice to their God, provided they would do it in the land of Egypt. But it would be an abomination to God, should they offer the Egyptian sacrifices; and it would be an abomination to the Egyptians, should they offer to God the objects of the worship of the Egyptians, namely, their calves or oxen. Those who would offer acceptable sacrifice to God, must separate themselves from the wicked and profane. They must also retire from the world. Israel cannot keep the feast of the Lord, either among the brick-kilns or among the flesh-pots of Egypt. And they must sacrifice as God shall command, not otherwise. Though they were in slavery to Pharaoh, yet they must obey God's commands. Pharaoh consents for them to go into the wilderness, provided they do not go so far but that he might fetch them back again. Thus, some sinners, in a pang of conviction, part with their sins, yet are loth they should go very far away; for when the fright is over, they will turn to them again. Moses promised the removal of this plague. But let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: if we think to cheat God by a sham repentance and a false surrender of ourselves to him, we shall put a fatal cheat upon our own souls. Pharaoh returned to his hardness. Reigning lusts break through the strongest bonds, and make men presume and go from their word. Many seem in earnest, but there is some reserve, some beloved, secret sin. They are unwilling to look upon themselves as in danger of everlasting misery. They will refrain from other sins; they do much, give much, and even punish themselves much. They will leave it off sometimes, and, as it were, let their sin depart a little way; but will not make up their minds to part with all and follow Christ, bearing the cross. Rather than that, they venture all. They are sorrowful, but depart from Christ, determined to keep the world at present, and they hope for some future season, when salvation may be had without such costly sacrifices; but, at length, the poor sinner is driven away in his wickedness, and left without hope to lament his folly.
Verse 24. - A grievous swarm of flies. Rather "a multitude of beetles." As with the frogs, so with the beetles, it aggravated the infliction, that, being sacred animals, they might not be destroyed or injured. Beetles were sacred to Ra, the sun-god; and one form of Ra, Chepra, was ordinarily represented under the form of a beetle, or as a man with a beetle for his heath The land was corrupted. Rather "destroyed;" i.e. grievously injured, or "devastated"(as Kalisch renders). The beetles seriously damaged the growing crops.
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And the Lord did so,.... And this he did immediately of himself without any means; not by the rod of Aaron, to let the Egyptians see that there was nothing in that rod, that it had no magic virtue in it, and what was done by it was from the Lord himself, who could as well inflict plagues without it as with it; see Psalm 105:31 and there came a grievous swarm of flies; or a "heavy" (q) one, which was both very numerous, and very troublesome and distressing:
into the house of Pharaoh, and into the houses of his servants, and into all the land of Egypt: into the palace of Pharaoh, and into the palaces of his nobles, ministers, and courtiers, and into the dwelling places of all his subjects, throughout the whole land, excepting the land of Goshen:
the land was corrupted by reason of the swarm of flies; Josephus (r) says, the land lay neglected and uncultivated by the husbandmen; it may be, the air was infected by the flies, which produced a pestilence that took off many of the inhabitants; so among the Eleans, as Pliny (s) reports, a multitude of flies produced a pestilence; however, it is certain many of the inhabitants of Egypt perished by them; they might sting them to death, suck their blood, and poison them with their envenomed stings; see Psalm 78:45.
(q) "gravis", Montanus, "gravissime", V. L. (r) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 2. c. 14. sect. 3.) (s) Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 28.
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