Exodus 4:9
And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither listen to your voice, that you shall take of the water of the river, and pour it on the dry land: and the water which you take out of the river shall become blood on the dry land.
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(9) Shall become blood.—The verb is repeated in the Hebrew, which intensifies the assertion. The English equivalent of the phrase used would be, “shall assuredly become.” The signs were, no doubt, selected primarily for facility of exhibition; but they may also have been intended to be significant. The change of a rod into a serpent showed that a feeble implement might become a power to chastise and to destroy. That of a healthy into a leprous hand, and the reverse, indicated that Moses’s mission was both to punish and to save; while the change of water into blood suggested—albeit vaguely—the conversion of that peace and prosperity, which Egypt was enjoying, into calamity, suffering, and bloodshed.

4:1-9 Moses objects, that the people would not take his word, unless he showed them some sign. God gives him power to work miracles. But those who are now employed to deliver God's messages to men, need not the power to work miracles: their character and their doctrines are to be tried by that word of God to which they appeal. These miracles especially referred to the miracles of the Lord Jesus Christ. It belonged to Him only, to cast the power of the devil out of the soul, and to heal the soul of the leprosy of sin; and so it was for Him first to cast the devil out of the body, and to heal the leprosy of the body.Leprous - The instantaneous production and cure of the most malignant and subtle disease known to the Israelites was a sign of their danger if they resisted the command, and of their deliverance if they obeyed it. The infliction and cure were always regarded as special proofs of a divine intervention. 9. take of the water of the river—Nile. Those miracles, two of which were wrought then, and the third to be performed on his arrival in Goshen, were at first designed to encourage him as satisfactory proofs of his divine mission, and to be repeated for the special confirmation of his embassy before the Israelites. The river Nile, well known to Moses, and called so by way of eminency, as Euphrates also is. Shall become, Heb. shall be, even shall be, i.e. it shall assuredly be so. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs,.... Performed before their eyes; for these were done over again when Moses came into Egypt to the Israelites, and yet some of them might still remain unbelievers to his commission, and so to the voice of these signs, which loudly called for their faith:

neither hearken unto thy voice; affirming he came from God, and was sent to be the deliverer of them:

that thou shalt take of the water of the river; of the river Nile, when he should come into Egypt; wherefore Josephus (q) is mistaken when he intimates that this was done at the same time with the other signs; and was water he took near at hand and poured on the ground: but Philo (r) truly refers this to Egypt, where it was done, as it ought to be:

and pour it upon the dry land, and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land; by which it would appear how easily the Lord could destroy the land of Egypt, and make it a barren land, whose fertility was owing to the overflow of the river Nile as a means; and this would be a specimen also of what he would do hereafter, in turning the waters of the river into blood, thereby avenging the blood of innocent babes drowned there by the Egyptians.

(q) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 12. sect. 3.((r) De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 614.

And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the {c} water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

(c) Because these three signs should be sufficient witnesses to prove that Moses should deliver God's people.

9. The third sign, to be resorted to only if necessary. Water taker from the Nile, and poured upon the earth, to be turned into blood.

the river (twice)] the Nile (Heb. ye’ôr): see on Exodus 1:22.Verse 9. - If they will not believe also. "Even" would be a better translation than "also." The river is of course "the Nile." See the comment on Exodus 2:3. Of the three signs given, the first would probably convince all those who were religious, well-disposed, and fair-minded; the second, acting upon their fears, would move all but the desperately wicked, who despised Jehovah and put their trust in the gods of the Egyptians (Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:7, 8; Ezekiel 23:3, 8, etc.). The third sign was for these last, who would regard the Nile as a great divinity, and would see in the conversion of Nile water into blood a significant indication that the God who had commissioned Moses was greater than any Egyptian one. The First Sign. - The turning of Moses' staff into a serpent, which became a staff again when Moses took it by the tail, had reference to the calling of Moses. The staff in his hand was his shepherd's crook (מזּה Exodus 4:2, for מה־זה, in this place alone), and represented his calling as a shepherd. At the bidding of God he threw it upon the ground, and the staff became a serpent, before which Moses fled. The giving up of his shepherd-life would expose him to dangers, from which he would desire to escape. At the same time, there was more implied in the figure of a serpent than danger which merely threatened his life. The serpent had been the constant enemy of the seed of the woman (Genesis 3), and represented the power of the wicked one which prevailed in Egypt. The explanation in Pirke Elieser, c. 40, points to this: ideo Deum hoc signum Mosi ostendisse, quia sicut serpens mordet et morte afficit homines, ita quoque Pharao et Aegyptii mordebant et necabant Israelitas. But at the bidding of God, Moses seized the serpent by the tail, and received his staff again as "the rod of God," with which he smote Egypt with great plagues. From this sign the people of Israel would necessarily perceive, that Jehovah had not only called Moses to be the leader of Israel, but had endowed him with the power to overcome the serpent-like cunning and the might of Egypt; in other words, they would "believe that Jehovah, the God of the fathers, had appeared to him." (On the special meaning of this sign for Pharaoh, see Exodus 7:10.)
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