And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He lifted up the rod.—“He” is, undoubtedly, Aaron. (See Exodus 7:19.)
In the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants.—If the occasion was one of a Nile festival, Pharaoh would have “gone out to the water” (Exodus 7:15) accompanied by all the great officers of the Court, by a large body of the priests, and vast numbers of the people. If it was a mere occasion of bodily ablution, he would have had with him a pretty numerous train of attendants. In either case considerable publicity was given to the miracle, which was certainly not “done in a corner.”Exodus 7:20. The waters in the river were turned into blood — This was a plague justly inflicted on the Egyptians; for the river of Egypt was their idol; they and their land had so much benefit by that creature, that they served and worshipped it more than their Creator. In ancient times they annually even sacrificed a girl to it, at the opening of the canals, Univ. Hist., vol. 1. p. 413. Also they had stained the river with the blood of the Hebrew children, and now God made that river all bloody; thus he gave them blood to drink, for they were worthy, Revelation 16:6. See the power of God! Every creature is that to us which he makes it to be, water or blood. See the mutability of all things under the sun, and what changes we may meet with in them. That which is water to-day may be blood to- morrow; what is always vain may soon become vexatious. And see what mischievous work sin makes! It is sin that turns our waters into blood. All the waters — It seems the word all here, and in the foregoing verse, is either to be understood in a limited sense, as it frequently is in Scripture, meaning not all in the strictest sense, but only a very great part; or else that although Moses’s commission extended to all the waters in Egypt, yet it was only executed upon the river Nile: because we read that the magicians did the same thing; but if Moses had turned all the waters into blood, as some scoffers have, with great raillery and triumph, observed, how could the magicians do the same, there being, on this supposition, no water for them upon which to make the trial.
and he lift up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river; or "in that river" (i), the river Nile, on the brink of which Pharaoh then stood:
in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; his nobles and courtiers who tended him in his walk to the water; for this was done before he returned to his palace:
and all the waters that were in the river were turned into blood; not only the face of the waters looked like blood, but they were really turned into it; and not only the surface of the water, but all the water that was in the river, wherever it flowed, and as far as it flowed in the land of Egypt.And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 20. - He lifted up the rod. "He" must be understood to mean "Aaron" (see ver. 19); but the writer is too much engrossed with the general run of his narrative to be careful about minutia. All that he wants to impress upon us is, that the rod was used as an instrument for the working of the miracle. He is not thinking of who it was that used it. In the sight of Pharaoh. See the comment on ver. 15. And of his servants. Either "his courtiers generally," or, at any rate, a large troop of attendants.
The Water of the Nile Turned into Blood. - In the morning, when Pharaoh went to the Nile, Moses took his staff at the command of God; went up to him on the bank of the river, with the demand of Jehovah that he would let His people Israel go; and because hitherto (עד־כּה) he had not obeyed, announced this first plague, which Aaron immediately brought to pass. Both time and place are of significance here. Pharaoh went out in the morning to the Nile (Exodus 7:15; Exodus 8:20), not merely to take a refreshing walk, or to bathe in the river, or to see how high the water had risen, but without doubt to present his daily worship to the Nile, which was honoured by the Egyptians as their supreme deity (vid., Exodus 2:5). At this very moment the will of God with regard to Israel was declared to him; and for his refusal to comply with the will of the Lord as thus revealed to him, the smiting of the Nile with the staff made known to him the fact, that the God of the Hebrews was the true God, and possessed the power to turn the fertilizing water of this object of their highest worship into blood. The changing of the water into blood is to be interpreted in the same sense as in Joel 3:4, where the moon is said to be turned into blood; that is to say, not as a chemical change into real blood, but as a change in the colour, which caused it to assume the appearance of blood (2 Kings 3:22). According to the statements of many travellers, the Nile water changes its colour when the water is lowest, assumes first of all a greenish hue and is almost undrinkable, and then, while it is rising, becomes as red as ochre, when it is more wholesome again. The causes of this change have not been sufficiently investigated. The reddening of the water is attributed by many to the red earth, which the river brings down from Sennaar (cf. Hengstenberg, Egypt and the Books of Moses, pp. 104ff. transl.; Laborde, comment. p. 28); but Ehrenberg came to the conclusion, after microscopical examinations, that it was caused by cryptogamic plants and infusoria. This natural phenomenon was here intensified into a miracle, not only by the fact that the change took place immediately in all the branches of the river at Moses' word and through the smiting of the Nile, but even more by a chemical change in the water, which caused the fishes to die, the stream to stink, and, what seems to indicate putrefaction, the water to become undrinkable; whereas, according to the accounts of travellers, which certainly do not quite agree with one another, and are not entirely trustworthy, the Nile water becomes more drinkable as soon as the natural reddening beings. The change in the water extended to "the streams," or different arms of the Nile; "the rivers," or Nile canals; "the ponds," or large standing lakes formed by the Nile; and all "the pools of water," lit., every collection of their waters, i.e., all the other standing lakes and ponds, left by the overflowings of the Nile, with the water of which those who lived at a distance from the river had to content themselves. "So that there was blood in all the land of Egypt, both in the wood and in the stone;" i.e., in the vessels of wood and stone, in which the water taken from the Nile and its branches was kept for daily use. The reference is not merely to the earthen vessels used for filtering and cleansing the water, but to every vessel into which water had been put. The "stone" vessels were the stone reservoirs built up at the corners of the streets and in other places, where fresh water was kept for the poor (cf. Oedmann's verm. Samml. p. 133). The meaning of this supplementary clause is not that even the water which was in these vessels previous to the smiting of the river was turned into blood, in which Kurtz perceives "the most miraculous part of the whole miracle;" for in that case the "wood and stone" would have been mentioned immediately after the "gatherings of the waters;" but simply that there was no more water to put into these vessels that was not changed into blood. The death of the fishes was a sign, that the smiting had taken away from the river its life-sustaining power, and that its red hue was intended to depict before the eyes of the Egyptians all the terrors of death; but we are not to suppose that there was any reference to the innocent blood which the Egyptians had poured into the river through the drowning of the Hebrew boys, or to their own guilty blood which was afterwards to be shed.
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