Exodus 7:21
And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) The Egyptians could not drink.—Previously they had “lotlhed to drink” (Exodus 7:18), but apparently had drunk. Now they could do so no longer—the draught was too nauseous.

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.The fish ... - The Egyptians subsisted to a great extent on the fish of the Nile, though salt-water fish were regarded as impure. A mortality among the fish was a plague that was much dreaded. 17-21. Aaron lifted up the rod and smote the waters, &c.—Whether the water was changed into real blood, or only the appearance of it (and Omnipotence could effect the one as easily as the other), this was a severe calamity. How great must have been the disappointment and disgust throughout the land when the river became of a blood red color, of which they had a national abhorrence; their favorite beverage became a nauseous draught, and the fish, which formed so large an article of food, were destroyed. [See on [17]Nu 11:5.] The immense scale on which the plague was inflicted is seen by its extending to "the streams," or branches of the Nile—to the "rivers," the canals, the "ponds" and "pools," that which is left after an overflow, the reservoirs, and the many domestic vessels in which the Nile water was kept to filter. And accordingly the sufferings of the people from thirst must have been severe. Nothing could more humble the pride of Egypt than this dishonor brought on their national god. No text from Poole on this verse. 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.

And the {f} fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.

{f} To show that it was a true miracle, God plagued them in that which was most needed for the preservation of life.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21a. How the fish died, and the river stank, in agreement with v. 18 (J).

21b. How there was blood in all the land of Egypt, in agreement with v. 19 (P).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."

CHAPTER 7:24-25 When Pharaoh hardened his heart against the first sign, notwithstanding the fact that it displayed the supremacy of the messengers of Jehovah over the might of the Egyptian conjurers and their gods, and refused to let the people of Israel go; Moses and Aaron were empowered by God to force the release of Israel from the obdurate king by a series of penal miracles. These מפתים were not purely supernatural wonders, or altogether unknown to the Egyptians, but were land-plagues with which Egypt was occasionally visited, and were raised into miraculous deeds of the Almighty God, by the fact that they burst upon the land one after another at an unusual time of the year, in unwonted force, and in close succession. These plagues were selected by God as miraculous signs, because He intended to prove thereby to the king and his servants, that He, Jehovah, was the Lord in the land, and ruled over the powers of nature with unrestricted freedom and omnipotence. For this reason God not only caused them to burst suddenly upon the land according to His word, and then as suddenly to disappear according to His omnipotent will, but caused them to be produced by Moses and Aaron and disappear again at their word and prayer, that Pharaoh might learn that these men were appointed by Him as His messengers, and were endowed by Him with divine power for the accomplishment of His will.

Exodus 7:14-21

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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