Exodus 7:22
And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.
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(22) The magicians . . . did so with their enchantments.—The act of the magicians must have been a very poor imitation of the action of Moses and Aaron. The two brothers had turned into blood all the waters of the river, the canals, the pools or lakes, and the reservoirs. The magicians could not act on this large scale. They could only operate, or seem to operate, on some small quantity of water, obtained probably in the way noticed in Exodus 7:24. On this they succeeded, so far as to satisfy Pharaoh, who was probably easy to satisfy, and perhaps so far as to satisfy the courtiers. They turned the liquid of a red colour, or by sleight-of-hand substituted blood for it. The result was subjected to no test, and was perhaps not even done in the presence of any hostile witness. But it enabled the king to harden himself, and refuse the request of the brothers.

Exodus 7:22. The magicians did so — By God’s permission; with their enchantments — It seems they performed real miracles, for the text says expressly they did the same as Moses, and probably to their own surprise, as well as that of others, not knowing that any such effect would follow upon their using enchantments. Certainly they were ignorant of the extent of their own power, or rather, what Satan would or could do by them, and by what means these things came to pass, otherwise they would not have disgraced themselves, by making an attempt to bring forth lice, which they could not perform. What they did do served Pharaoh for an excuse not to set his heart to this also. And a poor excuse it was. Could they have turned the river of blood into water again, and by a word have purified those waters which the almighty power of God had rendered corrupt, they would have proved their power and done Pharaoh a signal favour. But the superiority of the miracles of Moses, even in these instances in which they vied with him, was incontestible: and they were compelled to acknowledge that what he did was by the finger of God. “God, by permitting them to succeed thus far in their opposition, rendered their folly more conspicuous: for by suffering them to change the waters into blood, and putting it out of their power to restore them to their former purity; and by permitting them to produce frogs, which they were not able to remove, he only put it in their power to increase those plagues upon themselves and their countrymen at the same time that they demonstrated their own inability.”— Bishop Kidder.

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. 22. And the magicians … did so with their enchantments, &c.—Little or no pure water could be procured, and therefore their imitation must have been on a small scale—the only drinkable water available being dug among the sands. It must have been on a sample or specimen of water dyed red with some coloring matter. But it was sufficient to serve as a pretext or command for the king to turn unmoved and go to his house. It was not difficult for the devil to convey blood speedily and unperceivably, and that in a great quantity, which might suffice to infect with a bloody colour those small parcels of water which were left for them to show their art in.

Quest. Whence could they have water, when all their waters were turned into blood?

Answ. It might be had, either,

1. By rain, which at that time God was pleased to send down either for this purpose, or to mitigate the extremity of the plague, or for other reasons known to him, though not to us. For that rain sometimes falls in Egypt, though not much nor often, is affirmed by ancient writers and late travellers. Or,

2. From Goshen, which was not far from the court, or from some houses of the Israelites, who dwelt amongst the Egyptians, as appears from many places of this history, and who were free from these plagues. See Exodus 8:22 9:26 10:23 12:13 &c. Or,

3. From the pits which they digged, Exodus 7:24. Or,

4. From some branch of Nilus, or some vessels in their houses, whose waters were not yet changed; for this change might be wrought not suddenly, (which is not affirmed in this relation,) but by degrees, which God might so order for this very end, that the magicians might have matter for the trial of their experiment.

And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments,.... Who were either in company with Pharaoh and his nobles, or were immediately sent for to try their art, and confront Moses and Aaron with it; and who very probably got a little water in a vessel, and by some juggling trick imposing upon, and deceiving the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, made it look like blood; and the devil might help them to a sufficient quantity of blood, and discolour the water with it, and make it appear as if it was blood, and which was a poor business; had they turned the bloody river into water again, they would have equalled the miracle of Moses and Aaron, and done some service to their country; but to deceive the sight of people, or to spoil a small quantity of water that was good, by mixing it with blood, was but a mean and unworthy action. Should it be asked from whence they had this water, when all was turned into blood? it may be answered, either from Goshen, as the Targum of Jonathan, the waters of the Hebrews not being affected with this plague: though Aben Ezra thinks they were; or from the sea, as Theodoret; but both these places were too far distant to fetch water from, in the time that Pharaoh stayed here before his return home: rather therefore this water was had from some habitation of the Israelites in the city near at hand, where Pharaoh lived, or was dug for immediately by the magicians, as in Exodus 7:24 or it may be that all the waters were not immediately turned into blood, but successively and gradually, first the river, and then its streams, &c. so that there might be near at hand a pool of water, not yet turned into blood, and a vessel of water might be fetched from it, on which they exercised their juggling art:

and Pharaoh's heart was hardened: by seeing his magicians do what was similar to what Moses and Aaron had done; and therefore concluded that it was not by the hand of God, but owing to a magic art they were masters of, as his magicians were:

neither did he hearken unto them; to Moses and Aaron, and what they said to him, to let the people go:

as the Lord had said; had before told he would not hearken to them, Exodus 7:4.

And the magicians of Egypt did {g} so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said.

(g) In outward appearance, after the seven days were ended.

22. The magicians, however, did the same with their ‘secret arts’; and the Pharaoh remained unmoved. The expressions, as vv. 11b, 13 (P).

Verses 22, 23. - On the occurrence of the second sign and first plague, the magicians were again consulted; and, by means which it is impossible to do more the. conjecture, they produced a seeming transformation into blood of a certain quantity of water. The inquiry, whence they procured the water, is answered by ver. 24. That they actually turned water into blood is scarcely asserted in the vague "did so" of ver. 22. Perhaps they had recourse to sleight of hand, and made a substitution, like modern conjurors; perhaps they merely turned the water of a red colour. All that was necessary was to convince Pharaoh that they were able to do what Moses and Aaron had done - there was no one to watch, and test, and examine their pretended miracle, which consequently passed muster, though it may have been no more than a trick. Pharaoh, however, suffered himself to be convinced, and "turned and went into his house" without paying any attention to the marvel wrought (ver. 23). Verse 22. - The magicians of Egypt did so. They could not do what Moses and Aaron had done - stretch out, that is, a rod over the Nile, and turn it and all its branches, and ponds, and pools, into blood, for this was already done. They could only show their skill upon some small quantity of water in a cup or other vessel. No doubt they produced some apparent change, which was accepted by Pharaoh as an equivalent to what had been effected by the Israelite chiefs, but which must have fallen far short of it. Pharaoh would not be a severe critic. Exodus 7:22This miracle was also imitated by the magicians. The question, where they got any water that was still unchanged, is not answered in the biblical text. Kurtz is of opinion that they took spring water for the purpose; but he has overlooked the fact, that if spring water was still to be had, there would be no necessity for the Egyptians to dig wells for the purpose of finding drinkable water. The supposition that the magicians did not try their arts till the miracle wrought by Aaron had passed away, is hardly reconcilable with the text, which places the return of Pharaoh to his house after the work of the magicians. For it can neither be assumed, that the miracle wrought by the messengers of Jehovah lasted only a few hours, so that Pharaoh was able to wait by the Nile till it was over, since in that case the Egyptians would not have thought it necessary to dig wells; nor can it be regarded as probable, that after the miracle was over, and the plague had ceased, the magicians began to imitate it for the purpose of showing the king that they could do the same, and that it was after this that the king went to his house without paying any need to the miracle. We must therefore follow the analogy of Exodus 9:25 as compared with Exodus 10:5, and not press the expression, "every collection of water" (Exodus 7:19), so as to infer that there was no Nile water at all, not even what had been taken away before the smiting of the river, that was not changed, but rather conclude that the magicians tried their arts upon water that was already drawn, for the purpose of neutralizing the effect of the plague as soon as it had been produced. The fact that the clause, "Pharaoh's heart was hardened," is linked with the previous clause, "the magicians did so, etc.," by a vav consecutive, unquestionably implies that the imitation of the miracle by the magicians contributed to the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. The expression, "to this also," in Exodus 7:23, points back to the first miraculous sign in Exodus 7:10. This plague was keenly felt by the Egyptians; for the Nile contains the only good drinking water, and its excellence is unanimously attested by both ancient and modern writers (Hengstenberg ut sup. pp. 108, 109, transl.). As they could not drink of the water of the river from their loathing at its stench (Exodus 7:18), they were obliged to dig round about the river for water to drink (Exodus 7:24). From this it is evident that the plague lasted a considerable time; according to Exodus 7:25, apparently seven days. At least this is the most natural interpretation of the words, "and seven days were fulfilled after that Jehovah had smitten the river." It is true, there is still the possibility that this verse may be connected with the following one, "when seven days were fulfilled...Jehovah said to Moses." But this is not probable; for the time which intervened between the plagues is not stated anywhere else, nor is the expression, "Jehovah said," with which the plagues are introduced, connected in any other instance with what precedes. The narrative leaves it quite undecided how rapidly the plagues succeeded one another. On the supposition that the changing of the Nile water took place at the time when the river began to rise, and when the reddening generally occurs, many expositors fix upon the month of June or July for the commencement of the plague; in which case all the plagues down to the death of the first-born, which occurred in the night of the 14th Abib, i.e., about the middle of April, would be confined to the space of about nine months. But this conjecture is a very uncertain one, and all that is tolerably sure is, that the seventh plague (the hail) occurred in February (vid., Exodus 9:31-32), and there were (not three weeks, but) eight weeks therefore, or about two months, between the seventh and tenth plagues; so that between each of the last three there would be an interval of fourteen or twenty days. And if we suppose that there was a similar interval in the case of all the others, the first plague would take place in September or October-that is to say, after the yearly overflow of the Nile, which lasts from June to September.
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