Exodus 7:23
And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.
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(23) Neither did he set his heart to this also.—Heb., Neither did he set his heart (i.e., pay attention) even to this. Pharaoh did not lay even this to heart. He passed it over as a slight matter, unworthy of much thought, and “turned, and went into his house. “Probably care was taken to keep him constantly supplied with the well water, which, however brackish, would be sufficient for his customary ablutions. He drank, no doubt, a more generous liquid.

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. He did not seriously consider it, nor the causes or cure of this plague, and was not much affected with it, because he saw this fact exceeded not the power of his magicians. And Pharaoh turned, and went into his house,.... Turned away from Moses and Aaron, and turned back from the river to which he came, and went to his palace in the city; it being perhaps now about dinner time, when all before related had passed:

neither did he set his heart to this also: had no regard to this miracle of turning the waters into blood, as well as he had none to the rod being turned into a serpent, and devouring the rods of the magicians; he neither considered the one nor the other, or seriously and closely thought of this, any more than of the other.

And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.
23. turned and went] viz. after his visit to the Nile, v. 15.

set his heartto this] i.e. pay attention to it: a Heb. idiom (like νοῦν προσέχειν, animum attendere); so Exo 2 Samuel 13:20 Heb. al.

The plague is an intensification of a natural phaenomenon of annual occurrence in Egypt. ‘Still, each year, the water of the river becomes like blood at the time of the inundation. When the Nile first begins to rise, towards the end of June, the red marl brought from the mountains of Abyssinia stains it to a dark colour, which glistens like blood in the light of the setting sun’ (Sayce, EHH., p. 168, writing with personal knowledge of the country). Other observers speak similarly1[119]. The natives call it then the ‘Red Nile.’ The reddish colour continues more or less till the waters begin to abate in October. The water, while it is red, is not unwholesome. Shortly, however, before the redness begins, the Nile (called then the ‘Green Nile’) generally for a few days rises slightly, and becomes green (from decaying vegetable matter brought down from the equatorial swamps), and then it is unwholesome2[120].

[119] e.g. Osburn, Monum. Hist. of Egypt (1851), i. 11 f. (when the rays of the rising sun fell upon the Nile, it had the appearance of a ‘river of blood’; and the Arabs came to tell him that it was the ‘Red Nile’).

[120] See further on the annual inundation of the Nile,—which is due to the waters of the Atbara and the ‘Blue Nile’ being swollen by the heavy spring and summer rains in the Abyssinian highlands, and the melting of the mountain snow, and which give the Delta its fertility,—R. Pococke, Descr. of the East (1743), i. 199 f.; Rawlinson, Hist. of Eg. (1881), i. 19–25; Maspero, Dawn of Civil. pp. 22–26; DB. iii. 551, 889; W. M. Müller in EB. Egypt, § 7, and Nile; Bädeker, Egypt6 (1908), p. xlv f.

As Dillm. says, however, though the recollection of an extraordinary intensification of a genuine Egyptian phaenomenon is the foundation of the narrative, it is not the actual reddening of the Nile at the time of the inundation which the narrative describes, not only because there would be nothing surprising in what was an annual occurrence, but also because of the seven days’ limit of time in v. 25, and because the water of the ‘Red Nile’ is wholesome and drinkable: but the natural local phaenomenon is dissociated from its natural conditions, and transformed into something transcending all experience, by the circumstances under which it is produced, and by the consequences attending it,—the water (including in P even that in domestic vessels) becoming undrinkable, and the fish dying.Verse 23. - Pharaoh turned - i.e. "returned" - quitted the river-hank, satisfied with what the magicians had done, and went back to the palace. Neither did he set his heart to this also. A better translation is that of Booth-royd - "Nor did he lay even this to heart." In the expression "even this" there is an allusion to the previous neglect of the first sign (ver. 13).

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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