Exodus 9:23
And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along on the ground; and the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt.
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(23) The fire ran along upon the ground.—Heb., fire walked earthwards. Kalisch and Knobel understand by this mere ordinary lightning, but Aben-Ezra, Canon Cook, and others think that the phenomenon was such as our Version well expresses. There is no doubt that the electric fluid occasionally takes a form which has something of permanency, continuing several seconds, or even minutes, either stationary or with a slow motion. Appearances of this kind have been called “fire-balls,” and indicate an excessive electrical disturbance, involving great peril to life and property. If the expression “fire walked earthwards” does not imply anything of this kind, yet the peculiar phrase of Exodus 9:24 would seem to do so.

9:22-35 Woful havoc this hail made: it killed both men and cattle; the corn above ground was destroyed, and that only preserved which as yet was not come up. The land of Goshen was preserved. God causes rain or hail on one city and not on another, either in mercy or in judgment. Pharaoh humbled himself to Moses. No man could have spoken better: he owns himself wrong; he owns that the Lord is righteous; and God must be justified when he speaks, though he speaks in thunder and lightning. Yet his heart was hardened all this while. Moses pleads with God: though he had reason to think Pharaoh would repent of his repentance, and he told him so, yet he promises to be his friend. Moses went out of the city, notwithstanding the hail and lightning which kept Pharaoh and his servants within doors. Peace with God makes men thunder-proof. Pharaoh was frightened by the tremendous judgment; but when that was over, his fair promises were forgotten. Those that are not bettered by judgments and mercies, commonly become worse.The word of the Lord - This gives the first indication that the warnings had a salutary effect upon the Egyptians.20, 21. He that feared the word of the Lord … regarded not, &c.—Due premonition, it appears, had been publicly given of the impending tempest—the cattle seem to have been sent out to graze, which is from January to April, when alone pasturage can be obtained, and accordingly the cattle were in the fields. This storm occurring at that season, not only struck universal terror into the minds of the people, but occasioned the destruction of all—people and cattle—which, in neglect of the warning, had been left in the fields, as well as of all vegetation [Ex 9:25]. It was the more appalling because hailstones in Egypt are small and of little force; lightning also is scarcely ever known to produce fatal effects; and to enhance the wonder, not a trace of any storm was found in Goshen [Ex 9:26]. The fire ran along upon the ground, devouring both herbs and cattle which were upon it, Psalm 78:47,48 105:32,33 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven,.... The same which Aaron had made use of before, but was now in the hand of Moses, and whose rod it properly was:

and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground, hot thunderbolts, which struck their flocks, Psalm 78:48 and hail which fell so thick and weighty as to destroy both men and cattle, and break trees in pieces, and spoil the corn, the grass, and the tender herb; and fire, that is lightning, which descended so low, and in such quantities, as ran along the ground, and consumed all it met with. Artapanus (g), an Heathen writer, who speaks of this storm of hail, says, that Moses, besides the hail, caused earthquakes by night, so that those that escaped the earthquakes were taken away by the hail, and those that escaped the hail perished by the earthquakes, which he says overthrew all the houses, and most of the temples:

and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt; upon Egypt, where rain was not common, and on all the land of Egypt, when in some parts of it it was scarce known, and hail as thick as rain; ice, snow, and hail, are most rarely if ever seen there, the air not being cold enough for the production of them (h). This was the Lord's immediate doing, when there was no likelihood of it, nor any appearance of second causes concurring to produce it, and came at the exact time he had foretold it should; all which were very extraordinary.

(g) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 27. p. 435, 436. (h) Vid. Scheuchzer. Physica Sacra, vol. 1. p. 139.

And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
Verse 23. - Moses stretched forth his rod. In the last set of three plagues, the earthly agent was Moses (Exodus 9:10; Exodus 10:13, 22), whose diffidence seems to have worn off as time went on, and he became accustomed to put himself forward. Thunder and hail. Thunder had not been predicted; but it is a common accompaniment of a hail-storm, the change of temperature produced by the discharge of electricity no doubt conducing to the formation of hailstones. The fire ran along upon the ground. Some very peculiar electrical display seems to be intended - something corresponding to the phenomena called "fireballs," where the electric fluid does not merely flash momentarily, but remains for several seconds, or even minutes, before it disappears. The seventh plague. - To break down Pharaoh's opposition, Jehovah determined to send such a Hail as had not been heard of since the founding of Egypt, accompanied by thunder and masses of fire, and to destroy every man and beast that should be in the field. מסתּולל עודך: "thou still dammest thyself up against My people." הסתּולל: to set one's self as a dam, i.e., to oppose; from סלל, to heap up earth as a dam or rampart. "To-morrow about this time," to give Pharaoh time for reflection. Instead of "from the day that Egypt was founded until now," we find in Exodus 9:24 "since it became a nation," since its existence as a kingdom or nation.
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